Friday, July 29, 2016

Repair Slim Gooseneck Table Desk Lamp with Slim Helmet Shade

The industrial revolution was a major turning point in world history. Mass production was possible and the standard of living rose sharply. Electricity played a major role in the quick evolution of manufacturing. Specifically, the light bulb created an opportunity for workers to extend the workday beyond the restricted daylight hours. Early styles of desk lamps were very basic. The objective was to cast light on the desk. There were no additional style points or pen holders.

A customer brought in this great example of an early slim gooseneck desk lamp with a slim helmet style shade on an UNO fitter socket. They wanted to use it full time and needed to make sure it was safe. It is probably about 100 years old now.

Initial inspection is good. This lamp has a polarized plug, so it must have been replaced in the last 30 years. The pull chain socket sounds and looks good. It has a nice click and firm recoil. The only concern with this lamp is the socket insulator looks really worn. If the insulator becomes brittle and falls apart in the socket, the terminals and wires could contact the metal shell and cause a risk of shock. Turning the lamp over we noticed the felt bottom has come loose and needs to be replaced.

The only lamp parts we need to repair this desk lamp is a new socket insulator and new round felt for the lamp base. This socket has a flared body like a Leviton Fat Boy socket. We are going to use a Fat Boy compatible socket insulator.

Socket Cap insulator

Fat Boy style insulator for early sockets with flared socket shells
First, we removed the lamp shade from the shade holder by unscrewing the set screws.

Next, we removed the shade holder from the socket. This UNO style holder simply unscrews from the socket shell.

Then, we lay the lamp on the table top and locate the "press" location on the socket shell.

With a thin flat head screwdriver, we apply pressure at the press mark and pry the socket shell from the socket cap.

The socket shell and insulator slide off the socket interior.

We unscrew the socket terminals and detach the cord from the socket. The insulators on this antique lamp are in need of replacement. First, we replace the socket cap insulator. The old one falls apart coming off the lamp.

The socket shell insulator looks just as bad. The new insulator is a firm fit, and slides inside the socket shell.

Now we are ready to reassemble the lamp socket. First we tie our UL knot in the lamp cord.

Then, we attach the socket to the cord. For polarity we always say: attach the smooth wire to the brass screw and ribbed wire to the nickel screw. This socket interior does not have a nickel screw; both are brass. To make sure the polarity is correct, identify the screw terminal related to the center post on the socket. This is the HOT side where the smooth wire connects. This leaves the outer screw part of the socket for the neutral or ribbed wire.

The socket shell slides over the socket interior. Cord slack is pulled back down and out the lamp base. We orient the  pull chain facing down and snap the socket shell back in place.

The shade holder and shade are placed back on the lamp.

The finishing touch for this repair is the new felt bottom. We turn the lamp on its side and lay it on the workstation. The old felt is peeled off. We use a wire brush to remove any glue or old felt on the base. The new felt is centered on the bottom.

Finally, we are ready to add a bulb and test the lamp.

Perfect! This lamp is ready for another 100 years. Total Cost <$5.00 Total Time < 30 minutes

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Vintage Alabaster Marble Urn Lamp Repaired With Finial

I often wonder if lamps were around centuries ago would we have marble lamps carved by Michelangelo. It is an original medium, and whenever I see a carved marble lamp I instantly think it's a piece of art. Of coarse art is relative and not what this blog was designed to discuss so.... let's get back to business: lamp repair.

A customer brought in this vintage alabaster marble urn lamp in need of a repair. It didn't have a plug or barely a lamp cord. They said they wanted it renewed so we were going to rewire with a new socket, plug, cord set, harp and harp base. We will reuse any parts worth saving.

We begin the checking the lamp for any major defects and making a list of the lamp parts we will need to make the project complete. For this alabaster urn lamp we will need a new lamp cord, antique brass socket, antique brass harp and harp base.

We will need to remove the old socket from the lamp. Using a small flat head screwdriver we pry the socket shell from the socket cap.

Someone has been here before and removed the old lamp cord from the socket interior. Next, we remove the old socket cap. With no set screw, the old socket cap just unscrews from the lamp's threaded rod.

The old threaded rod is a little rusty. It is not worth replacing yet, so we use a wire brush to clean up the threads on the top.

Now is a good time to thoroughly clean the lamp body and remove any debris on the lamp. In this case, debris includes some old lamp cord. 

Now we are ready to start the rewiring. First, we push out new lamp cord from the bottom of the lamp to the top. 

Then, the harp base and the new socket cap go on the lamp. The new socket cap had a retaining ring for the socket shell and a set screw for the threaded rod. If a socket cap does not have a set screw, a lock washer is suggested. 

Next, we tie a UL knot in the lamp cord and attach the socket interior. The smooth lamp cord connects to the brass screw terminal and the ribbed cord connects to the nickel terminal. 

The lamp cord slack is pulled back down the lamp body so the socket interior sets on the socket cap. The new socket shell slips over the socket interior and is attached with the retaining ring. 

Next, we attached the new harp to the harp base. This lamp had an old finial on the old harp so we will simply unscrew it from the old harp, and screw on the new harp without any problem. Note: Lamp harps have standard tops threaded 1/4-27. Most finials have the same thread pattern so you can easily remove a finial from one harp to another. 

Harps are installed by lifting the locks up the harp and squeezing the tines to fit in the harp base. They should fit snug but flush with the harp base. If the harp is not seating correctly, try adjusting the harp base with some pliers. The locks should slide all the way down and over the top of the harp base. 

Finally, we add a bulb and test the lamp. 

Great. Total Cost < $ 30 Total Time < 45 minutes