Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"restoring" an old light 50 shades of grey?

Restoring an old light.  Not really restoring, that implies that it'll be just like new, "mint", if you're stuck in the 80's language trap.  

I was cleaning up my laundry room area, and was dusting off this light when I saw that the bulb was broken....as in no glass or filament was present.  Some needle nosed pliers make short work of that, but before inserting a new bulb, I see that the socket is loose, so I decide to take it apart to see if there's any problems in there.

There was indeed a problem, friends, one wire that was soldered to the socket was bare and nearly broken off from the socket, so the decision was made to replace it.  I have a bucket full of track lights in the garage, all with really nice ceramic sockets, not bakelite like this one.

A picture would be helpful here, sort of like about 1000 words helpful instead of me trying to describe this light.  But here goes.  First, you should know it's about the colour of a turd.  Brown.  It's also the colour of a lot of traffic lights, that weird bronze colour; not the silver or grey or green and yellow motif that is common around here, but kind of brown...except for where the paint has flaked off and the steel has rusted.

The main body of the light is round, which would be cylindrical.  If it had a flat base and could stand upright, it'd be phallic, and then I'd paint it grey, many different shades of grey.  How many?  50.  The diameter?  If you can imagine my hands, thumbs and middle fingers touching making a circle, that'd be close.  Pretty sure that'd be bigger than Miss Steele's boob.

The light is about a foot long, and hangs from 2 straps that were spot welded to the body of the light.  The cord, which is white and not original to the light enters one end, dead center.  The light socket also mounts there, which is rather unusual for the socket to have a hollow nut to secure the mount to the substrate, and for the cord to enter that same nut.  Generally the cord enters via  a grommet and the socket mount would have either a screw, a bolt, or use a short pipe nipple and nut. 

Covering the wires, therefore protecting them, shielding them from heat from the bulb and keeping kids fingers away from the switch, etc, is a thin flat piece of metal, it fits in the housing loosely, secured with a screw.  Next to the screw is a switch, a simple toggle switch, off and on are the 2 choices, much like you'd expect.  The connections are made thusly:

One wire from the cord is soldered to the switch, which has very small tabs with holes in it for that purpose.   The other cord wire is connected to a wire from the socket with a ceramic wire nut, reused as original.  The other socket wire is soldered to the switch.  Which wires are which?  It does not matter.  The cord is not polarized, meaning the plug doesn't have different sized prongs on it, and it doesn't matter if the positive or the negative/neutral wires are switched, so long as one of them is.  The same amount of current flows thru each wire...and the switch breaks/opens/closes/completes the circuit to enable or stop the flow of electricity.   Does that make sense?

A word about ceramic wire nuts:  Since they're ceramic, or porcelain, they are very heat resistant, nearly indestructible.  But they don't have a metal springy thing in them like a traditional wire nut to help make the connection solid, you have to make sure that you twist the wires together before putting on the wire nut.  

I got the electrical put back together, and thought that I should test it.  So I plugged it in, and didn't get shocked.  Good sign, since I'm really not into getting shocked.  I screwed in a bulb, and flipped the switch.  No light.  Grrrrr.  Different bulb.  No light. Grrrr. flip the switch again, and it lights. Success.

So this light is a cylinder of metal with one "side" open, the inside of it is painted silvery to reflect the light from the bulb back out.  I sanded the rusty parts and bare parts, masked the cord and put some paper in the open area. I washed it with some alcohol to remove all dust, dirt, grease, wax or other surface impurities, then I sprayed it with primer, and will later spray it black.  

Why black?  Because the blue and white and green and grey are in the garage.

Hindsight says I should have rounded up a longer cord for it, it's only about 4', which would roughly be equivalent to the length of Mr Grey's tallywhacker, if you believe everything you read.  Every lamp and every power tool should come with a 12' cord, in my opinion.  Since I've had a drill with a 12" power cord and a different drill with a 12' power cord, I know which one is easier to use...and therefore, I'm right.  Note: the drill for sale is not mine.  I don't know whatever happened to the crappy one that I had.  Maybe Steve has it.

What will I do with this light?  I don't know.  I also don't know where I got it, or how long I've had it.  I've used it in the basement, primarily, have hung it from pipes, but I suspect it's a bed light, for the old steel pipe beds. It could hang off of a door, or under the sink from the pipes, but I'll probably do nothing with it, to be honest.

If you came here from FB expecting this to be all nipple clamps, floggers, butt plugs, handcuffs and grey ties, SORRY!  :)  I'd have to change the settings so no kids could get at it first, and ask my MIL to not read it.