Monday, August 22, 2005

Greg said, "Let there be light,"…

…and there was light. Greg saw the light, and saw that it was good. To bad it took Greg 4 hours to re-wire the light. That was not good.



The transition from gas to electric lighting seems to have been pretty fast. Edison invented the light bulb in 1879 and with-in 10 years people were installing them in there house. This is one of those early fixtures. I’ve re-wired 4 antique fixtures so far and this was by far the most difficult. Normally I can do one in less than an hour. This one took almost 4 hours.

The others were built from the start to be electric light fixtures. While the internal structure on the others resembled the gas-lights they were easy to rewire because they were basically designed for wire. This one also started out as an electric light, but the internal structure was very much a gas-light. They basically took parts for a gas-light and drilled some holes in the manifold and arm pipes and then ran wire through it. That made it very, very difficult to re-wire.

I bought 4 fixtures as a collection on Ebay from a guy in Main (I think). The house was 1888 and I’m willing to bet these were installed as original equipment. I realize this style is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the craftsmanship is incredible on this thing. Most of the sockets are original and they are all stamped “Thomas Edison”. They are put together with tiny little screws that look like a watchmaker might have made them. The inside of the sockets is porcelain and still shiny brass.

The tubing for the neck and arms are very thick heavy, brass because they came from makers who had a gas-light background. The “newer” fixtures I re-wired (late 1890s) have much thinner brass arms because they only had to hold wire and did not need to be concerned with an air-tight connection.

The 4 fixtures are not identical but similar enough that they look like they go together. I had planned on re-wiring 3 of the big ones for the party on Wednesday, but that aint going to happen now. I just don’t have the time. This one should be a crowd pleaser though.






8 comments:

kk said...

Those lamps make me think me of a bed and breakfast that we love to go to up in Duluth, MN. When the mansion was built it was wired for both electric and gas lights because they weren't convinced "this new electricity thing" was going to catch on.

Suzanne said...

Great job, Greg. You make it look easy! I have several Ebay fixtures I need to rewire, and I'm going to at least try. Anything is better than the flourescent crap in some of my rooms now.

Suzanne said...

Oh, forgot to mention - Rejuvination and also Van Dykes sell those repro light bulbs that look like the original Th.Edison bulbs. Those would look great and very period.

Greg said...

KK,

My house originally had gas/electric combo lights on the first floor and electric only on the second floor. If I was doing a true period restoration I would put the combo lights back in. They are readily available in a restored condition. I just fell in love with these early electric fixtures –especially unrestored. This one is by far the most elaborate of all the vintage lights I have. This is in the formal dining room.

Suzanne,

I’ve seen those reproduction light bulbs. They are expensive and I’m afraid they won’t last too long. Right now I have 60 watt bulbs in there but I might switch to 40 watt.

Gary said...

Keep the 60 watt and install a dimmer switch! In the early years of the 20th century the light bulbs were more globe-like and many were red in color.

Greg said...

That is a good idea, but they don’t make a 3-way dimmer switch. At least not the reproduction push-button variety.

Gary said...

That is a good idea, but they don’t make a 3-way dimmer switch. At least not the reproduction push-button variety.

Yes they do!
Rejuvenation has one for a mere $48.00. Part # 7919 Maxes out at 300 watts total though.

Greg said...

Hey, I wonder when Classic Accents started making those? They weren't available 3 years ago when I re-wired the house. But at only $48.00 I might just get a dozen! I can't afford not to.