Battery-powered 1950s lamp beautifully restored

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Looks very much like the battle lamps on US Naval ships. image

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Looks very much like something else, too…


It’s a very recursive lamp.


Neat. I love watching well crafted competency porn on YouTube. Beautifully done, obsessive work.

But one quibble. I wouldn’t call this a “restoration”, which I think of as returning something to its original condition. Filing off the factory original casting flaws and sprues, then filling and wet sanding is definitely not restoration. Nor is bringing all the fittings to a mirror polish, so much so that he polished off much of the knurling on the brass nuts.
And the old paint (not sure if it was original) looks like a vintage crinkle finish paint, not the smooth yellow he used, as crinkle finish wouldn’t show off all of his filling and sanding.

In the video he’s making a showpiece, a version of the lamp that never was. A neat bit of work, but it should be called something different, something other than a “restoration”. You can’t “restore” something to a condition it was never in, nor intended to be by the manufacturer.

Also, he has a lathe and milling machine, a grit blasting box and other major tools, but he cuts out the replacement gasket with Swiss Army knife scissors, and does it well. That made me smile, and but also do a double take.


I loved watching the process, and the sound track was art in itself.


I actually like the original state better.

I kind of liked the ‘improvements’. A straightforward restoration would have required slightly less care, and I felt like we understood the inner dialogue - we can rebuild it, make it better - and I considered, why not go further - add an LED lamp? a raspberry pi and Bluetooth control via a custom-made app?!

I think this was the perfect amount of ‘fixing what was never broken’.

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Grey primer is one of life’s great secrets. Grey sandable primer doubly so.


I bet if you dig through 1960s archives of Popular Mechanics or Popular Science, they’ll have articles on how to make one. (Catch-22: It probably assumes that you have a machine shop to make the bits.)

eta: Or there’s, you know, YouTube, but that’s cheating.

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I came here to say this… Only less eloquently.

If this were an automobile, what he’s done might be called a resto-mod.


This would go lovely with a 1950ies/1960ies Civil Defence Geiger counter.

My questions:

  1. Why sandblast the case if you’re going to use filler?
  2. How come he machined the ball heads on those bolts after cutting the thread? I would have thought you’d want to avoid clamping the nice new soft brass threads in the lathe jaw.

As people have said, this is more renovation than restoration, and as such it seems like it would have been good to replace the comically puny incandescent bulb with an LED or (more luxuriously) a modern halogen bulb, and a giant 20-cell lithium-ion battery.

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… and project the Bat-signal?

The puny bulb does seem almost comically small and dim relative to the size and construction of the housing. A good reminder of just how radically LEDs have changed the efficiency and utility of flashlights.

I still wonder that the housing doesn’t seem especially water tight, in spite of having nuts to tighten down the access door. It seems both over and under-engineered.

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Yeah, I was struggling to figure out whether this was originally an expensive thing or not. I think it’s probably very old-fashioned even for the 1950s, and with stuff that predates modern plastics, it’s hard to read quality, because even cheap things would be hand-assembled from metal and wood.

A small, rechargeable bike headlight I picked up a couple of years ago drove that point home for me quite forcefully - it is insanely bright at its full setting. Around the house, it’s great for finding that little screw you dropped, or anything else where you need a whole lot of portable light.

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