Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekend Project: Paraffin lamp

Ok, so this project started out when I saw a cool looking oil lamp.

It's quite a famous amongst the hacker world lamp since it was features on both Make: and hackaday (at least).

it's the light bulb oil lamp.

The original creator had some kind of, wow cool groovy political message, about recycling, and energy, but since they were burning fuel oil, they should have just done away with all that bollocks and just said, "look what I made, aint it cool?"

I forgot to take photos during the build, so I'm just going to describe the process.

to start you need a lightbulb, any old light bulb will do, but I chose a clear (rather than pearl) bulb so that the fuel source, (purple meths) could be seem clearly. I also chose an Edison screw style bulb rather than the (more common in the UK) bayonet style fitting, the bayonet fitting might allow for a cool frame to be built to support the bulb, but the two connections on the base do make this harder to make.

To create this you will need,
A light Bulb.
Some kind of hand drilling tool, (I used a perfboard track cutter), you could use either a bradel, or a gimlet from your woodworking tool box.
A screw driver/small chisel/butter knife. (basically a flat bladed thing you can use to carefully pry
A piece of wick (I cut a small section from a dishcloth/tea towel.
Some needle nosed pliers.

Start by using your hand drilling tool to gently attack the soft solder spot at the bottom of the bulb, your aim is to drill through the solder.

Once you've gotten through the solder stop. now you need to use your pry tool (screwdriver/knife) to gentle lift up the base of the brass screw cap where it meets the glass. go careful, too much force and you're going to break the glass.
Once you've managed to lift the cap a little you'll see a kind of putty/clay substance that attaches the brass cap to the glass bulb. go carefully and using the screwdriver/small knife start scraping at this substance. the idea is to carefully get rid of it.
after a while of scraping the brass screw base will just pop off of the glass bulb.

You'll now be left with a sealed glass bulb, one end round and bulb like, the other will be flat, you'll see two wires poking out that are sealed into the glass of the bulb, and a glass stem that goes inside the bulb, to the filament holders.

Use the screwdriver to carefully score the glass in a straight line and the very top of where the wires go into the glass that becomes the stem.
when you have a thin line scored in the glass, rest the bulbous end of the glass on something soft (like a roll of electrical tap), one the other end place a screw driver into the hole where the stem is, (where you have just scored. carefully, use another screw driver to tap the screw driver that is inside the stem.)
not too hard, a short sharp tap is all it should need to stress the glass, where it should crack and separate along the score line you just made.

Now use your needle nose pliers to reach inside the small hole that is now in the glass bulb. and crush/snap any large bits of the filament holder and stem.

Now turn the bulb bulbous side up and the stem, filament and filament holders should fall out the bottom.

Now, quarter fill the bulb with a slow burning oil fuel, (something like meths or white spirit, definitely not petrol). push one end of the wick through the hole where the solder was brass screw base.
Put the other end of the wick into the hole in the bulb so that it reaches the bottom and touches the liquid fuel.

Wait until the wick has absorbed some fuel.
find a base for your bulb, (I used a roll of electrical tape).
Light your lamp.


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