Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Sunporch Progress

You might not think this is big news, but it is a small triumph for us!

When we got the new ceiling for our damaged sunporch, we had to have the old light fixture disconnected temporarily—but when we had an electrician out to reconnect it, he examined the fixture’s wiring and shook his head: “I could put this up for you, but I really don’t think you should use it—see how broken the insulation is on these wires? . . . And these black marks on the ceramic, here—?”

He was right. The wiring on the sockets wasn’t safe anymore—especially not after the remodeling guys had removed the ceiling around it, and it was dangling from its wires.

Then they snipped it down completely when they hung the drywall.

I asked the electrician if he could replace the sockets within the fixture; he poked at it and couldn’t tell how the sockets were connected to the fixture, so he couldn’t see how to remove them, much less replace them. —Heck.

So we “sat on it” for a while; we looked at various antique lighting places online, checked at stores to see if there were any “new” fixtures we could tolerate. Again: Heck.

Think, think, think . . .

We finally bought some miscellaneous, cheap, basic fixtures and sockets at Lowe’s, brought them home, and started fiddling around.

We discovered how to remove the old sockets from the fixture—they had been painted in place by the original manufacturer, but once the paint seal was broken, and using a pliers, we found we could unscrew the thin metal wrapping around the original cardboard insulating cylinder.

And glory-be! One of the new plastic socket types we found fit almost perfectly—but these lacked the threading and were too loose to stay in place. . . . Hmm.

How to get the new plastic sockets to be firmly attached to the antique fixture?

Uncle Richard to the rescue! He was visiting us one night, and we showed him our project. He turned the fixture over in his hands, then abruptly said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. I know exactly how to take care of it. Let me take it home.”

A few days later, he had it all done—he’d used liquid weld on it, and the sockets are indeed firmly in place. Perfect!

Then, a quick visit from the electrician the next afternoon, and voilĂ : The old light fixture lives again!

Which is good, because we have identical light fixtures for several other rooms of our house! In addition to the ones in the bedrooms and hallways, we even have about half dozen of them in a box, left over from the eighties when Grandma had a couple ceiling fans and other fixtures installed.

As with most old electrical wiring, such as all the knob-and-tube within the walls and ceilings of our house, the wiring is pretty okay as long as you don’t mess with it and break the brittle old insulation—which is what we did in this case.

Anyway, now that they’re outfitted with these new sockets, I think the old light fixtures are good for at least another seventy-five years, which is far more than we’ll need them. Hooray!

* (Thank you, Uncle Richard!) *


Osage Bluff Quilter said...

What is old is new again! They look so neat.
My husband will be doing blacksmithing at Old Munichburg, please stop by and introduce yourself.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Thanks, OBQ! Yes, they're chipped, but then again, I know who chipped them: Us. The family abode is a wonderful thing.

Yes, I'll be at Oktoberfest, too: I think I'll be working all day at the Old Munichburg Association's "blue booth" at the intersection of Dunklin and Washington. I'll be sure to look for you!