Watch a 100-year-old military lamp get a new lease in life
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Bringing long-forgotten tools and objects back to near-perfect condition is a very rewarding pastime. Especially for old objects like lamps.
Watch this Kyiv-based restored lovingly bring an old military lamp back from the dead.
As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.
Materials and gear needed
- Old lamp (military or otherwise)
- Dremel and polishing accessories
- Rust remover
- Basic tools (wrench, screwdrivers, etc)
- Various nuts and bolts
With all your gear in hand, it is time to get on with this great little build.
Step 1: Dismantle the old lamp
The first step, beyond actually sourcing an old rusty lamp, is to begin to carefully dismantle the piece. As you do so, take note of what elements of the lamp require replacing or what other work needs to be done to restore the piece.
Gently unscrew various elements of the lamp as needed and ensure you take note of where different parts go once you've removed them from the lamp.
Things like old bulbs will likely need to be replaced with new pieces, but try to keep as many of the original parts as you can. Remove wire contacts from the old battery and gently remove that too.
Depending on its condition, this may, or may not, be reusable.
Depending on the design and age, the battery compartment may well have an old fireproof paper lining. It is likely this has degraded a lot, so simply remove it in its entirety. But, a word of warning, older electronics can contain asbestos-containing materials like asbestos "paper". Be aware of this when dismantling the item.
When prizing off metal clasps, etc, be as gentle as possible as they will likely be very rusted. You don't want to snap them. For old rusted screws, you will likely need to use some lubricant or WD40 to help loosen and remove them.
If they are far too rusted, you might want to consider chopping off the heads using a Dremel tool or similar.
Peel of and dispose of other items like old bitumen adhesive or rubber seals. These have likely perished beyond use.
Step 2: Begin the restoration
With all the main parts removed from the piece, we can now begin the restoration. Take your Dremel tool once again and insert its metal polishing attachment.
With that done, begin to work off the rust to all elements of the metal parts of the piece. Pay particular attention to any crevices in the casing of the lamp, etc.
When the looser bits of rust is removed, you can then cover the entire piece in rust remover. Work it in using a large brush and leave it to do its magic. Once done, remove any excess and clean off the slurry as needed.
Then bath all bits in soapy water and work off using a clean toothbrush. Completely dry using clean towels or paper tissue and leave to fully air dry.
Dry the piece and then spray paint it to whatever color you'd like. In this case, a light grey undercoat with a yellow finish has been chosen.
With that done, take the main reflector of the lamp and check out the condition of its internal parts. Since this is usually sealed, it should be in fairly good condition. Polish up the chrome parts and clean the main glass closer as required.
Step 3: Rebuild the piece
With all the parts now cleaned up, polished, and otherwise restored we can begin to reassemble to item. Where needed, refer to your notes to ensure that all pieces are returned to their original places on the lamp.
For some parts, this should be obvious, like the reflector at the front, etc, but wiring might require a little more reference. If you had to cut away screws, replace them with modern alternatives, where needed.
Carefully rewire the electrical circuits, and swap out any worn or perished lengths of wire, etc, as needed. Reinstall the electronics as required.
Reattach things like handles and straps as needed too. With that, your old rusty lamp is now fully restored!
If you enjoyed this restoration, you might enjoy watching another? How about, for example, restoring an old desk lamp.
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