UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum

UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum (
-   Other Vintage Household Electrical or Electromechanical Items (
-   -   Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp. (

Darren-UK 7th Aug 2010 8:28 pm

Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp.
3 Attachment(s)
I don't know if anyone's interested in this stuff but I thought I'd post anyway.

Clock-lamp as per title, acquired from a carboot sale a few days ago. The clock is in fact a Smiths 'New Callboy' but with a modified cable entry and "Pifco Timeside" on its face in place of "Smiths Sectric" or whatever. The clock movement is the Smiths QA type, similar to Metamec and more reliable, field coil wise, than the Smiths Bijou movement. Smiths manufactured this model between 1953 and 1960, so I'm assuming the Pifco ensemble dates from the same period.

As acquired, wiring was original with the exception of the mains lead. Someone had fitted a modern two-core lead which ended abruptly beneath the base, joining up with the original internal wiring thereunder. Although quite neatly done, the unit wasn't earthed and all evidence suggested that it never was.

I felt earthing to be essential, given that the unit consists mainly of metal. I therefore fitted a new 3-core, 3A mains lead and connected earth to the base via one of the studs which secures the clock to the base.

The remainder of the wiring was that twisted 2-core flex with single, transparent, insulation. This included the wiring up the stem to the lamp. Most scary here was the point where this flex passed throught the knuckle at the top by which the lamp angle can be adjusted.

The base is a lump of cast iron with some weird-shaped channels cast into it for the wiring, the base in turn being crowned by the chrome plated brass seen in the images. With the exception of a circle of green felt stuck to the underside, there is no means of enclosing the wiring. I didn't see this as a problem, considering the wiring can't be accessed unless the unit is picked up. In saying that, I certainly wouldn't leave it plugged in in the presence of unsupervised young children.

To deal with rewiring beneath the base I made use of bits of the by-now-discarded modern mains lead. I also used a length of this inside the stem and up to the lamp. Problem though. This cable was far too bulky to pass through the knuckle and into the bulb holder. The only way I could do this was to strip off a piece of the outer insulation, leaving the two insulated cores to pass through the knuckle. This still was too bulky though, with the very real risk of the cored being squashed whilst the knuckle was being adjusted.

The keener-eyed amongst you will notice, in the images, the bodge I ended up applying. The two halves of the knuckle should come together and form a sphere. It will be noticed that they now don't, there is now a gap between them. To protect the wires I had to insert a spacer between the two halves of the sphere to prevent them closing up completely. The end result doesn't look very good but it does mean the wires aren't at risk of being squashed or even chewed through. From the front, the shade does a good job of hiding the bodge.

The only other option for the wiring up through the stem was to use much lighter wire, or even retain the original (which was indeed showing signs of damage near the knuckle). I didn't fancy doing either and at least the cable now fitted is double insulated for most of its length.

Back to the base again, the pushbutton lamp switch was another potential problem. It sits snugly in a recess cast into the base and is one of those ancient switches wherein the two terminal screws stand proud of the body of the switch. I didn't have another of the same type, but with inset screws, which would fit inside the base. The obvious snag is that should the switch work loose, which this type can easily do, the switch can then move in the base and cause a short circuit via the terminal screw(s).

So due to not having a suitable, safer, replacement I've had to retain the original switch. However, cunning positioning of the wiring to/from the switch has ensured the switch cannot rotate should its collar work loose.

There will only be myself using it and as I'm aware of these possible safety issues I'm not worried about it.

I've fitted a brown Bakelite plug to the new 3A mains lead and installed a 1A fuse which should be adequate for the current drawn by both clock and lamp.

Cosmetically the chromed stem is good but the chroming on the base is rather tatty. Unsurprisingly the best area of chroming on the base is round the back where, during normal use, you wouldn't see it.

The rather nice frosted glass shade is likely not original to this lamp. As far as I'm aware these efforts, by a number of manufacturers, came with plastic shades (usually) or no shade at all (sometimes).

Sorry I didn't take pictures of the unit 'as found' and whilst I had it stripped down. I didn't think to post this waffle on here until after I'd finished the job.

VideoJunkyard 7th Aug 2010 9:15 pm

Re: Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp.
What a lovely piece of bedroom furniture. Never seen one of those before.

The nearest i have is a Westclox electric clock with a large translucent panel at each side of the clock which light up as a night-light.

Brian R Pateman 7th Aug 2010 9:35 pm

Re: Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp.
Well, there's a turnup!

Helen has one of these in use as a desk lamp. I'd often wondered what it was designed for.

Darren-UK 7th Aug 2010 9:46 pm

Re: Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp.
I don't suppose Helen's has that same shade? The shade is, incidentally, secured by one of those 'spring clip' efforts a bit like a circular Crocodile clip. Much easier than those threaded collars which always seem to jam or go cross-threaded.

Yes indeed, they are more like a desk lamp than a bedside lamp. At least I assume they're bedside lamps given that the clock has an alarm buzzer. Could be useful for people who nodded off in the office fifty years ago I suppose :)

Mike Phelan 8th Aug 2010 9:48 am

Re: Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp.
... like those in the House of Commons/Lords?

Very nice, Darren; never seen one before. You just need a Teasmade now to complete the bedroom scene. ;)

Of slight interest is that the Pifco Tea-o-matic used a Metamec clock with its optional tick.

chipp1968 8th Aug 2010 10:15 am

Re: Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp.
Thats nice .I think the shade is modern.

Brian R Pateman 8th Aug 2010 11:54 am

Re: Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp.

Originally Posted by Darren-UK (Post 352041)
I don't suppose Helen's has that same shade?

No, Helen's has a shade with straight lower edges. The shade was obtained separately.

Hers is not quite the same (I'd mis-remembered it last night).

It has a toggle switch rather than a press button. When we got it I had to do a lot of work, including re-building the toggle switch as I had nothing which would fit in the limited space available without risk of shorting to the metal work.

I had to fit a standard brass lamp holder and our shade fits with the standard retaining ring. It is a real struggle to fit it too as by fingers are not exactly tiny.

Darren-UK 8th Aug 2010 12:08 pm

Re: Pifco 'Timeside' clock-lamp.
Sounds like you encountered the same problems of limited space underneath as I did. Even by the standards of the time, the design isn't good but the chunky base does make the whole thing very stable. Maybe that was the idea.

The shade on mine was possibly originally intended for a wall lamp. It's quite thick glass and heavy. I like it so it can remain in situ until I find something more period.

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 4:51 am.

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2002 - 2020, Paul Stenning.