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Other Vintage Household Electrical or Electromechanical Items For discussions about other vintage (over 25 years old) electrical and electromechanical household items. See the sticky thread for details.

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Old 23rd Dec 2019, 8:09 pm   #501
Nicholas Bilton
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Thanks. The wallpaper is called Carnival Zest, by Graham & Brown. It's supposed to be a retro design of the 70s.
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Old 13th Jan 2020, 5:31 pm   #502
emeritus
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

My set of 12 x 20V fairy lights that I extended to 16 a couple of decades ago so they run at 15V, had worked faultlessly with no bulb failures. However, a couple of days before packing them away, a bulb blew. No problem, I have a couple of spares. The one I fitted blew too the following day, likewise with its replacement (my last). Ok, time to fit one of my 12V 200mA bulbs that work, with a warm yellow glow. Blow me down, but another bulb blew in a different place, this time leaving the string lit. Probably one of a set I got from Woolworths in the 1990's when they were designed to do this. I recalled having read that the filament might actually be intact, that the shorting element might have operated in error, and that it might be possible to make the lamp work by passing a high current through the bulb to fuse the shorting element. Nothing to lose, so dug out a couple of large electrolytic capacitors, connected them across my bench supply, set it to 20V, and connected to the bulb. Hey presto, it worked! I think that the ones that had blown were from sets of spares I had bought new in the 1980's and 90's. The 1950's originals just keep soldiering on. Now I must get some spares for next year, there seem to be plenty on Amazon at reasonable prices.
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Old 16th Jan 2020, 4:42 pm   #503
The Philpott
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

The special shunts are certainly something that works- most of the time! The failure mode i am more accustomed to seeing on 20 or 40 lamp sets is the entire string fails to illuminate- yet the white-tipped fuse lamp is found to be intact. I then go through the string, flicking each lamp to find the one where the shunt has failed to 'close'. Often it closes when tapped, sometimes a small spark is seen as the resistive layer breaks down and continuity is restored.

Dave
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Old 16th Jan 2020, 5:36 pm   #504
usradcoll1
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Philpott View Post
The special shunts are certainly something that works- most of the time! The failure mode i am more accustomed to seeing on 20 or 40 lamp sets is the entire string fails to illuminate- yet the white-tipped fuse lamp is found to be intact. I then go through the string, flicking each lamp to find the one where the shunt has failed to 'close'. Often it closes when tapped, sometimes a small spark is seen as the resistive layer breaks down and continuity is restored.

Dave
I bought a clever little tester for Christmas lights. First of all, it's a non-contact electrical tester, secondly it's a Piezo-electric generator of sorts.
It looks like a gun and has trigger. It has a place for the set plug. You plug in the set and pull the trigger. It arcs across the open shunt. Plug the set back in the mains and the set should light except for the blown lamp.
It's similar in function to a spark igniter on a gas appliance.
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Old 16th Jan 2020, 6:24 pm   #505
broadgage
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

20 volt lamps intended for use in series strings of 12, do not usually have a shunting device that shorts out a failed lamp.
Reputable manufacturers decided that shunting a failed lamp in a string of less than 20 lamps resulted in excessive over voltage on the remaining lamps.

A minority of imported 20 volt lamps DO have shunting devices. If a shunting device has operated prematurely it may be defeated by connecting the lamp to a suitable supply that can deliver a substantial current. A 12 volt lead acid battery will serve. This will burn out any shunt that has operated.

Think twice before operating 12 volt 2.2 watt pilot lamp in series with 20 volt 3 watt Christmas lights. The 12 volt lamps will be under run, perhaps dropping as little as 4 volts and thereby potentially overrunning the 20 volt lamps.

BTW, the electric lamp industry allegedly standardised on series strings of 20 volt lamps so as to ensure continued sales of the relatively expensive 20 volt lamps.
If instead, say 10 lamps each of 24 volts had been used, then people might have used cheap 24 volt pilot lamps or automotive bulbs.

In the USA 15/16 volt lamps were popular, 7 in series on 110 volt circuits and 8 in series on 120 volt circuits, again to deter use of cheap pilot lamps or automotive bulbs.

Ingenious persons still used cheap pilot lamps, altering the number in series accordingly.
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Old 17th Jan 2020, 1:35 pm   #506
emeritus
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

I was only able to safely use the 12V bulbs because I had increased the string to 16. So in principle if I had used four of the 12V bulbs, the remaining bulbs would all have been operated at less than 20V.
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Old 17th Jan 2020, 4:45 pm   #507
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Indeed, with at least 12 of the 20 volt lamps in series they cant be over run, though the degree of under running may be less than expected.

20 volt 3 watt bulbs are still readily available on ebay. Suggested search term "20v 3w e10" will find a number of sellers. Expect to pay about 1-50 each if buying a reasonable number.
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Old 24th Jan 2020, 10:46 am   #508
Tinker1966
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

My vintage random lights like everyone elses are 20v extended to 16.
They are up permanently and often on as they are so decorative.
I have often wondered why the chinese lantern becme associated with Christmas lights - many of mine are.
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Old 24th Jan 2020, 11:14 am   #509
PaulR
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

I remember well the Woolworths in Liverpool selling those Chinese lanterns and other fancy bulbs
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Old 24th Jan 2020, 5:11 pm   #510
broadgage
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

I recall Osram selling 20 volt 3 watt lamps that were transparent lacquered in various colours rather than the more common opaque painted coloured lamps.

These came in boxes of 12 assorted colours, or to order in boxes all of one colour.
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Old 9th Feb 2020, 3:44 pm   #511
Bill Edwards
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

From the attic come Christmas lights.
The Pifco bells in the front of my elderly case have been in service since the mid 70’s, but my favourites are the lantern types, so I was glad to see someone else has some.

I believe they are the Vesta-lite brand, but I don’t dare light them up now as there are too few of them.
Looking at them still brings the magic feeling of Christmas I knew as a boy, even though they are not lit. Bit of a shame, but they give me pleasure none the less.

Then again I could replace the wiring..!

All the best, Bill.
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Old 10th Feb 2020, 11:21 am   #512
steptoesyard
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Bill could you not put the bells in series with the 7 lanterns you have, using 7 of the original lamp holders?

Obviously you would lose some brightness from both sets but should work fine. They are very nice so a shame not to use them
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Old 10th Feb 2020, 2:15 pm   #513
broadgage
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

The bells look as though they might CONTAIN a bulb, rather being an ornate type of bulb.
In that case, if you have any dead ones, it might be possible to dismantle and fit a new bulb.
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Old 10th Feb 2020, 2:32 pm   #514
steptoesyard
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

They do indeed, small screw in 12v 1.1w bulbs
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Old 11th Feb 2020, 8:14 pm   #515
Bill Edwards
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Thank you both for your advice.

Although I could put the lanterns in series with the bells, they might look a bit odd, so I dare say I'll add some new wiring to the old lamp holders one day, if I can get to the connections without breaking them.

Although the bells are working fine and have replaceable bulbs, the lanterns' bulb is part of the lantern and cannot be replaced once they blow, without wrecking the lantern.

Time to get the soldering iron out with some new wire and make a new string of old lights- IF I ever get the time!
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Old 13th Feb 2020, 12:12 pm   #516
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Quote:
Although the bells are working fine and have replaceable bulbs, the lanterns' bulb is part of the lantern and cannot be replaced once they blow, without wrecking the lantern.
Defeatist!

I'm sure some careful Dremel action and a small helping of epoxy resin or polystyrene glue would give the lie to that!

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Old 14th Feb 2020, 1:45 pm   #517
Tinker1966
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

So nice to see those lanterns - chinese lanterns seem to have been a christmas staple for sometime although I'm unsure of the connection to Xmas !
I did try to buy some more once on ebay and they went for a surprising amount - well I thought so anyway ! I guess they are getting rarer and collectable.
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 7:32 pm   #518
Bill Edwards
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Tinker1966 : I agree, they are nice lanterns. Maybe the Christmas connection is the tassely bit! I seem to remember on the box it said "Christmas and Decoration lights" or something like that, so like yours, they could be used anytime for a splash of jolly colour.

Herald1360 : It would mean quite a bit of Dremel action once you see the bulb
It's a long bulb, so would mean some serious effort and I doubt would be an invisible repair. However... the good news is the surviving lanterns all have working bulbs
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Old 14th Feb 2020, 10:29 pm   #519
julie_m
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

There's no point cutting one of the Chinese lanterns open until it burns out, and then there is no loss if it goes wrong -- all well and good if you fix it successfully, but even if you ruin it, it was already broken; and you know what to avoid next time.
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Old 15th Feb 2020, 9:17 am   #520
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Default Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights

Not strictly vintage, but "Big Clive" 3d printed some Xmas light shades and made a set of neon Xmas lights. Raises the interesting possibility of printing replacement shades for old sets https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iJ2QkbCYIo
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