Monday, March 30, 2015

Torchlamp?

     I'm not much for decorative art and no big fan of the turn-things-into-lamps school, but I very nearly bought this when I saw it at an antique mall Saturday:
[click to embiggen]
     Given the temperamental and operator skill-dependent nature of a classic flamethrower, I can't imagine a better use.  The bulb is a flame-patterned neon glowlamp, and probably flickers. 

16 comments:

Eric said...

That's pretty cool. How much was it?

Monty James said...

I'd want some sort of shade, but that would sort of miss the point of having a bulb that imitates the flame.

Douglas2 said...

I was just looking for a liquid-fueled roofing torch for a greenie friend who loves his herbicide-free weed-torch, but wants to avoid fossil fuels. I'm still searching, as everything commercially available seems to use pressurized gasses for some reason...

Kristophr said...

You should convert it back into a proper acetylene torch.

You can still get carbide from folks supplying cavers. I've got a few pounds of it in a paint can.

Roberta X said...

Kristopher, AFFAIK that thing burned gasoline, as do/did most blowtorches. Even people who used 'em back in the day recommend against them in favor of propane or MAPP-analogs. (You can't get real MAPP gas any more, either.) There's a small, hardcore blowtorch hobbyist group and *their* information is rife with warnings.

Douglas2: Best of luck. He needs an alcohol torch and they were never common. Of course, alcohol carries a risk of its own: in sunlight, the flame is nearly invisible. (I used to run alcohol in my cigarette lighter, when I was a smoker. Makes a great "magic trick" to light up with no apparent flame but you have to make darned sure the thing is out before returning it to purse or pocket!)

Roberta X said...

Er, just "AFAIK." I stuttered.

fillyjonk said...

it's a steampunkish nightlight.

Yeah, the flickering bulb would be annoying for ACTUAL light, but as something to set on a table in the evening and provide ambient light so you didn't stub a toe on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it would be kind of cool.

I vaguely remember nightlights when I was a kid (back in the 70s) that had something kind of like a nixie tube in them - glowed a pale peach color, low light, and took years to burn out. I've never seen one since but I admit to kind of wanting one.

rickn8or said...

Can that bare bulb co-exist in a house with cats? /wet-blanket mode

Roberta X said...

It's a neon -- doesn't get hot, isn't especially bright. It's got a kind of orange-to-hot-pink fog of luminosity around the electrodes.

The simulated-flame version is usually set up so they're just over the firing threshold and the glow flickers around on the electrodes.

(I keep forgetting that these things, very familiar to me, are now quite uncommon.)

Roberta X said...

The giveaway that this torch burned gasoline is the pressure pump, visible at about 2 o'clock. You'd fuel it and pump up pressure, light it (some required preheat) and as soon as it settled down, there you were. IIRC, the pump seals are a source of some concern. A sudden or unnoticed leak there can result in the user becoming a torch.

One of my uncles, one of Dad's older brothers, did small engine and automobile repair all his life. He was good at it, the kind of inspired tinkerer who can keep hardware running years past obsolescence or put together a whole new lawn mower from odds and ends found in the dump. He *always* kept a blowtorch near to hand, even after nobody else used them. Nobody knew why, but he obviously found it handy.

My housekeeping skills take after his and his spouse's. They had a lot of books in a cluttered house and he had a succession of outbuildings, large and small, filled with stuff in various states of repair or disassembly/salvage -- but by gosh, they sure looked happy.

Old NFO said...

Neat, and probably the 'best' use now...

rickn8or said...

"t's a neon -- doesn't get hot, isn't especially bright. It's got a kind of orange-to-hot-pink fog of luminosity around the electrodes."

Thanks for the info. I'll stop being a worry-wart now...

Roberta X said...

It might still tempt the cats to try to hunt it, if its flickering is interesting enough. That could be bad.

Blackwing1 said...

Those are kinda fun, as long as you don't use them indoors. We found one in the basement of my folk's cabin, and we used to use it to "burn-in" the pine tar that was put on the bottom of our old wooden cross-country skis.

If I remember correctly, the biggest problem was in getting enough pressure to get the thing lit without having liquid gas come out the nozzle end. We used to fill it only half-way with gas so there'd be enough air volume to pressurize. Once it was running, the heat of the flame warmed things up enough that it kept itself pressurized.

You're right about the pump seals; I think ours were originally leather and were rotted out. We replaced them with something else, that also disintegrated in the gasoline pretty quickly.

Eventually we just gave up on it after a couple of years, and used a simple propane torch. A match or a sparker, and all you had to do was turn the valve open. Much more reliable, no worrying about spilling gas or leaking stuff, but nowhere near as "romantic" looking. I wouldn't go back to a gasoline torch today unless I had to.

Chas Clifton said...

Every time I see a gasoline blowtorch in an antiques store, I am glad to be part of the propane generation -- even though I don't mind gas-fired lanterns and camping stoves.

Will said...

Some things are best appreciated from the near side of the nostalgic view. The reality can sometimes be painful.