[CR]Re: Acetylene lamps

(Example: Framebuilders:Rene Herse)

To: breaches@gmail.com
From: "Michael Allison" <cyclo_one@verizon.net>
Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2007 15:54:48 -0400
cc: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR]Re: Acetylene lamps

Dear lister:

You are very fortunately to have an NOS carbide bicycle lamp. That's a rare bird. You can get carbide by mail at the link below. Most shops that carry it will not ship because of Hasmat rules. Of course if you live in cave country, it's readily available.

I've had considerable experience with acetylene lamps. They are extremely bright. Fill the water tank to the top but only about 1/3-1/2 of the bottom with carbide (it expands). Make sure the seals on the carbide chamber are in good condition, otherwise the gas will escape and you'll have a fireball (it will no explode). There should be a metal plate in the carbide chamber with a spring on it. This is placed on top of the fresh carbide with the spring on top, so it compresses the carbide when you screw the lamp together.

The size and brightness of the flame is controlled by the amount of water as you open the control. There is always a lag, so the flame may be small at first. But once the lamp builds up gas the flame will get larger. If there is too much pressure, water will come out of the fill cap. In that case lower the drip rate. The carbide chamber gets very hot from the chemical reaction so be careful handling it. If the flame is too large you risk cracking the glass.

Never let the lamp burn until it is out; this will clog the burner tip with carbon. When you're finished wil its use blow out the flame. Never leave spent carbide in the chamber for more than a day. It will turn into a solid mass. The spent carbide is very caustic, so dispose of it appropriately. You can clean out any spent carbide build-up with weak acetic acid.

Sometimes the flame will go out when you hit a bump. This is a pain because you'll have to wait until the lamp cools before you can reach in and re-light the burner. So here's a trick I learned from an ol' timer. Secure a piece of thin copper wire around the burner with a portion of it sticking right into the flame. It will begin to glow when the lamp is lit and will automatically re-ignite the gas.

Michael Allison New York, NY