Electrifying Ye Old Kerosene Lamp

Copper and brass double wick kerosene lamp before electification

Copper and brass double wick kerosene lamp before electification

I picked up this copper and brass double wick kerosene lamp the other day at a sale. I can’t remember how much it cost, but I think I grabbed the antique for under $10.

Looking at the solder joints around the base, I figured this was not a good candidate for using as an actual kerosene lamp, not to mention I never use the ones I already own. I liked the looks of this lamp especially the silver (maybe nickel plated) reflector plate for the lamp.

Wanting to create some sort of Edison bulb light for a while, I figured what better time than now to give it a go.

This lamp was really cool. I’ve never seen a lamp that had two wicks. I had to do an ebay search just to make sure I was not about to destroy something of high value. Once I saw that these lamps were going for less than $50, I figured I could continue with the transformation.


disassembling the lamp

The brass part of the lamp slides right out. I just needed to take it apart to allow room for a bulb socked. A hammer and screwdriver helped move the project along nicely. I was able to break out the wick holders, and most of the innards. The only remaining obstruction was the gear rods that moved the wicks up and down. It looked like they would not be a big problem to remove, I just needed to figure out how much I wanted to save to retain the original look.

My biggest worry was the original top. I had to cut that off to make room for the light socket. I pulled out the Dremel 4000 and cut the top off right at the air vents.


I’ve owned the Dremel for a while, but almost never use it, after this project, it will now be my best friend.

IMG_9689Next came the task of electrifying the lamp. I found the socket I needed and some really cool vintage wire at vintage wire and Supply.

They quickly answered the email questions I asked before I placed my order and shipped out quickly once my order was placed. When it arrived, I was surprised to find a hand written note inside.


bringing it with the Dremel

Before I could start wiring, I needed to drill a hole for the cord to exit and also cut off the wick controller arms from the above picture. I decided to cut off the arms, but the epoxy the ends back in place with some JBEpoxy KwickWeld. to make it ‘look’ like they still went right through the lamp.

While I waited for the Epoxy to dry, I drilled a hole in the back side of the lamp and inserted a rubber grommet to protect the wire. I fed the wire into the light and proceed to wire in the inline on/off switch. I also tied a knot in the wire to help relieve any pressure on the socket if the cord was ever pulled. You can see in the picture, that I also heavily wrapped the wire that was going to be inside the lamp with electrical tape. This was probably not necessary because the wire itself is double wrapped, but I had to cut off some inner parts inside the lamp and I just wanted to be sure the wires did not get scraped inside on something sharp.


initial wiring

I got pretty lucky installing the bulb socket in the top of the lamp. I used a Black Phenolic Lamp Socket from VW&S with an extra ring. I put the one ring on the socket large side up and fed it through the opening I cut. I then put on the second ring large side down and tightened them to the brass fixture. I the fit, that I only roughly measured worked out perfectly!


socket instalation

IMG_9733aFinally I picked up an Edison bulb and plugged it it in. Perfecto!

I bought and installed a 40W bulb. For just a decoration piece, I think I am going to look for a 25W one. You can go blind admiring the 40 W bulb. The bulb was so bright that I could not get a good picture inside with the lamp actually turned on.

Here is the lamp finished electrified lamp.


About brainstormrodeo

Engineer, Craftsman, Tinkerer
This entry was posted in Objects and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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