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Why no clear glass in handlamps?

Discussion in 'Railwayana' started by John Baritone, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    I've seen plenty of three and four aspect paraffin lamps for sale on E-bay, and it always puzzled me why so many of them were lacking the clear glass, even though all the coloured glasses were present and undamaged. Then I bought one myself, complete with the clear glass (albeit with one corner broken off) and found out why.

    If you leave the clear glass in the rotating sleeve, the only way you can light it is to release the catch, and pull the sleeve up high enough to get underneath it to reach the wick with your match or lighter. Then, of course, if you need to adjust the flame height, you have to go through the same routine - and again when you want to snuff it out, unless you go for the brutal method, adopted by some philistines on the railway, of just slamming it onto the ground, base first.

    If, on the other hand, you just remove the clear glass and chuck it away, then lighting, adjusting and snuffing out can be done just by swivelling the sleeve round. Why did it take me so long to work that out? :rolleyes:
     
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  2. Martin Adalar

    Martin Adalar New Member

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    I cannot see the problem, mine has the clear glass and fortunately has never been vandalised.
     
  3. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    Then I suggest you try reading my post.
     
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  4. Greenway

    Greenway Well-Known Member

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    I suspect the clear glass was necessary to avoid wind blowing out the flame. Those of us who have the old style hurricane lamps (the old working type and not the decorative versions) know that either the flame is easily blown out, even in a breeze, or flickers giving a pretty useless light. The glass chimney or shield is necessary.
     
  5. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    Greenway, take a look at these two pictures of my lamp. The one on the left shows the opening with the sleeve in place, and the clear glass removed; on the right, with the sleeve removed.

    upload_2018-11-11_16-49-35.png

    It's obvious that, in the first case, the burner has slightly more shelter than it does with the sleeve lifted, as the opening in the sleeve is slightly smaller than the opening in the housing. Having tried lighting it and then adjusting the flame height with the sleeve lifted, I found that I could only do it with the sleeve lifted high enough to completely clear the opening, otherwise there wasn't sufficient room for me to get my hand in (and though my hands aren't the daintiest, they aren't that big!). And unless there's a certain amount of friction between the sleeve and the housing, you'd have to hold it up with one hand while lighting the burner with the other - a fiddly job, to say the least - or else pull the sleeve right out, in which case any breeze will be blowing right across the top opening and sucking a draught in through the open door, which makes the flame even more likely to get snuffed out.

    I grant you, I've never lit this lamp outside in a breeze, but I regularly light level crossing gate lamps (which are modified from brake van sidelights), and look like this when you open the door:

    upload_2018-11-11_17-6-41.png

    That is obviously a much larger opening than my shunter's lamp with the clear glass removed, yet I can light it, out in the open, even on a windy day. That being so, I fail to see how removing the clear glass on my shunter's lamp makes it more difficult to light.

    And, of course, there's the point which I referred to in my first post; that, whenever you see a three or four aspect lamp like this for sale, if any of the glasses are missing, almost invariably it's the clear one that's gone. I find it hard to believe that it's sheer coincidence - but feel free to disagree.

    With best regards,

    John
     
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  6. Greenway

    Greenway Well-Known Member

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    John, looking at the photos it seems the lamps - in all photos - are far better shielded from breezes/winds etc. than hurricane lamps. They are similar to the old paraffin road menders lamps in that way, but unlike road mender lamps they are obviously meant to be more portable and swung on occasions. It is sometime since I last saw things like them. Yes, it does seem then that the missing clears could have been removed as the lamp and its lighting was easier to deal with and consequently removed. It would not have been sensible to remove the coloured glasses. Like everything in life their are always exceptions: Martin's (post #2) might be one.
     
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  7. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

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    I use a BR handlamp with the clear glass intact and have never had an issue with lighting as I take the whole lamp apart. You need to do that to check the oil level anyway. I always light the lamp well before I need it in sheltered conditions either in a passenger brake or even in a freight brake. Doors and windows shut there is no draft to blow it out as you reassemble. I have the reassurance that the flame is protected when inn use. The resevoir seems good for at least 8 hours so could even be lit in the bothy
     
  8. Martin Adalar

    Martin Adalar New Member

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    I read your post and still see no problem: I would be inclined to open the front, lift the barrel out and then light it und cover before venturing outside. This is how signal and gate lamps were lit in the past and why fire retardent lamp rooms were provided.
     
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  9. DisusedBranch

    DisusedBranch Active Member

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    An entire thread about the pros and cons of lighting paraffin lamps, including photographic guide and the obligatory willy-waving argument.

    It could only happen amongst the middle aged menfolk of NatPres... :)
     
  10. Greenway

    Greenway Well-Known Member

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    ..............and those who so much spare time to read it all. ;)
     
  11. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

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    I am not middle aged - I am a a grumpy old git:Saywhat:
     
  12. DisusedBranch

    DisusedBranch Active Member

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    Evidently
     
  13. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad Active Member

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    I must go and have a gander at the old lamps in the collection ...
     
  14. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

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    I would be interested in your findings
     
  15. Martin Adalar

    Martin Adalar New Member

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    Removing the the curved clear glass was just down to laziness.
     

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