Shedding some light on saving
They say that things were made better in the old days -- houses,
cars, furniture and, yes, even lamps.
Whether you pick up an old lamp at a garage sale or find
a hidden treasure in your parent's attic, chances are the wiring is so
old, it will need to be updated.
Well, rewiring an old lamp is easier than you might think, says Mike Frentz.
A friend recently discovered a very old, two-light lamp with pull chains
that needed rewiring. The wiring is rayon-coated and frayed (Fig. 1) and
the plug is so old that it isn't polarized and the wires are exposed
inside (Fig. 2). You can tell if a plug is polarized by the size of the
prongs. If it has one wide prong and one small prong (Fig. 3), then your
plug is polarized.
As far as a rewiring job of this sort goes, a two-light
lamp is about as complicated as it gets, so we're going to show you how to
1. Get prepared
get started, it's a good idea to gather together everything you going to
need for your rewiring project. Here's a shopping list:
lamp cord with molded plug
of additional lamp wire without a plug
electrical wire nuts
lamp check ring
2. Disassembling the lamp
got all your parts together, it's time to get going.
Start by disassembling the lamp.
old plug off the end of the old wire
remove the brass covers from the light sockets (Fig. 4). Then loosen the
socket screws and remove the old wires.
When a lamp has as many parts as this one does, it helps to lay the parts
out in the order they were disassembled (Fig. 5). That will make putting
it all back together.
remove the old wire cord from inside the lamp.
3. Putting it all back together
If you had to completely disassemble the lamp to remove the wire, now's
the time to put it back together.
- The next
step is take your new lamp cord with a molded plug on the end (Fig. 6),
and start feeding it back up through the base of the lamp (Fig. 7).
- Next you
want to cut two 6-inch pieces of electrical wiring and feed them through
the top of the lamp and socket holes (Fig. 8).
Once you have pushed the wires through the bottom
"cup" of the fixture, tie an "underwriters" knot in the wire below the
socket cap (Fig. 9). This keeps the wire from accidentially being pulled
through the lamp and disconnecting from the socket.
Next strip about 3/4-inch of the plastic coating on
the wires from each end as well as the plug cord.
4. Finish rewiring
time to rewire the sockets in your lamp. If the original sockets are too
worn out, you'll want to replace them with new ones (Fig. 10). In this
case, our original ceramic sockets are keepers. "They're in good shape and
they're heavy duty," Mike says.
When you begin to connect wires, that's when you need to
pay attention to their make up. Each length of cord consists of two wires
-- one with a ribbed plastic coating (the neutral wire) and one with a smooth
plastic coating (the hot wire).
- Twist the
exposed wires clockwise to keep them from fraying.
connect the ribbed (neutral) wire to the screw terminal that is connected
to the outside shell of the socket ( silver screw). Then connect the smooth (hot) wire to
the screw that is connected to the screw terminal that is connected to the
switch inside the socket (brass screw). That's the best guide when you're working with
old sockets, Mike says. New sockets are color-coded -- you'll want to
connect the neutral wire to the silver-colored terminal and the hot wire
to the brass terminal. A tip from Mike: Always wrap your wire clockwise
around the screw. That way, when you turn the screw, it tightens the wire
- Now it's
time to connect all the wires at the top. This is actually very simple.
Twist all the ribbed (neutral) wires together and then twist all the
smooth (hot) wires together. (Fig. 11)
- Next, to
keep all your wires connected, you'll want to cover them with wire nuts.
Simply screw the wire nuts onto the wire bundles clockwise. (Fig. 12)
5. The Finish Line
pack the two bundles of wires back into the top of the lamp (Fig. 13) and
then put the brass lamp check ring on top before replacing the finial (Fig. 14).
rewired lamp (Fig. 15) will work like new!