I am posting this information in the hope that we will all benefit from it. Shortly after joining this site I was reading about the difficulty in removing the caps on 52oz. Lava Lite globes without some possibility of breaking the cap. I think the problem lies in two areas. One is that people might be trying to remove them without any assistance in holding the globe. Those caps are on there wicked tight. The other is probably the manner in which the cap is being twisted to remove it. The cap is designed to be screwed on with its flat top surface as close to parallel as possible with the surface that the globe is sitting on during its installation. Needless to say, it’s extremely difficult to apply the proper torque and angle on removal with the globe sitting between ones legs. Here’s the way I handled it.
When doing some lamp making I almost always have my friend over that I have known since we were 13 years old. He received a red/amber Century lava lamp in 1975 as a Christmas present. That’s where my addiction began. Before you begin, make sure the globe is clean and dry on the outside. The first tool you will need to work on the cap removal is something you wouldn’t expect. It’s an office supply called ‘Tacky Finger’. Another brand is called ‘Sortkwik’ and made by Lee Products in Minnesota. This is a concoction of pink stuff that when dry helps to pick up pieces of paper. All you older folks out there know exactly what I am talking about. I’m no exception. LOL! It will help you get a grip on the assembly. The person holding the globe during this operation should get this stuff on any part of his hands that will come in contact with the globe. The person removing the cap needs to coat at least his index finger and thumb as well as the skin between them. Rub the stuff into your hands until it becomes tacky. If you choose another way of getting your hands sticky be aware that I have no idea what other solutions may do to the color on the cap when you touch it.
Firstly, make sure your globe is cool and at room temperature. If you shake hot lava you have another problem that is way too difficult to fix. Place the globe on a smooth, stable surface. Waist high to chest high is good. Keep in mind the bottom of the globe has nibs on it that may scratch. If so, put a cloth under the globe. Get one person to grasp the globe with two hands roughly half way down. The other person needs to wrap one hand around the top edge of the cap and the other hand on as much cap as you can get with it or simply use the other hand to stabilize the first by grasping on top of it. On the count of three both people should turn the part they are holding in opposite directions. Looking down on the globe from the top, the cap should come off counter-clockwise. If you are the person holding the cap try to twist parallel to the tabletop or this might lead to breakage. If the cap is not coming off you might need to do the following. With firm opposite twisting pressure on the cap and globe already being applied, count to three again and have the one holding the cap to give it a quick sharp twist. I have opened two globes using a partner. One came off with just firm and steady twisting. The other had to be given the snap treatment with a bit of inertia thrown in. It sounds like the cap snapped when I did this but I think it just had a good dry seal on it and was coming loose. I inspected both caps carefully and could see no signs of breakage. This method made sense to me in that one person is not doing all the work and the whole globe/cap assembly became more stable during the process. There is one other thing you should know. There is not a flat seal in the caps I removed like you see in the older 32oz caps. There was one O-ring in each of them. Note that the flat side of the O-ring goes toward the mouth of the globe during reassembly and the convex or outwardly rounded side seats in the cap. When putting the cap back on I use a Q-tip and get a tiny amount of lamp liquid on the face of the seal that touches the mouth of the globe. This should help it slide without pinching or cutting it when you tighten it back down. I hope this has been helpful. Maybe this will help us keep more of these classic lamps in service for many years to come.