Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hi guys, it's been some time since I have visited the boards.  I was recently contacted about restoring four vintage Lava Lamps for an older art installation.  I don't have any experience working on them, but I do have a basic understanding of the chemistry.  Can these lamps be restored to the original color and performance?  The first photo is from 1986 and the rest are of the current state.  What model are these? Can someone recommend a vendor for the replacement goo and perhaps a hands on tutorial for cap removal/replacement, filling and closure etc?  Thanks for any help you experts can provide!


-Torrey

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Cap removal and replacement are simplicity itself.  These are screw caps with an O-ring.  They should come off with just hand strength with some difficulty.  You might need something soft to grip with though.  Tools are not recommended as the caps are plastic or bakelite and can be brittle.  Make sure to check the O-ring before replacing cap.

Thanks.  Are there any reliable vendors here for replacement wax?  I’d rather support someone here than a random eBay seller.

To unscrew is better 2 people. One to grab and the other to unscrew.

Why you are going to change wax and liquid?

They have asked for “restoration” and said they aren’t working, so at this point I’m trying to get ahead of the job.  Still waiting on a video to gauge the performance.  Do the fluids and wax in these old unit not tend to break down over time?

Replacement wax can be difficult to acquire: you can usually buy some from https://www.magmatower.com/  , but the wax performs differently compared to the older lamps. I know some users also sell the vintage wax, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Yes I reached out to them last night and I’m waiting for them to answer some questions.  Does the vintage wax go bad or is it sought after because of its characteristics?  I’m still waiting to determine what this studio means by “they don’t work” and “restoration”.   Thanks for the advice!

Rory said:

Replacement wax can be difficult to acquire: you can usually buy some from https://www.magmatower.com/  , but the wax performs differently compared to the older lamps. I know some users also sell the vintage wax, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Have you run the lamps and confirmed the wax is dead or too ugly?  I'd start there with the possibility of having to modify the existing old wax rather than replace.  

I have a feeling those run. They look to be in OK shape. Getting the original wax/liquid moving is going to be a safer bet than restoring. Magma tower has kits, but I (and several other members) had issues with wax sticking around the base. So much so that I never bought them again.

The only vintage wax I've seen go bad is in the 60s Aristocrat lamps. The entire globe will cloud up as the wax breaks down over time. I generally don't see it happen too much with 70s and 80s lamps.

I have a feeling the lamp pictured would operate just fine if fired up. Can you do that before cracking it open?

Yes I’ve requested an evaluation video and more info.  Just waiting on their response.  Thanks and long time no see. :)

Torrey

Erin said:

I have a feeling those run. They look to be in OK shape. Getting the original wax/liquid moving is going to be a safer bet than restoring. Magma tower has kits, but I (and several other members) had issues with wax sticking around the base. So much so that I never bought them again.

The only vintage wax I've seen go bad is in the 60s Aristocrat lamps. The entire globe will cloud up as the wax breaks down over time. I generally don't see it happen too much with 70s and 80s lamps.

I have a feeling the lamp pictured would operate just fine if fired up. Can you do that before cracking it open?

I recently acquired the same type of lava lamp and the only difference was that the fluid in mine was cloudy - big time.  I plugged it in and the wax melted but just hovered so I unplugged looked at the light bulb and it turns out it was not the recommended wattage.  I replaced the bulb and it started to flow gently and within a week or so the liquid was like new clear again and I've had to no issues with it since. This type of lamp also tends to have a very slow flow not like the newer lamps. I tried to remove the cap using a rubber jar opener recommended by another member here but it would not budge.  I was afraid I would crack or break the cap so I just left it alone. Looking  at your lamp the globe looks new.  I can tell because older lamps like this usually have a wax line at the top after the globe cools from continuous usage. Even when it heats up a lot of times you will still have a wax line.  Just a vintage thing. Globes that were not used as much don't have this line.  Always keep in mind that when you replace any part of the lamp fluids or parts the value of the lamp decreases considerably. Try to keep the lamp as original as possible. 

HEY FRIEND! :waves:

HughesWaveMachines said:

Yes I’ve requested an evaluation video and more info.  Just waiting on their response.  Thanks and long time no see. :)

Torrey

I'd love to help you."
I can restore all of them for you

I've done several -see profile pics

However, I am in the middle of moving and will not have my lab back up and running for at least another month

HughesWaveMachines said:

Thanks.  Are there any reliable vendors here for replacement wax?  I’d rather support someone here than a random eBay seller.

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