Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hello, I recently bought a 1993 aristocrat, and it works, but the flow is strange. The liquid is crystal clear, the glass has very few bubbles, and the wax is a nice deep red. The wax forms a dome at the bottom and as it is rising as it should, a clear bubble of liquid comes up through the wax pulling up a small amount of wax with it. A small blob rises to the top and the dome at the bottom goes down a little and then this repeats. It had a clear 40 watt bulb in it when I bought it, so I tried putting in a 40 watt frosted sylvania bulb the next day, after it cooled over night. After a while it started to flow nicely, but after about 5 minutes, it started the small bubble thing again. I looked at the underside of the bottle while it was warm, and it appears that there is a thin layer of liquid under the wax (thin layer is a bit thicker where the coil is connected to itself). In an attempt to get the wax back to the very bottom, I picked up the warm bottle and swirled it around gently (careful not to break up the wax). After this it flowed nicely, but after about 15 minutes it went back to the small bubbles. How can I fix this, or could this fix itself. I don't want to open the bottle if there's something else I could try first. Worst case I can goo kit it, but I want to try to save the current contents first. Thank you everyone in advance for any advice.

By the way this is my first post, sorry it's long, but I didn't want to leave out any possibly important detail.

Here are 2 videos, the first is of the weird small bubble flow, the second is after I swirled it around and it began to flow properly:



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nice lamp.  by chance do you know if the previous owner had it stored for a while prior to selling it?  if so, perhaps it just needs to be cycled for a few days (i.e.on for 6 hours and off again for 6 hours).  if you want to test different globe temperatures to see if the wax is overheating, you can put the lamp on a dimmer and slowly dim the lamp as the lamp begins to dome.

I don't know what it's previous life was unfortunately (got it at a thrift store), but I'll try the dimmer. Could this really just be from being stored?

it's possible.  i just like to try these relatively easy manipulations before opening up the globe.

btw - welcome to OG!

Thanks, I was very happy to find this sight because any lava lamp problems posted on yahoo answers usually ends with something like "throw the lamp out and get a new one". As with speakers, something else I collect, fixing them is part of the fun.
I think that the problem with my lamp may be with the coil. I'm not sure but since it flowed nicely after being swirled around, it seems possible. The coil is mostly in the wax, but where it is connected to itself to form the circle shape, it doesn't have wax on it. I think that might be causing a pocket of liquid to get heated to the point that it moves upward through the wax. The rest of the coil is in the wax except about an eight of it that sits in the thin layer of liquid under he wax that I previously mentioned. Is this possible, how would this be fixed?

a problem with the coil is also a possibility.  i would try gently swirling the globe again when it starts to flow poorly.  if that and dimming the globe don't fix the problem, you may need to clean the coil.  i've never done it but there are people on this site that have, and there are photos if you search for "coil."

I'd also run it with a 60 watt bulb.  Does additional heat cure the problem -- i.e.: no slow, single bubble flow?

You may also want to try cycling, on higher heat.  I've had a few that do that for a bit but eventually all the liquid gets worked out where it belongs (i.e. not in the wax) and then they run fine.  It does take a few cycles of making hollow bubbles continuously for it to work all the way out though. Like all things lava, have patience.

Is there any risk of excessive pressure building up in the globe if I put a 60 watt bulb in it (how sturdy is the bottle and plastic screw cap). I tried the dimmer, the wax just sits at the bottom, and when the heat gets hot enough to flow, it starts the small bubbles again. Should I try cycling it with the 40 watt bulb first?

Keep an eye on it, but it should be fine at the higher setting.  If you can, you might try some other spots in your house first and use the existing bulb.  There is a huge difference in how my lamps run depending on where they are in the house.  I like to test run picky lamps in my kitchen as it's one of the warmest spots in the house (esp. when I'm cooking) and countertop height seems to work well for my lamps.

This is the same darn thing that one Grande of mine does...very frustrating.  Putting a socket extension in to give it a bit more heat gets it to eventually all go to the top and then "rain" back down about 3 or 4 times then it overheats and the wax lifts off the coil and kind of just rolls at the bottom.  When I dim it down at this stage then it goes back to the little bubbles. Turn heat back up...rinse and repeat.  Its been cycled now at least 10 times over the past few weeks and its no better.

I'm at the point of having it gookitted...unless anyone has any other thoughts.  I haven't looked at what the coil is doing when its making the little bubbles...maybe that's my issue too.  I did try gently swirling/shaking the lamp yesterday while it was cold and then left it sit overnight before running it again, thinking maybe something separated during the years when it was only run maybe twice a yr...but that didn't really make much difference, if any.  It still acted the same. 

I got it flowing properly! It looks so great now. What I did was, I put it on a dimmer and heated it so all the wax was melted at the bottom not quite flowing. Then I took a neodymium magnet ( this one: http://www.kjmagnetics.com/proddetail.asp?prod=B888PC-ORA ) and ran it up the side of the base. The coil came up out of the wax, so I lowered it back into the wax (so the coil was about in the middle of the wax). Then I moved it in circles around the base. This spun the coil through the wax and now it's flowing great. I don't know if it'll last but so far so good. I hope this might be helpful to others with this problem. I don't know if the coil could get damaged by the magnet, so try it at your own risk, but it has worked for me. Thank you everyone for all the assistance.

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