Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Greetings!   I've made some progress on my 4' tall tower lava lamp project.  The base is done, glass vase obtained (nice thick walls), and coupling is done - very secure.   I'm getting ready to mount the 200W spot light (on a dimmer - we will be going at this slowly) in the base and am looking for advice on space between the top of the bulb and the bottom of the glass floor.  In my Magma 3' tower the space is less than 1/2", but that's a pro built lamp with the special low expansion glass, and mine is just normal blown glass.    So, I was thinking an inch, or even two, to lessen the thermal gradients, but wonder if I'll end up struggling to get enough heat to warm up the whole column (5 gallons).

Advice and suggestions welcome!

Todd

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Probably nothing. If the water does manage to cause a short circuit it would just trip a circuit breaker (or GFI outlet). In either case unless your house was wired by an idiot, the power should shut off quickly enough to avoid any damage.


andy ross said:

I've been wondering what is likely to happen if the glass cylinder cracks and splits at the bottom? (leaking onto the electrics)

I suppose that could happen with any lamp though...

Claude - please may I ask if you happen to know - did the insurance pay out on the Colossus debacle?

Thanks Claude/Tim, I'm surprised the insurance paid out - must have been good advice!

Hey Todd, that's a really nice concept... I've built some monsters in the past and have had fun, so I'm not about to be a wet blanket... but FWIW I have always followed experts' advice, and used borosilicate glass - the big cylinders here are 7mm thick (the extra cost over 5mm is not much) and they can take high heat all day... it can easily take as long as a Colossus to get these beasts flowing - 10hrs at  full power for lava? - and the ambient temperature makes a huge difference, too...

My thinking on the cylinder spec was that (a) obviously I didn't want disasters, thanks very much, and (b) you need really good fills - lava or glitter - and nowadays they cost a fortune... so it seemed a false economy to risk losing the lot for the cost of a reliable cylinder that would last (and I was relaxed with) But yes, it's your call, of course. Best of luck!

One point - buy a thick rubber mat to stand the cylinder on when it's out of the base - any hard protruding screwhead, or tiny pebble or similar, will concentrate all the weight on one point ...and bye bye cylinder, and contents

(Mathmos lost their original Princess cylinder - and its lava fill - that way, it's so easy to forget to be careful)

All good input and I'm definitely looking at this as learning. 

I will put a small ring to pad the base.  My cylinder is about 6mm thick walls and a good 12mm thick at the base, but it's just machjne blown glass.  I was expecting this experiment to bust the first time I powered it up filled with water and full blast with the 250W bulb just 1/2" from the bottom, but it held.  So... onward for the time being ...   If it busts I hope to be able to recover fluid/wax from the tub.

The thickness of a cylinder ist not that importat for how much heat it can take. Most boro lab glasses are very thin glass.
So 5mm is fine for a 20cm diameter cylinder and 3mm is enough for smaller ones too.
Beside this, I agree 100% :-)

andy ross said:

Thanks Claude/Tim, I'm surprised the insurance paid out - must have been good advice!

Hey Todd, that's a really nice concept... I've built some monsters in the past and have had fun, so I'm not about to be a wet blanket... but FWIW I have always followed experts' advice, and used borosilicate glass - the big cylinders here are 7mm thick (the extra cost over 5mm is not much) and they can take high heat all day... it can easily take as long as a Colossus to get these beasts flowing - 10hrs at  full power for lava? - and the ambient temperature makes a huge difference, too...

My thinking on the cylinder spec was that (a) obviously I didn't want disasters, thanks very much, and (b) you need really good fills - lava or glitter - and nowadays they cost a fortune... so it seemed a false economy to risk losing the lot for the cost of a reliable cylinder that would last (and I was relaxed with) But yes, it's your call, of course. Best of luck!

One point - buy a thick rubber mat to stand the cylinder on when it's out of the base - any hard protruding screwhead, or tiny pebble or similar, will concentrate all the weight on one point ...and bye bye cylinder, and contents

(Mathmos lost their original Princess cylinder - and its lava fill - that way, it's so easy to forget to be careful)

It can brake in first run or it will take several runs. Every run will stress the glass and the day will come when it will crack :-)
It possibly will last you even a year until it cracks.

Todd said:

All good input and I'm definitely looking at this as learning. 

I will put a small ring to pad the base.  My cylinder is about 6mm thick walls and a good 12mm thick at the base, but it's just machjne blown glass.  I was expecting this experiment to bust the first time I powered it up filled with water and full blast with the 250W bulb just 1/2" from the bottom, but it held.  So... onward for the time being ...   If it busts I hope to be able to recover fluid/wax from the tub.

Believe me Marcel, I hear you, and am convinced the day will come when I find all the goo in the tub and the GFI tripped.

Maybe I should start an OVER / UNDER betting pool?   And when I find it has failed, I will be contacting you, since I really would like to have a very tall one in orange.   Claude helped me get my old 28" red Magma Tower lamp going again after years in storage and it's been a joy, especially with the mirrors.   A twice as tall vivid orange tower would be awesome! 

Marcel Goolamp said:

It can brake in first run or it will take several runs. Every run will stress the glass and the day will come when it will crack :-)   It possibly will last you even a year until it cracks.

Did you calculate how much liquid it is? I think it will be a lot, as our "small" GL200 is 20L and the XXL is 35L.
You would need a big pool for so much liquid. What I can tell you, is that the first lamp we build like 15 years ago was
much work and spend much monney on it for the base, electric and manny hours of work.
When it cracked it was a mess as all were full with lava.... Uncleanable. The complete base went into trash :-)

But I am looking forward to see your project ready and how it will  ends :-) Good luck :-)

Todd said:

Believe me Marcel, I hear you, and am convinced the day will come when I find all the goo in the tub and the GFI tripped.

Maybe I should start an OVER / UNDER betting pool?   And when I find it has failed, I will be contacting you, since I really would like to have a very tall one in orange.   Claude helped me get my old 28" red Magma Tower lamp going again after years in storage and it's been a joy, especially with the mirrors.   A twice as tall vivid orange tower would be awesome! 

Marcel Goolamp said:

It can brake in first run or it will take several runs. Every run will stress the glass and the day will come when it will crack :-)   It possibly will last you even a year until it cracks.

Yep, it's just around 6 US gallons of liquid and about a gallon of wax - a lot for sure!  The cut down moving tub will hold all of that easily should it crack.  I was thinking I could recover all the liquid, but the wax part perhaps not.  I also need to restrain the top since toppling over would be a big and very sharp mess.   The bulb would also explode, hopefully since it's under vacuum the little bits stay contained in the base.   It's a scenario I've thought about quite a bit, and even more after I brought the project up on the website.  I'm committed to try it, but like I've said many times, I'm ready to go pro if my amateur version makes that sickening "pop" sound!   If anything, I hope to get one great picture of it running with good flow to put in my hobby/project scrapbook!

Marcel was absolutely RIGHT !!!

I filled the lamp with 3 quarts of heavily dyed orange wax and 6 gallons of distilled water, put in my aquarium heater that gets things to 90 degrees a lot sooner (I take it out before the wax gets going), turned on the light and watited.   
20 minutes later, BOOM, right in front of me!

The 1/2" thick glass floor of the vase broke in a radial pattern (like pizza slices), cracks ran up the sides, and the whole glass column of water and unmelted splashed onto the bench and floor in my basement (thank goodness!) workshop.   

It was shocking, sure, but also satisfying in that I was there when it blew and got to watch the collapse.  Like Elon Musk said after one of his rockets exploded, with a smile, "That was spectacular!".  The bulk of the clean up took several hours, and now we're basically back to where we started, with the whole mess tossed.  I acknowledge Marcel once again for his appropriate caution as I went about this homemade experiment.   He was absolutely right that a blown glass tube does not a lava lamp tower make.

So, like I anticipated doing earlier, I'll now be getting in touch with Marcel at GooLamp to follow my dream of a really tall orange lava tower lamp! 

And Marcel, you absolutely have the right and my permission to say "Ich habe es dir gesagt!"  :)

testing that in a large bucket/tub would have made cleanup easier
Ah well,, you got a clean floor now, LOL
Fun experiment though, and educational as well

That black box underneath the bench was a cut down moving tub meant to do that, but it only caught maybe 1/3 or a half at best when it busted.  A lot of it fell on top of the bench instead <splat> followed by impressive waterfall over the edge onto the floor.    The new lamp will go in this same position, so I'm hoping the borosilicate cylinder will fare better! 

One thing for sure, when I first turned it on, it looked awesome (to me).   For 20 min that is . . .

The floor is pretty clean now, but I tell ya, wax is slick stuff !


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