Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Several years ago I purchased a vintage 60s Century lamp.  The cap broke in shipping and the fluid all leaked out. The wax was still there, but there was no other fluid in the globe.  I found a recipe online for making replacement liquid using water and baking salts.  Well, the baking salt recipe didn't work.  I am fairly certain the globe is beyond salvaging, but that isn't my problem.

I have tried using several different globes on this Century base but none of them work properly.  I first tried the Century base and a standard appliance bulb.  The wax got warm quickly enough and began to flow, but never really got flowing properly.  I tried using a bulb that had a long next and put the bulb in contact with the base of the globe.  The lava flowed a bit better, but still never got moving properly.  Finally I tried a new normal appliance bulb.  Still no good flow.

Did the Century bases work better with a different bulb?  Are they known to to run cooler than Aristocrat bases?  

Thanks for any advice.

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I have five Century's and only the last lamp I got from

ebay had the heat ring.

Playing around will all my misc 52oz bottles & bases,

I can say for a fact that the Century bases take a long

to heat up compared to a 32oz.

I plan on making some heat rings, even for my two giant's.

I've seen some metal cups at the thrift store and what not.

I'll have to look for poached egg cups or ask the wife when

she comes home.

Im not sure about USA aristocrat bases, but I do know that the century bases are alot cooler than the china aristocrat bases. My USA purple/yellow flows beautifully on the black neon china base, but on my century base (with a 40w bulb and the heat ring) it barely gets hot enough to send up pea shooters. Both of my century bases are like this, but both of the globes they came with get plenty hot enough to flow, and they flow beautifully. If I put the century globes on my china aristocrat bases, they get really overheated.

First off to clear up. Century bases are colder than aristocrat bases. I would try a 60 on a dimmer. Some of my really old century bases need a dimmed 60 to work. 

Next the heat rings. They were introduced around 1990. No 70s century lamps had them. Some late 80s may have them. If the dimmed 60 doesn't work post the results. Another method you can do is to raise the bulb. I have never modified a base, but i remember seeing it to get bulbs closer.

I was very disappointed when the bulb on my gen-you-whine new Mathmos Telstar burned out in 90 days and the only replacement "mini reflector spots" I could find online were 25 watt bulbs, versus the 40w it came with. 25W just doesn't work properly.

I would up buying a pack of "bi-pin" bulb bases on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DPCACVM/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=...

While these say 12 volt, they show no signs of heat problems at 120V. Most "bi-pin" sockets are for one specific size, like "G4" 4mm pin separation. These accommodate something like 4-10mm bases, so they will work with 20 watt ("G4" 4mm pins) or larger 25W, 30W, 40W, etc. similar bi-pin bulbs.

I do not like bi-pin bulbs, they're expensive, about $5 each discount, often $9 each MSRP. But they are SMALL enough to fit in the TelStar lamp and you can adjust the heat by using a different wattage of bulb. And they're common in larger hardware stores and lighting stores, unlike the mini-spot.

So...I carefully cracked the glass off the dead bulb, and soldered the leads from the bi-pin socket to the leads that used to support the filament in the dead bulb. Then I used plumber's epoxy (heat resistant, easy to mold, no sags) to fill and insulate the top of the old screw-in base.

Now I have a bi-pin socket that can screw into the existing original mini candelabra base. I screwed it in, bent the leads around so I could test fit the new bi-pin bulb (I started with 30W) and voila, the TelStar is working again with a COMMONLY AVAILABLE BULB. I wanted to be able to bend the leads and move the bulb because I wasn't sure if it would work and fit better horizontally or vertically. (Either one seems fine.)

I think 35W or 40W will be better, it was just out of stock at the time.

When I get around to it, I will buy a piece of pipe nipple and new power cord. Then I'll remove the original cord and socket and set it aside "for posterity" and install the new bi-pin base directly on a new cord.

And I'll be able to use a variety of commonly available bulbs.

Real simple conversion, and it could be done in ANY of the lava lamps, although a plain 40W appliance bulb will always be the simplest and cheapest way to go.

Bi-pin sockets and bulbs can be an oddity, but don't overlook then when space is tight, or when you want the option of different wattage bulbs. Lowes carries about twice the selection that Home Depot does, but they're available from many sources. Sometimes $10/10 bulbs from ebay direct from China, which is damned hard to beat.

One thing you need to remember if you are going to use the heat ring is that it will greatly decrease the amount of light that comes down & out of the starlite holes in the base. I have found that 60W bulbs work just fine in the Centurys requiring more heat but I use dimmers with mine to insure they don't overheat.

Reed said:

Jeff wins the prize!  My beat up old Century is indeed missing the heat ring.  Is this something that I can fabricate or purchase new?

CORRECT!!!!! Heating rings were not added until later. I am not sure but i know atleast late 70s probably late to mid 8-s

Jeff said:

Interesting the '75 didn't have it.  Mine was from '89 and still had it.  Maybe they only used them in the 80s and 90s?

Try the globe on an aristocrat base. Century bases do run much cooler than aristocrat bases.

I'd think you could fake a heating ring by carefully cutting up a soda can with a tinsnips. Or folding up some heavy duty aluminum foil and working with that first. If nothing else, you can't cut yourself on aluminum foil and a regular scissor will cut it, so you can figure out the shape to start with.

I have an old Century base like this. I used the heat ring from another lamp to mold a new one out of heavy tin foil. The sockets sit lower in the old bases, so the heat ring from a newer lamp won't work, and I had to extend the foil heat ring accordingly. Works great with a 40watt and a newer US globe, and I still get enough light through the pinhole base.

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