Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Probably a question for FogRider.... I finally was able to remove the cap from my Imperial (boiling water did the trick, FogRider was right) and im ready to begin my restoration on it. The question I have is did yours have the rubber belt in the wax with the spring ?? It looks like a small fanbelt from a car and its in the center of the wax in a horseshoe pattern with the spring around the outer edge of the cylinder. I have never heard anyone talk of this rubber belt. Im leaving it in, but wondering what it is for. I will get a pic of it but I put the wax bottom side down in the bucket and I dont want to handle it too much, its rather soft.

Im removing and filtering the liquid and a light cleanup of the wax ( some spots of white residue) and cleaning the cylinder. It runs great with HUGH strings and blobs of lava moving everywhere, it was just too murky to see it well, so filtering the fluid was needed. Im waiting for the filter...the MSR unit. I will post up a start to finish project with pics....I just forgot to get one while it was murky and running, it never dawned on me to take a pic of the cloudy runner. Some start pics..


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Wow. That liquid really is murky. Hopefully you can restore it completely.
I have no idea of any info on this lamp...sorry.

Good luck with the restoration.

The Imperial looks cool but every single one I see seems to look cloudy? To bad these weren't made in the 1990s, they would of rocked.
Hi Everybody,

Astro, im just going to filter the liquid with a MSR pump filter, im just waiting on the filter to come. I think it will result in a clear fluid with a orangish hue. Im not planning on changing the color at this time. I was hoping one of the others with the Imperial can tell me if theirs had the rubber belt. Craigs resto is fabulous, I remember following it. Thanks for the info.

Matt, the lamp is 40+ years old, when it sits for 10+ days without running or moving, the fluid is crystal clear. There was a layer of sedament that would settle on top of the wax after it sat for long periods. It runs flawlessly after 40+ years, I would say that is cool. I also wish they would have redone them in the 90's too.

Bohdan, its not a seal from the cap, at first I thought the same thing. Its too thick to have fit under the cap and its twice the diameter of the cylinder. I think it was put in to try to pool the wax towards the spring, its coiled up like a horseshoe shape. Somehow it appears to be in good condition after all this time. I will have to get that pic of it so everyone can see it.

The cylinder had numbers stamped on the bottom also....

If 68 is the year, could it mean the cylinder was made Sept 9, 1968 - 09/06/68?
Yes im thinking thats what it stands for, Sept 6, 1968. I was told it was purchased around 1966 but they could have been off a few years after 40 or so go by...LOL. The gentleman was in his late 70's.

OK so the pump filter shows up today..

So I get right to it and start filtering....well after about 1 hour I had about 30oz of liquid filtered. The filter was getting clogged and was getting very hard to pump and my arm was ready to explode about this time. I kind of threw the towel in at this point as I realized this would be a long process. The fluid is extremely contaminated..

What did get through was perfectly clear though...it looked just like gasoline, golden amber but crystal clear.

So I sit for awhile and decide to try the PUR water filter just to see how it goes..off to WallyWorld.... FAIL..I filter about 5ozs before the filter clogs and stops, so I change the filter and the same thing happens, about 5ozs and it stops...So I run some through a coffee filter to see if I can get some of the sediment out before the filter, it did not make a difference, once again with a new filter it filters about 5ozs before clogging. However, the fluid was crystal clear. At $7 a filter and each one filtering only about 5ozs I quickly realize this is going to be costly with 640ozs to filter...LOL so once again I throw in the towel.

So now im back to trying to figure out what to do so I start reading Fogs old post on his Imperial and I decide to try plain old water (he used distilled). I have a 6 stage RO water filter (5mic pre, 1mic pre, twin 1mic carbons, 100gpd RO membrane, DI flosser ) for my fish tank that puts out 3ppm water...better then distilled and almost pharmaceutical grade. So I put the wax in the cylinder and fill it up with water. I figure I will run it for awhile and then add in the sea salt water mixture to get the lava going....well to my surprise it flows OK without anything, but it still needs to warm up fully...

1 hour in..

2 hours in..

It still needs more warm up time, I will post more running pics later.

Now on to that rubber belt in the wax....

Now after watching the bottom (now that I can see it) it does collect the wax and send it towards the outer edge of the cylinder, its hard to see in the pics but in person you can see exactly what its doing..

So the only mystery left is did anyone elses have this rubber belt ? What made LW decide to put it in and what model years got it ? Did any of the other known Imperials have the code on the bottom ? Time will tell..

I will update later with more running pics after it heats up more.

The "belt " is indeed the rubber seal from the cap. The seal in my lamp had swollen over the years, and was protruding in towards the center of the cap when I removed the cap the first time. It's supposed to sit snugly inside the cap and seal the cap to the edge of the glass cylinder. I had to cut the seal with a razor blade, shorten the length of the seal, and then re-install it in the cap (I used silicone to glue the seal into the cap). It looks like your seal has also swollen over the years.

The MSR pump filter will plug up with use. You have to scrub the filter element with a scotchbrite pad once in awhile to keep it flowing.

I ended up replacing the liquid in my Imperial. The old fluid kept clouding up (I filtered it 3 times!). These lamps respond well to a total fluid change. Distilled water, a few drops of dishsoap, and some sea salt was all I used to restore my lamp. It's been about a year now, and it's still crystal clear. I couldn't be happier.

You have a real stunning lamp there Lamphead. I would remove the rubber seal and see if you can shorten it and re-use it. I used a bead of silicon on the seal to re-attach it to the cylinder.

Baby, that's a really nice black and white picture. I wonder where it came from.


Craig (Fogrider)
Ahhh, so it is a seal. How exactly does it seal ?? The top and the cylinder have no clearance between them. The top fits extremely snug and was siliconed to the glass, when you push it down it takes about 15 seconds for it to go down due to air pressure from the tight fit. I also noticed your Imperial has the white cord on it, mines brown. Your lamp may be a first series (1965) while mine maybe a later series (1968). The Imperial was made from 1965 till 1968 if im correct.

The first lava "explosion" happens after 30 minutes, the lamp starts flowing at about the 2 hour mark, and full flow is about 4 hours in.

The seal doesn't go between the glass cylinder and the cap. It fits inside the cap, on it's flat side, snug up against the outer diameter of the inside of the cap; much like the seal on a Mason jar lid. It seals along the top of the frosted edge of the glass cylinder once the cap is in place.
Thanks Craig, it was driving me nuts wondering if any other Imperials had it also. Hopefully I can get it to seal back up like you did, I may have enough for 2 seals when I get done trimming..LOL

A few more running pics....I think it needs more wax

Here is a bad video of it running, it was just a quick capture with my camera.
You might want to try a bit of dishsoap. That might make it flow in longer threads.

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