Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

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Comment by Jonas Clark-Elliott on January 21, 2014 at 11:58pm

I worked in a neon shop for a few years, and I've got a great respect for the medium, benders, collectors, and old signs. I, too, made Jacob's Ladders using old transformers (I still have a 4 1/2 foot tall one in a plexi case) and used to dink around with transformers, usually 5000 or 7500 volt beer sign transformers. We used to replace old 15,000 volt monsters in older signs, and would chuckle grimly at the 60 mA ones (we replaced with 30 mA). I will say this: been zapped - ungrounded, thankfully - with a 15,000 v transformer, and 110 v wall current hurts much worse, at least to me!

One of the shop's employees survived a nasty run-in with a bombarder at another shop--!!! It had no Jacob's Ladder, and the wires ran too close to the cable for a vacuum indicator; when a unit broke and it shorted, the current found ground by going through the vacuum indicator dial, through a foil-lined bag of chips he was digging his hand into while working, and out his leg. I wish I was kidding!

Comment by Todd Miller on January 21, 2014 at 9:49pm

That Neon is Cool, plus I love a Drive in movie theater.  We had one

in my town back in the day.

When I was 16, there was a neon sign shop just down the tracks. I would

walk down the tracks and behind the building, they would toss out these

old transformers.  Very heavy tar filled transformers with big glass insulators

on each side.  I scored a 18KV 300ma transformer and made a Jacobs Ladder.

I used to vaporize different materials including 2x4's  Now that I look back, lucky

I didn't kill myself.

Comment by Rich C on January 21, 2014 at 9:10pm

This particular sign, and my clock, and a few other pieces are antiques.  This Drive In sign probably burned for decades and decades and still work like new.  Not a lot of moving parts in neon, but fancy color tubes can wear out or turn dark, but the clear (red-orange) neon can burn for a lifetime if the tubes are made well with quality electrodes.  These were made back in the day when craftsmanship on making the tubes and the quality of the electrodes was high.  I'm sure they will still be burning when I'm dead on gone.

Comment by Keith on January 21, 2014 at 8:39pm

You know, the more I look at this the more I like it :)

Comment by Rich C on January 21, 2014 at 8:24pm

It never photographs well.  Plain neon burns with a warm orange glow that no other lighting source can match.  Neon is one of my fascinations.  Plasma balls are filled with a mixture of neon and other rare gasses by the way.  Just as an FYI, the Drive In sign shown is run by a 15,000 volt transformer which is hidden behind the wall.  You have to have a great deal of respect for voltages that high.  They always say, "it's the amps that'll kill you" and at 15,000 volts the amps are only 30 milliamps (amps and volts have a direct inverse relationship so to step 120v household current to 15,000v drives the amps way down) but trust me, you don't want to get zapped by one of these transformers!

Comment by G. T. on January 21, 2014 at 8:14pm

I like it!  Great colors.

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