Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Another Restoration leading to a first meeting.....50 years in the making

I've had a remarkable year where Lava Lamps are concerned.  I had been looking for an Imperial for a good while and thinking I might never find one.   Sure, I knew where there are five or so, but they are in the hands of people who love them.  I was quite shocked to get the chance to buy Jim's Imperial this past March.  The funny thing is that I almost passed on it when he made me the offer.  I'm sure many would wonder why I even gave that notion a thought.  Well, last Fall I stumbled on to an even more epic opportunity and could not pass it up and that was the opportunity to buy a Crestworth Princess (Rocket actually but more on that at another time).  

I initially began assisting the former owner with the restoration of the lamp, we were talking via email.  About six weeks into the discussion about restoration the former owner decided that it was going to be too expensive and difficult for her to do.  Suddenly I was asked if I would consider buying the lamp.  Of course I said "yes", we found a comfortable price for each of us, I arranged professional pick up, packing and shipping and three days later a Princess that was in need of much love and TLC was in my hands, it had crossed an ocean and half of a continent and survived.

I was really excited to help restore this lamp, and even more excited when I got the opportunity to do it myself.  In researching this lamp and the history of the Crestworth Rocket (the Princess' true name) I had realized that this lamp was probably one of the six that was featured on the Dr. Who show in the mid-late sixties.  Being a Dr. Who fan and Sci-Fi nut in general I knew that no expense would be spared bringing this lamp back to its glory.  Even if I am mistaken and this is not one of the Dr. Who six.....that's of no matter as these lamps are VERY important pieces of Mid-Century Pop Culture and must be preserved.  I had to do this.....if not me maybe no one would.   Besides, about a month before this lamp was discovered I began working with Johnny (a Princess owning OG member) and he was helping me document the Princess/Rocket lamp.  Johnny is a GREAT guy and tirelessly answered A LOT of emails and provided me with detailed dimensions.  I had no idea at the time that Johnny's info would be put to use by me, so soon.  This was truly meant to be and I was meant to save this lamp.

I received the lamp and as I knew based on photos it was in fair/good shape.  The plan was to have it look brand new when finished, so no expense was spared as this had to be right.  The globe was cleaned thoroughly and the exterior of the glass was polished, by me, to remove any fine scratches.  The hand spun copper metal bits were packed up and shipped to the East Coast and put in the hands of a metal restoration specialist who removed any dings, waves, scratches (by hand done metal work) and then the copper was polished and sealed.  The metal now?...it's as close to perfect as it can get.  The lamp was placed in a newly done up stand and the UK electrics were removed and updated with vintage style U.S. electrics.  The lamp arrived with UK electrics but it was apparent that they were not original and had been replaced, so I had no problem removing (and storing) the electrics that came with it.  The new electrics feature a vintage style black ceramic medium base socket, 18 gauge cloth wound electrical cord with vintage two prong bakelite plug.  I even found a round, foot activated, floor switch (like the original) and put it inline too.

I opted not to use Mathmos Monster fluids when refilling the lamp.  Mathmos is too proud of those fluids and with shipping I would spend around $800 for fluids that last only about 2000 hours.  I opted to go with M.T. Goo because I plan to run this lamp and run it a lot.  I Goo Kitted this cylinder four times before I got it to run without any sticking.  My first attempt was Clear with White Goo, it ran great on its first run...I ran it for three days and then I shut it off.  The second run it stuck really badly.  I removed the Goo and tried again, and this time for luck I changed the color and went with a Pink/Green combo, it was awesome!!  It too ran great the first time and then proceeded to stick on its second run.  One more attempt...this time Purple/Pink....same thing, it stuck on the second run.  I finally decided that this had to be a bad batch of Goo.  It took about a month to get replacement  Goo from M.T. and this time I went back to Clear/White.  This batch of Goo worked flawlessly first run, second run, third run, etc.  As I write this tonight the lamp runs, it's been running for four consecutive days.  It is crystal clear and just runs and runs, no over heating, no coil separation, etc.  I'm so pleased.

So finally tonight I want to let you all see the restored lamp and also to see pics of the World's first meeting of the Crestworth Princess and the Lava Lite Imperial.....it's a meeting that has taken nearly 50 years to happen.  The pictures below show the lamp in its various color morphs as I Goo'd and Re-Goo'd.

This pic the newly finished lamp about to run for the first time since restoration:

Metal Bits:



The Lamp in it's various color morphs from first attempt to current state:

Present State (crystal clear):

At Last....Romance?  A Princess meets her Imperial Leader.

Earlier Meet (previous goo attempt):

The two here seen with a Green Heritage Grande'


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Comment by Claude J on December 2, 2015 at 5:32pm

If you ever get tired of it, let me know.

I'll give ti a good home

Comment by Critter on December 2, 2015 at 5:28pm

Thanks you Claude!  

Comment by Claude J on November 15, 2015 at 6:45am

absolutely beautiful

the creme de la creme of lamps

Comment by Critter on October 25, 2014 at 11:04pm
Indeed it is a shame....there should be lamps like the Imperial and Princess readily available.
Thank you for your kind words.
Comment by Lori Wilder on October 25, 2014 at 9:10pm


That is simply amazing. What a beautiful lamp, it's a shame it is so rare. Good job with the restoration I'm jealous.

Comment by Critter on October 3, 2014 at 10:00am
Thanks Rick! I like the old style wire too.
Comment by Rick Gillespie on October 3, 2014 at 7:28am

Awesome! What a cool pair to have. Nice touch going retro on the wiring! 

Comment by Critter on October 1, 2014 at 7:22pm

Keith, I think you're right.....Joe could probably do it!  LOL

Comment by Critter on October 1, 2014 at 7:21pm

Thanks again Vox.  I like the "Giant Roomba" idea sounds expensive to pull off but hey it would be sweet.  

Yeah, the Imperial is a stunner too, especially when viewed away from the Princess, but man the Princess has quite a bit more presence than the Imperial, it's a combination of the extra half a foot or so of height and just a more elegant design.

Not to shun the Imperial though.  One needs to keep in mind that the Imperial WAS designed for and sold to the public so its design had to be different, it had to be more cost effective to build and it had to be sealed in a way that would allow it to be shipped.  The Princess was "The Diva" of the early Crestworth years and it was shuttled to and from marketing events and refilled on site each time.  While I truly believe the Rocket/Princess was/is more beautiful aesthetically, its functional design was such that it could not be practically sold to the public.  The early Lava Lite Company really pulled one off with the Imperial when they made it available to the public.  Even though they sold very, very few they managed to pull it off and get a large floor stander in the hands of the public.  That is something Crestworth never pulled off in those early years.

Comment by Keith on October 1, 2014 at 7:18pm

Vox, you just gave Joe another project!!


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