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 Critter on June 23, 2014 at 11:42am
Johnny, yep the M.T. Goo is like lava and Mathmos wax, solid when cool. But honestly it is lighter than lava lite wax. It melts easily and rises easily in pure water. The lamp starts spiking in about 1/2 hour and full flows in about 4 hours. I am running the lamp with a 200W 130V bulb. However U.S. electrics are 120V so this lamp cannot get to full wattage. I estimate it is running at about 160-170 watts.

What colors did you pick for your new fill?
Comment by Johnny on June 23, 2014 at 10:47am

im guessing its a solid wax? if so what is the heat up time when it blobs?

Comment by Critter on June 22, 2014 at 1:15pm

Lamp Update.  As of 6:00 AM this morning the lamp has been running for 10 consecutive days, 240 hours, without issue.  It remains clear, wax is connected to the coil and flowing extremely well.

Comment by Critter on June 18, 2014 at 10:34am
Keith. I agree with that. I have tried a couple times and they come out terrible. I should try my wife's iPhone, my Android phone makes so-so video.
Comment by Keith on June 18, 2014 at 10:23am

You know, we're gonna need video of the two running together. 

Comment by Critter on June 18, 2014 at 5:32am
Johnny, The legs.got a triple.coat of clear satin varnish.
Comment by Johnny on June 18, 2014 at 2:25am

did you varnish or stain the wood for the legs?? as mine were varnished and i want to put em back to the teak colour but not sure what to use after ive stripped the old dark varnish of

Comment by Critter on June 17, 2014 at 7:59pm
Brad, I am thinking of some totally custom builds from here. However, I still do have several vintage lamps that need restoration, some 52oz lamps and a few consort based lamps. It is hard to know where to go from here.
Comment by Brad on June 17, 2014 at 7:47pm

nice work!  what's the next project? :)

Comment by Critter on June 17, 2014 at 11:42am

Thanks so much for the kind words. Yep the stand is awesome! Not all Princess lamps were displayed on the stand originally. Some were intended only for display by being recessed into a flat counter top surface...I also know of at least one instance where the lamp was displayed in a a very tall tube stand that looked to be around three feet tall. Those provided to the Dr. Who set were provided sans any stand as the set had been built to hold them. The six lamps were provided to the BBC network on loan and were supposed to be returned at the end of production of that particular Dr. Who series. None of them made it back and disappeared into history with various staff who worked Dr. Who production. Who could blame folks for wanting to take one home?


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