Author Topic: Carbide Lamp  (Read 14189 times)

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Offline glenn

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Carbide Lamp
« on: 04 Jan 2009 at 03:48 »
Hi , I recently purchased a Powell & Hanmer (Birmangham) Carbide lamp and holder and I was wondering if anybody out there had any information on these. Installation, operation or even fittings

Offline davebarkshire

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Re: Carbide Lamp
« Reply #1 on: 04 Jan 2009 at 11:20 »
Here is a site that has some general info about carbide lamps....
http://wasg.iinet.net.au/clamps.html

The rubber hose is still available somewhere in the vintage scene (VMCC maybe) but the glass parts are the hardest to source. The reflectors are often cracked. Most people use the lamps as cosmetic additions and in the UK they are regarded as ornamental when tested for the MOT. If you do decide to put them back to working condition I'm sure that there are some people who can give you some practical tips. I've never fired my lamps up but here are some pointers that I've gathered which will eventually appear in the 'Black Ariels' book...


Acetylene gas lamps were common until the end of the 1920s when electric systems became the preferred choice. If you have an old motor cycle with gas lamps they will possibly be used for show rather than to light the way, although some people still do fire them up for a night ride. Depending upon where in the world you live this may not be legal and currently in the UK some people do still get away with it although a policemen may need some convincing and MOT testers may classify your old bike for ‘daylight use only’ as gas lights are regarded in the UK as ornaments only.

Gas lights are likely to be found on a 1926 Ariel if it has lights and during the period 1927/1928 either gas or electric would be usual. By 1929 electric lights were becoming more standard but gas was much cheaper and the equipment was much lighter which made them popular with some riders. The gas lighting sets were made by a number of manufacturers but some of the most common were made by Powell & Hanmer, Lucas and Miller. A set consists of a headlamp, tail lamp and a generator. In some cases more than one generator may be used and if a sidecar is attached then larger generators may be used. Gas travels through a rubber tube from the generator to the lamps. Bicycle types are common and in these the generator is integrated into the lamp.

The generator comes apart and carbide lumps are placed in the bottom and are kept down under the pressure of a spring. The top half of the generator houses the water reservoir. When the water and carbide have been put in the generator the needle valve can be opened which will slowly drip water onto the carbide to produce acetylene (a drip rate of one drop every 2 or 3 seconds would be a good starting point). The lamp doors should be open and after a minute or two you should be able to smell the acetylene at the lamps. At this stage blow any accumulated gas out of the lamp (unless you fancy a cheap eyebrow trim) and light the jet. If you ignite too early then the gas mix will be too lean which will give a very hot flame and may damage some internal parts.

This may sound dangerous and accidents have happened! If possible do this outside rather than in the garage. In windy conditions you may have difficulties and remember too that gas lights sometimes go out if the jet becomes blocked or if a gust of wind catches it. Early riders always carried a wire in the headlamp to clear the jet. When the carbide is spent the residue should be cleaned out of the generator.



Offline Frank Lyn

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Re: Carbide Lamp
« Reply #2 on: 24 Mar 2010 at 15:51 »
Specifically for a P & H generator (TS/24): :question:

What is the order of items in the basket for proper use?

My guess is that within the lower section, it goes:

Bottom: the plate with the attached fenestrated tube sticking UP
Next: calcium carbide chunks
then: the plate with a huge hole in the middle
On top: the tapered coil spring with the large end on the plate with the huge hole.

Are there any parts missing and is this the correct arrangement?

thanks,

Offline roy

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Re: Carbide Lamp
« Reply #3 on: 24 Mar 2010 at 21:46 »
Hi Frank, after searching through some vintage motorcycle books I have, I found a diagram of a typical acetylene motorcycle lamp. Have attached for your perusal.
Roy.



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« Last Edit: 25 Mar 2010 at 02:00 by Dave »

Offline Frank Lyn

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Re: Carbide Lamp
« Reply #4 on: 24 Mar 2010 at 22:06 »
Perfect! 

Thank you very much.

Offline roy

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Re: Carbide Lamp
« Reply #5 on: 25 Mar 2010 at 20:18 »
Hi Frank, further to the diagram above I have traced the letter code.
(a) Burner.   (b) Lens Mirror.   (c) Front Lens.   (d) Rubber piping.   (e) Water Compartment of Generator.   
(f) Carbide Container.   (g) Needle Valve Adjuster.   (h) Water Filler Cap.   (i) Gas Outlet Pipe.