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How-to Lamp Repair or Rebuild
Lamp Repair and Rewire
This how-to on lamp repair is going to lead you through lighting restoration step-by-step with pictures and written directions. We will take a cheap new lamp apart for the shade and save a few parts and reuse them on an old art deco ceramic base.
The table lamp below has had a long search for the perfect lampshade. Finally, I spotted a tall red shade on a discount table lamp at a Ross Store. It was under $20.00. Brought the lamp home and decided it was okay to get a forties art deco look out of it.
This page will show you how two lamps were taken apart and one lamp restored into an art deco table lamp. Included are resources for lamp replacement parts and plenty of pictures to illustrate the procedure.
Use this lighting repair tutorial to replace a lamp cord of any vintage fixture you may have.
Why is This Table Lamp Worth Repair?
The pottery is a forties era Gonder ceramic lamp base purchased through eBay, the place where I have found all my Gonder pottery. There are distinct molds and color glazes that make Gonder recognizable. The pottery was produced between 1941-1957 and has the Gonder name on the bottom. The glaze Lawton Gonder developed is noted for noncrazing and resistance to chipping. Take a vase with layers of grime to hot water and soap and the piece will clean to a new shiny surface, smooth and bright.
I want to make this lamp base whole and working again, and it will look perfect glowing in the front window.
Took the Old Lamp Apart First
The picture in the intro is how the old lamp looked when I received it. A layer of grime is visible. A 3" long bolt with the cord running through it was inside the lamp. It was connected to the assembly with a nut that I eventually unscrewed with fingers and a long nose pliers. I clipped the cord with dikes and the ceramic base was free.
Above are the parts on the top of the base. I will toss these old lamp parts and cord.
Cleaned the Ceramic Base
Next I cleaned the ceramic base in very warm Ivory Dish Soap. I used a mild scrubber to get the grime off and it looked like new. Very shiny.
There is a hole for the cord in back and a hole on top. Open on the bottom.
Took Apart the New Lamp
The new lamp I could not get apart. All the sections were too tight for me to loosen. The shade was assembled onto the pillar below the socket.
I asked this home's handyman to try getting it apart. He got it done with a wrench and considerable tugging.
One lesson I learned at this point; a lamp is put together with segments, and a nut is used to stabilize each section.
This is the photo to gauge our vintage art deco lamp before and after restoration.
Using Lamp Parts I Have
These are the parts from the new lamp. I will reuse the two socket parts on the left. I will use the new cord for the lamp rewiring.
Rebuilding the Pillar Assembly
The original hollow pipe and nut in the old ceramic base will be reused for inside the pottery. After some calculating I decided I needed a four inch pipe threaded at both ends to get the shade to sit at the correct height.
Trips to the local home improvements and the hardware store did not offer what I needed. They were sadly lacking in serious parts for lamp repair. I realized that lamp repair is specialized and so the Internet is the place to go to order lamp parts.
eBay is where I went looking for lamp parts.
Locating the Lamp Parts I Needed
The store I went to on eBay was seller lamppartsguy. The store had what I needed and shipping costs are reasonable and arrived in two days. They have a wide range of brass lamp parts.
I decided to get a new spindle. It is just like the old one. I also bought the four inch bolt with threads on both ends. Explore his store for what you may need.
How-to Lamp Repair
Let's get started with assembly.
Place the end of new cord with the wires to be attached to the socket, through the back hole of the lamp base.
The plug for the outlet is at the opposite end.
New cord is placed through the hollow threaded pipe with a nut on the bottom. I also put a circle of felt on top of the nut to protect the pottery.
Threading a New Cord into Lamp Base
Here the top end of the cord is placed through the top hole.
The felt is next to the hole but can not be seen.
The pipe follows. It will slip through the hole at the top of the lamp. The piece of felt will be between the nut and the ceramic. The nut is an anchor.
Repair on the art deco table lamp, so far.
Photo above shows the steps I talked about above. I started at the back hole of the base.
Adding Lamp Spindle and Anchor
Continue treading the cord.
First another felt circle to fit over the pipe to protect the ceramic.
Next the new brass spindle is threaded on cord and slipped over the reused pipe.
A nut-like fitting is next. It screws into the pipe. (We happened to have this part.)
The fancy nut has threads and will tighten to hold the reused pipe up.
Pillar and Shade Assembled
Now the new 4" hollow pipe is slipped onto the cord.
This pipe got special attention. The height of the shade will depend on the length of this pipe. I measured and concluded that I need 4 inches to place the shade just above the spindle.
The bottom will screw into the fancy nut. This section is tighten snugly to stabilize the pillar to the base.
Now, screw on a nut to rest the shade on. Place the shade on the nut.
Screw on Socket Units
Shade goes on, then the bottom part of the socket fitting; the bowl shaped unit at right.
The socket bowl is screwed tight so the shade is stable.
The wire ends of the electrical cord shown here at right will connect to the next socket piece.
At this point tie the two ends in a simple overhand knot. It is called an underwriter's knot.
The wire ends go under the loosened screws.
Turn tight the screws.
The wires should be tightly secured under the screws.
Tug gently on the cord at the bottom of the lamp base to place this section into the bowl piece.
(Please note that I do not have the underwriter's knot. Oops, I forgot it, but it is essential for the cord to stay in place under the screws. UL inspection requires it.)
Screw on the third tube part of the socket which has the Caution sticker on it. The lamp is ready for a new bulb.
Last, I put four felt circles on the bottom edges of the ceramic base.
The lamp is complete. The view on the inside. See the pictures of the completed retro lamp below.
If you may have questions on how to repair a lamp feel free to ask in the comment section.
New Art Deco Lamp
In the decade of the forties the style was a short base with tall shades. There was a surge of lamp buying in the early forties and the Gonder company took advantage of this and developed a line of lamps under the Elgee Pottery Co. name.
The surge of lamp sales may have been caused by the routine wartime black outs that required heavy curtains. By the end of the 30's electrifying the rural areas was complete, and certainly after the war buying of household items increased.
Photos of the New Art Deco LampClick thumbnail to view full-size
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I certainly had a good time restoring the Gonder lamp. I hope this tutorial on DIY lamp repair will be of some help to you.
© 2010 Sherry Venegas