Earlier, I posted a picture of an old handheld, battery powered lantern that I picked up at a flea market last weekend -
The design is from the 1940's - though this particular model saw use well into the late 1950's and early 60's. I like the design aspects of the old girl... Something about the porthole design and heavy look and feel of it makes me think of submarines and Captain Nemo. Very industrial/steampunk, in my opinion.
When I opened her up, this is what greeted me:
Those are two obsolete and leaking 1.5 volt batteries jammed in there. Incidentally, that block of wood in the middle is actually how it came from the factory. How many times these days do you think you'll find a block of wood inside your flashlight?
The ruptured batteries had done a good bit of damage through acid corrosion and rust of the metal. It even rusted through the metal completely in 4 small places (about dime sized holes). I initially thought they no longer made batteries this size, but I was mistaken. You can still special order them for about $25 each!!
I had to pretty much destroy them to get them out, since they had both swollen inside the lantern a good deal and were attached by the rust and corrosion. Here's a shot of the switch mechanism inside:
A small lever on the front of the lantern above the lens manually actuates a regular toggle switch inside the lantern - high tech, Huh? :) The rust and corrosion had done a number on the toggle switch also, so it had to go. Luckily replacements are easy to find at the hardware store.
To fix the rusty holes in the battery compartment I wire wheeled and sanded all the loose rust scale off. I shot a little Rust Encapsulator primer on inside and out - to make sure the rust didn't continue to eat away at the metal in the future. Then I just taped over the holes on the outside with painters tape and spread on some Bondo (auto body filler) on the inside. This patched the holes pretty well flush with the outside surface of the lantern metal once the bondo cured and the tape was removed. The inside bondo was "globby", but it doesn't matter 'cuz it isn't seen. I skim coated the patches with a bit more bondo on the outside, and sanded it down. I wasn't too concerned with getting a perfect smooth surface, since there's some pitting over all in other places. My goal wasn't to make the lantern look like it just came off the store shelf. I want it to have some character.
Once the patches were done, I painted a couple of coats of gloss black all over.
Next I had to decide what I was going to do about functionality. Sometimes I don't care if an old gadget that I'm working on actually "works" after I'm done. This time I did, though. Here's what the light fixture inside the lantern looked like:
That's a view of the back. here's a view of the front:
The bulb in the middle inserts into a small sized automotive style bayonet fixture. Its one of the push/twist type that you find in dome lights, turn signals, etc. The original bulb was a 3 volt bulb - which was burned out. I went to Autozone and found a mini-bulb that would fit the fixture. This is the old bulb on the left with the new 13v bulb on the right:
It was important to find a bulb with the same two terminals on the end, instead of the more common single terminal that you find now:
Now that I had a new bulb, I needed a power source. I built a battery pack out of two 9v batteries by connecting them with a 9v battery connector:
I wired the ends of the connector leads together and tapped the ends down when I secured the two batteries together. You can get battery connectors of all sorts from Radio Shack. These came 5 in a pack for a couple of bucks.
I used two more connectors, one for each open terminal (positive and negative). I snipped off the unused connector lead on each one. I could have just soldered on some wires to the terminals, but then when it came time to replace the battery I would have to drag out the solder iron and resolder a new battery pack to the wires. I think this will be easier in the long run.
Here's how it looked with the battery pack wired to the fixture, with a new toggle switch in place. I didn't have any heatshrink tubing, so I just covered the wired joints with electrical tape. It will all be inside the battery compartment and not exposed to any movement/stress so I don't have to worry about shorts that much.
Here's what it looks like turned on:
When I installed the light, I taped the battery pack and wires to secure them inside the compartment so they wouldn't rattle around. I also decided to replace the original steel screws with brass ones, and even added brass wingnuts to the top screws. I think it adds a nice contrast between the brass and the gloss black:
And this is lit:
It puts off a good deal of light. More than I thought it would. Its almost on par with a standard maglight. Its just hard for me to capture light like this in a picture.