While perusing the local Goodwill store, Melanie and I happened upon this old gooseneck lamp. Unlike most of the newer models found in places like Walmart, this one is made of heavy stamped steel, and the gooseneck part is very sturdy with no plastic. When you bend this lamp into position, it stays exactly where you put it without reflexing back a little. It was just what Melanie needed for use on her sewing table, so we bought it as a fixer-upper.
As can be seen in the photos, the original condition was useable but not very ornate. Removing a couple minor dents, giving it a good sanding, priming, and painting would make it as good as or better than new.
Metal-framed lamps that do not have a 3-wire grounded power cord can have lethal live voltage (115 V) connected to exposed surfaces if a bare wire with damaged insulation comes into contact with the metal. If you use a 2-wire power cord, it is vitally important to ensure that the wire insulation cannot be damaged with use. Use a good quality power cord, insulating grommet where it passes through the frame, and have good strain relief so that the cord cannot pull out of the lamp. Also, ensure that the connections to the bulb socket are secure with no loose strands hanging out, and that neither connection screw can contact the metal frame.
I used a 2-prong, Globe Electric 9-ft, 13-Amp, 125-Volt, 3-outlet, 16-gauge, Mint-colored extension cord from Lowes because its cloth outer sheath has a vintage look. The receptacle end was cut off and discarded. After painting, the cut end of the cord was pushed through a rubber grommet that had been installed in the lamp base. It was then threaded through the gooseneck and connected to the lamp socket. The ends of the stranded wire were stripped, cleaned, and a light coat of solder was applied. All flux was removed with isopropyl alcohol. Needle-nose pliers were used to form a hook in the ends for connecting around the socket screws.
Early power cord plugs were not keyed (polarized) to ensure that the neutral always went to the outside of the bulb base rather than to the small dot in the center at the bottom. The light bulb doesn't care which way it is connected because the line voltage is AC (alternating current); however, while inserting or removing the bulb while plugged into the wall receptacle (a bad idea) it is possible (50-50 chance) to have your fingers come into contact with the bulb base. If the base happens to be connected to the 115 v line, you'll get zapped - and possibly killed. The way to prevent that is to use an ohmmeter to identify which wire at the lamp socket end is connected to the larger blade on the cord's plug (neutral), then connect that wire to the lamp socket's outside contact (usually a silver- or chrome-colored screw). The "hot" wire connects to the little contact in the center of the bulb socket (usually a black- or brass-colored screw).
Note that even a proper electrical connection as just described does not guarantee you will not receive an electrical shock if you are not careful. With or without a grounded frame, if the lamp switch is turned on and there is a working bulb touching both contacts in the socket so that it is illuminated, you can still receive a fatal shock by touching the outside base contact of the bulb. The safest option is to unplug the lamp from the wall when installing or removing a bulb. If you don't unplug it, at least be sure the switch is turned off - which can be hard to do if the bulb isn't working. Therefore, just unplug the lamp - problem solved.
The original power cord was discarded The bulb socket / switch assembly was removed and inspected to assure it was in acceptable condition. It appeared the socket had been replaced in the past and was in very good condition, so I re-used it.
The lamp frame was prepared for priming by first knocking out a couple minor dents in the base and sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. After vacuuming and wiping everything off, the gooseneck component was cleaned with acetone and the masked off with tape. All surfaces to be painted were wiped with isopropyl alcohol and then a light coat of primer was sprayed and left to dry overnight.
Next, 320 sandpaper was used to sand everything smooth. Everything was masked off with tape and newspaper except the inside surface of the lampshade, then two coats of gloss white were applied. Since we will not be using bulbs greater than 40 W (either incandescent or LED), a high temperature paint is not needed.
The next day the inside of the lampshade was masked and three coats of Krylon Catalina Mist spray paint were applied. It is a very good color match to the power cord. Masking tape and paper were removed a few hours after the final coat of paint. The metal base cover plate presses into the base with a friction fit and is retained by a single screw. The base cover plate was painted silver.
After allowing everything to dry for a couple more days, the electrical components were assembled as described above. Melanie's restored vintage gooseneck lamp is now doing regular duty at her sewing table, as planned. She's happy, so I'm happy ;-)
Posted February 24, 2018