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  1. #1
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    Default Small find amongst FILs stuff

    Over the last couple of weekends we have been sorting out FILs shed.

    FIL passed away about 12 years ago and one of his interests was restoring furniture so I thought he only had woodies tools but knowing how old some of them were and that the house faced the beach ie rust city, I (with permission from the family) got in there and rescued some of the more vintage stuff. I did up some of the handsaws and other bibs and bobs - at least removed the rust and protected the exposed metallic surfaces.

    The most useful things I found at the time was a set of large square BSP dies and a large die holder, these would been at least 90 years old because they date back to SWMBO's great grandfather. These items were packed in oilcloth and were in very good condition. I have since used them a fair bit, especially when I plumbed the 1/2" galv pipe for my shed compressed air.

    I knew nothing would happen to the rest of the shed contents until MIL passed away and the relatives would want to clean up to sell the house. The 8 x 4m shed was full of mostly junk and I took away several van loads of poisons, scrap metal, glass, paint, cardboard and e-waste. There is still a skip's worth of stuff to dispose of.

    I collected up FILs remaining very rust tools and nothing appeared to be of any interest. However, almost over looked and tossed out was bundle of bits of rusty metal wrapped in a somewhat soggy (1980) newspaper - the year they moved into that house on retirement. The newspaper was stuffed into a small wooden box, marked with the last address of SWMBO's great grandfather and held a rusty set of 1.5" P&N BSW dies and die holder.
    T&Diesb4.JPG
    Sorry about the crappy photo - can't go back and take this one again - anyway you get the picture of how rusty they were.

    And after 3 hours in citric acid an a light buff on a Scotchbrite wheel.
    The die handle size is one I have been after for a while and the jaws look to be in good nick.
    It's a GTD NO5 Tap holder (Greenfield Mass. USA) - there are quite a few of these on ebay.
    It moves smoothly and closes up very tightly on taps.
    Dies are 3/16 to 1/3 BSW.
    T&Diesafter.JPG

  2. #2
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    It's amazing as to what was stored in Tobacco tins and the likes. Some of the old tobacco tins a worth a bit of money. When wife number 1 Grandfather passed away, I was privilaged to go through what was left after her brothers had gone through it all, still managed to find a couple of nice old tools that were hidden away.
    Kryn
    To grow old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

  3. #3
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    Hi Bob
    The square pipe dies are known as 'Warragul' dies just in .case you hear the name in the future

    Phil

  4. #4
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    Amongst gramps assortment of rusty stuff were a few bibs and bobs of old gold mining gear. This was not Gramps stuff, but MIL's dad's, who was a one man goldmine operator in Marble bar in the 1920's and 30's. It was a hard life, home was a corrugated iron shack with a dirt floor, wife and two kids, chooks and a veggie patch irrigated by water hauled in buckets from a billabong 100 m away. SWMBO's mum lived there until she was 11 years old and sent to boarding school in Perth. The old gold miner passed away (apparently from a combo of miner's lung and years of hard drinking who knows what) before SWMBO was born but by all accounts he was a tough as old boots character.

    The most interesting items were a well used geologists pick, a couple of old shortened tyned picks for underground use, and 3 acetylene (C2H2) miners lamps. The lamps were in poor shape and still contained some calcium carbide (CaC2). The way they worked was water was slowly dropped by the lamp apparatus onto the CaC2 powder to generate the C2H2. I probably should have chucked them straight into the bin but I thought I should at least remove the CaC2 in case the bin or rubbish truck caught fire!

    Wearing PPE I carefully separated the lower CaC2 from the upper water reservoir but only one had some powder in it which I transferred to a suitable container. In all 3 cases there was a hard, almost rock like layer of crud in the bottom which was the leftover quicklime Ca(OH)2, after the C2H2 has been generated. The Ca(OH)2 should have dissolved in water but slowly adding a small amount of water, nothing happened then adding more water and still nothing. My guess is that there would have been so many impurities in the old CaC2 that the crud was basically some sort of insoluble gunk. [EDIT] Since found out the crud was calcite which should have dissolved in any acid but there was probably too many impurities in it.

    As a bit of a challenge I tried various acids and heat to see if that would dissolve the crud but only concentrated HCl would slowly dissolve it and I could not leave the conc HCl in the containers for too long without dissolving the containers themselves. Eventually the heat and water soften the crud and I was able to break it up and got most of it out and the remainder was not going to represent any sort of danger anyway.

    Below you can see the result of filling the CaC2 reservoirs with water.
    IMG_3863p.JPG


    These are the tops of the old lamp heads showing the water reservoirs, the gas torch end and the light reflector. The two left most lamps were made in WA in the 1920's from Al and brass presumably to reduce the chance of sparking. The 3rd one is older and made of Al, brass and galv steel.

    Anyway having got this far SWMBO suggested I restore them up as curios for the family although why we need more junk in our house is a bit beyond me.
    IMG_3862p.JPG

    The corrosion on these is pretty bad so I have no idea how I will go. Anyway I will pst results if I manage to make any progress.

    The old gold mine lease was abandoned in 1939. The mine was by now too deep for an old goldminer who was too crook to operate alone. He tried to hire labourers to work for him but WWII resulted in severe manpower shortages and so he retired to Perth. The mine lay abandoned until 1948 when it was reoccupied, mechanised and deepened producing profit of millions of $$ per year since then and it is still operating very successfully. A few years ago someone analysed the tailings from the mine and found they contained billions $ worth of gold so these are being re-extracted. Unfortunately all that SWMBO has left to show of the gold mine is a small kids gold bracelet and this mining gear. Ho-Hum.

  5. #5
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    I sort of finished 2 of the lamps this morning.

    I could not remove the brass, water refill caps, water trickle or the water dip sick as these were corroded in place but the rest came up OK.
    They are not completely finished as the internal gas collection pieces are still being de-ruisted.
    The rusty steel belt clip and screws (also steel) were corroded in place and I ground the screws off so the clip could be removed and de-rusted.
    I will drill and tap new screw holes so I can replace the belt clip.

    Lamps.JPG

  6. #6
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    Have managed to find out some more about these lamps.
    Not made in WA but in Little Lonsdale St in Melbourne in the 1920's

    There's a cross sectional diagram showing all the parts here
    Pinnacle Miners Lamp No 5
    PinnacleNo5_1973.jpg

    Also a whole website about how to service and clean up carbide old lamps
    The Carbide Caver
    It was pleasing to see I tried to do the right things.

  7. #7
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    This arvo I sort of completed a 3rd miners lamp.
    This one is of Brit (Leeds) heritage.
    Mainly Galv Steel with few brass fittings and an Al reflector.
    This one is being taken by my son so I left a bit of corrosion on it and if he wants to take it further it will be up to him.
    The brass wing nut is the head of the needle valve that regulates the water droplet rate into the CaC2 chamber below.
    I managed to get it completely empty of the calcium hydroxide and calcite residue
    As all the rubbers seals ar functional it would be the only one of the 3 lamps capable of actually still working.
    Lamps2.JPG

  8. #8
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    Hi Bob,
    What a great story albiet with a sad underthread, and what great restorations. I was born in the 'bush' in far western queensland, and the sight of them transported me back to remember the smell and bright light those little lamps generated. Plenty of after dark work on cars or pegging out 'roo skins was done in their glare, and I pleaded with my Mum to be allowed to squat barefoot beside an Uncle ,and "give him a hand"

  9. #9
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    PS they had a weird acetylene smell, (naturally) but not like the pure gas we burn in a cutting torch today

  10. #10
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    Quote Originally Posted by Briangoldcoast View Post
    PS they had a weird acetylene smell, (naturally) but not like the pure gas we burn in a cutting torch today
    Pure CaC2 was really hard to get/make so often it was the impurities that added to the aroma.

  11. #11
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    Bit off topic.
    My dads first motorcycle had a carbide headlight.
    He was pulled up by a cop at night after it had gone out.
    My dad said it had been on and had just gone out but the cop didnít believe him and took off his gauntlet to feel it.
    He ended up with a burnt hand for his trouble and my dad still got a ticket.
    H.
    Jimcracks for the rich and/or wealthy. (aka GKB '88)

  12. #12
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    Nice job on the old carbide lamps,

    I have a bit of a soft spot for the old methods of lighting and have collected a few carbide lamps over the years, I even made some calcium carbide from scratch at one point just so I could see them running (I couldn't find it for sale anywhere) now that was a lot of fun!

    Cheers.

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