Written by Daniel Livingston
Next, I headed over to the Lamp section where they have an assortment of lamp parts. I realized at this point, I was learning Spanish as I walked around the store. All of the aisle signs had recently been replaced with bi-lingual ones. So off to the "Lámpara" section I went. I purchased a package of 1/4 inch steel threaded lamp nipples. It had two 6 inch long pieces, that you can cut to size. It is used to connect the lamp socket to the black pipe. You don't need to purchase the more expensive brass nipples, as they will be hidden, or painted black in my case. (OK, I giggled a little when I typed that last sentence). I've created a "Bill of Material" as we say in the business, to list the parts you will need.
Lastly, I went to the plumbing section where they have the assortment of brass fittings, reducers and couplings. I needed a couple reducers to connect the pressure gauge and the lamp socket to the 1/.2 inch black pipe. I found a brass 1/2 in to 1/4 inch coupling. They are not cheap ($5-$6 ea.) but it's what I needed. This part is the one I get the most questions about. Because it is not located in the black pipe section, they are not easy to find. There are also other versions available on line made of stainless and galvanized steel. I would shy away form the galvanized ones since you will be screwing in a brass lamp nipple which is a much softer material and it may be chewed up by the galvanized coating.
I am an Amazon Prime member, so it's one of the first places I go to when I need something. I'm still amazed at what I can find on Amazon and can have in 2 days.
I was able to located the Porcelain lamp bulb sockets on Amazon with the appropriate 1/4 inch threaded hole. Perfect for what I needed. I purchased 4 of these, thinking ahead on my next lamp, which I know will have 2 separate lights with cages. They are reasonably price and look great as they are made from Porcelain and not easily found at your local big box store.
Amazon also sells a White Porcelain lamp socket with a 1/2 inch threaded hole which may allow you to skip the 1/2 in to 1/4 inch coupling mentioned above. Just be sure to check your hole sizes ahead of time so you know the couplings you need. They are a little more expensive but may be worth it inthe long run (I didn't use these).
Also, do yourself a favor and don't purchase the cheap plastic lamp sockets that are widely available at you local big box store. First of all, plastic was not really around in the late 1800's and they look cheap as they don't have the deep glossy finish that you only get with the white porcelain. It will also last much longer and take a pretty good beating before it breaks.
I also found on Amazon, the Black Metal Wire Bulb Cage that gives the lamp the old-tyme industrial looks that all Steampunk designs strive for. I purchased 4 of these as well.
At this point you do a test fit of all your parts. Prepare to get your hand dirty as the black on the "black pipe" does not seem to stay on the pipe.
There may be a trick to getting the pipe fitting tight and in the correct orientation, I just haven't figured it out yet. I'm sure if I had welding equipment I could apply a small weld at the appropriate place and be done with it. Instead you have to plan each elbow carefully. When it starts getting a little tight you have to decide if you can make one more entire full revolution or should you settle with what you have. What I did was hand tighten each part until they were about as tight as I could get it. Then I would use a wrench to tighten it to the angle I wanted. Sometimes you had to give it almost an entire revolution, sometimes you were almost to the right spot. A vise helps hold some of the parts in place as you crank on the elbow.
Amazon also carries another style Wire Cage that has an adjustible opening. It's also brass colored. So if you want more brass on your lamp. Check out the link to Amazon below.
Continued in Build a "Steampunk" Lamp - Part 3.