Process: Electrifying a late 19th century railroad lantern

We acquired three French 19th century railroad lanterns some time last year. Managing our retail space meant that we never had the time to electrify these, but we finally got round to it yesterday. We did think of retaining the lamps in their original state, but in this case, I think it’s more important to retain the lamps’ original purpose, which is to illuminate.

We took pictures to document the process. Should you have any candle/gas lamps of your own, I hope this post will inspire you to electrify them.

19th century french railroad lantern

Hello everybody! I am a 19th century french railroad lantern! My name is Gustave and I am so hot that all marshmallows roast to perfection within a 10 foot radius of me!!!!

What's happening? These stupid little soldiers have disassembled my perfect body!!!

What’s happening? These stupid little soldiers have disassembled my perfect body!!!

Cutting wire

Are they going to garrote me? NOOO I ONLY WANT TO DIE BY GUILLOTINE!!!

All parts required

Surely, I am about to die. Goodbye cruel world!

The lamp body would have held a kerosene cartridge with a wick, but since we’re electrifying the lamp, we would have to drill a hole in the base cap and run a wire through the lamp body.

Drilling a hole in the lamp base

AHHHH!!!! They are drilling a hole into my ass!!!!

Important public service announcement: You can see in the picture that I am using a hammer drill to drill into Gustave’s thick gauge, solid brass ass. You can also see that I am drilling his ass on the floor. This is an unorthodox way of doing things and could turn out to be a pretty funny way to die. Please use a hand drill/drill press with proper metal drilling bits, and work off a bench with clamps.

Hole in the lamp base

Mission complete sir!

Stripping the wire

The Garfield plaster is courtesy of Mr Yo.

I’m stripping the wire here with a nifty wire stripper that is also a flat head screwdriver. I purchased it at Handyman Centre, which is the best hardware store I’ve come across

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