This is an Instructable on how to convert an old parking meter into a stylish lamp. Difficulty may vary depending on what shape/ kind of parking meter you choose. I was lucky in the fact that the meters that I acquired had no mechanical insert so I did not need a key. If you get a meter with the key this will actually be even easier! I have made a few variations of this already so many variations can be made that I will point out along the way.
Time: Dependant on type of lamp or base you have/ decide to create but generally they take me somewhere between 6-8 hours, a great weekend project.
Cost: Dependant on materials, the base costs me $100 to make at a metal shop. If I go with CF lights it will cost less than $10.00. In this project I will be using LED strips because my cousin wanted one where the color changes . You can get LED strip kits for about 50 bucks.
Skills needed: Basic soldering and electronics will be an asset. Welding if you choose to make your own base.
One of the most difficult parts of this project will be making a sturdy enough base so that it cant be knocked over easily (they are very heavy...). The ones I had came with a stand that was wallmounted at one point but I didn't want to use heavy hardware to attach them to the wall. I made a shorter lighter version and 2 taller "fullsize" versions that use some heavy steel. As for the rest of the project there is basic soldering for the lighting, cleaning, and getting everything to fit! if you have a key already you can skip the step where you disable the lock cylinders. The cylinders need to be disabled so you can easily access the bulbs if they need replacing and you can also get to the money compartment where I like to stash all of the wiring. It can also be a fancy hidden compartment!
Chances are your parking meter may be extremely dirty and the glass very fogged. The ones that I found had the inserts gutted, signs drilled into them, and then 2 feet of snow left on top. This allowed alot of dirt and debris to get inside. My fist step is to disable the locks on the inside so that I can open the top to get at the rest of it. its very tight and i have had varying success with using a socket with an elbow adapter but what I've found works best is to use a chisel/screwdriver against one of the corners of the nut and hit the top with a hammer. This should be enough to unscrew it slowly by poking at the nut. Once you have your fist nut off you can remove the locking lever and push out the cylinder. This allows you to open the top and get at the rest of the screws. If you have a single meter congratulations you're pretty much done! if not then repeat for the other side. With mine there was a a few levers with springs that can be removed in order to get at the screws that hold everything down. This allows for easier cleaning. After this step I don't put the front screws back in for easier removal later. Take out all 4 screws and repeat for the other side if needed. Once this is done you can pull everything up. With mine there are 2 more screws that are attached (sometimes) to a plastic cone that collects the coins. I take these out at this point so it doesn't scratch or poke at anything when cleaning. Once this is off you can get at the bottom point where all of the money is collected. Mine had a bolt at the bottom that can be removed if it is attached to a pole already. You may need to spray some WD-40 to get this loose its usually rusted up but not bad. There is also a door that has a lock to get at the money. The door lock has 4 screws holding in the inside parts and one that holds the cylinder. After those are out you can remove the u plate and remove the door for easier access at the cylinder to remove it for disabling later.