Introduction: Blowtorch Flicker Lamp

I noticed an old blowtorch at a garage sale the other day. I looked at it, then put it down. (You always get a better price if you put it down before asking.....)

How much?. ... $5 ... My limit on old blowtorches is $4. ... Well, this one is very special. It belonged to George Washington's great grandson.... Really. ... Yep, He gave it to me many years ago. But I've had some trouble with it and had to replace the tank cuz' it cracked, and the handle too. Then a few years ago I had to replace the burner, cuz' it was all clogged up. As a matter of fact, I seem to have replaced every part on this old thing. ..... So it's still George's great grandson's blowtorch?. ... Yup.... Well, I am a collector of old blowtorches and this one would be the pride of my collection. It would be an honor to have it, but my price is still $4. ... I've been waiting 30 years for someone to recognize the honor and heritage in this ol' thing. You can have it for free. Besides $4 won't even buy a cup of coffee. ..... I gathered it up, shook his hand and said it was going to a good home and a bright future.

The bright future was a conversion to an electric lamp using a flicker bulb, actuated by the pump handle.

Not much is needed to get this done.

  • Blowtorch (duh)
  • Wire - Stranded 20 AWG
  • Candelabra light socket.
  • Mini On/Off Switch
  • Lamp Cord
  • And other bits and pieces: electrical tape, rubber grommet, shrink tubing.

Tools? You'll see them in the pictures, nothing fancy. Let's light this thing up.

Step 1: Get This Thing Apart

Not going to give too much detail on how to get this thing apart, Instructables are smart people. This is not rocket surgery here, so here's a quick list..

  • Unscrew the hanger hook (pliers).
  • Remove the heat shield on top of burner (screw driver).
  • Loosen the primer bowl (hot dog shaped thing with the pipe going through it.) to create space for wrench on gas up-pipe.
  • Detach (unscrew) the burner assembly from the up-pipe (pipe wrenches on up-pipe and burner assembly)
  • Unscrew up-pipe from tank. (This is a tough one. If it won't come off, that's OK, conversion can still be made. pipe wrench and bar clamp on tank),
  • Unscrew pump handle cap (Pliers)
  • Unscrew pump casing. (Adjustable/end wrench)

OK, now we're ready to do the conversion. The idea here is to slip a small candelabra lamp socket into the nose of the burner, run wires down the up-pipe into the tank, hook those wires a switch that is installed at the base of the pump casing, and install a lamp cord out the back of the lamp.

Most of these torches are brass. If you like the polished look of the tank, now is a good time to get dirty and polish that thing up.Some have varnish on the outside and it may be easier to use a stripper to get that off, before polishing.

Step 2: Burner Conversion for Lamp Socket

A small candelabra light fixtures fit "perfectly" into the open end of the burner. You can find these in the lamp section of your hardware store. If there is a burr in the burner nose a little sanding or clean-up filing may be needed (that is why "perfectly").

BUT there is a problem, there is no passage in the burner assembly to get the wires down into the up-pipe. will need to turn the burner assembly upside down and drill out a passage to get the wires down. The burner assembly is most likely brass so drilling is pretty easy. I used a 1/2' in. drill.

Wire the lamp fixture, stranded wire is easier to work with because it more flexible. 12" length should be fine. Advise black wire to lamp fixture center (brass colored screw), white wire to outer part of base (silver colored screw). The color arrangement of black and white would be normal. I did not have any white wire and had to use green. Sorry. Be sure to put shrink tubing or a wrap of electrical tape over the connections. We don't want any electrical contact with the torch body. This is important.

Feed the wires through burner and out the bottom.

Epoxy the candelabra fixture in place by pulling it out about 1/2", spreading epoxy around the fixture and shoving it in. Wipe excess from face of burner.

You're done for now.

Step 3: Dealing With the Gas Up-pipe

If you were able to get the up-pipe loose from the tank, great. You noticed that it had a big wick attached to it when you pulled it out. This has to be removed. You may be able to pull it loose from the up-pipe with pliers. Otherwise cut it off and drill out the up-pipe.

If you couldn't get the pipe off the tank, just send a drill down the pipe to drill out the wick. You will have to fish it out through the pump casing hole. No big deal.

Bottom line is that the up-pipe needs to be open and clear to feed the wires into the tank.

Now, it's time to get "Instructable Creative".

Step 4: Adding a Mini Electrical Switch to the Pump Casing

From the bottom of the pump casing, remove the little check valve using a small wrench, you will not need it.. Now the fun part. The idea here is to mount the switch in the base of the pump casing allowing the pump handle to actuate the switch when the pump handle is gently pushed.

Start sizing your mini On/Off switch and playing with the pump handle to figure out the best Instructable path to take. You will surely have to drill out the base of the pump casing to allow the switch to slide in. In my case the switch did not have enough "reach" to be actuated so I had to cut off the base of the pump case. With this done, the pump handle was able to actuate the switch. I was able to drop the nut for the switch, down the pump casing and the was able to thread the switch into the nut. This game took a few minutes. The switch was also epoxied in place.

Step 5: Adding the Electrical Cord

It time to add some power to this project. Decide where you want the electrical lamp cord to come out and drill a hole that is the right size for the rubber grommet that will be used. Put the grommet into the hole first and then slide the electrical cord in. This particular blowtorch has a threaded fuel plug in the bottom, so pull the cord out through the hole. (If you do not have a bottom hole, all the things that follow can just as well be done by pulling the wires out the pump hole on top of the torch.)

On the part of the lamp cord, that is coming out of the hole, tie a knot in the cord about 6" up the cord. This will be on the inside of the tank and act as a stop (strain relief) if somebody pulls hard on the cord.

Ready for final hook-up and light show.

Step 6: Wire Hook-up and Assembly

We'll start with the burner assembly (the thing with the light fixture in it) then do the pump switch.

  • Feed the wires through the up-pipe, and thread the up-pipe back into the burner assembly.
  • Feed the wires through the hole in the primer bowl (hot dog thing) and slide the primer bowl back onto the up-pipe.
  • Feed a coat hanger from the bottom hole out the up-pipe hole to help guide the wires out the bottom hole of the torch.
  • Tape the wires to the coat hanger and feed the wires into the tank through the up-pipe hole and thread the burner assembly and up-pipe onto the tank. (Ooooh, lookin' good.)
  • Take the wires off the coat hanger. Leave the white (green) one hanging out the bottom.
  • Feed the same coat hanger, from the pump hole out the bottom hole. Attach the black wire only (the one you just pulled out the bottom hole) and pull it out of the pump hole.
  • Slide some shrink tubing on to the black wire and solder the black wire to one side of the switch (doesn't matter which side). Shrink the tubing.
  • Solder another black wire about 9' long onto the other switch terminal. Apply some shrink tubing.
  • Use the coat hanger to guide the second black wire out the bottom hole.
  • Take the pump casing with the switch attached, rotate the casing about 8-9 times counter clockwise so that when you thread the pump casing in, the wires will unwind. Thread in the pump casing into the tank.
  • Now, you have the power cord, a black wire and a white (green) wire hanging out the bottom.
  • With your finger, feel the side of the power cord. One of the wires will have small ridges on the side, the other will be smooth. Attach the one with ridges to the white (green) wire and attach the smooth one to the black wire.
  • Poke the wires into the bottom hole and put the threaded plug back in.
  • Install the pump handle into the pump casing.
  • Put in the flicker light bulb.

Step 7: Final Test and Let There Be Light!

I appreciate you sticking with this Instructable this far, but now I have the bad news. Before you plug this masterpiece in, you really need an ohm meter to be sure that there are no shorts between any of the wires and the blowtorch case. If you don't have an ohm meter, find someone who does.

Set the meter to the Ohm setting. Put one probe on one of the electrical cord tangs, touch the other probe to the blowtorch tank. Use the pump handle to turn the lamp on and off. The resistance on the meter should be "OHL" (Over High Limit). do the same thing contacting the other power cord tang. Still should be "OHL"

If all is well, you're ready to go. Plug 'er in and press the pump handle to turn it on and off.


Oh, did I mention that I am a collector?

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