Giant Luxo L-1, "Luxo Senior"

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Introduction: Giant Luxo L-1, "Luxo Senior"

About: Welcome to my Instructables channel where I'll share my wacky and unique creations that hopefully others find useful, or better yet, inspire an evolution of even better ideas!

UPDATE 07 OCT 2020 - Scroll to the end to see it installed inside.

This project is entered in the Lighting Contest. Please vote if you like it.

PROJECT SUMMARY: Make your own GIANT Luxo L-1, the famous industrial task light designed by Jac Jacobsen in 1937, using standard PVC pipe and fittings, along with some custom designed (in Autodesk's Fusion 360) 3D printed components, and heavy-duty garage door springs.

If you're not familiar with the Luxo L-1, I'm sure you're familiar with the "I" in the Pixar Animation Studios animated logo. The short film created by John Lasseter all the way back in 1986 was inspired by the Luxo L-1. That was Luxo Junior. This is Grandpa, Luxo Senior!

(If you want to get straight to the project details, ignore my Side Stories.)

SIDE STORY: Somehow in one of my many Google Image searches for I don't even remember what, I came across this: Great JJ Outdoor Floor Lamp

Now, since I don't have $11,243 just burning a hole in my pocket, I looked at it and said, "I can make that for much cheaper!" And whenever that phrase is uttered, Watch Out!, because I'll often times prove myself wrong by spending way more, but usually succeeding in making the same item but a much better quality version or vice versa; much cheaper but maybe less quality or with limited features of the original. This project definitely falls in the latter category. But as with all my projects, the journey to completion is the reward, and this was a very fun build.

REFERENCE: Here's a link to the exact same light still being produced, 83 years in continuous production!, not many products that can make that claim. LUXO L-1 (Latest Version with LED Lights)

The Super Size contest that ended back in late June was an additional motivator for this project, but I had too many coals in the fire at that time, and actually had to rush to finish in time for the Lighting Contest.

Supplies

  1. 1-1/4" Schedule 40 PVC Pipe
  2. 1-1/4" Schedule 40 PVC Fittings - 90 Degree Elbows, Tees, Caps, and 4-Ways as Shown
  3. 1/4" Hardware, 4-1/2" Long Bolts and Nuts
  4. Garage Door Springs
  5. Hooks for Springs
  6. Ceiling Light Fixture
  7. Giant Plastic Pot (Tall)
  8. Giant Plastic Pot (Short)
  9. All-Thread with Appropriately Sized Nuts and Washers
  10. Electrical Wire and Wire Nuts
  11. Spray Paint
  12. Ready Mix Concrete
  13. 4" ABS Drain Pipe and Two Endcaps
  14. 12mm Socket Head Bolts, 25mm Long and Washers

TOOLS:

  1. 3D Printer
  2. Radial Arm Saw
  3. General Shop Tools

Step 1: Custom Designed 3D Printed Parts

To begin this project I purchased a vintage Luxo L-1 to use for reference. I took detailed measurements of each joint and scaled it up in size. I had two actual components that would go into the build that could serve as a gage to base the scale from:

  • PVC (A range of sizes)
  • Garage Door Springs

I chose the PVC since it is more prevalent in the entire project and could thus easily be adjusted to accommodate the springs. The scale came out to be 1 : 4.13 with choosing 1-1/4" PVC pipe. (Hindsight I probably should have gone a size or two smaller.)

See images above for the base, middle, and top (shown in order) joints as designed in Fusion 360. Each is printed in two halves. This serves to allow the parts to be 3D printed without supports and oriented to get the most strength out of the layers. You also need the joints in mirrored halves to be able to insert the PVC fittings later.

NOTE: This was a very labor intensive design and iterations took several days as each part (each half) took around 12 hours to print with 20% infill.

CAUTION: This design is tied to the specific brand of fittings at my local Ace Hardware. During the build, I got some fittings from Home Depot and even though they were still the correct 1-1/4" size the outer surfaces were completely different.

Step 2: Base

Even though its completely out of order with how I designed and built this project I'm going to start at the base and work upwards.

I was able to find these large plastic pots at a local nursery. I couldn't find anything close to this size online (and believe me, I looked extensively). They are 32" diameter pots.

I used the the shallow pot as a form to make a concrete base that would have sufficient weight to serve as the main support and also allow the entire light to spin around just like the real Luxo L-1.

Step 3: Concrete Pour

Starting with the images above in order:

  1. Dry fit two 4" PVC couplers with a short section of ABS pipe (Black part inside the white couplers)
  2. Wrap the coupler assembly in four layers of standard thickness office paper
  3. Use hot glue to place a bead at the bottom of the paper wrapped coupler assembly and secure it in the bottom of the pot on stable and level ground and apply a thin layer of oil to the entire surface that the concrete will touch. This will help in mold separation (Don't tell my wife, but I may have used fancy avocado oil from the kitchen since it was in a spritzer bottle, but any vegetable oil is fine.)
  4. Mix the concrete, (this was exactly two 80lb bags), to a little bit of a runnier consistency than you would use if doing normal concrete work

While the concrete cures tap gently all around the outside of the pot and the coupler assembly to get bubbles to separate and come to the surface. Use a vibration sander to speed the process along, but be careful as too much may help to separate the coupler assembly from the bottom of the pot and ruin the pour.

Cover the surface to lengthen the time for the cure. (The longer concrete cures, the stronger it will be.)

Step 4: Demold the Base

Wait at least 24 hours before attempting to take the mold off. Won't go into all the details of how I got this demolded, but suffice it say you may have to get a bit creative. I think I spent a solid hour on this step, but once completed, the 4" ABS fittings slid in perfectly with just the right amount of clearance to allow the light to spin inside the central hole.

NOTE: The paper wrapping in the previous step was the key to get a perfect slip fit. Without that step, #1, you probably would not be able to remove the couplers, and #2, even if you could remove them, reinserting them would be difficult and would not allow the light to freely rotate inside the concrete base.

Step 5: Build the Base Joint

Transfer the 12mm threaded hole pattern on the bottom of the 3D printed base assembly to one of the 4" ABS end caps and secure as shown with the 12mm hardware.

CAUTION: Do not overtighten the bolts. I used plain PLA for the prints and they have printed threads, which initially can take whatever torque you give them, but over time the material will creep and you will lose the torque. Its best to "snug" the bolts and then give maybe 5 degrees of rotation.

Cut a section of the 4" ABS pipe to a length that when mated to the base joint's end cap and the other end cap will give just the right height to slip in the concrete base. Goal is to get the bottom end cap to the floor (the same surface the concrete base is on)

NOTE: Slip joints are fine for the 4" ABS. Glue is not necessary and will just make disassembly later (if required for moving the entire light) more difficult.

Step 6: Build Upwards Towards Middle Joint

I was rushed for time and did not take precise notes of each length of PVC pipe. This was very much a trial and error project build. If anyone wants exact measurements just message me and I'll provide.

In the image above, you may notice black rings at each point where the PVC pipe enters a fitting. I created these to help soften the edge and create a radius transition. The goal was to attempt to hide as much as possible that it was built with PVC. The STL file of the trim ring is attached below. (They are ornamental only and not required.)

Step 7: Build the Middle & Top Joints

Continue building upwards to the top joint.

NOTE: The top joint is the only joint that is limited in its range of motion compared to the original L-1. It has tilt only and not rotate.

Step 8: Top Joint Light Attachment

Refer to the images above for how to connect the top joint to the large pot, which serves as the light fixture. It is built from a 4-way fitting, two 90 degree elbows and an ABS threaded nipple with the threaded portions removed from the nipple and glued into the 90's. Threaded end caps serve as a backer nut similar to a bulkhead joint.

Step 9: Light Fixture Attachment

The light fixture I found was from Lowes and it was on clearance, so I'm not sure if its still carried or not. And I inadvertently already threw out the box it came in, so unfortunately I cant provide details on it.

  1. Add three holes to the light fixture's housing equally spaced at 120 degrees apart
  2. Match this hole pattern to the pot, and secure the all-thread to the pot using nylon lock nuts
  3. To account for the difference in diameters between the pot and the housing, add reducing washers (as shown in the last image) or something similar to keep the light fixture centered in the pot

Step 10: Final Assembly

Attach the pot and secure with the threaded end caps. Hand tight the caps. Now ready to mask and paint the project. I really wanted to do some proper research and see what colors were available when the L-1 task light was first introduced in the 1930's, but as mentioned before I ran out of time, so simply went with plain black (Satin Finish).

I think the color scheme would work better if the springs were chrome plated (but the garage door springs are all black). All in all, I think it turned out well. Now I just need to find a place to put it!

DISCLAIMER: As of this writing (17 August 2020) the spring choice was insufficient to properly support the light even with all the design considerations to limit the weight. I have the next size up springs currently on order and hopefully they will solve the issue. I'll update as the project progresses.

Step 11: Finished

Well Kinda. A few things left to be done:

  1. Properly route the electrical cord down through the PVC piping
  2. Hook up to a smart outlet - "Alexa turn on Luxo Senior!"
  3. Dial in the springs
  4. Stain and wet look finish the concrete base (Plan to stain Onyx Black)
  5. Rebuild the original vintage L-1 I bought on Ebay to help with this project

Thanks for taking the time to read through my Instructable. Please send me any questions or comments you might have. I try to answer them all. Stay safe and healthy! Happy DIY'ing!

Remember to vote in the Lighting Contest.

Step 12: Night Time Picture

UPDATE (21 August 2020):

This light fixture is extremely bright. If I bring it inside I'll likely have to see if it can be dimmed (I don't think so), or modify it by removing some of the LED strips.

Step 13: UPDATE 07 OCT 2020

Just wanted to add a few pictures showing it fully installed in the new home gym room. Its directly attached to the ceiling light fixture, so all the articulation is no longer functional (well its still functional just not usable), but its nice to just simply flip the wall switch.

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    6 Comments

    0
    CORER-helix
    CORER-helix

    8 months ago

    Hello, what an amazing project. I just love it.

    Can you please give us the exact dimensions of length of the PVC pipes please? It would save us a lot of headaches ans experimentation.

    Thank you in advance!

    Grtz,
    Erwin.

    0
    Icelandian
    Icelandian

    Reply 7 months ago

    Thanks so much. Sorry for my late reply. Usually the website gives you notifications of messages, but it must not be working. Are you actually trying to build one? Like I mentioned its kind of a trial and error build. I can help you guide you through it, just let me know.
    Thanks again.

    0
    ElectroFrank
    ElectroFrank

    11 months ago

    With the base (alone) weighing 160 pounds, may I suggest putting it on castors ?
    Either drilled into the underside of the base, or with a wooden disc to make a dolly.

    In order to fine tune the spring strength, would it be possible to have a fixing that would slide along the pipe for adjustment ?

    Depending on the lamp type, it may only need an ordinary plug-in dimmer to adjust the brightness.

    0
    Icelandian
    Icelandian

    Reply 11 months ago

    I had considered casters, but they'd have to be pretty beefy and also if it was going on carpet, it wouldn't roll very easily. To he honest, I was so rushed at the end, I didn't give it much thought, but yeah I should have at least embedded some all thread or coupling nuts into the concrete pour so I could have at least had the option to try some type of caster later. I'd be hesistant to try and drill holes into the base as I didn't add any fiber or rebar to mix, but a wooden disc is a good idea.

    On the spring adjustment, I basically did that with varying lengths of PVC during the build. Since the pipe is so cheap ($6 for a 10 foot piece), I just kept trying different lengths until I found what worked well for the armature, but once the weight of the light was added, that's where the problems came into play.

    On the light, like I mentioned, I threw out the box, so I don't recall if it was labeled as dimmable or not. It was cheap, so I'm thinking its probably not, but really the light housing and diffuser is what makes the final light look right, so I could always take the cheap LED light and transformer out and replace with better stuff.

    Thanks for you comment.

    0
    kmpres
    kmpres

    11 months ago

    Very nicely done! I have modified similar but much smaller lamps for use on my electronics bench. Good use of concrete in yours. I had considered a similar solution for my lamps but opted instead to clamp the existing base to the table top using a $5 clamp designed for lamps with a stud in the base joint to allow the arm to swivel. I also modified the base joint to allow the arm to come forward and extend to almost flat - a big improvement as the originals were very restricted in this movement. One thing you might try on your lamp is to shorten the length of your springs an inch or two to increase their pull strength. That might help you tune them so they hold up the exact weight of your lamp in any position without it rising or falling.

    0
    Icelandian
    Icelandian

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks. I've used similar ones over the years as well even as a kid I remember drilling a hole in a desk I made to accept the metal post from the type like you mention.

    Shorten the spring? By removing some coils? Hmm, hadn't thought about that. The stronger springs I mentioned that I ordered were the same length but larger diameter wire and larger diameter wind too. They actually made it worse, since they really just added more weight. Might consider cutting the first springs. Though it may be difficult to bend the cut coil to be able to secure to that end. Thanks for the suggestion.

    May just find a good place for it as is, and then lock all the joints in place. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of being adjustable, but without major redesign, or going up to schedule 80, which I just won't do because the cost would skyrocket, I think this is the best that it can be when based on PVC.