Vintage Bike Light Desk Lamp

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Introduction: Vintage Bike Light Desk Lamp

The basis of this project was an old bike lamp that I bought at a bike jumble a few years ago. It was made in the US by a company called Seiss of Toledo Ohio. I loved the shape and the finish of the light as well as the fact that the lens is actually made from glass. The inner workings had become badly corroded over the years and there were signs of battery acid leakage.

The other main ingredients for this light are an old Ikea 12v wall spot light and a heavy cast desktop microphone stand. I wanted to keep the project very cheap as I knew that I had all the parts to hand to build it. I know the parts are very specific which can make it difficult to copy, but it might give you some ideas for turning some junk you have into something you can use.

Step 1: Preparation

First thing was to unscrew the mic holder from the stand and strip the paint. I used regular paint stripper and left it on for over half an hour, re-touching the stripper now and again if it looked like it was drying out. Luckily the paint flaked off really easily as I really didn’t want to scrape it off and risk marking the metal which would mean more cleaning and polishing at a later stage. I rinsed the paint stripper and finished the base with a Scotchbrite pad.

I also stripped out the innards from the bike light which was the battery holder, the bulb and backplate and the switch mechanism. I’d considered re-using the switch but decided it would be too hard as well as a little less practical than a switch part way down the flex, which has the benefit of not having to touch/move the light in order to turn it on and off. I did glue the old switch button back to light casing though.

Next, I freed the MR16 fitting from the Ikea spot light. These can be bought for about £2.50 but like I said, I wanted to just use stuff that I already had and I wanted to make it quickly and not have to wait for parts being delivered.

Step 2: Putting It Together

As luck would have it, the Ikea bulb holder/shade was an almost perfect fit to go inside the Seiss light casing. I just needed to reduce the diameter at the open end using a bench grinder and a file. It was made of aluminium so this was a fairly quick process.

My biggest quandary was deciding how I was going to join the lamp to the stand. I considered a number of options including sliding a metal bar into the mic holder and attaching the lamp to the metal bar. I thought that this would make the lamp too high in the stand as well as look cumbersome and overly complicated. As I had a spare mic stand I thought it was worth seeing if I could manipulate the holder with heat to make it fit the diameter of the lamp. Success, this was a fairly slow process as I didn’t want to risk breaking it or losing the desired shape. You can see how much I was able to manipulate it by comparing it to the spare one I have.

I felt it needed a bit more to the design of the way the holder attached to the light as well as be more robust, after all this is intended to be a working desk light. I often find that I make use of old bike accessories and components in builds like this (as I did in the petrol tank speaker I made a few years ago), I manage to find this semi-circular fitment that I believe was once part of a chain ring bash guard. The shape was just about the same as the lamp body. I cut this in half and attached a half to each side of the now widened mic holder. I used hex bolts and nylock nuts to attach it to the lamp body. I also added the small pointy ended set screws to the clamp just to add to the industrial look of the lamp.

I found a suitable (if a little big) rubber grommet that the cable could pass through. This meant that I needed to drill a 10mm hole in the lamp casing.

Step 3: Let There Be Light

The 12v bulb I had was very effective but too bright for a desk light. Again I could have ordered a suitable bulb but wanted to use what I had. I have since looked and I can’t find much choice in MR16 fitment 12v bulbs, so I think I was right to make the decision to add a filter/diffuser to the bulb. I had this yellow film which is a partition page from a project notebook. The yellow works well and I think it kind of adds to the retro feel of the project. The plastic lenses in these bulbs pop off with a small screwdriver so it was just a matter of cutting out a circle the same size and fitting it under the plastic lens before popping it back into place.

Step 4: Finishing Off

Finally, I used sticky back velour on the base to prevent it from scratching the surface of the furniture it was going to sit on.

Step 5: Result

I’m really happy with the finished result. The only thing I may have done different would be to use some modern vintage looking braided twin cable but initially I was planning to run the cable through the centre of the mic holder and out through the base, which would have meant that not a lot of the cable would’ve been on show. Although it’s based on a bike light, the combination of the stand, the holder piece, the bulb and the graphics/colours of the lamp, it reminds me of old aeroplanes.

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    6 Discussions

    Looks awesome!

    beautiful work! I think I need to see what I have in the old scraps pile now.

    wow nice work. only thing is, you never grind aluminum on a grinder like that. the aluminum, will build up in the wheel, bad for balance, plus next time you grind steel, you may start a fire, or just blow up your wheel. have fun. just use a sander, it's only aluminum.

    I love reusing old and derelict pieces, so this made me smile.. The look is perfect and i'll agree a braieed cord would look awesome :-D.. Guess i'll check my old bike box xP..

    Well done! What a cool project!