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Help with antique three way switch Answered

I have a 60's era Stiffel table lamp that has a bad rotary switch. It's a three-way switch with an unusual design. I cannot find a replacement.

Is it possible to salvage this switch in some way? Any help is appreciated.



Phil B

1 year ago

One reviewer at Amazon used this switch to replace a switch on his 3-way Stiffel lamp.


Some of these switches have knobs on a thin shaft with threads on the end. It may be some of the switches available have knobs that are removable and you can screw on your original brass end. Amazon allows shoppers to post questions in either a Q & A section on each product or as a comment to a specific reviewer. You could ask if the factory end can be removed and replaced with what you have.

No luck on Amazon. I even contacted Stiffel directly and they didn't have an answer. I then contacted a few antique lamp supply houses and they couldn't help. I cannot believe that I'm the only person on the planet that has had to replace this part. Crazy!

Thanks Phil. I've posted a question. We'll see what happens.

make every effort to replace it. If not, drill out those rivets, clean the contacts and use dielectric grease, reassemble, and repair the bakelite with epoxy. At that point, it will be a crap shoot whether it works.

Well, my reassemble put the crap in "crap shoot." Ha!

I gotta remember that phrase! Nice!

No Go?

Nope. Vintage and modern didn't agree with each other. However, I will not be defeated! I'll rig this mother somehow!

Phil B

1 year ago

I am guessing the wires connected to the parts of the Bakelite that are broken away. You said it is a three-way switch. is that for a three way bulb?

Right. I three-way bulb. @Downunder35m and Toga_Dan, it's a good bet that I'll need to "Frankenstein" this thing. The real issue is the 1/8" dia brass nipple at the top of the switch. There is a brass knob that attaches to this on the outside of the lamp. Modern switches appear to use plastic now. The brass knob won't work well, or for long, installed that way. I really appreciate the helpful responses. Instructables is a great community!

I was just thinking....
If you would only need the look of the switch for the appearence then it could just sit there with no function or connection.
A cheap touch lamp can be salvaged for the electronics and turn your lamp on and off with a simple touch of any metal part.

If you want to stick with semi original maybe these might eb of some help:




They are the modern replacements for your type of switch.
But you will need to figure something out for the thread on the top....

I can't say if you want to retain the original part for authenticity sake or just want to get the lamp up and running again. If you were to frankenstein the the lamp, it is way easier to figure out how to fit the old knob to a new shaft than to rebuild the switch.

Not the same. Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, I cannot use a modern switch for this set-up.

Years ago I had a very similar but 4-way switch that was broken.
Inside was a copper "finger" that was attched to the contact by a central rivet.
The 4 contacts to switch were simple copper strips with the ends coming out of the bakelite.
I was fortunate enough that all broken pieces remained inside the switch enclosure so I used supeglue to get them back together to a get a mould.
After making a negative with this I used normal fibreglass resin to make new piece to hold the contacts.
Of course I had to do some drilling and filing for the contact openings but it worked quite well.
Once I was certain the switch performed as planned I added some fine fibreglas strips and resing for added stability.