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Author Topic: vintage bubble light relamping  (Read 31950 times)

Offline byronleer

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vintage bubble light relamping
« on: October 17, 2004, 11:25:00 pm »
I have gotten a couple of old, series wired bubble light sets.
These old bulbs burn out easily. I have gotten some of the replacement 15 volt bulbs and did manage to relamp one today.
What I was wondering is anyone that has a lot of experience doing this has any good tips to help do this cleanly?

Offline jonathan cassiday

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vintage bubble light relamping
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2004, 04:32:00 pm »
I have relamped a couple of bubble lights, and have found that elmers glue will work to reglue the halfs back together so that when the bulb burns out again you can  easily relamp it. depending on the brand of bubble lite(noma, paramount, etc) there are diffrent ways to relamp. The antique christmas light web site has detaild instructions on how to relamp all the diffrent types

Jonathan Cassiday

yes this is Jonathan Cassiday how may i help you

Offline xmasden

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vintage bubble light relamping
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2004, 02:46:00 pm »
I always "soak" the bubble lights in something like Dawn dish soap for a couple of days....or whenever I remember to get back to them....  It seems to loosen the old glue.  I then use a razor split the bubble light open at the seams....(thinking of the NOMA biscuit here....)  Some plastics are harder to deal with.  I tend to have cracking problems with the old C-6 and C-7 Royalites.

If the plastic is somewhat good on the old C-6 and C-7 Paramounts, I use a string to pull those bottom teeth in enough to pop the bottom off.  I then use a soldier gun to melt the soldier tip on the side of the bulb.

I get my replacement bulbs from www.lionsdenantiques  out of Port Orchard, Washington.  Paul Schofield is a very nice person to deal with.  Make sure you get the rounded bulbs with longer shanks.  The flat top "bubble light bulbs" (made in China I think....) don't hold up.  (Cheaper made bulb....filiment burns out quite fast...not worth messing with....)

Hope this helps.

Offline jonathan cassiday

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vintage bubble light relamping
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2004, 07:19:00 pm »
i found this in the archived antique christmas lights web site and thought this may help

IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET MY BURNT OUT BUBBLE LIGHTS TO SHINE AGAIN? HOW? Yes, it is certainly possible to repair your burnt out bubble lights! First,  you have to have a supply of replacement lamps. These are special lamps, miniature base with long threads and a flat topped glass envelope. They are no longer made, but you can occasionally find them for sale on eBay or you can contact Paul at he has a small supply of the lamps for sale. (Click on the picture to enlarge.) As for the replacement procedure, here we go:

Please do remember that there are MANY different types of bubble lamps out there, and that the information provided here should be adapted to your particular model. We'll discuss several types, beginning with the most popular-the NOMA miniature-base series type Biscuit.

To begin, have on hand a supply of the proper replacement lamps, along with a sharp razor-type knife (X-Acto or something similar), a sharp pencil, household pliers, some common modeler's glue (I use Testor's), a small tube of 100% silicone caulking or sealant, a few small rubber bands, a nine volt battery and a bowl of hot (but NOT boiling) tap water. An old washcloth will come in handy as well.

We'll attack the NOMA biscuit first, remembering that with a little creativity, these procedures are applicable to most of the other cemented-together type bubble bases as well. The first requirement is to remove the bubble tube from the unit. Sometimes, it will already be loose, or else a very gentle rocking back and forth will loosen it. Failing this, grab that bowl of water and put your bubble light in it for about ten minutes or so. Don't worry, it will not harm anything, and in fact you'll probably get to see the bubble tube boil merrily away just from the heat of the water! The heat and water will soften the glue that is used the seal the tube and lamp together. When you remove the unit from the water, you'll find that the tube will exit the base with little effort. While the glue is still soft, clean the tube gently with the wash cloth to remove all traces of adhesive, and clean out the hole in the base of the "shell" as well.

Now for the worst part-separating the two halves of the bubble light shell. This shell is of course plastic, cellulose acetate to be exact. Being quite soft, applying pressure to the joint between the two halves with an X-Acto knife will not produce satisfactory results. The halves will come apart, but with a ragged, uneven edge that will be quite unsightly. To work around this problem, put the shell in your freezer for 15 minutes! Freezing will harden the soft plastic, and you'll most often get a nice, clean break. To accomplish this, remove the shell from the freezer and immediately put the sharp point of your knife into the seam between the two halves. A gentle twist of the knife will result in a sharp crack, and the halves will have separated cleanly. Sometimes you'll find it necessary to finish the job by hand, gently pulling the halves completely apart. The key here is to do the separating while the shells are still frozen.

The worst part is over! Now, remove the old light bulb from the bottom half of the shell. Sometimes it will be loose, and a gentle push from the bottom pops the lamp out. Other times, you'll find that the factory has melted the lamp into the base, and it will not easily come out. A gentle twist with a pair of pliers will loosen it, and pressure applied to the lamp by putting the base on the washcloth and quickly pushing down on the shell will remove the little devil quite nicely. Insert your new lamp, being sure to align the little blob of solder on the side of the threads with the cut out in the base made to let the lamp seat fully. Seal the lamp in place with a small  bead of silicone caulking or sealant, being certain not to block any ventilation holes in the bottom of the shell. allow the unit to cure for several hours while you work on other bubblers. At this point, it will be wise to test the lamp for proper operation with a nine volt battery. Touch the bottom tip of the light to one terminal of the battery, then lean it over so that the brass threaded portion will touch the other contact of the battery. If all is well, you'll be rewarded with a cheerful glow from your new lamp!

Now, cement the two halves of your shell together. Dry fit the parts together first, and take note of their proper position so that you'll have a nice, tight seal. If you're afraid that you'll loose your place, a small line drawn in pencil on each half will help align the parts. With the Testor's cement, put a very thin bead of glue onto the edge of one of the halves, avoiding any cement overrun onto the outside of the shell. This glue actually dissolves a bit of the plastic, so any glue on the outside will leave an ugly smear which will mar the plastic forever. Press the two halves together, and hold them firmly for two or three minutes. A rubber band will also be useful in holding parts together so you can go get a cup of coffee. It is vitally important that the two halves be cemented firmly together with their proper original alignment to prevent nasty little light leaks around the seam when in operation.

Now for the bubble tube. Since you cleaned it properly earlier on in this project, the tube is ready to go and will slide into the hole in the top shell easily. Put a bit of silicone sealant on the bottom of the tube and around the inside edge of the receiving hole, and then press it firmly into place. You'll want to be sure that the bottom of the tube and the top of the bulb are firmly seated and sealed together, so that the lamp can provide the proper heat to let the unit bubble. Allow the entire unit to cure for 24 hours, and then you can bask in the glow of your newly restored treasure from Christmas past.

ALTERNATE METHOD:  Lee Lowry recently shared with me an alternate method of biscuit-style bubble light repair that is both creative and effective. Using several turns of a strong bare wire, Lee fixes an X-Acto blade onto the end of a 40 watt soldering iron. After heating the iron and blade, the bubble light is turned upside down, and careful slices are made between the vent holes on the bottom, effectively "connecting the dots" with 45 degree angle cuts. It's important to try to keep the cuts at a good 45 degrees, so that the piece will not fall into the base, and you will have a broad edge to re-glue in the last step of the repair process. Remember how you cut off the top of a pumpkin at Halloween? That's the same way we want to cut here, so the lamp assembly will not be able to fall through. When all the cuts are completed, remove the resulting hex-shaped section with the lamp. Pop out the lamp, replace it, and glue the assembly back in place. Super Glue or common modeler's glue is fine, and be sure not to fill the ventilation holes! Lee reports that when this procedure is properly followed, the result is quite satisfying, with all of the work on the bottom of the bubble light where it is not easily noticeable.

RE-LIGHTING YOUR BUBBLE LIGHTS, CONTINUED: Now that your NOMA Biscuits are bubbling happily away, let's try another light, this time a Royal "Crown" type light. Remove the bubble tube as before-by a good soaking in some hot water. It will come out just as easily as it did in your NOMA light.

The plastic used in these lights is a bit harder than that of NOMA's, so the freezing procedure will not be necessary. Look around the seam carefully to see if you can locate a tiny separation somewhere to use as a starting point. If so, great! If not, you'll have to make a starting place yourself. In either case, press the long edge (not the point) of your knife into the seam, and then carefully begin to wiggle it back and forth. Use patience here, and don't put on too much pressure or become impatient. With continued wiggling of the knife blade, the two halves of the crown will eventually give up and come apart. You'll notice that the halves were put together with interlocking shoulders, and it is this locking arrangement that prevents light leakage at the seam. With the two parts now apart, change out the lamp, and use silicone as before to secure it into place. Again, take care that you do not block ANY ventilation holes. Reassemble and glue your halves together, silicone the bubble tube back in place, and you're second project is complete!

Finally, we'll talk a little about the famous and highly collectible miniature base series-type Paramount ring or saucer bubble light. As before, your bubble tube will come out with a little coaxing from our bowl of hot water. These beautiful lights are not glued together, but use a snap-lock method of closure that can be more frustrating to take apart than the other types. A look underneath the light will show what I'm talking about: you'll see a series of little tabs or teeth holding the parts together. At first glance, it will seem quite impossible to push all of these little teeth in at once, but I use a procedure that makes the job easy. Run to Wal-Mart or K-Mart, and buy the small size bottle of their store brand of pain reliever, such as their versions of Advil or Tylenol. Hopefully, you won't actually need the pills for this project, but the bottles themselves will be found to be quite useful. The top of these little bottles will be the exact size you need to help out with all of those pesky teeth. Open the bottle, and then put the base of your bubble light into it and press down. Be sure that all of the teeth are just inside the rim of the bottle. If you've selected the correct bottle size, you'll see that since the teeth are slightly beveled they are all being pressed in at the same time, and the bottom of the light will pop off nicely. So far, so good!

Now you'll see that the light bulb itself appears to be permanently in place, held in position by the solder blob on the base. Not to worry-a little very careful effort with the tip of the X-Acto knife will shear the solder away, allowing removal of the lamp. If you are quite ambitious, you might even use a soldering iron to remove the solder spot, but be sure not to overheat the lamp base and cause any melting of the plastic base. Once the solder is removed, press the base on the washcloth to pop out the lamp. Reinsert the new bulb, being sure to align the solder blob in the slot provided for it. You may have to trim the blob on the new lamp before reinsertion. If you want to be really nifty, you can add a bit of new solder to the spot where it was shaved, so that the light will look factory-fresh and no one will be able to tell that the light was ever changed out. If you are not using a soldering iron, carefully silicone the lamp in place as in our earlier projects. Snap your base pieces together, set the bubble tube back in place with silicone, and once again, your job is done!

Most types of bubble lights can be relamped with a bit of care and effort. If you are having problems or need more help, feel free to e-mail me.

yes this is Jonathan Cassiday how may i help you

Offline markie4now

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Re: vintage bubble light relamping
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 03:26:14 pm »
I've re-lamped all of my C-6 bubblers using this very same technique!  It works great!
I love all things Chriistmas and have collected for many years!

Offline markie4now

  • Mark in Columbia
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Re: vintage bubble light relamping
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2010, 04:23:10 pm »
Hi Everyone:

I've re-written a bubble light re-lamping procedure with illustrations.  Feel free to contact me at if you'd like the information e-mailed to you.

I love all things Chriistmas and have collected for many years!