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Author Topic: GE NE-34 bulb...  (Read 16971 times)

Offline Chris W. Millinship

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« on: September 25, 2000, 10:20:00 am »
Hi everyone,

I recently had a new addition to my bulbs collection, a GE NE-34 neon glow bulb, and I`m curious about a couple of things about it.

First, when I initially turned it on there was just a patchy glow from 2 places, but after about an hour the glow had spread to the whole surface of the electrodes. Why does this occur? Does the neon gas need to be warmed before it will glow over the whole surface?

       


Also- how come it doesn`t glow underneath and on the support wires, just on the top? I wonder if there`s a special coating on one side that allows/inhibits the glow?

Well, if anyone can help answer these questions, I`d appreciate it. It certainly is an interesting little bulb and I`d like to know a bit more about how and why it works. Please though- keep it simple if you can!

thanks in advance,

-chris

ps- does anyone have a (working) spare AR-1 argon bulb for sale?

[This message has been edited by Chris Millinship (edited September 25, 2000).]

Offline James

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2000, 04:53:00 pm »
Hi Chris,

I found an identical NE34 bulb about a year ago as well.  It came out of a piece of very old american lampmaking machinery which hadn't operated for many years, and when I first lit it, it did exactly the same thing where the glow spread out slowly!

I have racked my brains for ages as to why that might happen but still have not reached a conclusion.  It often seems to happen on old GE neon glow lamps which have not been lit up for many years.  However, if its anything like the ones I found on the GE machines, you can turn it off and leave it for months and when you re-light it the glow will cover the full area so its not a warmin-up issue.

My best explanation is that over time, gaseous impurities may leak out of the glass and these would raise the voltage required to strike a discharge in the new neon+argon+impurity gas mixture.  But by lighting the lamp, you will ionise these impurities and the high velocity ions could easily become embedded in the glass wall again.  As the impurity concentration gradually decreases, the discharge will spread over a wider area as the ionisation voltage of the gas mix falls.

Does that make sense?!
Its a well-known occurence that this occurs in vacuum incandescent lamps, and during manufacture they go through a process called "Blueing" in which they are deliberately over-volted on a choke to ionise the remaining gases in the bulb and drive them into the glass wall.  This gives you a better vacuum in the lamp so that it will stay brighter for longer.  Aslo, with old 240V carbon lamps which have not been lit for decades, you often see a blue glow around the lead wires for the first few minutes after light-up.  But after leaving the lamp lit for an hour or so the glow will disappear and the vacuum in the lamp improves.


As to why the discharge is only on part of each electrode, I don't know the answer to that.  The electrodes are made from soft Swedish Iron, and presumably there is either an electron-emitting coating that has been applied to one side, or there is an electrically insualting layer on the other side.  I'm afraid I no longer have access to the specifications detailing the manufacture of GE Neon lamps so I can't be definite as to what was done to the electrodes.

As far as I know, AR-1 lamps are still being made by the Chicago Miniature Lamp division of Sylvania.  Either contact Sylvania-VCH in Bury St. Edmunds (they make the neon lamps there now) or try a wholesaler like International Lamps in London, and I'm sure they'll be able to sort you out with one.

Hope this helps!  c ya l8erz

James.

Offline peterbent

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2000, 04:57:00 pm »
Hello I am new to this group and also new to the internet so please excuse any mistakes i may make. I to have one of these neons and it works well, The type is shown in the ge catalog but was told it is no longer available. Do you remember the pip top osglim bee hive neon, and later other makers produced these as nite lights, anyone collect these and related items I have several spares, only got the one er lamp produced for the corination in 53, sorry tim if another turns up i will keep you in mind, also will get the dopies of the glow lamp sorted, dont know how i stand about copy wright though if they are to be copeid. How do you send lamps through the post so they do not break? i know it is done I know I have left the topic but find lots to talk about. I would welcome visits from other members, and friends who may be on this site already, If ray hicks has joined hello he has a very good collection of a general nature, including neons and a very good collection of xmas lites. Are neons difficult to find? my experience is they very rarely turn up now are the us ones more plentiful? Has anyone heard of the Radiant Lamp Corp of Newark NJ Going to end now excuse spelling if I can help anyway let me know Hope it is ok to answer these subjects where I can My interests are wide but have much knowledge to still learn especially in the US lamps,by the way When did Westinghouse vanish from the scene to be replaced by Philips? Tim please tidy up these notes before pesenting them, Thanks again for allowing me to join.

------------------
peterbentlondonuk
Peter Bent
London
U.K

Offline Chris W. Millinship

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2000, 05:37:00 pm »
Hi Peter!

Always good to hear from fellow collectors here in the UK! I`m new to antique bulb collecting this summer so I`m afraid I can`t answer your questions. I collect all types of bulbs now- old or new including Christmas lights- I`m not fussy really except they ideally must be working.

You say you`ve spare neon glow bulbs? Are these the "beehive" osglim ones you speak of? Anyway if you`ve one for sale then I`d be very interested as I don`t have any yet- please c.millinship@ntlworld.com if you do and we can maybe talk prices.

I can, however, answer your question as to sending bulbs in the post, or at least give some advice. All my antique bulbs so far have come accross the Pacific from the States, and were sent by standard airmail parcel post, not couriers like UPS as that ends up being very expensive, and the Post office is just as good normally.
It`s strongly reccomended to wrap the bulb(s) in lots of bubblewrap, and place them in a large-ish box surrounded by foam packing peanuts. For long overseas shipping of fragile filament bulbs, double-boxing is a good idea, simply place the box containing the bulb(s) into a larger box, again surrounded by foam peanuts or bubblewrap/newspaper. Seal it all up good with plenty of parcel tape, you don`t want the box falling apart on the way! This ensures that if the outer box gets squashed a bit during its journey (and it probably will) the contents are well protected. All my bulbs have arrived glass-intact though the filaments of one or 2 had been damaged due to vibration, this couldn`t be avoided really as they were very fragile ones, so it`s best to insure the parcel too if the bulb(s) are valuable, ask at the post office if you send any parcels.
Well anyway that`s just my advice, other people may have their own preferred ways of shipping bulbs but I find these methods work fairly well for me.

Hope this is of use?

-chris
 http://members.ebay.co.uk/aboutme/chrismillinship

ps- you can edit your own message to correct any mistakes or ommissions by clicking on the 3rd icon accross, next to "posted September...etc" and correct any mistakes there, it`s easy enough. But remember- you can only edit your own messages, not anyone elses, although Tim can cos he`s the forum`s moderator (that`s right isn`t it Tim?)

Offline James

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2000, 06:20:00 pm »
Hi Peter, great to hear from another lighting enthusiast in the UK!

Which part of London are you from, and do you know Ray Tye and Ray Hickman who also collect old bulbs in London?  Might be worth you getting in touch if you haven't before, they have superb collections of historic lamps and I'm sure they'd be pleased to meet you.

I am a student in swansea uni, and have a collection of lamps and early catalogues, technical papers etc. back home in Bristol which you are welcome to details of.  I work in lamp engineering and my mainly my collection is of bulbs which demonstrate a particular technology and lab prototype samples etc, but I also have a few old incandescents going right back to 1884.

BTW do you already get Lighting Equipment News magazine?  It's pretty much acclaimed as the best lamps and lighting magazine globally, and since you live in the UK you can get it free of charge.  We mainly only cover what's new but occasionally do historic reviews.  Anyway let me know if you'd like it, I am light sources editor and can send you a free subscription form.

Hope to see more posts on here from you in the future!

best regards,

James.

Offline Chris Kocsis

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2000, 09:52:00 am »
I'm happy to jump into this discussion on a couple of points -- first, avid collector that I am, let me say I have many different and odd neon lamps including figurals for trade, as well as a good supply of AR-1s, and I am also very, very keen to have an ER lamp or any other glow or incandescent or mercury-blob lamp I haven't got, especially from the UK and Europe.

That out of the way, about bulb packing: One of my great disappointments was getting a scarce tantalum lamp in the mail that had been wrapped tightly in bubblewrap and foam peanuts.  Vibration during travel had caused the heavy internal structure to break in several places and all the filaments were fragmented too.  Please DON'T send old and delicate bulbs this way, especially if the inside structures are massive...think of the physics...energy will break any structure at its weakest point.  Both bubble wrap and peanuts transmit vibration very well.  What I recommend is padding that will let the whole bulb absorb the shocks.  A thick layer (at least 3-4 inches, even better if more) of soft cotton wool or polyfill wrapped around the bulb -- or nice tangled excelsior or shredded paper -- or at least gently crumpled newspaper.  Plus double boxing with the outer box being of quality cardboard.  It's appalling how crushable many cartons are now, especially from cheap goods.

Lastly, about why only portions of a glow lamp will glow -- I have a copy of the GE glow lamp manual (2nd ed., 1965) and have been looking at the theory part in the front.  It says "In the normal glow region the glow is confined to a portion of the cathode surface and the amount of the cathode surface covered by the glow is somewhat proportional to the tube current."  I suppose this may mean that changing the ballast resistor value  could have an effect on the region.  Too much current though and you get arcing, which is fatal to the lamp.  I don't see a mention of why the underside or other portion would not light at all, or could be made not to light....this is going to make me play with my NE-40s to see if the underside glows in any.  There is quite a bit of theory in this book and I'll be happy to mail a few pages to interested folks.

Lastly, the phenomenon that a glow lamp will gradually light fully over time and thereafter light fully immediately seems to relate to the newness (never-having-been lit-ness) of the lamp.  Some novelty lamp  boxes mention that full burning may not occur  right away and the bulbs have to burn in.  I've noticed the same thing with old stock utility glow lamps.  But I wish I knew why lamps fail by progressively larger portions remaining dark.  Unfortunately my book doesn't seem to address the mechanisms of failure.

Offline Chris W. Millinship

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2000, 10:57:00 am »
Hi Chris!

Thanks for posting your reply. When you say "..a good supply of AR-1s" does this mean you have one you`d be willing to sell me? I`m afraid I`ve nothing to trade for it though as I`m fairly new to collecting and don`t have any duplicates going spare. If you are willing then please c.millinship@ntlworld.com and we can talk prices. You say you have other types too? Although I`m not really a collector of the figuaral glow lamps, I have an interest in "utility" types, and also letter/number ones like the Osglim range, so may be interested in those too.

That is very good advice you give for packing bulbs- I didn`t think of using cotton wool or shredded paper before. It makes a lot of sense. In the future I`ll request something like this when buying valuable or fragile bulbs from overseas. I know the disapointment of having a valuable, fairly scarce bulb arrive damaged in the post, it is bad not just because of the money involved but also because there is one less of that particular type of rare bulb in the world which is a great shame.

On the GE NE-34 note, I did actually notice a glow from one portion underneath when it was first powered up, this has since gone. This leads me to believe that there isn`t an insulating coating there, but some sort of emmitter coating on the top surface that encourages the discharge there rather than elsewhere. But I know almost nothing of electrical phenomena and the like so it`s just a thought.


------------------

-chris

http://members.ebay.co.uk/aboutme/chrismillinship

Offline Tim

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2000, 07:11:00 pm »

 
quote:
Originally posted by Chris Kocsis:
One of my great disappointments was getting a scarce tantalum lamp in the mail that had been wrapped tightly in bubblewrap and foam peanuts. Vibration during travel had caused the heavy internal structure to break in several places and all the filaments were fragmented too. Please DON'T send old and delicate bulbs this way, especially if the inside structures are massive...think of the physics...energy will break any structure at its weakest point. Both bubble wrap and peanuts transmit vibration very well. What I recommend is padding that will let the whole bulb absorb the shocks. A thick layer (at least 3-4 inches, even better if more) of soft cotton wool or polyfill wrapped around the bulb -- or nice tangled excelsior or shredded paper -- or at least gently crumpled newspaper. Plus double boxing with the outer box being of quality cardboard. It's appalling how crushable many cartons are now, especially from cheap goods.



Not to say that any certain way is better, but....I've shipped probably hundreds of antique bulbs & tubes to people right here in Michigan to people on the other side of the world using bubble wrap and foam peanuts with great success. I typically use an oversized sturdy box for most stuff and use double boxing (or reinforced walls) for rare or overseas stuff. I think some isolated problems can be blamed on poor handling that could be difficult to prevent despite the packaging used. Anyway just my two cents but I'm always open to new suggestions and Chris K brings up a good one. What about the theory of packing early bulbs tip up or tip down to prevent the filament from becoming damaged in transit??? - another idea I've heard practiced before.........

One of the worst packing jobs I saw was an early Tungar bulb I bought about 5 years ago from a person in the UP (Michigan's upper peninsula). The thing came rolling around freely in a make shift shoe box wrapped in masking tape with absolutely no packing material - and it survived the trip!

Looks like I drifted off the main subject here - neon glow lights. A neat effect of brand new neon figural glow lights are watching the bulbs "burn in." I can't explain why or how this happens but it's fun to watch. When a new bulb is first put to use most of the filament is dark as Chris said above, but then after a few minutes the filament starts to sparkle in random spots, giving off momentary tiny bright "hot spots." Anyway it looks like a fireworks show to me and I notice it mainly when I power up a brand new unused imported glow light.

Quote
But I wish I knew why lamps fail by progressively larger portions remaining dark. Unfortunately my book doesn't seem to address the mechanisms of failure.

This reminded of something that I've heard before - the ability to rejuvenate a dead neon glow lamp. I've heard it may be possible but it seems unlikely to me. Has anyone else heard of this before or know how it could be accomplished or should I give up and finally throw my duds away?  


------------------
-Tim
BulbCollector.com
DewCollector.com

Offline Alan Franzman

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GE NE-34 bulb...
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2000, 03:31:00 am »
quote:
Originally posted by tim:

 This reminded of something that I've heard before - the ability to rejuvenate a dead neon glow lamp. I've heard it may be possible but it seems unlikely to me. Has anyone else heard of this before or know how it could be accomplished or should I give up and finally throw my duds away?    



Don't throw them away!  I might be able to use them in my experiments on rejuvenation of Nixie tubes which are essentially Neon glow lamps in vacuum tube form with multiple cathodes requiring DC current and external current limiting.  On second thought, they're not really that much like glow lamps, are they?    See my post in the tube forum entitled, "Nixie Tube Reconditioning Possible?" which... uh... I haven't made yet.    But it's coming soon.  Really.  In fact, by the time you read this it may already be there.  
A.J.