Saturday, June 30, 2007

The 100 year old lantern: a small Imagineering type project.

As a cartoon animator, I tend to be a little anthropomorphic (or is it since I’m anthropomorphic, I became a cartoon animator?). Regardless, allow me to indulge in a little anthropomorphism now.

The lead character of this latest blog post? This antique lantern. Yep! A 1907 Paull’s #0 kerosene lantern that I came into possession of with a little help from eBay.

And to help celebrate this lanterns centennial birthday, I’m going to build a lamppost to which to display it from. It’s the retirement dream of lanterns everywhere.

Notice it's June 30th 1907 imprint. It's a 100 years old this year!

In studying historical photos of mining complexes and boom towns, I found that these types of lamps were never hung from lampposts. More likely, they sat on a table or were hung from beams or rafters, inside, not outside. Towns tended to roll up their sidewalks after dark back then. If a town did have outdoor lighting, it would have invested in fancy gaslamps along the main boardwalk. If a fella was out and about after dark, he would have carried this sort of lantern with him.

So I decided to take the Disney philosophy of “these didn’t exist back then, but if they did, this is how they would have looked” approach with this lamppost. I really like the ones they built for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. So I’m going to build this lamppost following their design.

The BTMRR’s lamps are actually electric with a little “magic” involved to make them flicker like a lantern. Believe it or not, the BTMRR’s lanterns are “listening” to “music”! You’ve seen the levels on your stereo “flicker” to your music; the higher the intensity of the music, the more level indicator lights light up. The less intense the music, less level indicator lights light. Disney’s lanterns are doing the same thing, except they are listening to special music that though would sound terrible to us, is perfect for mimicking the flicker of a flame! If you watch closely, you might catch two or more lanterns listening to the same track! You never realized those lanterns were having so much fun, did you. Rock on!

My lantern is 100% kerosene powered, thus simplifying this project immensely. I can do this since I don’t have to light hundreds of lamps night after night. And not having to deal with hiding electrical wires helps a lot too.

Bill of Materials:

Disney Imagineering used leather strapping, but I'm going with a heavy hardware look typical of old mining equipment. So the first order of business is to paint all the hardware as close as possible in color to iron. I'm using brown Rust-oleum Hammered Paint Spray.

Me pour concrete! Me man!

(edit: Apparently I chose the wrong footing, the Post Base flexes too much under the weight of the post. I suppose the post itself should have been set into the concrete. I'll have to find a way to remedy that).

There is like, “technology” behind these old lanterns! Turns out they changed the world. By using this technology, they burn a few times brighter than candles, thus allowing American ingenuity to continue after dark!

Here the Heavy Angles are installed on the crossarm, and I included a 1/2” rod through the crossarm and into the post and cap to help increase its strength. A big thanks to my friend Don Simon who was gracious enough the let me borrow his drill press to drill perfect 90° holes to accept the hardware.

I cut the angle brace the old fashioned way. And boy are my arms sore!

Done! Cool. Pretty much everything turned out as planed. Just in time for it's 100th anniversary later this month on the 30th. At that time I'll fire up the lantern and drink a toast to it and American history.

Welp, here we are, June 30th 2007, toasting the 100th anniversary of the lantern. We even BBQed a steak dinner and dined under the soft glow of the lantern. I'm a geek! I know. Leave me alone. I'm going to relax and sip my Long Island Iced Tea in commemoration, listen to the crickets, watch my lantern glow into the night and enjoy this simple little moment.

No comments: