If you’ve scored a vintage kerosene lamp, you’ll need to wire it for electricity unless you want to purchase lamp oil for the light indefinitely. Additionally, oil burning lamps present a fire hazard that is best avoided by removing the need for an open flame through converting the lantern into an electric lamp. Enjoy your electric wired vintage lamp without smoke, oil smell or general hazard. Keep your oil lamp components in case you want to restore the lantern to its original state.
Things You’ll Need:
Old oil lamp
Flat head and cross head screwdrivers
Drill with 3/8-inch bit
Lamp cord with plug
Lamp neck and nipple
Socket and socket cap
Remove the glass lantern cover or “chimney” and glass shade, if the lantern has a shade, and set them aside. Pull off the lantern’s wick assembly, using the flathead or cross head screwdriver if necessary to pry off the assembly or to remove screws. Remove the burner in a similar fashion, leaving only the empty lantern housing.
Mix a few drops of dish soap with water and soak your rag in the mixture. Soak the glass chimney and glass shade in water to remove any smoke stains or grime. Clean out the lantern’s inside carefully and thoroughly, removing all oil residue. Set the chimney, shade and empty lantern over a towel to dry.
Drill a hole in someplace inconspicuous, such as the back bottom side of the lantern or the bottom of your lantern, if it has feet. Thread the lamp cord up through this hole, until you see it peek through the top of the lantern. Thread the lamp neck and nipple over the cord, onto the top of the lantern.
Attach the socket cap to the top of the nipple; this is usually accomplished by screwing or twisting motion. Join the colored or ridged wire to the silver screw by twisting, and then attach the other wire to the remaining screw. Snap on the socket over this configuration, applying pressure until you hear a “click.”
Twist a light bulb onto your assembled socket, place the lamp on a table and plug in the end of your cord to enjoy your newly electrified antique lantern.
Simplify the process by purchasing an oil lamp conversion kit from a home improvement store. Follow the instructions included in the conversion kit, which will closely mirror these instructions.
“How to Wire a Lamp”; Apartment Therapy
“Gas Light Retrofitting”; Bob Vila
“Easiest Way to Wire Lamp”; George A. Willoughby”; Popular Science Magazine
“Electrify an Oil Lamp”; How Did I Do It?
“DIY Hybrid Table Lamp”; Treehugger