History's Dumpster Mobile Link

History's Dumpster for Smartphones, Tablets and Old/Slow Computers http://historysdumpster.blogspot.com/?m=1

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Rain Lamps


Just before New Years, I tossed up this subject to those in my Facebook circle, just to see if anyone noticed. Many did. So whilst preparing my list of beautifully overlooked subjects I need to cover (I'll wait until my nausea is over before I get around to "twerking" and "The Harlem Shake"), I put this on top.

They're called Rain Lamps. Some called them "swag lamps", but swags are these:




...and they weren't "oil lamps" Which look like these:



Rain lamps were popular in the late '60s and early '70s. They were kind of a lava light for your parents.


They almost always had some kind of Venus sculpture in them, surrounded by plastic foliage (although some had a clock or even a cabin in them.) They worked by using a pump that ran rain lamp oil (which was pretty much mineral oil - any other kind of oil will gum up the pump) over several strands of taut 30-40 lb fishing line to create a slow motion effect of rain. The oil also had to be changed and the lamp and pump cleaned every year or the oil gets rancid. For lighting, you used low wattage soft light of any colour.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlmgbTgyZGo

You can find them on eBay. But prepare to fork out a lot of money for one in really nice condition. However restoring one takes time and work, but it isn't rocket science.



  

23 comments:

  1. Yes! The rain lamps were the best! Never had one in our family, but I can tell you growing up in Chicago in the 70s a lot of people in the old neighborhood had these in their living rooms, along with every tacky knick-knack imaginable (my grandmother had the glass grapes on her coffee table, green ones if my memory serves me correctly).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh God. My mom had glass grapes on her coffee table too back in the day (AMBER ones!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMG, 1970s. Was it really that long ago? I remember seeing these all over the place, including restaurants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandma still had one in the '90s, lovingly maintained and functioning perfectly.

      Delete
    2. Oh yes....as a kid, I remember those Old World, 1970s Italian restaurants that reeked of garlic inside and the food woke you up in the middle of the night craving a gallon of ice water!

      Delete
  4. if you want to see the largest collection of oil rain lamps in the world with almost all the models that came out. see steampunksteele on facebook

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you I am so checking them out I have 5 of them I restore and save them as I love them so much as a child and my mom said they were too expensive back then :)

      Delete
  5. I found one in great condition for $25 on Friday. I emailed the guy if he could wait until I got paid on Monday (today). I've wanted one my whole life! Bright and early this morning, I emailed him. He just emailed back. He sold it. &^&^%%$#! I'm crushed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Where do you live?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I´ll hope you all like my collection of rainlamps olso :-)

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNv6OlD85Tr0fIw1zgctnw/videos

    ReplyDelete
  8. Do you know how much one of the free standing ones with the three goddesses in the middle would be worth?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not me personally. But if you need a measuring rod, look for similar rain lamps on eBay and see what the going rate is. If what you have is truly different than anything available there and in better condition (and condition is everything.) they could be worth more. They must be in complete, clean and operating condition with all original parts and drained of the mineral oil prior to shipping. Hope this helps.

      Delete
  9. I still have one of the hanging ones I bought brand new in 1971

    ReplyDelete
  10. where is the oil placed in these lamps? how much oil do they take? And lastly, how do you get the color effect as the one you sold on FBK Larry?
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well first, filling/changing the oil in a rain lamp is a project in itself. But here's the basic instructions: http://www.ehow.com/how_5851949_add-oil-fluid-rain-lamp.html

      For colours, you use low wattage coloured light bulbs. These were traditionally incandescents. But there are now low intensity LEDs that come in softer colours (I haven't tried any yet even though I should. A low wattage incandescent bulb can last a very long time and I'm happy with mine.)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmnYAo_0Kuk

      And finally, I've never sold any rain lamps on Facebook. I did repair a few (it takes time and patience, but it's pretty straightforward.)
      But I've never sold anything online.

      Hope this helps.

      Delete
    2. Believe it or not, I was able to get one of the larger and brighter color changing LED lights that are about the size of a flood lamp. I used a Hitlights LED PAR 38 Bulb in mine. The nylon lines can stretch a little bit allowing larger bulbs to be inserted. The key is to take your time when slipping it in. The real danger is in the aluminum heat dissipating fins cutting the line. You can wrap the light in cloth to minimize that risk. Here is a video I took of my rain lamp with it installed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6lkESZHpvs The real advantage here is you won't have to replace the bulb for quite a while due to the longevity of LEDs and you have a full range of colors to choose from or just let it cycle slowly between them.

      Delete
  11. I'm not sure if my last message was posted or not so hopefully I'm not duplicating messages. I'm getting ready to clean my rain lamp but I'm trying to make sure I have all the info I need beforehand. I've read that there is light oil and heavy oil but couldn't decipher which oil they suggested was flammable. The oil in my lamp now has a foul smell. Could this be because the oil is old, or is that how all mineral oil will smell? And if that is how it smells, is there a way to add an essential oil or something to make it not so smelly? I have a very good sense of smell as you can probably tell. One more thing, I've had my lamp for almost a year and have had it on for a few months. I have wiped the cord with a paper towel thinking that when my fiancé was hanging it it leaked a bit. But since then the cord has gotten oily again. No dripping, but clearly still very slowly leaking and I'm worried that when I do get it cleaned out that it may actually be dirt clogging a bigger hole of some sort around where the cord comes out of the lamp. Thanks for your time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mineral oil from a drug store is what most are using now. It's properties are close enough to Drakoil. The oil should be changed periodically mostly for prolonging the life of the pump and because the oil attracts dust and will turn color over time.

      I just cleaned mine out after about 18 months not due to smell but to flies getting caught in the oil. It was a bad fly season where I am. From what I understand, every 12 months is the recommended replacement routine. I was actually overdue.

      Don't add any other kind of oil like Essential oil. It will gum up the works and possibly ruin the pump.

      A leak isn't too likely given how thick the plastic is, but don't rule out there being a crack. If there is a crack, just get some epoxy from the local hardware store and seal it.

      Delete
  12. how do you drain the oil of of the lamp? I'm guessing just turn it on it's side? Please help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. After it has been off for several minutes, tilt it on it's side for a couple minutes to get most of it out. While you can just rehang and add the new oil, it doesn't hurt to unscrew the bottom section to clean out any dirt or gunk that has built up in the reservoir.

      Delete
  13. My mom got hers in 1971 as a gift from her dad and it still works. She gave it to me over Christmas and after cleaning it we will be hanging it in our living room.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am so happy we just found a work rain lamp just like the one that my grandparents had got me years ago. Found it at the Goodwill for 6.00 Dollars. My daughter is freaking out.. Saying are you trying to junk up the house?? LOL I love it.. So happy with my find..

    ReplyDelete
  15. How do you restore the outside of a rain lamp do you sand it ? And then what do you use on it after that ?

    ReplyDelete

Spam messages will be automatically deleted