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restorations : revo festival

This lantern originally stood in Duncombe Place, York where it was one of eight lighting the approach to the York Minster. All eight were removed in late April 2008 and all the lanterns were saved and distributed to collectors.

before restoration #1
It certainly is a black and white monstrosity. And that's just the cat.

The lantern had survived well during its fifty years service. Being cast mainly from aluminium, it wasn't suffering from corrosion and the existing paint was still in good condition.

However, during the lantern's service, two photocells had been installed in the canopy. The Perspex bowl had also separated along its seam, so the council had used a liquid plastic to stick it back together. This in turn had attracted dirt and caused the "black line" down the length of the bowl.

before restoration #2
Oddly, there were also two "ladder bars" bolted to the lantern's spigot cap. As these bars also had holes drilled along their length, I assume they were used for hanging baskets and/or banners and were not used as ladder bars in the traditional sense.

I decided to keep them. They were not sold by REVO and were not part of the original lantern, but showed an interesting modification by the council during the lantern's lifetime.

strip down #1
The knurled knob holding the canopy in place was difficult to unscrew but after using a towel for extra grip, it eventually gave. The thread was well greased showing how York Council's contractors had looked after the lantern well.

strip down #2
The removal of the entire canopy was required to remove the bowl and service the fluorescent tubes. Therefore, when the photocells were installed, the council's workmen also added two plugs to allow the photocell's wiring to be easily disconnected and connected. A nice touch.

strip down #3
Next to be removed was the bowl. After fifty years of service, it was in remarkably good condition with only the original seam having split. Further inspection showed how the split changed direction near the top of the bowl with a crack developing horizontally one inch from the top.

Despite this damage, the bowl hadn't discoloured over the years.

Further modifications were evident inside the bowl. After glueing the seam back with liquid plastic, the council's workmen reinforced the fix with duct tape. About a quarter of the bowl was covered with tape.

strip down #4
The photocells were easily unscrewed from the canopy of the lantern and removed. They were not part of REVO's original specification and broke the smooth line of the canopy.

strip down #5
With the bowl removed, the fluorscent tubes and gear could be inspected. Which caused quite a surprise.

All of REVO's original wiring, gear, starter switches, bulb holders and tubes had been stripped out. Nothing remained.

The council's workmen had taken two Thorn Popular Packs and installed them in the lantern. It was weird seeing two interior lanterns fitted inside the Festival but it worked.

I decided to keep them for the time being. Hopefully old, original gear might be available from Cambridge when the Richardson Candles are removed and then I can retrofit the gear. Until then, the Popular Packs stay.

The removal of the bowl also allowed the wiring to be studied. Each Popular Pack was wired up separately which explains the two photocells and the two 4-core wires emerging from the lantern. I wonder if the tubes of one of the Popular Packs was extinguished at midnight, still preserving the lantern's original part-night lighting.

I decided to retain this feature and therefore keep the switching of the Popular Packs independent.

test #1
I removed the rest of the photocell wiring and then connected each Popular Pack to a supply after refitting the fluorescent tubes. They all worked except one of the sockets had partially broken due to plastic fatigue.

strip down #6
Using paint stripper and a wire brush, I soon made short work of the original black paint, red oxide undercoat, and white etching primer base. The aluminium was in excellent condition and I was able to bring back its shine.

repair #1
The holes drilled for the photocells were filled with fibre glass and left to set.

support #1
A hole was dug for the lantern's support. I had a length of old iron piping which was just right for the job and this can be seen placed in the hole.

Half an hour after digging the hole, our chickens had filled it in again.

repair #2
With the fibre glass now set, I was able to sand down the filling flush with the canopy.

repaint #1
The knurled knob was painted with red oxide for non-ferrous metals.

repaint #2
The canopy was also painted with the red oxide for non-ferrous metals.

strip down #7
The ladder bar was removed next. The two nuts and bolts holding the two parts of the ladder bar together were corroded but after plenty of heating with a blow torch and lubrication with penetrating oil, both were eventually unscrewed.

strip down #8
The single coat of black paint was quickly removed using paint stripper.

strip down #9
And at the end of the first day, half the paint had been removed from the base of the lantern. It was made in two parts: an aluminium casting for the base of the lantern and an iron spigot cap.

The grub screws in the spigot cap were easily undone as they'd been greased regularly.

repaint #3
The canopy now got its first coat of black metal paint.

I decided to use black as it was York Council's colour of choice.

repaint #4
Likewise the knurled knob was also given its first coat of black paint.

repaint #5
As the ladder bar was made of iron, it was first coated with anti-rust treatment before any undercoats were added.

strip down #10
After another hour's work, the rest of the paint was removed from the base of the lantern. Unlike the canopy, the base had corroded slightly and did require extra work with the wire brush.

The two different metals can be clearly seen in this shot.

strip down #11
The base of the lantern was first washed with soapy water (to remove any old stripper, grease, dirt and dust) and then washed with clean water (to remove the detergent).

repaint #6
The cast iron spigot cap was then painted with anti-rust treatment.

repaint #7
The ladder bars were now coated with red oxide for ferrous metals.

repaint #8
And once the anti-rust treatment had dried, the ferrous parts of the lantern's base were also coated with the same red oxide.

repaint #9
The knurled knob was given its second, and last, coat of black paint.

repaint #10
Likewise, the canopy was also given its last coat of black paint.

repaint #11
The aluminium parts of the lantern's base were now given their coat of red-oxide for non-ferrous metals.

repaint #12
As the red-oxide for ferrous metals required a considerable amount of time to dry, the work on the lantern started on the third day with the first black coat of paint for the ladder arms.

repaint #13
At the same time, the base of the lantern was given its first coat of black paint.

I'd hoped to run the two pieces of flex through a piece of hose to protect it under the ground and into the summer house. However, the hose wasn't wide enough to accommodate both lengths of wire, and I was unhappy about using two pieces of hose and drilling two holes into the summer house.

Therefore I decided I would lose the part-night option of the lantern and just switch all the tubes on and off.

rewiring #1
I removed the second piece of flex and wired the two Popular Packs in parallel. I then checked my wiring by putting a tube in each of the Popular Packs and powering it up.

support #2
The metal pipe was now concreted into position with the wiring, contained in a hose, already threaded through it. A level was used to ensure the pipe was vertical.

repaint #13
The base of the lantern was now given its second, and final, coat of black paint.

repaint #14
At the same time, the ladder bars were also given their second, and final, coats of black paint.

support #3
Further concrete and hardcore was added to the hole to strengthen the pipe. However, it's diameter wasn't large enough to be gripped by the small grub screws in the base of the lantern, so pieces of wood were positioned to bulk it out and allow the grub screws to grip the pipe.

cleaning #1
The bowl and tubes were given a clean using warm soapy water and then rinsed using clean water. Note the cloth on the end of the piece of wood: vital for getting to the centre of the Perspex bowl.

support #4
I drilled a hole into the summer house and threaded the wiring into it. The end of the wire was fitted with a plug; the lantern is not directly connected with the mains and I'm always around when its plugged in.

(It was lucky I was working in this part of the summer house and I discovered a rat had eaten the flex to the beer fridge. It'd chewed through the earth wire and got dangerously close to electrocuting itself with the live and neutral. So I had to rewire the fridge at the same time).

installation #1
The ladder bar was then fixed back to the lantern, the spigot put over the metal pipe and the grub screws tightened. Once it was "solid", the perpsex tube was put back over the lantern and the end cap assembly (the canopy and knurled knob) were screwed back on.

And the Festival was back in one piece.

installation #2
A final shot of the lantern with the tubes powered up.

This isn't the end of the restoration. If an original 1950s fluorescent assembly can be located (probably from a Richardson Candle) then the Popular Packs will be removed.

The wooden supports against the metal pipe don't work either as the grub screws just compress the wood and so the lantern is still moving slightly on its base. These will have to be replaced with pieces of metal.