Lighting the Way

My wife almost never gives me a “honey-do” list. Honest! But today there were a couple of things she asked me to do. One of them had to do with some lamps that she wanted fixed. She had bought these two lamps quite some time ago, probably at a yard sale or some such thing. They came without shades. The shades she later bought were unusable, it turns out. Apparently these lamps were constructed to use the sort of shades that clip right on to the lightbulb. But she had bought shades that had a frame, and they were supposed to be attached to another frame that surrounds the bulb on the lamp itself. These lamps lacked those frames.


Nothing to attach a lampshade to!

So, off to the lighting store I went, in search of the holy grail solution to all our problems. The very kind lady at Bright Ideas/HEP here in Canandaigua taught me a lot, and helped me out. Those frames that fit around the lightbulb are called “harps.” Who knew? Since the lamps lacked harps, they also lacked the mounts that the harps fit into. The Bright Ideas/HEP lady had harps and harp-mounts. They were even fairly cheap. We were off to a good start.

Now comes the fun part. I had to dis-assemble the lamps in order to install the harp-mounts. No big deal, right? I’ve done lamps before. Unscrew the nut on the bottom, and the whole thing just comes apart, right? Wellllll. Once I got the felt off the bottom of the lamp, I discovered that these lamps were hollow, and the assembly nut was far out of reach in the cavernous interior of the lamp.


Looking into the interior of the lamp from the bottom.

My hand was way too thick to fit inside in order to unscrew that old nut. Even E’s hand wouldn’t fit. Now we were getting into a case of “one thing leads to another.” I could unscrew the lamp socket from the outside, but there were two problems with this. One, the cord would get all twisted up. And two, once the assembly came loose the nut would fall off and I would have no way of re-assembling the whole thing.

To solve the first problem I had to detach the wires from the lamp socket and pull the wire all the way out through the bottom of the lamp.

Now I could turn the socket and get things to come apart. I would have to figure out how to put it all back together later.

Success. I got the lamp taken apart, I put the harp-mount in place, and I set my mind to finding a way to reassemble it all. I found that if I used my socket wrench set with my long extender attached to my short extender, I could just get a socket up into the cavernous interior of the lamp in order to place the nut where it needed to be. Then I could hand-screw the socket assembly into that nut while I held the socket extenders.


Socket extender … extended

Looking good so far.

Now I had to find a way to thread the wires back up into the lamp and through the hole in the center of the socket. At first I thought I could just push it through. But, with wires, as with leadership, you can’t push – you have to pull. So, I threaded a string through the hole from above, down through the cavernous interior of the lamp and out the bottom. I tied that string onto the wire and pulled it up through the socket. I think the correct word in this context is “fish.” I fished the wires up through the socket. Now all I had to do was re-attach the wires, re-assemble the lamp socket, and I would be finished.



Wire successfully fished.

Harp-mount successfully installed

Harp-mount successfully installed

Except there were two lamps.

The moral of the story is, when given a honey-do list involving lamps, be prepared to do some fishing and you may just end up playing a harp. Or two.



One thought on “Lighting the Way

  1. I am still smiling! Dad has found himself in such situations more times than I can count. I always knew he would come up with a solution to a problem he was presented with – he pretty much made his living by being a creative designer. Just recently, we were faced with almost the kind of situation you described – tiny screws that had to be placed in a hole which neither of us could reach – he ended up putting Vaseline on the tip of a screw driver, sticking the screw on the Vaseline and guiding it down into the hole! It actually worked and he was able to get the screw in the hole! Moral of that story – always keep a jar of Vaseline around – it has many uses.
    PS I think you inherited his problem solving gene!

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