Masthead Lamps

davidi

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Jul 10, 2019
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At an auction I bought a BT400 NK77 masthead oil lamp (converted to electricity which came with a separate galvanised metal "cage" significantly larger than the lamp. While trying to identify how it was used I came across a thread on this forum from 2012 by Jim Currie which described a method of hauling a mast head lamp up the mast on fixed guide cables after filling or lighting. I would be keen to hear from anyone who may be able to explain how this "cage" would have been used and what size of vessel it may have been for. It may be that it is an emergency masthead lamp in the event of a power failure on an older vessel.
The cage is 14 inches high with a maximum diameter of, also, 14 inches. Any help would be very much appreciated
 

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Mar 22, 2003
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Chicago, IL, USA
It does look like a cage that would contain an oil lamp for hoisting on the masthead. I marked up the photo (below) to point out a few things. The loop I marked H would be used to hoist the lamp. The two Guides, one on each side, I marked with the letter G. They would contain guide wires that go through them to keep the lamp in place and facing exactly forward on the mast once it is hoisted up. I also showed that the cage is open over an arc of 225° which is the required by the rules. That very thin post in front is there only for support and would not affect that light thrown out ahead by any significant amount.

Hope this helps.

44835
 

davidi

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Jul 10, 2019
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Many thanks for the prompt response and I now understand the purpose of the cage. I attach images of the lamp bought along with the cage but I am not sure if they are compatible. As can be seen the diameter of the lamp is much smaller than the cage and I am not sure how it would be secured in the cage. Do you think the cage is for a larger and/or different style of lamp? I have thought that perhaps an oil tank with a screw top might be placed below the hole in the cage and lamp and burner screwed onto that this securing it within the cage. Any thoughts? I am refurbishing the lamp and considering selling the cage on a "popular auction site" if I can describe it properly. Is it likely to have any particular value? Again, many thanks for the response David
 

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Mar 22, 2003
5,168
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Chicago, IL, USA
I can only guess, but it looks like that cage is for a larger lamp. The lamp itself would have to fit snugly in the cage, and I don't see how that small lamp would stay in place. I also notice that the cage has two guides located on each side where the guide wires along the sides would run through, which makes a lot of sense.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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Funchal. Madeira
At an auction I bought a BT400 NK77 masthead oil lamp (converted to electricity which came with a separate galvanised metal "cage" significantly larger than the lamp. While trying to identify how it was used I came across a thread on this forum from 2012 by Jim Currie which described a method of hauling a mast head lamp up the mast on fixed guide cables after filling or lighting. I would be keen to hear from anyone who may be able to explain how this "cage" would have been used and what size of vessel it may have been for. It may be that it is an emergency masthead lamp in the event of a power failure on an older vessel.
The cage is 14 inches high with a maximum diameter of, also, 14 inches. Any help would be very much appreciated
The "cage" does not seem to have ever been used or exposed to sea water. Galvanising was a rare feature on ship's lamps and their associated fittings. Most were made of brass, bronze or copper.
It could quite well have been a masthead lamp housing but it would have needed to have been fixed onto the guide wires at deck level. The hole on the bottom might have been to expose the underside of the lamp itself and consequently, either the access to the wick holder and oil tank., or allow ventilation od the wick housing for combustion.
My guess is that it was made to house a large, 14 inch masthead light such as the Hi Piper Montreal Maritime masthead light but never used. However, the masthead light in question also had wire guides fitted as part of the lamp housing.

By the way, you would never house an oil lamp or any lamp in such a contraption unless it was a snug fit and unable to move within it it. Up a mast in a sea way it would be whipping around like billy-oh!