Sunday, January 23, 2011

Let There be Light

Mrs Sheva Fixit-Sheva Apelbaum

My light’s pull cord is usually the last thing I touch before I go to sleep.  I am used to the metallic clicking sound as I pull it down to turn the light off.  Several days ago, after finishing a book, I reached for the cord and pulled, but then for some strange reason, the pull cord remained in my hand but the light was still on.

The following day, after I got back from school I decided to look into the problem.  I asked my dad to help me reconnect the chain, but after examining it for a second, he told me that I will have take the whole light apart, so I did. 

I started by removing the shade; next I unscrewed the bulb and removed the shade holder.   After that, I came upon the clamp that holds the light socket.  I tried to pull the bulb socket, but it wouldn’t move, so I flipped the base over and peeled off the rubber cover and discovered that I could push the wire and socket directly from there.  After that I finally got access to the pull chain switch.  I found the groove that holds that pull chain. Putting it in was a piece of cake.  

Lamp Fix-0 Lamp Fix-1 Lamp Fix-2 Lamp Fix-3 Lamp Fix-4 Lamp Fix-5
Lamp Fix-6 Lamp Fix-7 Lamp Fix-8 Lamp Fix-9 Lamp Fix-10 Lamp Fix-11

I pulled the chain a few times times and it worked perfectly.  I then reassembled the light and that was it.  This wasn't a difficult repair (I only used a needle nose pliers to pinch the groove that holds the pull chain), but I still  felt proud.  

1899 Light Bulb Pull Switch Patent-Sheva Apelbaum Harvey Hubbell
Pull Chain Light Switch Patent by Harvey Hubbell

Afterwards, it occurred to me to check the history of the pull cord switch.  It turns out that the device was invented in 1896 by Harvey Hubbell (among his 49 patents is also the invention of the electric power plug).  As electric fixtures were replacing gas lamps, wiring of old building  required the placement of two circuits for each light fixture, which made the installation very expensive.  Without installing a second wire, the light would remain on at all times as there was no efficient way to turn it off.  Hubbell realized that if he placed the switch inside the bulb socket, he could eliminate the second circuit.  He applied for a patented and the rest is history.  

Interestingly, from the patent application, it seems that the pull cord switch has remained unchanged for almost 120 years.  I am sure that Mr. Hubbell would be proud that his invention is still around and even if it fails, it is fairly easy to repair.

1 comment:

  1. Oh girl - sometimes I am lost of words with you!!