Miti-Mite Base With Lamp Restoration

Tool Restoration

For Me - A Unique Tool!

Back in September, dad kinda gave me some of his tools.  Over time I'm sure most of them will hit the blog, but today I want to talk about this lamp.  Yeah, it's no ordinary lamp, and yet it is.  It has a base, a cord, a shade and a bulb.  But the uniqueness makes this one stand out.

Let's Take A Look 

The unique thing about this lamp is that the base is magnetic, designed primarily for holding measuring instruments on machines for machinists.

The common parts between this lamp setup and use for machinist tools is that magnetic base and neck, segmented with ball joints so you can put it in just about any position.

And here's a shot of the base.  I realize the casing is some kind of plastic which today wouldn't bode well, but this one is made of some heavy duty stuff, maybe even old-school Bakelite!

History is shaped by the materials we develop and use. For thousands of years, humans used stone to fashion tools. Some 5,000 years ago, we learned how to make alloys of copper, and the Bronze Age began. Centuries later the Iron Age introduced iron as the material of choice. The introduction of Bakelite—the world’s first synthetic plastic—in 1907 marked the introduction of the Polymer Age. - American Chemical Society, 1993


So here's something interesting.  There's almost no information on the Miti-Mite company on the internet other than that a few of these bases show up on Ebay and - they can be expensive.  The other thing I learned is that at various times, Miti-Mite was it's own company, was owned by some company named Enco, at some point owned by Lufkin and seems to be currently owned by Brown & Sharpe.

But here's a little about Lufkin:  The Lufkin Rule Company was founded in 1869 by Edward T. Lufkin in Cleveland, Ohio.Lufkin made measuring tools an was headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio (1869-1890) and Saginaw, Michigan (1890-1967).  After a couple changes of hand, since 2010 Lufkin has been owned by the Apex Tool Group, like seemingly every tool company.

And, it turns out the lamp was model #250.  I love the description in the catalog, especially that the shield (lampshade) was rayon-flocked green.  We'll talk about that in a couple minutes.

The Power Source 

Here's a little story for ya - when I pulled this lamp out to start working on it, forgetting everything Dad ever taught me about electricity, I plugged it in to see if it was working.  ZAP!  Instant short out, although it was nice to see how quick my reflexes still are!  Nonetheless, thank God the circuit breaker was even faster!  So I had to pull the socket apart to see what was the issue.

Turns out the wires had come loose causing the short.  And when I opened it up completely, the socket and switch pretty much just fell apart!  So that would need to be replaced.  Turned out I already had most of the parts of a new socket, then I used one part of the original socket casing because I needed the threaded end for the shade to screw onto.  Then a few minutes with a new 8 foot wire and we had light!

The Lampshade

Here we are, time for the green rayon flocked shade.  My original intent was to paint it that old-school machinist green  - I've always loved that color.  Here's an example on this old metal lathe:

I have no idea why that color was so closely associated with machines and shops, and I don't know why I like it so much but - there you are.  So that was the color plan for this shade.  I started by taking some Citrustrip to that green raydon flocking:

Then after a couple minutes on the wire wheel and a couple more hand sanding, the shade was ready for priming and painting.

A quick coat of primer...

Then the paint.  At the last minute, or a day or two before it was ready for paint, I decided on red.  Yes, I've mentioned before that red had become 173's signature color, but there was actually a different reason for going with red this time.  

It's really quite this simple, I knew this lamp would be used to light my work on my old Craftsman drill press.  The drill press is from the era of red-on-black Craftsman predating today's black-on-red.  Either way, green just wouldn't look as good with this tool,!

The last bit with the shade was the inside.  Originally it was just shiny metal but there was some rust in there.  We can't have that, so I took my Dremel tool to it to remove the rust, and then painted the inside with a bright gloss white enamel.  

Cold Bluing The Neck

On close inspection, it was clear the neck was had been black at one time.  I didn't want to paint it black because I figure that would likely chip and wear off fairly quickly.  So, I decided with cold bluing.

First I ran it through the wire wheel to remove the remnant of the black paint and any surface rust that was still on the piece...

After cleaning the neck with acetone for probably 3 or 4 minutes, I applied 3 coats of Brownel's Oxpho Blue.  Then, using some 3-in-1 oil and some 0000 steel wool I burnished the bluing.  This was my second time using the cold bluing method, the first being on my 1929 Rigid pipe wrench back in August.  I love the look of cold bluing so I'm guessing we'll see more of it in the future!

After the cold bluing was complete, and about 3 minutes of reassembly, the lamp was done!  

Its Natural Habitat

A now a little look at the Miti-Mite lamp in its natural habitat!  I can't wait for the next time I need to use my drill press.  Heck, I might even make up an excuse to use it!

This ought to make it so much easier to see now!!

See you soon! 
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