Hurricane lamp technical question

June 2, 2017 at 17:46:17
Specs: several
Okay, it doesn't have anything to do with computers or software or
electronics or electricity -- But it is a technical question.

I acquired the glass "globe" or chimney which essentially IS a
hurricane lamp (a candle is also required, of course, but the candle
is a consumeable, while the glass globe is merely fragile). I have
no reason to think the globe is particularly valuable, or an antique,
and it doesn't look old. Just a piece of glass. It is surprisingly thin,
though. I'd have expected a hurricane lamp globe to be made of
relatively hefty glass. This is just the opposite. Very thin, fragile
and delicate in appearance. It is just an 8.5 inch tall cylinder about
3.5 inches in diameter which bulges out in the center and flares out
gracefully at the top and bottom. It is symmetrical. Top and bottom
are identical, so either end can be up.

I think this thing was hand-blown. I've watched glassblowers work,
and this looks pretty straightforward. Not easy, considering how
delicate and perfectly symmetrical it is, but nothing unusual.

There is a little bead or bump of glass on each end of the tube. I'm
quite sure those are the two points where the glassblower finished
cutting off the soft glass from the blowing pipe and from the rest of
the material. Both are small, though one is larger than the other.

After typing all this, my question is getting to seem silly, but I'm asking
about those two little bumps. I presume that the globe would normally
sit on a flat surface in use. So the ends of the cylinder should also be
flat. Yet there are these two littly-bitty bumps which make the globe
wobble slightly when resting on a flat surface. Surely no professional
glassblower would allow a flaw like that to pass. It took considerable
skill to make it so perfectly symmetrical and hold its shape while making
it so thin. Yet there those bumps are. Is this just shoddy workmanship?
A normal result of mass production? Does the candle require a tiny bit
of airflow under the bottom edge of the globe in order to burn well?
Why are those bumps there? Should I grind at least one of them off so
the globe will sit still on a flat plate? Or is the globe intended to fit into
a base, or am I supposed to melt some wax from the candle onto the
plate to hold the globe in position, so the bump is of no consequence?
Or what?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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June 2, 2017 at 18:45:39
No you don't melt wax on to the glass, it gets extremity hot and the wax would melt away in no time. What you purchased is known as the "chimney" and is part of a lamp, usually kerosene. I suppose you could use it with a candle on a table or something but usually they go with the rest of the lamp. I'm not sure what part of the world you live in but you can get replacement chimneys at Home Depot or Lowes here in the U.S.

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June 2, 2017 at 19:25:56
We keep a couple of hurricane oil lamps around in case of power failure.

There's also hurricane lanterns. I find it hard to believe you don't know how they work?

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June 2, 2017 at 23:08:09
"What you purchased ..."

Inherited, actually. My mom left a brief note inside the glass
apparently explaining that the metal sheet I found under the
glass should be put under the glass when in use. It reads like
she started writing it before she knew exactly what she was
going to say: "Put under hurricane globe & candle under globe."

The metal sheet was clearly fabricated by my dad. Carefully
folded to round the sharp edges, but completely unnecessary.
A small plate would have worked as well and looked better.

"... and is part of a lamp, usually kerosene."

No hint of anything but a windscreen for a candle here. I don't
have any explanation of why there was no base for the candle
and chimney, so that my dad had to make one. I suppose I can
try to explain that my dad made one out of sheet metal rather
than using a plate by saying that his first thought was probably
that the base needed to be fireproof, and metal was the first
thing that came to mind, and he went with the first thing that
came to mind.

"I'm not sure what part of the world you live in ..."

And I'm not sure I've ever posted here without posting my
location after my name.

The glass looks similar to the one in riider's first link, but not
as narrow in the neck, and curved the same way at the bottom
as at the top.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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Related Solutions

June 3, 2017 at 01:59:27
Hi Jeff, some photos would be interesting to see.


a) when candle burns low, could base become hot?
If so, the metal plate is needed to insulate.

Would expect Plate to have feet such that in reality it is a Stand, and thus there is an air gap underneath. Otherwise Plate itself when heated would scorch anything underneath.

b) to burn properly candle needs oxygen in sufficient quantity
Glass bubbles create gap at bottom of glass 'Dome' so air can be drawn in for this.
Due to heat convection possibly 'good / suitable' air cannot be drawn in from top.

Good Luck - Keep us posted.
Mike - in London

message edited by Mike Newcomb

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June 3, 2017 at 07:06:40
The basic principle is the same for all chimneys - cold air in from the bottom, hot air out from the top. That's why the base that the globe (aka chimney) sits in usually has perforations for combustion air to enter. This creates the "draft" that keeps the chimney working efficiently. If you set the globe directly on a plate or piece of sheet metal, the burn will be inefficient & won't give off as much light. If you seal it to the plate with wax, the burn will be even more inefficient. The following article is about lanterns, but it explains the difference between Hot-Blast, Cold-Blast, Dead-Flame, & how they affect efficiency:

You probably have something more like this one?

message edited by riider

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June 3, 2017 at 11:27:54

"some photos would be interesting to see."

As a general principle that is certainly true, but I really doubt you'd
find anything interesting in photos of my lamp chimney. My verbal
description should be enough, especially my comparison to riider's
first image.

The glass might become hot, as THX 1138 said, but not the base.
Not from a candle. Think of plastic candleholders for birthday cake.

I agree that the flame needs a certain amount of airflow. Putting a
teensy little bump on the edge of the chimney, expecting it to create
a gap between the chimney and whatever surface it is sitting on
strikes me as a remarkably stupid, klutzy, and unreliable solution.
Hence my question.


The chimney in your first photo resembles mine more closely. Just
make the bottom identical to the top, and the neck (and waist) not
quite so narrow.

-- Jeff, actually in Richfield now, but still close to Minneapolis

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June 3, 2017 at 11:48:12
"Putting a teensy little bump on the edge of the chimney, expecting it to create a gap between the chimney and whatever surface it is sitting on strikes me as a remarkably stupid, klutzy, and unreliable solution"

All you have is the chimney. You don't have the base it was intended for so you have no idea of the purpose of the "bump". Maybe it's a defective, then again, maybe it's for alignment purposes. What we definitely know is the chimney certainly wasn't designed to sit on a plate or a piece of home fabricated sheet metal.

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June 3, 2017 at 14:40:08
"It is surprisingly thin"
Maybe that is to minimise the risk of breakage due to stress brought about by the difference in temperature between inside and outside. Just thinking aloud.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

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June 4, 2017 at 04:19:06
I'm not sure I have any reason to think any kind of base was
ever associated with the chimney before my dad made the
sheet metal one. Before writing the original post, I googled
"hurricane lamp chimney", and one of the hits was an image
of a similar chimney, but with the bottom edge turned up like
the cuff on a pants leg. The text said it was done to prevent
damage to furniture it sits on. Sorry I can't find the link now.
It seemed goofy, considering that a burning candle would
sit on the same surface. I think that helped motivate me to
post, although I ignored it in my question.


I thought (briefly) about the temperature differential between
different parts of the chimney vertically. It didn't occur to me
to consider the differential across the thickness. Interesting,
whether it is significant or not!

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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June 4, 2017 at 07:15:45
"I'm not sure I have any reason to think any kind of base was ever associated with the chimney"

Of course there was a base. Maybe it was destroyed or maybe your parents just happened across the chimney at a garage sale, or maybe it was given to them. I have no idea of its history, but it was certainly designed to sit on some sort of base, be it for oil, kerosene, or a candle. To think otherwise is foolish.

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June 4, 2017 at 12:13:18

As I said, the chimney is symmetrical in that it can be turned over
upside-down and it is unchanged.

Unless you want to be very, very picky.

As I said, the bumps on the edges are small, but one is noticeably
smaller than the other. Both bumps appear to be a result of the
glassblowing process, not a feature. If that is so, then this mythical
base to which you refer can accommodate either end of the chimney,
and the bumps do not significantly interfere with the chimney sitting
level. So if the candle requires airflow from below, it must come
through the base.

I just googled "hurricane lamp with candle" and found a few images
showing the candle and chimney with no base. The first image is
identical to what I have except that mine is only 8.75" tall:

The top of the candle that was in my chimney is just below the
center of the bulge, so the flame would be right at the center.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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