Jan 11, 2017

Make This: DIY Vintage Electric Camp Lantern

created at: 10/19/2014

Autumn is the perfect time of year for camping, pumpkins, crunchy leaves and hurricane lamps. Ok, maybe it's just me, but I love these lamps. They bring a certain sense of camp-like nostalgia to my heart and I have a couple around the house.    There's nothing new about using oil lamps in your home. However, it didn't seem like the safest option these days. So, I recently had the idea to retrofit one with a cool Edison vintage bulb. Here's a fairly easy tutorial on turning your own oil lamp into a beautiful electric lamp.   

I originally set out to build this project thinking it would take me forever. To my surprise and your benefit, this entire task, from start to finish will take you less than an hour and cost less than $30 (if you buy a brand new lamp). 

Here's what you'll need:

  • Outdoor Hurricane Lamp. I got this one from Amazon.
  • Vintage-style T-6 Bulb Get it here.
  • Tin snips or a Dremel with a metal cutting bit
  • Candelabra socket with a threaded bushing and wires attached
  • 6 feet of electric wire (or however long you might want)
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire cutters and strippers
  • Male plug kit
  • 2 wire twist caps
  • Pliers
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Phillips screwdriver

If you plan on using an old hurricane lamp, please make sure there is no fuel residue inside the tank. I recommend avoiding used lamps all together. Electricity and fuel fumes don't mix. I used a brand new lantern for this project to avoid a surprise fire in my shop.

created at: 10/19/2014

First, remove the cap that holds the wick above the oil well. This particular brand has one that removes with a twist.

created at: 10/19/2014

Using pliers, remove the shaft in the middle of the bracket. This removes the wick dial. 

created at: 10/19/2014

Using a Dremel with a cutting bit or tin snips, remove the cross bar to create an opening to house the socket. Sand and bend any protruding pieces that might cut you.

created at: 10/19/2014

Slip the socket through the hole and twist on the threaded bushing. I had to wrap some electrical tape around the socket to help it with tighter in the opening.

created at: 10/19/2014

Insert the socket back over the well and place the glass base back on top. Using a marker, make a line where the wick guard should be cut to reveal the socket and free up space for the bulb. Use tin snips or a Dremel to cut at the line. Be sure to sand and smooth out the cut so you don't hurt yourself.

created at: 10/19/2014

created at: 10/19/2014

created at: 10/19/2014

Now you can drill a hole with a bit that's large enough to fit a wire through. I would love to have found a rubber bushing to go in the opening. If you are really crafty, I'd recommend putting one over the opening. Doing so will prolong the life of the wire.

created at: 10/19/2014

Fish your line through and tie a knot to keep it from slipping back out. Then, strip the ends with wire strippers.

created at: 10/19/2014

Twist the two sets of wires together and stuff everything back into the oil well. 

created at: 10/19/2014

I grabbed an easy plug kit at the store and followed the instructions for attaching the wires.

created at: 10/19/2014

What's a good lamp without an on/off switch. I picked up this switch at the store too. You have to cut one of the lines and fit it snuggly in this space. There are vampire teeth (technical term) that bite into the cut line and the switch uses that feature to cut the circuit. 

created at: 10/19/2014

Screw in your lightbulb of choice and place the glass back on and you're finished! Now all you're missing is a tent! 


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Mike on Mar 18, 2017:

Where did you find the candelabra socket with a threaded bushing? I've checked Lowe's, Home Depot, and Amazon with no luck. I was only able to find a non-threaded with wires attached.

Michael on Jan 16, 2017:

I love this - I'm totally going to make this - thanks for the idea!

Fred on Jan 14, 2017:

Fish your line and tie a knot.
You must be kidding. Tie a knot into a wire is no good advice.

Jess on Jan 11, 2017:

I made one and instead of the switch in the cord, I actually put a push button in the hole where the fuel is added. I then cut the inside of the cap so that I can actually screw the cap on.

Trey on Oct 30, 2014:

Just about finished doing this project myself.  Was able to make a custom rubber bushing to fit using 2 different size rubber hoses: 1 that fit's snuggly around the wire coming out of the lamp and the second which fits snuggly around the first hose.  Cut the first hose 3 times longer than the second and rubber cemented the two hoses together at one end of the first hose so it can slide into the drilled hole and be kept in place.

Simon on Oct 22, 2014:

I made one of these a while back and it looks so good! Mind you, I didn't take the extra step to drill for the cord so mine comes out the fuel cap (the lantern I bought was vintage and missing that peice).