Author Topic: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes  (Read 3922 times)
good223
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Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « on: February 18, 2015, 06:01:55 PM » Author: good223
How many of you guys actually use your vintage or antique fluorescent tubes? And by use I mean daily use.

Would you use it if you only had one of them? How about when you have a lot of them?

Me personally, I do because I like to enjoy them and I'll probably be dead before I use them up.
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #1 on: February 18, 2015, 11:21:19 PM » Author: nicksfans
I use a pair of vintage GE F20T12/CWs regularly, in addition to four red-etch GE F40LW/RS/WM II. I have some other vintage lamps (Lifelines especially) in other fixtures but those aren't used on a daily basis. Most of the lamps I use are modern ones, though.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2015, 12:12:49 PM by nicksfans » Logged

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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #2 on: February 19, 2015, 11:15:15 AM » Author: Alights
i have a few vintage lamps in use
sylvania 100W /N phosphor MV in outside light, it runs dusk to dawn usually
 GE compax preheat CFL in the bathroom, i have some spares so no big deal
GE F96T12/lite white in the shed gets used occasionally with a sylvania F96T12/white
2 phillips F40T10/830 in the hallway
many old stock full mercury T8s from the 90's are in use, i have lots of them in F17T8 and F32T8 all /835

i like to see vintage lamps in use gives the lighting more character and interesting
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #3 on: February 19, 2015, 01:11:20 PM » Author: TheMaritimeMan
The closest thing I have to daily use is a 1974 GE F15T8/CW that does 12/7 service in a preheat desk lamp when I stay at my mother's house (which nowadays is a few days every couple of months). Other than that, I have a 1993 Philips Lifeguard 40/50 watt mercury vapor lamp and a 1970 Philips TL8W/33 which get a few hours of use in the same timeframe. I give all of my fluorescent lamps runtime though, however occasional, and I intend to do so until they reach EOL. I don't believe in letting vintage electronics sit unused for the rest of eternity.
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #4 on: February 19, 2015, 10:54:46 PM » Author: arcblue
Absolutely. Life is short, any of us could die tomorrow. Why save the good stuff for "someday?" However, for vintage HID/rare lamps that I don't have a spare for, I use only in the display fixtures that get no more than one evening of use per week (and often not even that). If you consider fluorescents & HIDs have 10,000-24,000 hrs of life, even with a short burning cycle that reduces lifespan, infrequent use like this should still yield several decades of use at worst, but Lifeguard mercury vapor lamps should easily outlive us.

Most of my fluorescent lamps are modern (80's to present) and the GE Ecolux lamps that I have a ton of actually seem to be just fine. As for HID, I stopped buying Chinese lamps that failed every other year and stick with only USA NOS lamps now. I calculated that I have enough lamps on hand now to last until I'm 85 years old assuming the spares aren't damaged.

Which brings me to a question: Is it a good idea to fire up unused lamps in storage for, say, an hour every year or so? Seeing that some fluorescents in storage a long time seem to become contaminated internally or otherwise become hard to ignite, maybe this should be done. The other thing that concerns me is CFLs and ballasts with capacitors having their capacitors dry out and fail as happened to one member here. Seems like long periods of non-use can mean problems for a lot of things, like engines, appliances, batteries and electronics when they are finally put into service.

Not sure if non-use affects incandescents or halogens but I have heard of (and experienced) light bulbs failing immediately after turning on for the first time after a long time in storage. My guess would be this may be from rough handling or dropping but maybe it also could be contamination of the internal fill or air slowly getting in.
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #5 on: February 20, 2015, 04:27:00 AM » Author: sol
I have a 1980's vintage Lifeguard lamp in nightly use in my street light. I am not sure of the date code, but it is a fully coated BT-28 and if I remember correctly it is a Philips Westinghouse Lifeguard (the etch is rubbed off). I have three spares, so I don't worry about it. I had bid on two on eBay. Meanwhile, I found two more with a Buy it now so fearing I might lose the bid, I bought them. I then won the bid so had four lamps.

I do have two early Westinghouse white F15T8 lamps that I don't use at the moment, however I might dig them out eventually. Other than that nothing vintage.
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #6 on: February 20, 2015, 10:21:52 PM » Author: ace100w120v
If I had all modern lamps I'd use them in vintage fixtures, but I don't.  Also if I don't have a modern lamp in a color temp I want in that application I'll use an older one.
So my vintage lamps currently in reguar use (Let's just say pre-1997) are:
A pair of 1985 GE F20T12/CWs
A May 1979 GE Mainlighter F40WW
Some 1990s GE cool white 34w Watt-Misers
A pair of 1993 Sylvania F40T12 Design 50s
A July 1989 GE Chroma 50 F40T12, alongside a May 1991 version of same
A pair of 90s GE Plant & Aquarium F40T12s
And last but not least, a pair of 1996 Sylvania F96T12/CW/SS (60w cool white 8ft slimline) lamps. 
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #7 on: February 21, 2015, 01:16:38 AM » Author: good223
I guess I'm not the only one who likes to enjoy using the old bulbs.

A significant portion of my house is lit with 4ft fixtures, which all have westy black enders. I've never dated them though since I don't know how to read date codes. My vintage desk lamp is lit with a vintage GE inside etch tube, which I also don't know the date of.

I should really get around to posting some of my collection...
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #8 on: February 21, 2015, 09:32:54 AM » Author: jrmcferren
I have a 1966 F15T8CW lamp that I pulled from service simply because while I like the vintage lamp, the desk lamp that it was in gets pretty nasty use with sometimes less than 5 minutes per start and very rarely 3 hours per start so I put in a Sylvania F15T8CW. I actually like the Sylvania F15T8CW phosphor better.
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #9 on: February 27, 2015, 05:37:33 PM » Author: dspiffy
I have some fixtures from the 1940s-1960s and it appears at least some of them still have the original tubes.  They also came with spare tubes still in the packaging-- the yellow GE cardboard sleeve if that clues anyone in to dates.

I think the vintage fixtures look much cooler with the original tubes.  In particular I love to see the old font on the writing (GE/Sylvania/Westinghouse/etc).
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #10 on: February 28, 2015, 08:44:15 AM » Author: vintagefluorescent
I never use my vintage bulbs for lighting because when they burn out its over,

I use vintage fluorescent bulbs for display only,

When going to the recycle center I will even save the tubes that are burned out such as westy blackenders,
Sylvania lifelines, G-E main lighters etc etc because once they are gone there gone , I make it a habit to never dispose of or leave burned out vintage fluorescent bulbs behind . Never !!!!


Quote from: dspiffy
link=topic=3938.msg25725#msg25725 date=1425080253
I have some fixtures from the 1940s-1960s and it appears at least some of them still have the original tubes.  They also came with spare tubes still in the packaging-- the yellow GE cardboard sleeve if that clues anyone in to dates.

I think the vintage fixtures look much cooler with the original tubes.  In particular I love to see the old font on the writing (GE/Sylvania/Westinghouse/etc).
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #11 on: March 01, 2015, 12:26:31 AM » Author: rapidstart
I have three T12's with internal reflector in my garage, one cool white and two daylight's.
The two daylight's are over a bench I don't use very much so these are not switched on very often.
The cool white reflector is used a little more often. This one has signs of banding and was used when I acquired it. One of the daylight reflectors has slight banding at one end and is the oldest of the two. I've recently posted pictures of the two daylight reflectors.

The central fixture in the garage is two 5ft T12 65/80w cool white German Sylvania's.

Over another bench is two T12 40w, one cool white and one warm white but these are rarely used.

The only actual spare 4ft I have is a T8 36w Crompton daylight.

But the T12 reflectors are there to be used. They could out live me! If I ever had to move I'd take them with me.
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #12 on: March 02, 2015, 10:04:26 AM » Author: DieselNut
I have 25 2 tube fixtures that use F90T17s and they are in regular use, although not daily and often not even weekly.  Some have the now very hard to find mogul bipin Westinghouse black end cap tubes.  I enjoy vintage lighting much better when it is seen and enjoyed, although I also have plenty in storage.  Many of the F40 fixtures throughout my house, shop, barn and sheds have vintage tubes, ballasts, and/or starters too. 
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #13 on: March 04, 2015, 11:03:29 PM » Author: dspiffy
I like the idea of vintage tubes in my vintage fixtures.  I have a huge stash of bulbs and they're a mix of 80s and before.  I usually grab the oldest looking lamps from the top of the pile.  I showed some pictures in a separate thread of some of the ones in my "daily drivers".
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Re: Using vintage or antique fluorescent tubes « Reply #14 on: May 21, 2015, 09:43:31 PM » Author: Solanaceae
I fired up every westy lifeguard once to see how well they work. Now, they rest.
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