WTB Working Carbide Lamp

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WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 5, 2013 5:05 pm

I'm looking for a carbide light with blade mount for occasional use in sport trips. I've never used carbide so any help with non-obvious operational details is quite welcome, as are possible sources for calcium carbide (I know about Karst Sports). I know there are various types of lamps out there but have little grasp or their pros and cons, or what reflector size/type is best. I'm trusting that you good folks won't sell me a peice of garbage without warning me first :waving:

Thanks,
-J
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby Myrna Attaway » Jun 6, 2013 3:26 am

Why?

Sorry I grew up caving with carbide, and I missed it when it became unfeasable to use it. It didnt become unfeasable because of the unavailability of carbide. Others went to miners lamps and they were so much briter I felt blind. Everything was yellow. It wasnt very bright, so we missed a lot of passages when exploring.

It stinks, litterally. Getting rid of the spent carbide is an environmental issue.

Your pack can explode from unspent carbide and you will always have some offgassing unless you flood your lamp. Nothing like an alkiline slurry in a cave. You have about two hours of light at the most. Then you have to sit down and handle little parts in the dark to get it back. You have an open flame near rope and a spash of water or flying bat can leave you in the dark.

Dont even think about wearing you helment in a crawl because if you turn that sucker on its side the felt will get wet and block the flow of gas to the tip.

Tips.. getting them and you do need replacements. The hardest thing to get though is a tip cleaner. Try finding one of those. And you will need one so often we used to wear them around our necks. If you like waering a wire bottle brush in a tender spot you will love that. Oh and weight. They are so heavy that most of us had to put some kind of counterweight on the back of our helments. I had headaches for three days after every caving trip from the nech tension.

Antiques are going to be your best bet. My personal favorite is the horizontal justrite because it holds the aporopriate amount of water for a charge of carbide. All others will require having the water chamber refilled. You can replace the felt with a peice of green scrubby pad and keep your helment on in a crawl.

Avoid Premirs from the 90's. Their water drip was to short and the water dripped onto the carbide rather than wicking into it. That gave a fluctuating flame that could set off a seizure in an epilectic.

If you goal is a nice area light that will give you better depth perception go to foxfury.com and check out their lights. I have two and love them passionatly. About as much as I did my carbide.
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby NZcaver » Jun 6, 2013 4:21 am

Myrna Attaway wrote:Dont even think about wearing you helment in a crawl because if you turn that sucker on its side the felt will get wet and block the flow of gas to the tip.

One of the first things we did when we started caving with our brand new carbide caplamps 20-something years ago was remove the felt and replace it with one of those green kitchen scrubby pads cut to size. That pretty much avoids the tipping problem.

Tips.. getting them and you do need replacements. The hardest thing to get though is a tip cleaner. Try finding one of those. And you will need one so often we used to wear them around our necks.

It's easy to make a tip cleaner for a caplamp using a short piece of WD-1 military phone wire with stiff steel strands (the type used for cave rescue communication communication line). The Petzl Aceto ceiling burner comes with a tip cleaner attached. Pretty cool.

One of the first things I purchased from my caving club right after I joined was a brand new Premier caplamp (1980's era). I still have it somewhere. I can see how there might be a little nostalgia in carbide caving, but for the most part I agree with Myrna. Compared with the LEDs we have today, the sheer inconvenience of carbide lighting far outweighs the advantages for most cavers in most situations. But if you ask around some local grottos and cavers, you're bound to find somebody who has an old caplamp they might let you play with or buy off them.
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Jun 6, 2013 7:22 am

Image


My fiance uses a carbide. In fact, his lamp is older than he is. He got it from an old timer who was no longer using it and he loves it. He especially likes using it when surveying because the light is much softer on the survey paper. He wears it just about everywhere we go caving here in TAG and doesn't really have any issues with it.
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 6, 2013 7:34 am

Myrna Attaway wrote:Why?


While it might seem silly to go backward and use carbide, I appreciate the connection with history that I feel when using old equipment and methods. I'll never be as tough as some of the old cavers who did so much original exploration with carbide (I've recently been reading about Schreiber & Co. in the 60's for example), but I can attempt to understand their accomplishments in the context in which they happened. I feel like using carbide to light the way from time to time will help me do that. OK? Am I allowed to buy a carbide light now?
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby trogman » Jun 6, 2013 9:15 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:
Myrna Attaway wrote:Why?


While it might seem silly to go backward and use carbide, I appreciate the connection with history that I feel when using old equipment and methods. I'll never be as tough as some of the old cavers who did so much original exploration with carbide (I've recently been reading about Schreiber & Co. in the 60's for example), but I can attempt to understand their accomplishments in the context in which they happened. I feel like using carbide to light the way from time to time will help me do that. OK? Am I allowed to buy a carbide light now?


I am with Myrna on this one. Of course you are allowed to buy one, but some of us were just curious as to why you would want to use one, especially with all of the other, much more practical alternatives out there.
I would probably enjoy the nostalgic connection with history associated with cranking an old-timey hand-cranked automobile-once. But I certainly wouldn't want to drive one every day; I'll take my 2012 Civic with easy start, power windows, etc. any day of the week.

Another characteristic of carbide not mentioned is the effect the soot can have on caves. There have been studies of this in Europe which indicate that over the long term, carbide soot can build up on pristine formation areas and cause discoloration of the calcite. Of course, if you are virtually the only carbide user to go into a given cave, it may never have that kind of effect.

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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby NSS8921 » Jun 6, 2013 9:30 am

GroundquestMSA - get a brass Justrite, Autolite or a Guy's Dropper. Not a Premier, not a plastic Justrite. Do not apply freshly spent carbide to delicate parts of the anatomy. Let the spent carbide sit for a few days where animals won't get into it, and it will become less alkaline. I used to then put it on my lawn (It changes from quicklime to lime).

I enjoyed carbide caving for many years, but when Wheat Lights came out, there was no turning back.

I never used a ceiling burner, so no reco on that.
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby MUD » Jun 6, 2013 9:31 am

:grin: I can help you Jonah! I have 38 lamps and don't use any of them. I do have a bunch sitting around in the shop and house here and there just as antiques. Send me a PM and we'll work something out.

:carbide:
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 6, 2013 10:31 am

Thanks for the tips 8921

trogman wrote:I would probably enjoy the nostalgic connection with history associated with cranking an old-timey hand-cranked automobile-once. But I certainly wouldn't want to drive one every day; I'll take my 2012 Civic with easy start, power windows, etc. any day of the week.


Therefore...
GroundquestMSA wrote:I'm looking for a carbide light with blade mount for occasional use...

GroundquestMSA wrote:...from time to time...

I have perfectly adequate, practical, and convenient LED lighting for usual use.

Cavemud wrote::grin: I can help you Jonah! I have 38 lamps and don't use any of them. I do have a bunch sitting around in the shop and house here and there just as antiques. Send me a PM and we'll work something out.

:carbide:


That's more like it!
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby trogman » Jun 6, 2013 12:31 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:Thanks for the tips 8921

trogman wrote:I would probably enjoy the nostalgic connection with history associated with cranking an old-timey hand-cranked automobile-once. But I certainly wouldn't want to drive one every day; I'll take my 2012 Civic with easy start, power windows, etc. any day of the week.


Therefore...
GroundquestMSA wrote:I'm looking for a carbide light with blade mount for occasional use...

GroundquestMSA wrote:...from time to time...

I have perfectly adequate, practical, and convenient LED lighting for usual use.

Cavemud wrote::grin: I can help you Jonah! I have 38 lamps and don't use any of them. I do have a bunch sitting around in the shop and house here and there just as antiques. Send me a PM and we'll work something out.

:carbide:


That's more like it!


My bad- I missed that part! :doh:

If you were in the Atlanta area, you could look into this one: http://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/spo/3833669436.html

I do have friends that use carbide for survey station marking. Even for that limited purpose I find them to be quite annoying to deal with. But that's just me. I used to have one years ago, and was SO happy to make the switch, and have never looked back. Although the one thing I do miss about carbide (you won't believe this) is the smell. Even now, when I smell acetylene gas, it makes me think of caving, which always makes me smile. :grin:

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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby NZcaver » Jun 6, 2013 12:55 pm

Once you find a supply of carbide... ask around to see what fun you can have with an old plastic soda bottle and a little water. :flammable: :big grin:
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 6, 2013 2:05 pm

NZcaver wrote:Once you find a supply of carbide... ask around to see what fun you can have with an old plastic soda bottle and a little water. :flammable: :big grin:


I've already recieved an intellectual education is such matters, thanks to me good old Dad and his good old Dad. The actual hands on exercises should be informative.
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby ON_ROPE » Jun 7, 2013 2:08 pm

The allure of LED lights fades when you are sitting at the bottom of some cold wet pit waiting for others to climb. Putting that old Justrite under your shirt and melting the hairs off your chest was wonderful. There is nothing like it in modern caving. However I have a shelf full of carbide and carbide lights, I cave with a multi LED lamp and can now actually see the caves as I move through them. Amazing.
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby nathanroser » Jun 9, 2013 7:01 pm

I find strolling down big passage with only a dim orange glow lighting your way has a certain charm to it. And the constant heat source is really nice.
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Re: WTB Working Carbide Lamp

Postby skipw » Aug 25, 2013 12:36 am

Carbide caving had its own charms (soft, diffuse light, soot to mark survey stations, nostalgic smell, and often welcome source of heat) and hassles (soft, limited, diffuse light, soot, weight, limited time per charge, disposal, smell).

Every time I use the cheap, durable, almost-weightless and long-lasting on a single watch battery Photon LED light I have attached to my pocket knife as an afterthought, I think "we would have killed for something like this 40 years ago!"

Modern lights are far better than carbide an almost every way. "We would have killed back then for what we can get - cheaply - now." That said, do try carbide caving. You may like it; if not, at least you may appreciate what we have now a LOT more - and - you'll have a really cool artifact to display!

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