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This amp goes to 11.
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Discussion Starter #1
Kind of a weird question, but here goes.

I have an old (1959) Schlitz beer clock/light. This thing uses a F4T5 bi-pin bulb. Clock works fine...light, no. I have tested the bulb in another light, works fine. My question is about the wiring, which has clearly been dinked with by a previous hack (as opposed to my hacking :p ).

Basically one line wire & one neutral, from an external transformer. The line is connected to the two wires from one end terminal; the neutral wire is connected to the two wires from the other end terminal. No switch, no ballast, no nothin'. I detect 120v on both "sides" of the terminals (testing from one terminal to the other).

1) Is this SUPPOSED to be wired this way? Doesn't seem logical that there is no ballast, etc. Doesn't look like anything else was ever mounted inside the clock or outside.

2) Occasionally (like three times), when I move the bulb, it flashes BRIGHTLY for a split second. The terminals are tarnished copper, but no corrosion and it's easy to read 120v on the meter (i.e. I don't have to wiggle the leads, etc.). Seems WAY brighter than a typical F4T5 bulb, and 120v seems high to me....but I don't know shit about fluorescents, especially the smaller ones.

Clock, which is fed by the same wires, keeps accurate time. Transformer is simply marked "120v Hammer Brothers" (famous promotional sign maker).
Any ideas?
 

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Are you sure its a transformer and not a old ballast? Im almost positive you need a ballast to light the bulb.
 

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I think, if you find or even buy a cheap 2 ft T12 fixture, you will have the new good ballast you need. You can still remote mount the ballast, to clean up the mounting, just extend the secondary(from ballast to lamp) wiring, with some good but splices.
 

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Just get a small electronic ballast (not transformer) the wiring will be simpler and it wont leak when it melts down. Change the tombstones or sockets to a modern bulb you will be time ahead. Any new ballast will have a diagram and capacity printed right on it, it was real common for sign companies to remove the label and put their name on it.
 

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This amp goes to 11.
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Discussion Starter #6
It sure may be a ballast...like I said, I'm an idiot about fluorescent lighting. That would make sense as to why it has 120v at the pins. As I understand ballasts, they basically control the voltage inside the tube from climbing too high, which it will in a gas discharge. It's done by induction, so they are "sisters" to transformers in principle I guess.

I think the "box" was actually made by Hammer, or for them; their name & info is stamped into the case. It's riveted closed, but I might open it up to poke around.

It sounds as if you all agree that a ballast is required. I like the idea of adding/replacing with a new separate electronic ballast...just don't want to de-value the clock (though I don't know that it's worth all that much).

What would be a more "modern" bulb, space-wise?

I'll try to post some pics tonight.
 

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I collect beer stuff too...alot of schlitz stuff...
The slogan was "Schlitz gives you the Shits" back in the day.

Twas true to it's slogan...
 

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This amp goes to 11.
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Discussion Starter #11
The slogan was "Schlitz gives you the Shits" back in the day.

Twas true to it's slogan...
We used to say "Schlitz tonight, shitz tomorrow". But that was in the days when it was sold off, formula changed, and turned into a cheap beer. I hear the original formula is being produced again, but I haven't seen it around here.

Of course, there was also "Blatz tonight, splats tomorrow"...:p
 

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This amp goes to 11.
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Discussion Starter #15
Here it is. Sorry about the crappy camera phone...wifey has the good camera right now. I opened up the ballast/whatever, but it's potted with tar, so no luck. However...I thought someone had replaced the ballast-clock wire with thermostat wire...but it must be original. So, there is a red wire from the ballast that is hooked to nothing. Hmm...



Blue wires go to the clock; red wire from ballast goes to nothing; black wire from ballast goes to one side of clock & one pair of tombstone wires; white wire from ballast goes to other side of clock and other pair of tombstone wires.



Ballast markings, FWIW:

 
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