Vintage Stonebridge Lantern Restoration

Discussion in 'Monthly Projects' started by GKiT, Jun 17, 2017.

  1. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    Here is a recent restoration I did on a vintage Stonebridge folding lantern. These were made in galvanized steel, aluminum and brass and there are a few different variations. The earliest version has windows on all four sides. The improved version such as this one has a solid back plate and three windows. There is some good info on the history of these interesting lanterns available online.

    I had wanted an original brass one but was never able to find one until just recently. The steel ones are fairly easy to find but I never did like the look of them quite as much as the brass. The aluminum ones are the lightest and occasionally come up for sale but are far less durable than the brass or steel.

    The reproduction brass versions that are being made in India just didn’t excite me very much. They differ slightly in the dimensions and seem to match an earlier patent drawing for the Stonebridge. They seem to be a good value though for anyone wanting one that doesn’t care about it being an original.

    Here are a few photos of the lantern as I received it. It is almost difficult to tell it is brass as it is very dirty and tarnished. These were adopted for military use during WW1 and this particular lantern has a US Medical Corps stamping on the top which is kind of neat.

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    The mica windows are intact but in pretty poor shape with clouded and damaged areas and grime that could not be cleaned off. The lantern body has a few dings here and there but otherwise it is fairly decent. It folded roughly and I could tell that it needed some straightening out to fold better and to reduce pressure points on the mica.

    I don’t normally clean up vintage items too much as I like the patina on them and the aged look. However, I wanted this lantern to be in good working/usable condition and that meant the mica needed to be replaced and the brass cleaned a bit to enhance the reflective qualities of the lantern when lit. It can tarnish again as I enjoy it.

    I first removed the small brass keeper wires from each of the three windowed sides and slid off the top retaining caps. It is then easy to slide the old mica sheets out. I used a small ceramics tool to clean out bits of broken mica inside the grooves as needed. The only tools I used were a small ceramics tool and a pair of needle nose pliers. I am sure you could accomplish this in the field with just a knife.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  2. GKiT

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    continued...

    The next step was to clean and lightly polish the lantern, especially the interior rear panel to help reflect the candle light. I didn’t want to go too far with this, just removing some of the grime and some of the tarnish. I used wadded up pieces of Never Dull and some damp paper towels. I removed the old accumulated wax, dust and grime from the bottom of the lantern. This area is the hardest to reach and clean. I am sure you could disassemble the whole lantern without too much difficulty but I left it together for the most part.

    I then carefully tweaked the lantern a little using pliers and hand pressure here and there to straighten it out and get it folding up properly.

    Here is the lantern after cleaning:

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    I measured the original mica sheets and then ordered some new sheets that were 4”x 5” and cut them to fit using the old windows as templates. The original windows measured close to 3 ½” x 4 3/8” with the front window sheet being just a hair narrower than the sides.

    A pack of 5 stove mica sheets cost me about $18 with shipping and that gives me a couple spares. After inserting the windows and reattaching the retention plates and wires, the lantern is looking better.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    continued...

    Some surplus Swiss candles were just slightly too big to fit in the center position of the lantern base so I just carved out four grooves in the sides of the candle so that it would fit nicely..

    The amount of light output from a single candle is greatly increased with new clear windows!

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    Ready for camp!

    To help protect the lantern in transport, I wanted a bag that would be somewhat padded. I used some scrap canvas material I had from an old hunting coat and some wool from a beat up old sweater to make a hand sewn storage bag. The main pocket of the bag is completely lined with wool and I used more of the wool to bind the edge of the raw cut canvas. I waxed the canvas and added an antler button to finish it off. I think it will be functional although it has a bit of a ridiculous Jim Henson quality to it. If I sewed two google eyes on it I think it would start singing…I may redo this with a simple leather pocket case closer to the ones that were available with these originally.

    [​IMG]

    The folded lantern fits nicely in there along with three candles and a lantern chain/hook I put together from some old chain and coat hook wire. The chain hook fits into the little zippered pouch that I salvaged from the hunting coat and riveted/sewed to the outside of the bag. Three candles slip into the pocket between the zippered pouch and the body of the bag.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for looking!
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
  4. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Nice job. Not overdone but freshened up nicely.
     
  5. MommaJ

    MommaJ Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Nice job.
     
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  6. EvanStinson

    EvanStinson Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    That came out GREAT!! Quite a nice piece.
     
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  7. T MAC

    T MAC Old Squid Supporter

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    Well worth the effort for nice looking functional lantern.
     
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  8. Mr. Tettnanger

    Mr. Tettnanger Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    That is very cool! Well done!

    Thank you for sharing!
     
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  9. central joe

    central joe Guide

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    I don't care what they say about you young fellar, you do good work!! I like it and it looks nice. joe
     
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  10. 66drifter

    66drifter Scout

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    it'z knot nice to make me go on another QUEST...

    that'z a really cool lantern and your work is respectfully done:dblthumb:
     
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  11. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    NICE!
     
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  12. Brook Trout

    Brook Trout Supporter Supporter

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    Nice work! Thanks for sharing the refurbish process with us.
     
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  13. DKR

    DKR Scout

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    Thanks for the photos. When dealing with vintage gear it's always a battle between keep it 'old' or make it like it was brand new and fully functional.

    You chose well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
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  14. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    I think it came out great!
     
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  15. mjh

    mjh Supporter Supporter

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    Nice restoration job! I have a couple of the reproduction ones, gifted to me. They work just fine. Also have one of the Swiss one. I like the light they give off. Used the Swiss one last night when the power went off for little while. Funny thing is the Swiss candles fit better in the Stonebridge lantern and some beewax candles I received as a gift fit better in the Swiss lantern.
     
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  16. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks, yeah it was a tough decision for me at first as I was planning on using it just as it was without doing anything to it.

    The thing with these lanterns is that they do not put out a lot of light. they are not a flashlight nor a lantern to illuminate a large area. I see them as a quick soft light source to keep you from getting hurt when it is really really dark. Because of that if the windows are not fairly clear, the lanterns usefulness goes way down.
     
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  17. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    I found it interesting that the reproductions seem to match the patent drawings of the Stonebridge but I have never seen an original Stonebridge that matches those drawings. I have noticed that finished marketed products sometimes are changed for various reasons and the patent drawings seem to be more of an illustration of concept. In some ways it is good that the reproductions look quite different as it is easy to spot them. I have noticed a few sellers that were trying to sell them as originals, wanting two to three times the cost of a new one!
     
  18. Pastor Chris

    Pastor Chris Hardwoodsman #7 Hobbyist Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass II

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    Well said.

    The bag you made for it is fantastic!
     
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  19. 66drifter

    66drifter Scout

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    the current manufacturing processes are not compatible vs. profit

    back then manual labor was cheap and now industry is going all mechanized w/ little or no hand work

    follow the $$$...
     
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  20. WhisperInThePine

    WhisperInThePine Wubba lubba dub dub Supporter

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    I have a galvanized version which has remained very clean, but I would like a brass one as well. Great work!
     
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  21. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    Would love to see what a steel one would have looked like new. They all seem to be heavily oxidized or maybe that is just the way the galvanized steel looks. The steel ones are probably the most sensible version as far as durability goes but I do have a thing for the brass.

    The collector in me wants to get an aluminum one and a steel one along with any other variation I can find. I am trying to resist that impulse...
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  22. fire65

    fire65 Guide

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    Excellent work my friend. Always loving seeing the restorations, thanks for sharing.
     
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  23. Kdad

    Kdad Supporter Supporter

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    Great job on the restoration!
     
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  24. clueless on the delaware

    clueless on the delaware Scout

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    i have one of these that's in need of some tlc as well, but have been hesitant about disassembly. i think you just inspired me, where did the mica come from?
     
  25. JosephDurham

    JosephDurham Supporter Supporter

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    It's a shame you can't see the pictures any longer due to photobucket
     
  26. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    I got the mica off eBay. I got 4"x 5" sheets and cut them down to fit with a utility knife. It's an easy job but if you have any questions I will help you if I can.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
  27. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    Believe me I'm not happy about it either. 100% of my photos from several years of posting were all on photobucket. I plan on going back through a few of my threads and reposting photos at some point. There are a lot and my internet is very slow so I don't know when or how much I will get done.
     
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  28. Kenneth

    Kenneth Tracker

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    I was happy to come across your post because I bought one off of eBay and would like to clean it up. I have a what I think is a reproduction or a copy.

    20171015_223441.jpg

    Here is a picture of the top it says

    Camping light
    Folding lantern
    Topalpine equipment

    20171015_223450.jpg

    Here is a close up of the window. It looks like each window is actually two sheets of mica joined together by the metal bar. And as you can see there is no brass pin at the top, just a lip that you can slide over. I am nervous of pulling it out (tight fit) and will I be able to remove the mica out of the metal bar and replace the new mica into the bar.

    20171015_223524.jpg

    Thanks for your help and

    GOD Bless you and your family

    Kenneth
     
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  29. JosephDurham

    JosephDurham Supporter Supporter

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    @Kenneth
    You might find this link of interest https://thewoodslife.com/?p=82Yes, yours in a copy of the original Stonebridge; it’s from the 1970’s.
     
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