Victory in the battle against the Grey Menace

Back in December I removed the paint on one side of my converted Bosconian cabinet using a bottle of Motsenbocker’s Instant Latex Paint Remover. The experience was so traumatizing that it took me until now to work up the nerve to do side two. While it did work, the Motsenbocker’s product took several applications with a lot waiting in between and extra measures to help the stuff keep from drying out while it did its thing. I also burned through a stack of Scotch Brite pads encouraging the softened paint along, eventually resorting to a palm sander for some extra oomph.

For the second go around, I picked up a jug of something different, 3M Safest Stripper Paint & Varnish Remover. Unlike Motsenbocker’s spray on liquid, the 3M stuff is a gloopy semi-paste substance that readily clings to surfaces. I laid down a single layer of it on the cab side, and went to grab dinner.

After letting it sit for around an hour as recommended for the latex-based grey scourge I sought to eradicate, I returned to the scene. There wasn’t much of a visible difference, but I gave the paint an experimental poke with a metal scraper and a section sloughed off in a wrinkly sheet. Already better than the other stuff.

Went to town on the paint with a scraper and had it all off without too much trouble. There were a few spots where I’d applied the paste too thin and it had dried; this left the paint still softened but with a bit better adhesion to the wood. If I’d applied a thicker coat I think that would not have been an issue.

Second pass was with a sprayer of water and a Scotch Brite pad. The remaining residue came off quite easily when dampened and everything wiped clean with a damp towel.

And done! Side two took about a third of the jug of Safest Stripper, one and a half Scotch Brite pads, and a handful of hours. Clearly, the 3M stuff is the way to go for a large job like this. I’ll keep the Motsenbocker’s around for spot work or cleaning up fresh spills, but that’s about it. The 3M goop is way more efficient materials-wise for large projects, and saved a ton of labor as well.

Grandmaster Flashmaster

I pulled one of my Bins finds out of the corner in which it was collecting dust this week.

It’s a Photogenic Machine Co. Flashmaster model LF lighting unit.

The company that made it is actually still around, and the LF would seem to be the prehistoric ancestor to their modern 8050MA-Q25 unit. I think the LF has better looks, but it’s probably useless for modern photography, doubly so without any of the other gear that makes up the full outfit. So, I turned it into a freestanding side lamp.

It’s designed to easily come apart for service, to an extent. I cracked it open and removed most of the existing guts. The old socket, crumbling wiring, several layers of Bakelite insulators the components mounted to, and a big old paper capacitor. I left the flash tube in its place in the reflector since I liked the look of it.

Added a toggle switch from a bag full of them I salvaged off of something or other long, long ago back in Alaska and kept around for just this sort of thing…

Rewired it for AC with all new materials and a Molex disconnect for the feed cord in case I wanted or needed to change it out later. Turns out this was useful almost immediately when I found out the Ace Hardware nearby carries Rayon sheathed lamp wire that looks like the old cloth covered stuff and switched the boring appliance white cord out.

I forgot to take a pic of the socket adaptation step. I grabbed the intermediate size E17 socket out of an Ikea Kvart wall lamp I had lying around in the garage, drilled out one of the Bakelite disks to accommodate the new socket’s slightly larger diameter, and mounted it to that before installing the whole assembly in place of the original bulb socket. It fit perfectly through the cutout in the reflector and with the standoffs that were holding the Bakelite disk originally sat at a decent depth. Unfortunately the bulb I had was a little bit too long to clear the glass cover once it was installed.

I got a shorter and more appropriate looking incandescent bulb from Ace, which helped but didn’t quite get me where I needed to be. A little rummaging in one of the spare parts bins on the shelf yielded some old chrome clips I was able to adapt to hold the glass cover in place slightly further out from where it originally sat and clear the bulb, without having to modify the lamp body at all.

The finished product! It turned out quite handsomely I think.

Now I just need to make ten more of them and put them in a pop-up boutique in the Pearl for several hundred dollars each! The heads themselves are cheap as heck even on eBay, but I don’t think the swivel bases would be easy to come by. That said, I’m tempted to pick up a few more heads and turn them into some funky track lighting with a custom rail to mount them on.

Days Of Future Passed

A few weeks ago I found a copy of a June 1989 report from the Portland Development Commission titled Moving Into The Fourth Decade. It’s a brief document, but full of glossy full page photos and renderings of various parts of Portland. One of the renderings was particularly interesting; a vision for redevelopment of the slice of inner NE that includes the Oregon Convention Center, Memorial Coliseum, and Rose Garden Arena.

Neat, huh? The caption says this is a vision for what the area will look like by 2005. Lets have a look at the current satellite imagery from this angle.

Not quite as impressive. Most of the blocks apparently pegged for high density development were never realized, and the many pedestrian paths and plazas envisioned between the gleaming towers remain ordinary surface streets.

One item called out in the caption, “…to attract a headquarters hotel…” (more info on this project is on the PDC web site), may be coming to fruition as the project appears to be clearing legal hurdles.

The hotel would occupy the block immediately east of the Convention Center. In the 1989 rendering a blocky cream colored tower topped with a clay tile roofed penthouse occupies this spot.

The modern concept for the development eschews the 80s look for the sort of sharp-angled edifice of metal, wood, and glass currently en vogue.