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Old 10-01-06, 07:11 PM   #1
ken cummings
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Carbide bicycle headlights

I just found a company in India that makes calcium carbide headlights specifically for bicycles. Have any extreme Retro types here tried one? I used a normal cap lamp when I was a student in mining in the early 70s. The "Gee Whiz" factor would be incredible on Club night rides, the amount of light is good, and you could warm your hands on a cold day. The Indian company even makes indoor carbide lamps for people who are way off the grid and do not want to support the oil industry. The JKDay company by the way.
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Old 10-01-06, 07:52 PM   #2
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Thanks for the info! Can you link me to a site?

I have used a mining carbide lamp for camping and caving. I have a big can of the stuff. The only problem with these lamps is that you have to clean them and it sucks if the felt gets wet.
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Old 10-01-06, 08:58 PM   #3
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www.jkdey.com/cycle.htm Nice looking things. I sent them an E-mail asking where in the US I could get one.
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Old 10-02-06, 04:16 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ken cummings
www.jkdey.com/cycle.htm Nice looking things. I sent them an E-mail asking where in the US I could get one.

Ken let me know what you find out. I know several retro grouches that would be very interested

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Old 10-02-06, 07:07 AM   #5
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You can purchase Calcium Carbide in small quantities here.
http://www.calcium-carbide.com/
I also wanted one of there Carbide lights myself! A substantial number of them would need to be ordered. I am retired and have no interest in becoming a Calcium Carbide lamp dealer! Maybe if enough people here wanted a light we could make an order and distribute them after they arrive. Maybe some lurking bicycle dealer could pick up that job and make a tidy profit as well.
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Old 10-02-06, 10:45 AM   #6
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Damn I can see lawsuit written all over these lamp in the U.S.

Yep, some idiot will cause a fire or get burned then of we go to
court for the poor distributer.
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 10-02-06, 02:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tightwad
Damn I can see lawsuit written all over these lamp in the U.S.

Yep, some idiot will cause a fire or get burned then of we go to
court for the poor distributer.
It would be pretty hard to get burned with one of these lights as it's enclosed unlike Carbide miner's lights. I see antique Carbide lights for sale on Ebay all the time for what I consider very high prices. If I knew I could sell them pretty easy I would order the minimum number, keep one for myself, and dump the rest on Ebay as reproduction lights for display use only.
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Old 10-02-06, 02:43 PM   #8
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how bright and how long would one of these things burn? Also, what is the base price listed for these things? Is this really a viable alternative to what is on the market now?
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Old 10-02-06, 03:45 PM   #9
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wow, that would look so hot on my old nishiki. please keep us updated as to what you find out. depending on the price, i might be very interested!
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Old 10-02-06, 06:15 PM   #10
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I saw these a few weeks ago, and asked a friend who is a metallurgist and spends some time in mines. He has some calcium carbide head lamps that he keeps running as a curiosity. He says the shipping on calcium carbide will eat you up. It's a hazardous substance, so there's a pretty steep base price for shipping. The only way to get it at any decent price is to order a whole lot of it, which is pretty expensive.
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Old 10-02-06, 08:41 PM   #11
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I got it from a place that sells caving gear. I few small rocks will keep it going for an hour.
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Old 10-03-06, 10:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
I saw these a few weeks ago, and asked a friend who is a metallurgist and spends some time in mines. He has some calcium carbide head lamps that he keeps running as a curiosity. He says the shipping on calcium carbide will eat you up. It's a hazardous substance, so there's a pretty steep base price for shipping. The only way to get it at any decent price is to order a whole lot of it, which is pretty expensive.
You can purchase Calcium Carbide for $12.95 per pound delivered from http://www.calcium-carbide.com/ . A pound is a lot of Calcium Carbide! That amount of Carbide would last most people for longer than the shelf life of the Calcium Carbide in the container. This stuff absorbs water extremely well and will go bad just sitting on a shelf in what you would think was a perfectly sealed container. If that bicycle light is anything like the size of a miner's light it will go for about 2 hours on one filling. Carbide lights are very bright. If you have ever seen an acetylene-cutting torch in action then you know how bright one of these lights can be.
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Old 10-03-06, 11:25 AM   #13
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I just read up on the care and feeding of carbide lights on a mining forum last night.. lots of work it seems.
But how badass would it be to show up to a midnight mass ride with that thing hissing away.
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Old 10-03-06, 11:35 AM   #14
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they don't really make noise, at least mine doesn't. What sucks is having to make sure the felt stays dry and the tip cleaned. If the flame isn't big, it's not as bright. The great thing is that these things have EXCELLENT ambient light. They are way better than any 5 LED light you can buy.
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Old 10-03-06, 12:46 PM   #15
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So, any word on how much these lamps would cost? reliability and maintenance? Lets say you get where your going but you still have an hour of product left to burn, what then?
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Old 10-03-06, 02:17 PM   #16
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there's a water valve for what it's worth. The biggest thing is just don't put too much in there. You can always add a bit more and relight. that or just blow it out and let the gas keep going.
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Old 10-03-06, 04:35 PM   #17
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Water drips from a tank above the Carbide, which produces acetylene gas. A valve in the water tank controls how much water drips into the Carbide. This also causes pressure to build up so the acetylene gas is forced through a felt filter pad and into a jet so a small, very bright flame is produced at the jet. Control of the flame size is via the drip valve. Once you get the hang of operating the light it's easy set it up and operate. As long as the jet is clean, felt filter pad is dry and clean, and the rubber seals are good to prevent gas from exiting anywhere except through the jet, the light will function properly. When finished with a carbide light you simply cut off the water supply to the carbide and blow out the flame. After the lamp cools clean out the carbide and dispose of properly, dump any remaining water; remove the felt pad, clean it by rinsing it with clean water and let it dry, clean the rubber seals and coat them with Armor All rubber preservative.
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Old 10-03-06, 05:13 PM   #18
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It would be a cool novelty to use every now and then. I can't see it for everyday commuting. So much work. Also when you park your bike you certainly cant pack it away immediately (too hot) and someone may touch it and burn themselves. It would also be a very hot (no pun intended) item to a thief IMO. Very cool though. I would love to see one in action.
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Old 10-12-06, 09:18 PM   #19
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I am back. Work has been really tough recently. Ordinary carbide lamps like I handled back in the 1970s as a student at the Colorado School of Mines now sell new for some $50 to $75. Could some cavers tell us what kind of breezes they can handle? Airflows in mines commonly are in the 0 to 10 MPH range. Faster air is unpleasant to work in. The Indian factory said they have none of the bike headlights they can make in stock. A minimum factory order is 1000 at some $34/@ if I understand them correctly. The Indians sell their normal carbide lamps thru an Ohio company that deals with Amish and others. Petzl lights are sold by the Karst company that deals with cavers. We are looking at $75 plus here. Some modern lamps have an Acetylene generator separate from the lamp. A hose connects the two. Anyone want to try to find one of the bike carbide lamps on Craigslist or, choke, E-bay?
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Old 10-13-06, 08:06 AM   #20
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I would pony up $75 (+ shipping) for one!
1000 minimum order at $34 each (+ freight) OUCH!
You would defiantly need to be a business with lots of other products for sale to warrant an investment of this sort.
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Old 10-29-06, 08:50 PM   #21
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$140.00 w/o tax & shipping from a caving company for a lamp and separate gas generator. The big problem still being getting the carbide. $7 to $40 per pound depending on where and how much you buy. Still, considering how much disposable AA batteries cost for some of the LED lights, not so bad. This thread will never be too active but I WILL pursue getting a carbide lamp. In time.
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Old 10-29-06, 09:10 PM   #22
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How would this compare to a 10 watt halogen? Or a HID? And can I take this off road?
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Old 11-15-06, 08:54 PM   #23
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Slvoid, it has been so long since I use a carbide light my recollection is a little dim (pun intended). maybe something like a 5 or 10 watt incandescent? For a better answer leave a message on a chat list for cavers. The light level is adjustable. Also the flame can be used to leave sooty markings on non-combustable surfaces. Try that with a TrailTech 30 watt HID light.
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Old 04-12-07, 09:51 PM   #24
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I'm interested in wind speeds as well...
Specifically, can I ride using alight like Petzl's Aceto lamp, which was designed for caving and has no front lens...?
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Old 04-12-07, 10:57 PM   #25
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Ken,

Ohio company that deals with the Amish?

Sounds like Lehmans. http://www.lehmans.com . Maybe they could put in an order?
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