Help me change a light bulb in an old fixture
November 14, 2013 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I need to change the light bulb in this older overhead light fixture (and others in the building like it). Problem is, I can't figure out how to get the glass down.

The picture shows what I figure to be a spring-loaded retaining ring holding the glass in. I can't make it budge much, and I'm worried that (a) that's not the proper way to do it, and (b) how do I get it back in when I'm done?
posted by OHSnap to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Are you sure that's not a hinge?
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:20 AM on November 14, 2013

Have you tried rotating the glass to see whether it unscrews like a jar from a lid?
posted by jon1270 at 9:41 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm trying to make sense of the photo... there's a metal ring that's just sitting in one of the grooves of the glass, and it's open at one section, the part you show. There are two silver-metal hook/bracket things that connect the ends of the ring to the brassy metal of the light fixture mount.

The question is which parts are supposed to be moveable and which are stationary, and that's really hard because it's an old fixture, and things that should move might be stuck. I think that trying to press against the springs to open the ring and slide the glass out isn't the right approach. It seems more likely that you move the metal brackets in such a way that they disconnect from the brass part. Wiggle everything (forcefully) and see if you can find out which are the moving parts.
posted by aimedwander at 9:43 AM on November 14, 2013

Response by poster: Aimedwander: Yes, there is a "break" in the metal ring in the groove, and at either end of that break is a spring. This gives the retaining ring some room to expand; however, I can't make it expand enough to get the glass out easily, and I'm also worried even if I get it out, will I be able to get it back in.

Jon: I have lights as you describe at home, and this isn't like that.

JoeZ: Not a hinge.
posted by OHSnap at 10:49 AM on November 14, 2013

This may be a dumb question but is there any chance at all that the entire glass section just screws in? We have blast-proof lights in a room where I work, they have heavy glass covers, and they screw into the fixture like big Mason jars.

The metal bar and spring may be a red herring.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:44 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Looks to me as if those two flat metal pieces on top of the springs are actually flat hooks that insert into a groove formed by the folded over rim of the fixture, and that the springs are torsion springs that press the upper parts of the hooks outward.

Try pushing up on the glass part and using a flat-bladed screwdriver inserted between the flat piece and the fixture to push one of the spring-loaded hooks up and back toward the glass so that the hook can no longer engage the groove.

At that point, you should be able to move that side of the retaining wire with its attached hook down with respect to the glass and also past the groove (always continuing to support the glass, of course); then do the same with the other hook, and the glass should come free in your hand.
posted by jamjam at 1:58 PM on November 14, 2013

Have you tried to twist and rotate the glass? I don't think it unscrews, but I suspect it is one of those things where you twist it 1/4 turn and then pull it straight off.
posted by LarryC at 11:08 PM on November 14, 2013

Best answer: I think there is a fixture listed on ebay which has pics of the inside of the mechanism

On the opposite side of the fixture from the "spring" mechanism you pictured, there should be some sort of catch or latch (2nd picture) or it may merely pull down. The axis of the two "springs" is where the globe tilts but is retained while you change the bulb(s). (see fourth picture)
posted by tronec at 2:49 AM on November 15, 2013

Response by poster: Tronec wins. Didn't recognize that as a latch, thought it was mounting hardware. Pushed the button and the glass swings down, easy as pie.
posted by OHSnap at 6:23 AM on November 15, 2013

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