The Cross House

Cody Sconce. ARGH!!!!!!!!

A few weeks ago, Cody brought to my attention a single gas/electric sconce on eBay.

At first, I was not interested as I need matching pairs.

But…then I realized that there are a few locations in the house which had single sconces.

Oh. Oh!

Specifically, the servant’s hall, second floor.

So, I looked at the sconce again. The opening bid was $300. Hummmmmm, I did not want to spend that much, so did not bid. I was hoping however that nobody else would bid, that the seller would relist, at a better price, and I could buy it later.

This did happen!

At the bottom is the first auction:


After the third, $149 auction failed to receive a bid, I wrote the seller: “Could you possibly accept $130?” He could, and I purchased the sconce. Squee!!!!!!!!


The sconce arrived. Looking innocent enough. But…it was not. For…it proved a DEMON SCONCE!


In order to rewire the socket, I needed to take the sconce apart. Well, gas pipes are designed to be REALLY hard to remove. In doing so, I mangled the end of one fitting. ARGH!!!!!!!!


I also twisted the bass pipe. ARGH!!!!!!!!


The pipe had something I had never seen before: a kinda baffle running down the center to separate the GAS from the electric WIRES. And, after 90 minutes of trying to get wires through the various twist and turns to the socket, I gave up.


It is hard to explain but, as long as the pipe has a baffle in it, the sconces cannot be rewired.

So, I am going to beg JR the Magician of Portland to see if he can save the day. JR has saved me on many an occasion via his wizardry, and my thought was that if he can replace the now twisted pipe with a regular brass pipe, he might then also be able to get a wire to the damn socket. Then JR can, via more wizardry, patina the bass pipe to match.

Pray for the sconce. And send good thoughts to JR, to the upper left corner of America.




15 Responses to Cody Sconce. ARGH!!!!!!!!

  1. So, am I insane for thinking the gas flows through one side of the pipe while electrical wires go through the other side? Am I also insane for thinking this is a huge safety/explosion hazard? Or do I not understand electricity at all (a real possibility)?

    • Yes, both gas and electrical wires ran through the same pipe. It was dangerous, but people didn’t know that back then because electricity was such a new technology

      • Well, actually not the same pipe, as the baffle divided it into two completely separate sections. The ability to construct something like this was a very impressive technical feat.

  2. Yay again! But also….yikes. Been there done that, too.

    I own a pair of sconces that had a divided pipe like that. I ended up taking a drill with a metal bit to the inside of the run, and I drilled out the “baffle” (whatever it is). They can’t ever be returned to gas service, but the electric works now, dammit!

    There’s nothing that can’t be fixed!

    • Cody, I must respectfully disagree with your last statement. There are some things that absolutely can not be fixed. Replicated and started over, yes but it will be expensive. Fixed, no way for no amount of money. It’s not a common occurrence but it happens. That being said, I am fairly certain Ross’ sconce is not in this category and I look forward to the challenge as usual (stupidly occasionally). I also think it’s time Ross embraced the virtues of a propane plumbing torch for fixture dis-assembly. No more mangled pipes or collars.

  3. Always use a penetrating fluid on any old nuts/threaded connections and let it sit for a bit….this will hopefully loosen up everything and make unscrewing things so much more easier…If that doesn’t work…you can always heat the connection with a torch…

  4. Ross, are you ever going to pipe gas back into the house? with all the unconverted sconces, I was just wondering if this ever “crosses” your mind.

          • I’m livinnnnnnnng for it! If there is any location in the house to go all out, the foyer is definitely it. What a first impression! Is the fixture that you’re planning on running gas to that combination hall pendant with the beveled glass panels you featured awhile back?

            Have you ultimately determined that you’re still gunning for swivel sconces in that location, or are you exploring other options?

  5. It almost looks like the joint was soldered in some way? Perhaps that contributed to it’s difficult in removing it?

    Perhaps heating these connections would melt the solder and make disassembly easier.

  6. Auntie Beeb has a series; “Hidden Killers of the fill-in-the-blank Home”. The Edwardian one has some lovely period headlines about gas/electric combos as does the preceding episode on the Victorian home. Apparently the Victorian home was so dangerous that there is new Hidden Killer episode about that time period. This is needed information only if you’re letting your fingers do some walking through the YouTube documentaries.

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