OH, MY! WHAT HAVE I GONE AND DONE NOW???

BVH

Flashaholic
Joined
Sep 25, 2004
Messages
7,018
Location
CentCalCoast
Little did I know in Sept of 04, that by joining this innocent appearing forum, that I was setting myself up for a BIGGGG TIME addiction! Yes, I enjoy the hotwires. I enjoy the LEDs. I REALLY, REALLY enjoy the HID's!! Especially, the military grade HID's. Sure as heck, I've bought, played with, enjoyed and sold my share of these and loved every minute of it and my time here on CPF. I had a great time getting and building my tank lights and finding the Blackhawk Locators! I still get just as excited now about lights as I did back in '04.

But now I've gone and done it – REALLY done it. I'm past the point of no return. I cannot turn back – EVER! I may be forever banished from CPF for turning to the "brightest side" (as opposed to the "Dark Side"). In keeping with my unplanned and unguided migration towards high-power military lights, I present the latest in my collection of "Flashlights"!

Weighing in at 850,000,000 Candle Power with a beam that travels 5.6 miles, that can be seen on a good night from 35 miles away and with a traveling weight of 8,500 pounds, I present…………..
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Drako.jpg


Opps, sorry, wrong picture……..
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CAatFortwithBobs.jpg


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CAinstrumentpanel.jpg


CAengine.jpg


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My wife and I are now "Sierra Searchlights, Inc." and this is our rig. She's a 60" Carbon Arc, 1942 WWII anti-aircraft searchlight in her original 2-unit configuration and she arrives August 20th. She runs on 78 Volts DC (ballasted down from 93) and consumes 150 Amps, all while her Hercules JXD 6 cylinder, 320 cubic inch, 110 HP flathead burns 2.5 gallons of gas an hour running just above idle at 1250 RPM – and very, very quietly whether or not its highly effective noise insulated enclosure is open or closed. There are very, very few of these originally configured, 2 separate unit lights around. The vast majority of the lights and generators have been cut off their 4-wheel dollies and permanently placed onto trailers. It makes for a smaller, easier to maneuver and cheaper to maintain unit.

Why did I do this? Simple…..I like flashlights! It's as simple as that. And, just as importantly, owning, using and improving her will be a significant part of my past time when I retire in about 10 months. I actually plan to hire out for events, although according to most in the know, it is a dying business. Most businesses are ignorant of the power of these lights and are renting the Sky Trackers – Those NASTY little new-fangled things! (Can you tell there are definitely two camps when it comes to advertising searchlights) The NASTY things don't have a third of the power and visibility of the genuine 60" Carbon Arc!

Our light is about an "8" out of "10" and I plan to spend a lot of time making her at least a "9". One thing that few people know about these lights (I, for one) is that they were/are remotely controllable via a tripod with head-piece setup that was located a hundred or so feet from the light via cables. (When enemy planes were overhead, you didn't want to be too close to a brightly lit target back then!) An operator stuck his head into the head piece, looked through the attached binoculars and as he moved his head, the light would follow in the same movements. Unfortunately, there is only one light known to exist in the world that works with this system. So unless I get really lucky and find a long-buried remote, I'll only be able to fix her up to a "9".

Lucky for me, I stumbled upon "Bob" who happens to own thee one-of-a-kind, remotely controlled, museum quality light and he happens to live just a few miles from me. He's been instrumental in finding me my light. I visited him a few weeks ago while he used his light at a midnight sale for a local Chevy dealership and got a quick education on its operation. I'm certainly no expert yet, but hopefully, I will quickly come up to speed on the operation of my….errr….our light.

The automated rod feeding system is, to me, way ahead of its time. There is a small 1" or 2" mirror just to the side of the arc which precisely focuses a pinpoint of light onto a thermostat. As long as the pinpoint of light is on the stat, nothing happens - well, the positive rod is constantly rotating for an even burn. When the positive rod burns down a little, the position of the arc changes relative to the small mirror and the pinpoint of light moves off of the stat thereby causing the electrical contacts inside to close, thereby feeding more rod to maintain the precise gap. Many of the operators are still burning original National Carbon rods made back during the war, still in their sawdust-filled metal cans. The 22" positive rod will last about 2-2 ½ hours, the negative somewhat less because it's about 12"-14" to start with. A can of 25 pairs runs about $350.00 so it costs about $7.00 an hour to run the light in rod costs.

It's a little scarey knowing she's almost 70 years old and that parts, while not impossible to find, are not easy to come by. Believe it or not, there are still parts wrapped in their original cosmaline'd containers available, for a price. There are even 3 brand new, never used light and gensets built by Sperry available for purchase. (Sperry could not keep up with demand during the war so they licensed G.E. to help them) But even with the parts issue, I love owning a piece of very old military history and letting her do what she was built to do. Am I nuts? Probably!

And gee…..I didn't have anything to tow her with so I HAD to go out and order a new Black Chevy diesel pickup. It was really difficult, but someone had to do it.

Can I still hang around here even though I have – or will have a Carbon Arc and there's no Carbon Arc forum? When I run it, I'll probably have the opportunity to run my tank lights at the same time. :twothumbs

So come on, won't someone buy my Helios to help me pay for this monster?

Sorry for possibly mis-leading some of you who thought I had some inside information on a new Xeray and was keeping it under wraps :nana:

Beamshots from the SoCal March 8, 2008 get-together. JetSkiMark took the pics.

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60" and VSS-1 on the left, VSS-3a from the top

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60" on top and VSS-1 on the bottom

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60" and VSS-3a from the top, VSS-1 from the bottom

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60" and VSS-1 from the bottom and VSS-3a from the top

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60" and VSS-1 from the bottom and VSS-3a from the top

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60" from the center, VSS-1 on the left and VSS-3a on the right

3-8-08_07.jpg

60" and Locator

3-8-08_08.jpg

60"

3-8-08_09.jpg

60"
 
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ddaadd

Enlightened
Joined
Oct 17, 2004
Messages
423
Location
Bonner Springs, KS
:wow:

WOOHOO !! :rock:

I am so glad to see one of those giant spotlights in the hands of a forum
member finally, atta boy BVH !

I had spent a few hours reading about these, and sure looks like you got
a nice setup there, very unusual to find them on original trailers.... :twothumbs

Man that is just awesome! ( taking a moment to reflect on how CPF, like life,
has it's ups and downs, and that things are looking up, way up now :naughty:,
beamshots please :grin2: )

I recall the searchlights cost tens of thousands ( apx $60k ? ) of dollars when
purchased new by the military. Fascinating piece of military history
you have there BVH...
 

BVH

Flashaholic
Joined
Sep 25, 2004
Messages
7,018
Location
CentCalCoast
Skalomax, I'll certainly bring it to the next SoCal get together. Ddaadd, I originally just wanted a unit on a trailer because I had walked by one on the way to dinner about 8 weeks ago. But when I got connected with Bob and learned of the original light and genset units for sale in their original configuration, I new immediately that I wanted to preserve some military history and enjoy one of these beauties at the same time.

It's the same way with my VSS-1 tank light. I could have cut off the mounting hardware which would have made it easier to mount but I wanted to preserve the light in its original condition. However, I did violate my own principles lately when I cut off the handles of one of my VSS-3a's to accommodate its mounting to one of Larry's wonderful tripods. But my other one stays original.

You were probably reading Bob's website if you were reading about the $60,000 cost of these lights back in the 40's. It is still hard for me to believe it.

Timing is everything and it just so happened that a friend of Bob's was interested in selling his GE light. (I wanted a GE instead of a Sperry - I love the big GE emblem on the back of the drum) Lucky for me, it was only 220 miles away instead of across the country.
 

XeRay

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 3, 2006
Messages
1,333
Location
Ogden, Utah
Skalomax, I'll certainly bring it to the next SoCal get together. Ddaadd, I originally just wanted a unit on a trailer because I had walked by one on the way to dinner about 8 weeks ago. But when I got connected with Bob and learned of the original light and genset units for sale in their original configuration, I new immediately that I wanted to preserve some military history and enjoy one of these beauties at the same time.

It's the same way with my VSS-1 tank light. I could have cut off the mounting hardware which would have made it easier to mount but I wanted to preserve the light in its original condition. However, I did violate my own principles lately when I cut off the handles of one of my VSS-3a's to accommodate its mounting to one of Larry's wonderful tripods. But my other one stays original.

You were probably reading Bob's website if you were reading about the $60,000 cost of these lights back in the 40's. It is still hard for me to believe it.

Timing is everything and it just so happened that a friend of Bob's was interested in selling his GE light. (I wanted a GE instead of a Sperry - I love the big GE emblem on the back of the drum) Lucky for me, it was only 220 miles away instead of across the country.

Bob, If you don't mind telling us. What did one of those set you back? I'll understand if you don't want to say.
 

BVH

Flashaholic
Joined
Sep 25, 2004
Messages
7,018
Location
CentCalCoast
Dan, the light, genset, 24 foot tandem axle trailer and about $1,000 in spare parts and delivery was $19,000. I've seen units - both modified and original 2 unit configuration run from $5,000 (pretty bad "boneyard" condition) to $30,000. There are even some old fire engine pumpers with two lights mounted on them for $60K or more. Saw a 1960-something ford HD truck (not a pickup) with a light and genset on the back. I think it was 30-35K. If I hadn't found this light, I might have considered one of the brand new old stock Sperry's - they're separate units. I think they might be 30K or so.

Forgot to mention, on the side of the drum, there's a darkened Mica sight glass that allows you to see a magnified image of the + and - rods and the gap. There's a reference line on the Mica where the gap should be. When you initially install a new rod and set the gap at about 3/4" to start and then hit the switch, you can watch the + rod being automatically adjusted to its proper gap. It still amazes me to see this type of automation from the 30's and 40"s.
 
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lotsalumens

Enlightened
Joined
Jan 14, 2005
Messages
418
Location
NYC, USA
Glad to see a carbon arc on here! I collect 1800's carbon arc street lights (see my avatar), and those big searchlights really took the technology to an incredible scale. I can't wait for beamshots! Very nice!!!!

Charles
 

JRTJRT

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Jun 21, 2006
Messages
59
That's the coolest thing I've seen in a while. Thanks for posting pics!
 

KingGlamis

Banned
Joined
Jun 10, 2007
Messages
745
Location
Mesa, AZ
That is awesome, congrats on the purchase and congrats on having the most powerful light on CPF!

Now... beam shots please! :D
 

Mash

Enlightened
Joined
Dec 18, 2006
Messages
378
WOW!
I guess you WIN!!!!
Congratulations on your new acquisition.
Will you be able to make your own carbon rods eventually?
This is the kind of question I ask about anything old, or with proprietary tech.


BTW have you cross posted this on the EDC forums???? ;-)
 

BVH

Flashaholic
Joined
Sep 25, 2004
Messages
7,018
Location
CentCalCoast
Mash, I know there is a risk in buying this but sometimes you just have to grab on and go for the ride despite the risks. New rods are made in Japan and India and are available although they are not supposed to burn as bright. The WWII rods have an inner core of seizium and something else that enhance the brightness. Seizium sounds like something radio active?

Have not cross posted.
 

LuxLuthor

Flashaholic
Joined
Nov 5, 2005
Messages
10,629
Location
MS
I'm laughing because I knew this type of light is pretty much the end of the line. Here in CT, I have visited many of the lighthouses, and talked to some of the people that do the maintenance on them. Recently, someone had one of these major promotional lights that was about your size, or a little bigger with its diesel generator piping away.

I saw that from about 8 miles away (as the crow flies), and tracked it to a car dealership sale. I talked to the guy running it for about 30 mins, doing my best to ignore the hard up salesmen trying to get their monthly bonus.

The owner really loved his light, and was thrilled that I saw it and drove all that way because of it. I just happened to bring my BB with me which he also was amazed to see. As I stood there with him, I think there were more people who came because of the light and wanting to see it than the car sales. It's a little bit like finding the end of the rainbow for people. They don't quite know what the light is promoting, but they want to see.

Congrats, BVH. It is a perfect thing for you to have invested in. Same thing when I look at the Vegas strip...the Luxor grabs you at night.
 

Mash

Enlightened
Joined
Dec 18, 2006
Messages
378
Have not cross posted.

It was a feebleattempt at humour, as in BIG BIG Searchlight----> everyday carry:twothumbs

I guess I need more comedy lessons, or less irony! :twothumbs
 
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