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Thread: Collins Flashlight

  1. #1

    Default Collins Flashlight

    Is anybody familiar with a Collins No Battery Flashlight. It is showing a PAT date of Sept 9, 1924. You twist the barrel a few times, flip the switch, and it spins a generator inside that lights the bulb. It looks like a copper finish. I picked it up at a garage sale this morning. It works, but it needs a new glass lens. There is a picture of it on my web site.

    Larry

  2. #2
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Larry,
    You've found a good one! Check out Stuart Schneider's book, "Collecting Flashlights, with Value Guide". He's got some history and a cutaway drawing of the insides. Admiral Byrd and Teddy Roosevelt used them on their expeditions so they must be pretty tough and reliable. He claims most examples of this light have most of the paint missing, but yours is in real good shape. Possibly re-painted? One sold on eBay February 2002 for $67.00 and the seller claimed it ran for 2-3 minutes per winding. How long does yours run? I keep looking for one to buy. Oh well, some day!
    Kirk

  3. #3

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    No this one does not look to have been painted. It looks original. The lens is cracked and there is a pretty good dent on one side of the lens ring. Evidently someone dropped it at some point. The thing is heavy. I did not have any time to really test (play) with it before going to work. It did seem to run for a pretty good bit with a few turns of the barrel. I bought it for $10 at the garage sale. The lady said that it belonged to her 80 something year old father who had passed away. I had never seen one anywhere on the internet before. I guess I need to get a copy of the book.

    Thanks for the information Kirk!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Kirk,

    Well I have been cleaning on the light the best I can without taking it all the way apart. I was afraid I might not be able to get it back together right.

    I ran it a couple of times and it ran for about a minute and a half each time. I did not want to crank the spring up too much and take a chance on breaking it as old as it is. I will have to get a new glass lens made for it.

    It has an unusual bulb in it. It has a round globe, but it is not a screw in bulb and it is not a PR. It has a slot in the metal base that a clamp slides through holding it in the reflector along with a spring. It also has a clip to hold a spare bulb, but there was not a spare in this one.

    It is definitely the neatest old light I have found. (Actually the wifey picked it up off of the table before I did.)

    Larry

  5. #5
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Larry,
    If there is any # on the bulb, Topbulb.com may have a spare. Or you could check out their "Lamp ID" page. Do you think you could rig a screw base lamp by using the clip on the threads or is the diameter too different? Any idea what voltage the generator puts out "under load'? I don't blame you for not winding it too tight. It would be a bummer to break something that old and that rare. Take good care of it!
    Kirk

  6. #6

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    The bulb says 2.6 V and that is it. I have tried a picture. The bulb works, but it would be nice to put the spare back in there.



    Larry

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Chris M.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    I believe that one gets known as "Miniature Groove based" sometimes. Midget Groove lamps are still used today (5mm diameter like the little screw-in xmas light bulbs of the 50s-70s) in indistrual machinery indicator lamps, though obviously their use is declining in favor of vibration resistant and longer lived LEDs. Havn`t seen a Miniature Groove lamp in a dog`s age, and I`m afraid I couldn`t really help you find one. http://topbulb.com might be some use....?

    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

  8. #8

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Thanks for the information Chris.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    I sent Topbulb an email. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    i bought a load of stuff from the estate of a silent key who collected old radios and tubes.i have a 3lb coffee can of misc bulbs many of them are from old flashlights.i will have a look.
    btw does that bulb have a tipoff?
    folks think i am nuts for collecting old tube stuff but it looks like you have me beat.
    looks like you have a flashlight for every day of the year!

  11. #11

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    I may be showing my lack of electronic experience here. What is a tipoff? Is that the plastic piece in a lot of flashlights that contains a contact and holds the bulb in the reflector?

    On this light there is a flat metal clip that slides into the groves on the bulb for one contact. There is a spring that goes around the base of the bulb between the reflector and the clip. The tip of the bulb pushes up against a metal strip when installed in the light for the other contact. I am going out of town for a few days, but I will try to remember to post a picture of the bulb mounted in the reflector when I get back. If you find a bulb please let me know what you want for it. Thanks!

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    very old bulbs were sealed from the top.this is seen as a point on the top.
    the picture wasnt clear enough to tell.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    This bulb is not sealed on the top. Did you happen to find a similiar bulb? I have not gotten a response from the email to Topbulb.

    Hey guys I got an interesting email about the Collins flashlight:

    Larry,

    My name is Brent Watts and I am a reporter from WDBJ-7 Television in
    Roanoke, Virginia.
    We are doing a story on the history of Collinsville Virginia and have found
    that the area acquired its name from C.B. Collins. Collins came to the area
    in 1930's to built a flashlight company (the flashlight required no
    batteries) and attempted to create a community. He stayed here, had a home
    and made flashlights for about 10years. After the end of WWII he started
    losing money and not long after just vanished. No one that live there really
    knows anything about him. It's almost as if he never exhausted. We have
    photos of his factory and some of the stock bonds that people invested in.
    What we don't have a lot of info about is the flashlight itself.

    I looked on your webpage and you have a photo of what I think is the Collins
    light. Is it the one with the copper finish has the gateway mousepad in the
    background. If so, would you give us permission to use the photo in our
    story showing what the light looked like. I would imagine that you have a
    very valuable item.


    Your help is greatly appreciated! Thanks Larry.

    --Brent Watts
    Feature Reporter
    WDBJ-7 Television
    540-985-3615

    Permission was given along with the additional information obtained about the flashlight from some of you.

    Thanks
    Larry
    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    i have not gotten a chance to lok.
    btw if the original dies we can rebase something similar.
    that is reuse the base from a dead one.
    you might want to measure voltage and current while it is still good for future reference.
    cool about the tv guy.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Interesting bulb... if TopBulb.com doesn't find anything, you may want to also check out http://www.lite-house.com

    They have a large listing of mini-bulbs at:
    http://www.lite-house.com/catalog_pr...mp;subcat=min1

    An actual number code from the bulb would prove extremely helpful as nearly every mini bulb has a 2-4 number designation, usually printed on the base itself.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    I sent TopBulb an email and got no response at all from them. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

    The bulb does not have any other numbers or letters other than the voltage.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Larry I just looked at your webpage. If I'd have known you had so many dang lights I woulda KEPT your 7-cell Kel!!!

  18. #18

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Well that's not very nice [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
    (And it was a 12 C cell not 7 C [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img])

  19. #19

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Well, I got an email back from lite-house. No luck there.

  20. #20
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    I have a Collins Flashlight that was my grandfather's. It runs for about ten minutes on one full winding, but, because there is a little rust on the mainspring, I have to tap it against the palm of my hand when it stops before it has completely run down. I remember my grandfather disassambling it in about 1960, and re-winding the coil. (He was an electronics engineer at Westinghouse from 1919 to his retirement in 1963.) He told me that the mainspring is very nearlty the same as one in a thirty hour clock, but that he was never able to find an exact replacement, and didn't have the time or inclination to grind one down that was too wide.


    My flashlight was painted red, and still has most of the paint, but, like Larry's, was dropped at some point in its life. I keep thinking I ought to straighten the ring, and get a new, uncracked glass for it, but, like lots of things, that is another project for retirement. LOL At any rate - I stumbled onto this site because last weekend my only bulb for the thiing finally died. So I was surfiung, looking for a 3/8" groove mount 2.6 (or so) Volt incandescant bulb. I think I may have found a source in Ken's Electronics, but he has a minimum order of 5 bucks, so I am gonna hold off and check to see what radio tubes I need to fill out my order.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    I'm attempting to revive this old thread. I've got one of these old Collins generator flashlights (looks like the one pictured here: http://www.flashlightmuseum.com/Coll...tor-Light-1924)

    However, mine is in very poor condition. Among other things, the main switch and screws that go near the center of the body are missing and the lens is broken. It still winds up and the generator turns while it unwinds, though -- so I'm hoping to get it working again.

    My question is how do you disassemble it? Even though all of the screws have been removed from mine I can't seem to pull the bottom section out. Do the rivets on the bottom end need to be drilled out? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight

    Hi Flashlike, still here? I might can help.
    Quote Originally Posted by Flashlike View Post
    ... the main switch and screws that go near the center of the body are missing and the lens is broken. It still winds up and the generator turns while it unwinds, though -- so I'm hoping to get it working again.
    Any chance you can hunt around for the "main switch" part back where you found the lite? It's not an electrical on/off switch that you can substitute with whatever's handy.. It's a mechanical lever-thingie (tech-term) that reaches inside the lite and tickles a brake mechanism that stops the spring-motor-generator from turning (and thus determines the light bulb on/off). If you can't find it, you will need to fabricate a new one. (Any amateur clockmaker clubs in your area? They'd be your best bet for getting parts made for your lite.) There are two "main switch" mechanisms used in these lites that I know of, and maybe a third. If you can take some close-up pics of the switch area, I may be able to send you pics of what's missing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flashlike View Post
    My question is how do you disassemble it? Even though all of the screws have been removed from mine I can't seem to pull the bottom section out. Do the rivets on the bottom end need to be drilled out? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Ooo, leave the rivets! All they do is hold a bearing cup (to the bottom section you're trying to pull off) for the main shaft to turn in, no hindrance & no help. But you're on the right track to remove the bottom section, only you can't just pull it off, it unscrews.. Or, more precisely, the doo-dad (another tech-term) inside that holds the bottom section on, unscrews. Simply twist the bottom section counter-clockwise (opposite of winding up the spring-motor) to loosen the doo-dad and bottom section will slide right off.

    To see what you're dealing with (and unfortunately, nothing you really need to know), check out these two patents:
    http://www.google.com/patents/US1507768
    http://www.google.com/patents/US1624686
    Neither will match exactly, your lite has elements of both.
    G'luck

  23. #23

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight - Anyone have bulb info?

    I just picked up one at a junk shop in New York, thanks to everyone who has posted information about these lights into this thread. It appears to be the only resource on the web with any meaningful information.

    I am looking for a bulb and was curious if anyone has had luck finding any compatible ones. I'm also curious for a photo of the original bulb and the small clamp that holds the bulb to the reflector. Even if someone has a picture of something similar that would be an interesting place to start. When I look up midget groove bulbs they appear to have a smaller OD than the 3/8" ID of the reflector. For example : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3v1Hw-v1tY this video shows midget groove OD as 5.7mm wheras 3/8" = 9.525mm.

    Another question I have is about the lens. The patent shows it to be a plano-convex lens, mine is flat plastic. Does anyone have info?

    On another note, my light appears to be green painted over black. I reckon it's factory and the black was the primer, with a nice forest green painted over. Interesting find and I'm glad to have it!

  24. #24

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight - campbell flashlight no battery dynamo manual 1924

    Wanted to add some additional information and images I was able to uncover -

    Here are some images of the bulb and holder and original manual:





  25. #25

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight - campbell flashlight no battery dynamo manual 1924

    This one has me scratching my head. A globe shaped PR bulb. And prior to 1937's beginning of the use of a PR bulb by Eveready (who was recorded as the first to use that style base)


    From the Stuart Schneider book.


    A schematic of sorts.

    An example of early tech simple genious.

    A #503 bulb has potential to work but one would have to file off the spikes that were used to cinch it down into a bayonet style bulb keeper.

    Last edited by bykfixer; 06-08-2019 at 10:33 AM.
    John 3:16

  26. #26

    Default Re: Collins Flashlight - thanks for the suggestion!

    Hi Bykfixer,
    Thanks for your effort in hunting that down. I am interested in giving that a try. Also thanks for posting the article and schematic. I did find the patent which was interesting to look at and contains some schematics. One thing this bulb would be missing after the barbs are filed off is any way of holding it into the reflector from the back. I wonder if there is a way to impress a groove into the base of the bulb to accept a little clamp and allow for the movement required for the focusing of the light.

    Another thought I had was to file small notches into the reflector to accept the bayonet lugs on the bottom of the bulb. Will post with updates.

    Here is another reference I found of this light -

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