updated 3/28/03

GE Model  1942A  Searchlight
Restoration Progress

The Searchlight is now finished and ready for duty
It is the only light that works with a D.E.C.
Today 03/28/03, after hours of work, I was able to get the light working with a D.E.C.  (Distant Electronic Control) unit that can aim the light by remote control. As far as I know, this is the only light in the country, if not the world, that is restored and working with a D.E.C. control unit.

The first successful test with a D.E.C  03/28/03

See photos of my light operating by remote control using the DEC to track the Goodyear Blimp on April 15th 2003.  Click HERE

In July of 2002,  I took the light out for the first time in public to the Fort MacArthur Museum's, Old Fort Days  annual military show in San Pedro Ca. the weekend after July 4th.  I fired up my light, and the Sperry light I had helped restore for the museum as well. ClickHEREto see the lights in action at the Fort MacArthur Museum

What I had to do to get to this point....

I built this page in reverse order adding the newest items at the top of the page, and oldest at the bottom.

I am also involved in another Searchlight Restoration project....
Click HERE to see a Sperry Searchlight I am restoring for the Fort MacArthur Museum in San Pedro California

Painting this thing has really been a pain. Windy, cold weather has slowed things down a bit, but as you can see, the light is now painted.  I had taken everything I could off of the light so it could be painted in great detail, and I am now starting to put these items back on.  I am detailing all the little emblems and signs that give instruction and function of the controls.  As you can see, I finally finished polishing the other half of the mirror.  I spent many hours inside this light, but my hard work will pay off in great light output.

This is the selsyn control transformer receiver unit that fits in the yoke. It sends a voltage to the amplifiers that control the voltage to the elevation motor.  Once the elevation matches the elevation of the control station, or locator unit, this selsyn transformer stops sending voltage to the amplifier so the motor will stop in the right position.

This is the ballast resistor unit. The power from the generator goes through this  resistor made up of a coil of metal mounted on a ceramic insulator.   It looks very much like an electric heater. It is used to compensate for cable lengths of 200, 400 and 600 ft, and has 3 cable taps, one for each position.  This unit does get hot as you can see by the burnt area on the cover..

I finally managed to strike the arc for the first time using some stubs I had.  I have carbons on order that will arrive next week. I can then make final adjustments to the thermostat, head position, and current relay.
You can see that I have only polished the left half of the mirror to give you a before and after view of what the mirror looked like before  it was polished. A polished mirror makes a very big difference in light output.


I put the new negative feeder parts back into the carbon control box. It was so cold today, I did this on my kitchen table.   The box cannot be set down on a flat surface because of the 3 drive shafts that stick out the bottom for the negative feed, positive feed, and positive rod rotation, so I took  advantage of the kitchen table's ability to split apart in the center to work on the unit in a flat position.


The electric meters mounted on the light were in pretty bad shape from being in the weather for 60 years.
The amp meter did not work, so I took it apart and found that the clip on the lower right that holds the big magnet in place had broken off, and the magnet was loose. The broken clip bounced around in side the meter and broke off one of the very fine wires that goes to the meter coil.  These lights were not made to be towed around town. The light unit does not have a suspension, so years of moving this light around on city streets created the shock that caused this clip to break.  When I put the unit back on the light, it was reading 300 amps when it should have read 150 amps. It only takes .5 volts to deflect the needle to full scale.  I added a variable resistor set at about 10 ohms in series to re-calibrate the meter to read correctly.

The main power switch on the light was sticking so it had to be pulled and restored.  It was really a pain to remove it from behind all these wires.  The biggest pain was trying to get the main power wires free that were connected to it. The wires came into the box with water tight connections. These connections were rusted tight.

The engine with a new paint job

The gas tank was full of years of dirt and rust, so I pulled it, washed it out and repainted it.

From the first time I saw this light, it bothered me that the GE logo on the back of the lamp was mounted crooked, so I remove  it and rotated it to align with the right holes for mounting.  Note the stack of 1/8 inch lead plates underneath the logo that are used to balance the light.

I opened up the Azimuth control box and found that the electronics have been removed. Only the motor and gears are intact.  These missing parts are not needed to operate the light and have it rotate for outdoor advertising, but since I am restoring this light to W.W.II specs, I need these missing electronics parts. I plan to obtain a DISTANT ELECTRONIC CONTROL station to connect this light to so it can be operated by remote control as it did in W.W.II.

This is the  negative carbon rod feed assembly. It needs some new gears.
This gear section is isolated from the positive and negative polarity.  The insulation broke down and the gears carried the negative current to the carbon rod which overheated and warped the gears along with
the lower roller assembly.

This is the Carbon Rod Feed mechanism after the rebuild.
The negative feeder is shown on the left. The positive feeder is on the right.
You can see where the two carbons come together in the center.

October 29th 2001

This is the start of the restoration. This light did not work when I got it, so it was important to make sure everything was going to work before I invested hours of time and money in the restoration.  Once I was able to get the unit working without problems, then I would go ahead and take the light apart for painting and detailing.  The first thing I did was to pull the carbon feeder control box unit for inspection and clean up and rebuilding. I found that the negative manual crank has a broken shaft piece and is missing a few parts. Looked like there was a short at one time and damaged the negative control shaft.