Refurbishing a Bardwell & McAlister Lamp (Part 2)

When I left off in my last post, I had dismantled and cleaned the entire Bardwell & McAlister 2k fresnel light. Covered in sand and rust, the housing required a lot of careful work. The wiring was in worse shape, however, and had to be replaced completely.

When I first received the light, power was delivered to the head from a 20A twist-lock plug through three separate and identically-colored wires. Their woven insulation was badly frayed and, in some spots, completely worn away. To replace them, I settled on 12/3 SJOOW cable. 2k lights occupy a precarious position on the threshold between getting away with 12 guage cable and needing 10 guage. Mathematically, 2000 watt lights are safe to operate on 12g cable runs. The issues appear when ambient conditions become extreme. Heat, tensile stress, and run length all diminish the ability of the power cable to safely conduct electricity to its destination. If any of these are serious considerations, then 10 guage cable is the safer of the two. In my case, I am unlikely to use this tungsten light outdoors in daylight, or at the end of excessively long stingers. I also find 10 guage cable to be too heavy and cumbersome for the kind of projects this light is likely to illuminate.

Because this light was originally used in a theater grid, it did not have a switch of any kind. I purchased an Arri 2k inline switch on eBay and put it about four feet down the cable from the light. Apart from the complications arising from the tight tolerances inside the switch housing, this was pretty straightforward.

All of this work becomes meaningless, however, without a way of mounting the light to stands. Grid lights are normally hung using clamps that screw into the base of the yolk. They lack the pin receptacles that most location lights use. I found a handy adapter that both accepts baby pins and, once the tie-down is removed, becomes a junior pin for beefier stands. First, though, I had to cut about an inch of metal from the base of the yolk. This left just enough metal to support the light on the adapter.

The light mounted flawlessly on a 30″ c-stand and, with a 1000w globe installed (so as not to test the wiring in my apartment), it fired up without issue.

A little oil on the spot/flood mechanism and it’s ready for set, all for under $200.



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