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1954 Dietz No. 100 Special terne plated lantern

Started by TelePlay, May 21, 2020, 02:24:06 PM

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This Dietz No. 100 SPECIAL came from eBay about a month ago.

The listing images showed someone painted it rattle can gold over blue. I thought it was a factory painted metalic blue (blue can be seen under the cold on the wires) but when I put stripper on the gold, both the gold and blue came off at the same time.

This is the same lantern as the Little Giant except it was fitted with an even larger fuel tank and both have a 3/8" wide wick. The Little Giant, Special and Little Wizard have everything the same from the fuel tank up. The fuel tanks and the burner make the Little Giant and No. 100 Special unique.

The Little Giant is a Little Wizard with a larger fuel tank and a special small burner that uses a 3/8" wick. The normal Little Wizard burner uses a 5/8" wick. The Little Giant burns for about 70 hours.

The No. 100 Special is a Little Giant with an even larger special fuel tank and a 3/8" wick burner. That's what makes the No. 100 special, it's capable of burning for up to 100 hours. This lantern came with an original red Little Wizard globe. Can tell it was original in that it was a much darker ruby red unlike repro red globes which are a lighter fire engine red color.

The gold images are the before, as received lantern images and are annotated showing the name and flame size use instructions embossed on the fuel tank.

What caught me by surprise when working with it was that the wick adjuster was not a wheel. It was a metal rod with a flat on the end (yellow circle in the gold lantern images). At first I thought the wheel got cut or broken off but looking at the end of the rod, that was not the case.

Turns out, the proper use of this lantern, as embossed on the top of the fuel tank, was to adjust the flame height by using a pliers so the flame is 3/8" high. Once set, it would be impossible for someone to adjust the flame height with their finders, would need a pliers. That small flame on a narrow wick with the large tank gave it its 100 hours of operation.

The after image shows this was not a factory painted lantern in that the right air tube was stamped -54, made in 1954. That would not have been there if it was a factory painted lantern and it is unusual to both not have a factory painted lantern in 1954 and still have the date stamping. They began to paint terne plated lanterns in the 1942 when they were forced to switch to terne plating and discovered how quickly terne plated lanterns corroded.

The after images also show how poorly the terne plating (high lead and low tin content plating) held up over time. Someone sanded off the corrosion before painting it blue as those sand marks are apparent. So are the pits from normal corrosion which are numerous but not bad enough to need sanding before the blue paint was applied.

I bought it for style, the No. 100 Special, expecting to end up with a factory painted blue lantern. What I ended up with after restoration was an ugly surface. Many would consider this scrap metal or try to paint it again but I chose to keep it in its "physical condition when removed from service" other than cleaned up.

Two coats of Boiled Linseed oil (25% in 75% mineral spirits) were applied to prevent the pits from corroding going forward. That and not being exposed to the elements will keep it like this for many years. The existing terne plating is still a shiny silver smooth and the dark grey is the steel beneath the plating.

This is from the W.T. Kirkman "" web site as happening in 1942: "World War II causes shortage of tin & tin plate.  The War Production Board orders the use of the less rust resistant Terne Plate as a substitute. To help prevent lanterns from rusting, they are coated with gray enamel through the war years, until the more familiar metallic blue is adopted in 1949."

From that, it seems for some unknown reason this lantern was not painted in 1954. Should have been Dietz gray from 1942 to 1949 and Dietz blue after that. An unpainted terne plated lantern made in 1954 is unusual.

I had a factory painted lantern, once, with bad paint and getting the paint off was not an easy one or two strip process. It had to be ground off in a dirty, dusty process using a Dremel scour pad wheel, several IIRC.

So, it's ugly but growing on me. The dark red original globe helps one warm up to it.


Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

"There is no try,
there is only
do or do not"