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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Let there be.... Cloches?

I work part time in a "big box" type store and this week, we have had a crew in, replacing the old mercury-vapor lights, left, with more efficient fluorescent fixtures. It has been a big project, over three days with an unhappy crew (they were short one man due to illness.) Fortunately for everyone, the lighting crew worked overnight and were just cleaning up (after a fashion) and clearing out at 6AM when I arrive for my shift.

The first morning, as I was clocking in and chatting with one of the store managers and the head of the lighting crew, the manager -- a backyard gardener who has supplemented his home grown produce with purchases from me in the past, gave me a sidelong look and said "you know, those fixtures might have a good use in the garden!" I eyeballed one of the units, sitting nearby on the floor and realized that the "shades" were made of heavy glass and would indeed make interesting cloches for protecting some extra early tomatoes, peppers and giving the watermelons a head start.

After a bit of discussion, the deal was made: the lighting crew would set aside 20 or so unbroken shades and let the manager know, who would let me know when they had been set out back for me.

Well, like I said, they were not especially happy campers, running one man short and, as of my arrival this morning, seriously behind schedule. They were supposed to be about ready to clear out at that time. Instead they were still working, trying to get the sections that affected the actual store done before store opening, with the warehouse area still untouched! The crew chief said they would still set out lights for me, but they would be intact units, minus the bulbs of course which had to be properly disposed of as hazardous waste. Boy did THAT change my plans! I had hoped to be able to stack the shades at least double height, as I had only the Subaru for hauling them home.

When I began loading after work, around mid-morning, I found that I had underestimated the size of the fixtures and therefore could only haul 6 at a time in the car instead of the 10 I had hoped.

Silly me, I totally forgot about the trailer that we have, on winter loan from a friend! After we
unloaded the half dozen fixtures, the trailer got hitched up and back to town we went. Thanks to the help of my other half, we didn't need to load any into the car, and got the entire rest of the load into the tractor! With some of them sitting upside down, they were nestled in securely for the ride home... or so we thought.

Before we got around to the side of the store we heard and felt an ominous vibration... I guess I must have picked up a piece of a broken shade. Fortunately there is a tire store across from my work and a Pizza Hut next door to it! Even though the tire store had to get a wheel and tire from the warehouse, it didn't take much more time than our late lunch to get back on the road and unload them all at home.

There are only 3 bolts holding the heavy glass shades to the lamps, so getting to the end product is easy! I will over the course of the next month, though, disassemble the fixture as well, so I can properly recycle (or maybe even find a use for) the rest of the works. Being industrial lights, which require three phase power, they would not be useful on the homestead, even if I had the bulbs they require and was willing to pay for all those electrons!

My final product, though, will be fun to experiment with. I love the look of the things, as well. To me they have the look of  miniature art deco greenhouses! The shade is about a foot tall and 18 inches wide at the base. I am still considering if the 6" hole in the top will be an issue, and how to control the venting.