Main Post Office, Newark, NJ
This project involved over sixty fixtures of seven different types. All were incredible, red brass beauties from 1930, originally manufactured by The Simes Company of New York. Unfortunately, age had muted their splendor. Numerous units were out of operation due to short circuits. Several broken glass panels, missing detail pieces, and a deep, dark bronze tarnish diminished their magnificence. As part of an overall cosmetic restoration of the lobby, they went from an eyesore to the centerpiece of the space.
The small sconces were an easy restoration. Except for a few broken glass shades, they only required stripping, polishing, lacquering, and rewiring. The large Type "C" chandeliers were another matter entirely. They had to be separated into two pieces on site before packing. Otherwise the more fragile bottom tier may have been damaged in transit. Two of the astrological figures from the perimeter of the cage were missing. The glass was dislodged from it's mounting during handling and several pieces were missing or broken. Out of one hundred lamps in five type "C" fixtures, only one was operating. Most of the rest were out due to short circuits.
We started with disassembly. The lamp-holders on the upper tier used an UNO thread, an obsolete method of retention. They were also soldered in place to prevent the lampholder from unscrewing itself when the lamp was screwed in place. This complicated disassembly. The metal shell sockets also contributed to the short circuits when the cardboard insulators deteriorated. We replaced them with Phenolic UNO thread sockets. They are sturdier and have high dielectric properties, avoiding short circuits in the future. In addition, the upper tier was open on top, leaving the wiring exposed. We fabricated wireway covers.
The lower tier had other problems. The original glass retaining methods would not withstand transportation and installation again. We fabricated new glass retaining brackets and used a neoprene isolator on both sides of the glass. in addition, we added a supporting seat for the glass to prevent it from slipping out of it's seat. Next was the fabrication of the missing astrological figures: a Leo and Scorpio. We chose fabrication over casting to save the cost of the pattern equipment. These items were strictly hand made by cutting, sawing, filing, and polishing a piece of brass plate. The resulting part was indistinguishable from the originals.
Finally, the polishing. The surface of these units was much like a relief map, with the raised areas polished and the recessed areas unpolished and sometimes textured to cause the surface to stand out even more. We wanted to preserve the original level of polish, so we polished by hand instead of machine polishing. Using methods we have developed over many years, we removed the tarnish and restored the original high polish without removing one grain of metal. This was followed by a clear lacquer finish.
Rewiring involved three circuits, one for the lower tier, and two for the upper tier. Next was final assembly and packing for transportation back to the site. We met with the installing contractor to coordinate details of installation to avoid damage to the glass. Since there were no further problems, we were done.
I would like to thank Louis and Suzanne DiGeronimo of DiGeronimoPA. Their advice and attention to detail made this project what it is: Spectacular!