My father”s carbide lamp

La lampe au carbure de mon père .
My father ‘ s carbide lamp

English version below the pictures

– «  Emile , dépêchez – vous ! Il fait nuit at votre femme et Michel vous attendent «  disait régulièrement ma grand ‘ mère à mon père quand il était en visite chez eux

Mon père se levait donc de sa chaise , mais avant de partir il avait à préparer sa lampe au carbure pour son vélo. C’ était dans les années 30/ 40 . La lampe est maintenant sur ma bibliothèque dans mon bureau et je la regarde souvent . ( voir la photos 1 ci – dessous )

Ah ! C’ était un vrai rituel ., D’ abord il plaçait quelques morceaux de carbure ( carbure de calcium ) dans le bac du fond qu’il fermait ensuite hermétiquement. Puis il versait de l’ eau dans le réservoir à l’ arrière (photo 2). Ensuite avec précaution il ouvrait le robinet laissant couler l’ eau sur le carbure . La réaction produit de l’ acétylène . Il devait attendre encore un moment pour être sûr que le bec avait un bon débit d’ acétylène pur et enfin il allumait avec une allumette . Et encore il devait contrôler l’ écoulement de l’ eau avec une sorte de vis pour ajuster la taille de la flamme . Un quart d’ heure plus tard il accrochait la lampe à l’ avant de son vélo et s’ enfonçait dans la nuit .

Mes amis , quelle lampe ! La flamme était admirablement blanche et brillante et avec l’ aide de réflecteur et de la la lentille éclairait puissamment loin ( photo 3) .C ‘ était un plaisir de rouler la nuit . Et quand les pentes devenaient trop rudes , il poussait son vélo en marchant mais la lampe fonctionnait en permanence .

Je me souviens quand j’ étais un jeune enfant , j’ étais assis dans un siège fixé sur le cadre du vélo entre mon père et ….la lampe accrochée au guidon . J’ étais émerveillé par la lumière et sa puissance . Il y avait peu de voitures à ce moment là . La lampe à acétylène ne craignait pas les phares des autos de l’ époque . Quand il pleuvait j’ entendais les « pchitts «  des gouttes d’ eau qui se vaporisaient sur le chapeau brûlant de la lampe . C’ était réjouissant . Et quand la pluie devenait trop forte nous trouvions un hangar près de la route et là , j’ écoutais le bruit des gouttes sur le toit de tôle et me tenait près de la lampe les mains au chaud (sans toucher bien sûr ) .

  Vous pouvez examiner la lampe photographiée ci – dessous . Ce n’ est pas une pièce de musée mais une part de mes plus tendres souvenirs . j’ ai aussi une vieille boîte de carbure scellée par mon père mais tout reste comme cela . La flamme est dans mon cœur maintenant .

Photo 1 La lampe au carbure de mon père My father ‘ s carbid lamp .

photo 2 : water reservoir on the back , carbide chamber at the bottom réservoir d ‘ eau à l ‘ arrière , bac à carbure en dessous

photo 3 burner , reflector and lens Bec , réflecteur et lentille .

  – «  Emile , hurry up ! It is night and your wife and Michel are waiting for you «  my grandmother told my father when he visited them

So my father got up from his chair , but before he went out he had to prepare his carbide lamp for his bicycle . It was in the years 30’ s / 40 ‘ s . This lamp is now on a shelf in my personal office and often I look at it .( see photo 1 above ) .

Ah ! It was a true ritual . At first he put some “stones” of carbide ( carbide of calcium ) in the bottom chamber which he shut hermetically . Then he poured water in the reservoir on the back ( photo 2). Then with precaution he switched the tap to let the water drip on the carbide. The reaction of the carbide with water gives gas acetylene . He still had to wait a moment to be sure the stream of acetylene at the burner ( jet ) was strong and pure and at last with a match he lighted the jet . And yet he adjusted the size of the flam by the control of the flow of water with a kind of screw . A quart of hour later he hooked the lamp ahead his bicycle and went on the night .

My friends , what a lamp ! The flame was amazingly white and bright and with the reflector and the lens lighted strongly long further ( photo 3). It was a pleasure to ride at night . And when the slopes became really steeper he pushed the bicycle in walking but the lamp was working permanently !

   I remember when I was a young child , I was sat on a seat installed on the bicycle frame between my father ..and the lamp hooked at the handlebar . I was amazed by the light and its power . There were only a few cars at this period . The acetylene ( carbide ) lamp had no fear of the car lights ! When it was raining I heard  sounds like “ pshittt” made by the rain drops vaporized by the very hot top of the lamp . I enjoyed this . And when the rain became stronger we found a shelter by the road and there I listened to the sound of the drops on the iron roof and I stayed near the lamp that kept me and at first my hands warm .( without touch of course ) .


   You can look at the pictures of the lamp above . It is not a piece of museum but one of my tender memories . I have also an old can of carbide sealed by my father but all remains like that .The flame is in my heart now .


About fauquetmichel

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34 Responses to My father”s carbide lamp

  1. sunsetdragon says:

    What a wonderful memory you have Michel. TY of sharing it.

  2. blb1 says:

    When I first saw the lamp I thought of coal miners years ago. 😉 Such a wonderful memory and beside light I will bet there was also a certain ‘smell’ from it.
    ryc: Michel I said nothing to the woman that walked into my frame, I just brushed her out in my paint shop program. LOL Wil only wears his hat until we get to church, takes it off and leaves it in the car.

  3. cjc22 says:

    Michel, what a wonderful memory and feeling from the lamp. I, too, love to get out old things that bring back many memories. Someday I will get busy and photograph some and share them.

  4. Yvonne says:

    Finally, I know how carbide lamps work, thanks to you! It’s wonderful you have this lamp, and the warm memories it evokes. ❤ Yvonne

  5. jstnotherday says:

    What a beautiful story so well told.
    Again, the pictures have not loaded, but I will give another try to see.

  6. What a wonderful memory and a cool lamp! I imagine it makes your father alive again!
    The way you shared your memory, I felt like I was there…hearing the sounds, feeling the cold and rain, seeing the light, etc! 🙂 Thank you, Michel!
    ❤ and HUGS to you and Janine!!! 🙂

  7. cjjustice1 says:

    I love your story, Michel! I always feel like I am right with you … just as Carolyn states above. I haven’t heard of that kind of lamp, so I also was educated by you in this story. Thanks for sharing, and love & blessings to you and Janine. ❤

  8. cocosangel says:

    That is such lovely memories. BTW, I cannot see any of the photos!

  9. attatudy says:

    I love that lamp! It must have looked strange by today standards on a bike. what a treasure!

    • In the years 30s and 40s, bike was the only mean of transportation, for people and goods , whatever the weather or the time of the day . No much lights on the road either. Nights were black. . The bicycles was heavy, well outfitted for travel and needed a light working even when we were at a stop. Nowadays bike is rather a way to practice sport

  10. marica0701 says:

    What a fascinating old lamp, and I love your story!

  11. puffpop says:

    This is very new information for me. All I remember is the bike having it’s own lights. This , however, sounds far brighter than ordinary lights. Now, I’ve learned something new.

    Nice memories . It’s good to keep in touch with memories since it gives us perspective as to where we are today.

    votre amie,

  12. That’s a beautiful story.

  13. nannyfountain says:

    The fond memories of childhood are a lesson of history to those who came after! ❤ love to all ❤

  14. What a sweet and tender memory, and you shared it so well I feel as though I am there on the bicycle with you and your father. Thank you for this story.


  15. Marilyn Thysell says:

    Such lovely memories of family that stay in the heart forever. Thank you, Michel, for sharing your memories. Love Marilyn

  16. L. Gail says:

    Such beautiful memories you have.

  17. Zakiah says:

    I remember this lamp from my childhood, Michel. Had completely forgotten it. Now you have brought it back to me. Thank you.

  18. PS…Today is Frank’s Humor_Me_Now birthday! 🙂

  19. AM says:

    Merci de ce très beau post Michel. Un temps que je n’ai pas connu … suis née alors que les vélos avaient des lampes dynamo si le terme est exact …. Amitiés lumineuses en tous les cas et bel été!

  20. Cath says:

    This is very heart warming! Words cannot describe the warmth you must be feeling while reminiscing your childhood!
    I found a video that explains how it works:

  21. Wow! What a special relic!

  22. Sartenada says:

    Wow. I cannot imagine its value of memories. Thank You for this interesting post.

  23. What a wonderful story! Your memories make the lamp a real treasure!

  24. L. Marie says:

    A lovely memory. So glad you showed photos of that lamp.

  25. murisopsis says:

    It is wonderful that you have the lamp so well preserved! It is a portal to another time and place! Who knew that so small a lamp could transport so many back in time with you!!

  26. Angela Im says:

    Cher Michel, thank you for this recollection of your father’s carbide lamp! I’ve never seen one! And what a sweet recollection of your father’s ways of handling the lamp. Thanks for sharing such wonderful stories with us! Makes me want to write! I need to blog!!! With love, Angela

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