Control gear

Latest additions:  1. Chalmit LPF 135w SOX ballast  2. BTH 'tapped' ballast for 45/60/85w lamps

Lantern Collection 
Lamps Collection 
Glossary of terms 
Brackets Collection 
Gear Collection 
Switching Devices 

Discharge lamps usually require a set of external control gear to make them work. This normally comprises of a ballast or a leak-transformer to stabilise the current, and a power correction capacitor to counteract any phase shift between the voltage and current created by the ballast's inductive circuit; giving improved power consumption. Some lamps and circuits may also require an external electronic ignitor to provide the high voltage pulses to 'strike' up the discharge lamp. A fuse or cut-out device should also be present in the circuit for safety reasons.

To automatically switch the lamp on and off, either a calendar timeswitch or a light-sensitive photocell switching device is likely to be incorporated into the circuit; see switching devices.

Often when a lantern is acquired, especially one straight out of service, I will ask for the control gear that operated it (if it's not incorporated into the lantern itself). However, this is not always possible, especially as many local authorities and lighting contractors are concerned about the Heath and Safety implications that arise from re-using older electrical gear and discharge lamps. Fortunately, over time I have acquired sufficient control gear to work most of the lanterns I have in my collection.

Like the lanterns and lamps, control gear has evolved over time, and I think itís worth devoting a small section of the website to some of the different types of control gear that have been used in streetlighting over the years.

AC Ford bracket and control box showing control gear





Some examples of the types of control gear held in the collection:


These are just some of the many examples of various types of control gear held in the collection.




BILL SL3 streetlighting 5w single-pole fuse box.






A BTH 'tapped' ballast designed for use with 45w, 60w, or 85w SO Sodium Vapour Lamps. It is pictured inside a BTH 'Amber' lantern dating from the late 1950's. BTH and Metropolitan Vickers were part of the larger AEI Group, both companies supplying ballasts of this shape and design. See here







Chalmit LPF ballast for 135w low-pressure SOX lamps. This is likely to be a  'Parmar' made ballast, but has been labelled as a 'Chalmit' product. The 'B95' would suggest that it dates from February 1995. This ballast came off the A46 in Nottinghamshire in 2007, following a SON for SOX lighting conversion scheme, where it would have powered a GEC 9554M lantern.





Eleco Thyractor 240v/50Hz low-loss ballast for 35w and 55w SOX sodium. lamps





ESLA wall-mounted 'conduit' fuses boxes with single-pole porcelain fuse carrier for cartridge type fuses.





GEC Z1641 240v/50Hz tapped-choke for use with 80w MB lamps. Saved by contractors from a redundant column in Wolverhampton in 2005.



The GEC Z8175 was designed for use with 400w MA lamps and is an absolute monster of a choke. Below the choke is the porcelain fuse holder and below that the oil filled capacitor. This unit along with the GEC Z8228 'Clearmain' lantern it powered, was rescued from a demolition site in Burton-upon-Trent in May 2007.



Close up of the Z8175s label idicating the different taps allowing for variations in average mains voltage.



Kit-Cat Porcelain 5amp fuse holder from ESLA control box Circa early-1950's.



Metropolitan Vickers


 Metro-Vick MRG502 215-255-volt / 50Hz choke for 400w MA mercury lamps. This once operated a GEC 'Clearmain' lantern at a colliery in Cannock, Staffordshire during the 1950's and 1960's. After years of disuse, it was rescued out of a GEC concrete column in August 2006.  Metropolitan Vickers and BTH were part of the larger AEI Group, both companies supplying ballasts of this shape and design. See here




Parmar NG125B 240v 50Hz HPMV Ballast for 125w MBF lamps


Parmar 1A-242 240v/50Hz 'Starterless' ballast for 2 X 2ft 40w MCF Fluorescent tubes.




P.E.D GC2345 240v 50/60Hz 16uF capacitor, suitable for use with 35w/55w sodium leak-transformers.




Philips 240v/50Hz L5080BX ballast for 80w MBF/U and MB/U lamps


Philips 240v/50Hz L4045 ballast for 60w SOI, 60w SO/H lamps. This example came from a decommisoned installation in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.


Philips SX74 ignitor for 135w SOX lamps


REVO / Relite / Simplex


REVO (Philips under licence) T03039 Leak-Transformer for 45/60/85w sodium Lamps with Revo A94-042 PF Capacitor.



Simplex MA80S ballast for 80w MBF lamps. This is likely to be a Parmar, or Philips product labelled for Simplex Lighting Ltd.




SABS Tridonic ZRM6-ES/B 220/240v 50/60Hz Ignitor for HS/SON 100-400w and HI/MBI 35-400W lamps.




70SON-53353/4 240v 50/60Hz 70w SON ignitor


Thorn / Thorn EMI


Thorn G53439.T 240v 50Hz Ballast for 125w MBF Lamps.


Thorn G53182/4 240v/50Hz ballast for 35w and 55w SOX lamps;

as used in the 'geared' Thorn Beta-8 lantern.


Thorn G???? 240v/50Hz Self-start ballast for 90w SOX lamps operating a Osram 90w SOX lamp.



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Copyright(c) 2005-2007 Claire Pendrous. All rights reserved.

Please note that all pictures are by Claire Pendrous, or are part of the Claire Pendrous photographic collection unless otherwise stated; none of these images can be copied without obtaining prior permission.