1940s J.G. MacAlister Fresnels

soundofsparks

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Mar 7, 2015
Location
Louisville, KY
I have found in the bowels of my venue some old fresnels. I believe they are from the 1940s. They are manufactured by J.G. MacAlister (See picture of similar unit).

I think they are cool to have around, but I'm worried that the lens ring has asbestos around it and so I'm hesitant to really even move them from where I found them (that's why I didn't take a picture of the actual units, it's pretty dark in there).

You'll see in the photo the rope material around the ring.

My questions are: a.) Am I being absurd and it's nothing to worry about and b.) If it is an issue does anyone have an idea of where I could get a replacement part that fits?

I've tried reaching out to Bardwell MacAlister, but to no avail.

Thoughts?
 

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RonHebbard

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Premium Member
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Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
I have found in the bowels of my venue some old fresnels. I believe they are from the 1940s. They are manufactured by J.G. MacAlister (See picture of similar unit).

I think they are cool to have around, but I'm worried that the lens ring has asbestos around it and so I'm hesitant to really even move them from where I found them (that's why I didn't take a picture of the actual units, it's pretty dark in there).

You'll see in the photo the rope material around the ring.

My questions are: a.) Am I being absurd and it's nothing to worry about and b.) If it is an issue does anyone have an idea of where I could get a replacement part that fits?

I've tried reaching out to Bardwell MacAlister, but to no avail.

Thoughts?
@soundofsparks I'll offer a few initial queries and thoughts.
- Are you concerned with maintaining the original appearance?
- Would you consider junking the asbestos and using three pieces of slit Teflon tubing in its place?
- Three short lengths of slit Teflon tubing should support and center the lens and will likely allow for marginally improved ventilation. I'm thinking Teflon tubing as typically manufactured by Alpha Tubing and commonly sold by electronics wholesalers such as Newark Electronics.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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BillConnerFASTC

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Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Firebox or stove door gasket material is visually a pretty good match for asbestos. White fibery cord.

You do have a technical problem of removing and disposing of the asbestos. Just be careful of the legal issues. Personally, I believe tne heath risks are minimal, but the law does not.
 
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soundofsparks

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Mar 7, 2015
Location
Louisville, KY
Hey Guys,

Thanks for your thoughts!

So, firstly, my biggest concern is safety. So if we use them, we're gonna have to clean and maintain them and I don't want that to result in any unsafe conditions.

Second, I don't particularly care if I totally preserve the look of the units. So, I'm interested in trying this Teflon idea. Do you think it's strong enough to replace the metal ring?

Third, Ideally I don't want to go through the whole disposal process if it turns out to just be something like that firebox material. I've seen the asbestos used as wire insulation and this looks like that, so that's what raised a flag, but then again, I haven't ever seen it used like this. But it seems like there's no way to know for sure without as much difficulty as the normal disposal process. Does that seem true?
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
If I came across these, I'd mist the fiberous material with water and wipe down entire fixture, disassemble, and bag the asbestos, and bury it.

You still have the storage room contamination to deal with, or not.

Nice relics. Worth perserving.
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hey Guys,

Thanks for your thoughts!

So, firstly, my biggest concern is safety. So if we use them, we're gonna have to clean and maintain them and I don't want that to result in any unsafe conditions.

Second, I don't particularly care if I totally preserve the look of the units. So, I'm interested in trying this Teflon idea. Do you think it's strong enough to replace the metal ring?

Third, Ideally I don't want to go through the whole disposal process if it turns out to just be something like that firebox material. I've seen the asbestos used as wire insulation and this looks like that, so that's what raised a flag, but then again, I haven't ever seen it used like this. But it seems like there's no way to know for sure without as much difficulty as the normal disposal process. Does that seem true?
@soundofsparks I'm suggesting three short lengths of Teflon tubing slit longitudinally would center the lens, provide a minor amount of cushioning, mechanical support and possibly allow ventilation. If the metal ring is what retains the lens in the housing I'd suggest you retain the metal ring.
I won't speak to asbestos.
EDIT: Corrected a spelling error.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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JD

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Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Location
North Wales PA
Second on using wood stove gasket. Any place that sells wood stoves, or hardware stores that sell in areas that have wood stoves would have it. It has a similar "give" to the old asbestos and will outlive us all!
Asbestos is most problematic when it is flexed and bits become airborne, so the plant mister or other spray bottle is a good idea. It is basically a naturally occurring substance. What made it dangerous is when people decided to fluff it up so it would be like a fabric.
 
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ship

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Mar 29, 2003
Location
Illinois
Good to hear from Bill on this for some balance to worry factor. I bag it and store until I have enough to fill out the paperwork on the smallest expensive container I can fill. Tempted... but not in the back woods where burry would be fine.
Yes the ring was asbestos, and given that other parts or wiring might be & need replacement or a good coating of HT paint in working fine. Yes as above you could sleeve the ring, but that would not be fine in working overall, the new sleeving now smaller size is what you want to retain and pad the lens. Asbestos padding for the ring around the body the lens sits on is also asbestos - looks like a woven doctor's medical tape... it's asbestos to bag up and scrape clean with water sprayed. This is easy silicone padding replaced by. Familiar with the fixture type, yes probably your's early but if wiring re-wired, and lamp sockets resurfaced, should last indefinately. Ones I have in stock don't have vent holes all along the front. Good idea/practice on spraying down. I normally remove asbestos from a ring with a knife than sand blast, paint and sleeve.
 

ship

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Location
Illinois
That all said... I after around 25 years pro, and I don't even want to think how many years in asbestos environments with literally silverly little fibers raining down on me while dancers above. I have been lucky in that there is no immunity to it, each time for exposure to a microscopic fiber that can and will eventually kill you if it sets in and causes cancer. No exposure level to it, no immunity, just ten to twelve years later you get it or not in what has already caused damage.... when it's too late to fix when you figure out you got cancer from last exposure. Yes a horror story.

Limited risk is there, as with limited chance. But it is still there in dealing with the concept of. At very least wear a mask, blow off outside and change / wash + shower.
 

ship

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Location
Illinois
For most of them, best place for them as literally obsoleted and useless. Takes a lot of work to get something at best useful - this even if magic was made and somehow it was. Though at one point I was standing at the window to my old theater and saw a pickup truck full of scrap metal stopped at a stop light. In it's back were a bunch of Leko's and other lighting gear. Thought about running after it given a lack of gear, but didn't have any cash and what I saw that caught my eye was 8" in not being useful. Light changed and onto the scrap yard it went - asbestos abatement in the early 90's was the scrap yard.

Too bad more so, that museum collections of them only started in the 90's or more 2000's in preserving history. I certainly had no intent of preserving history in the 90's, all I wanted was to advance to 360Q stage in no hope of S-4. Sure I was given my high school's Kliegl Dyna Beam with some cyc's and stage weights. If I didn't take them, they will have also been in the scrap yard. Lobby sculpture the followspot, used the cyc's. Even after the theater closed down, I literally had a lighting grid in my bed room and 19" TV in the bedroom mounted to the followspot at my apartment. Had to stop paying storage fee's. Spotlight amongst other fixtures was not museum, it was a dependent of me. Long story.