Annoying garage door opener problem

I have an old Craftsman chain-drive garage door opener. It was there when I bought the house, it's gotta be at least 20 years old, but it works well (noisy as all get out). Anyhow, there are light bulb sockets on both sides of it. The light bulbs are supposed to come on when the door is being opened or closed. They used to work. Now, they come on for a couple seconds, then go off, then flicker a bit, then come on, then go out, etc. I jiggled the bulbs in the sockets a bit and they stayed on for a while, but then resume the erratic performance. One might guess that the bulbs might be coming loose in the socket from the movement of the garage door, but that is not the case. The bulbs remain snugly in the socket. In fact, they work a little better (i.e. stay on a little longer before starting the off-on stuff) if I unscrew them slightly.
Thanks for any advice....oh, I don't want to replace the opener, so please don't suggest that!
Mike
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Mike wrote: ...

Check for wiring connections loose elsewhere or perhaps even the wire itself has flexed enough over the years to have broken. Or, could be a thermal expansion/contraction problem.
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Mike wrote:

It could be the contact tab in the center of the socket. Quite often all that is needed is to cut the power, reach into the socket with your index finger and catch the end of the tab with your fingernail and pull up on it. If you can't get it with your fingernail, you can make a loop out of small gauge wire and catch it that way. You should always use rough service light bulbs in a garage door opener because of the vibration. An example:
http://tinyurl.com/qehc3o
TDD
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The Daring Dufas wrote:

Good idea on the heavy-duty bulbs. It may be, in this case, that the filaments inside the bulbs are actually broken and making intermittent contact.
CFLs are more rugged in this regard.
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HeyBub wrote:

The intermittent filament was my first thought but I figured that the OP would have had experience with that before like most tinkerers. I've actually screwed in a plug adapter for folks and plugged in a twin tube shop light that I hung back away from the opener. It sure lights a garage up a lot better at night and lasts a lot longer than a standard bulb.
TDD
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Yes, a four foot shop light really lights up the garage. Excellent idea.
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Christopher A. Young
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I'm not sure what brand of CFL you use, but I havn't found them to be rugged.
As to filament bulbs. Try a different brand. I had some Phillips that would blow easily, and GE I think it was, worked fine. Rough service bulbs are a good idea.
As to the center spot. Also sand it a bit, with a bit of emery cloth wrapped over the end of your finger. Scratchy side out, of course.
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I also have a 31 year old Sears Craftsman chain drive garage door opener and it does the same thing. I opened it up and found the timer that turns on the lights is a bi-metalic strip with a heater wire wound around it. The heater wire had parted from a terminal and the bi-metalic strip is a bit warped and doesn't make contact. There is not enough spare heater wire to reattach to the terminal but the end sometimes makes contact and the lights will work erratically. Actually it works sometimes more often on the cold days of winter and not at all during summer. I have learned to live with it as that is its only problem.
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EXT wrote:

You could replace that timer with an inexpensive block timer that's common in the HVAC industry. The little cube timers have a jumper wire that you cut for 120 VAC operation or some operate from 18-240 volts. It appears from your post that the heater/timer turns out the light when it warms up. ICM Controls manufactures all sorts of solid state timers that hook in series with the load and one of them could do the trick. Look at the bypass timer.
http://www.icmcontrols.com/products /
TDD
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Mike wrote:

My old sears opener has only one light socket but did the same thing when I pub a CFL bulb in it. It was the tab in the bottom of the socket that needed bending up to touch the bulb harder.
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