Explain this - 4 bulb light fixture wouldn't work with Compact Florescent bulbs

I'm cleaning up and fixing up a rental and one of the things I did today was put bulbs in all the fixtures. One fixture had one regular old style 60 watt bulb in it and I wanted to put CFL in it to cut down on the heat. The fixture has a 4 bulb "cross" in the center that holds all the bulbs, it's just a one piece Bakelite type material cross with 4 sockets in it. Pretty much the same as the two bulb fixtures you commonly see. I took the old working incandescent bulb out and put two CFLs in it. They flickered badly. So I moved one to one of the other sockets... they still flickered badly. So I took one of the CFLs out and the remaining one stopped flickering but it was not bright at all, not even for a cold CFL. I tried opposite sockets and adjacent sockets with the same results for one CFL and two CFLs. Then I put a third CFL in the fixture and ALL of them light up bright as day with no flickering. I took one back out and the flickering returned. I put the incandescent bulb back in one of the sockets and still had two CFLs in two other sockets and they flickered. I thought perhaps teh socket was bad and the third bulb put pressure on it and made it work properly but the incandescent bulb should have done the same and it didn't. I can't imagine what could be going on with this fixture... Any ideas???
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Is this light fixture on a dimmer?
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On Sun, 30 Nov 2008 05:46:19 -0800 (PST), Mikepier
Nope.
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Ashton Crusher wrote:

Various thoughts of diodes in the fixture to either provide multiple light level settings or to save electricity. Main though though is to just replace the fixture as a new fixture likely costs too little to be worth screwing around with the old one.
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Sounds like an old fixture with some kind of socket problem. The base of the CFL may be slightly different, so you see the connection problem with it, but not ordinary bulb. I'd just replace it. They are cheap and I would not want anything behaving like that in a house just for safety.
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On Nov 30, 11:30am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

As suggested by others. Dimmer? Or those little little round diodes that were once used inside bulb sockets to reduce lamp power and supposedly make bulbs dimmer and last longer?
Maybe the fixture has been miswired for years (bulbs in series etc.).
Or perhaps and here's wild idea? The fixture had provision for those tri-light bulbs whereby certain older style bulbs have two filaments which then can give three light levels (Low, high, or low plus high)? Normally only used in table lamps. BTW; that is a regular 60 watt bulb mixed in with the CFLs is it????
Or maybe somebody unknowingly replaced one or more of the sockets with one or more of those tri light sockets. Because normal cheap single filament incandescent bulbs will work normally (with only two points of contact) in those trilight sockets!
We know that ceiling fixtures normally would not have trilight bulbs or have switches at the tube socket base, up near the ceiling; but stranger things have happened!
For example we have what used to be a trilight bedside lamp, now with a regular 60 watt bulb in it. Only difference is that the switch on it turns to three positions, only one of which turns on the light! But if somebody had taken that socket for an emergency fix and used it elsewhere? The other trilght bedside lamp presently has a low power CFL in it and is controlled by a timer to help make the house look 'lived in' when we are occasionally away.
Sounds like a person with a bit of an electrically analytical mind would be a help here? Agree if fixture is bad/old replace it.
BTW there are a few otherwise very competent people who never seem 'to get' electrcity. I have an excellent neighbour in that category; who is, fortunately, well aware of his limitation. So he comes for help!
He, even if there is 'no possibility' of wiring something wrong, there is a good chance will find one. For example; neutral connected to ground (by mistake), no ground (misread wire colour), switch in neutral side (the light worked), photo cell turned facing wrong way on outside pole lamp, a double pole circuit split between one single pole breaker and 'one side' of a double pole breaker (that circuit also 'worked') etc. etc.
Couldn't ask for more caring, helpful, cooperative or supportive neighbours (And we also return tools promptly!), so we have a mutual and helpful understanding when it comes anything electrical whether it is 12, 120 or 240 volts! AC or DC!
But any of these 'odd' situations are of interest. Be nice to know the outcome of the OPs question?????????????
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replace old fixtures components or entire fixture, because poor connections increase the resistance between the contacts of the socket and bulb, thereby increasing the heat of the poor connection and starting a problem. you are describing poor connections and old connections, possibly flattened out center tab of female lamp socket, look for partially burned away insulation.
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Ashton Crusher wrote:

Find and remove/bypass the electronic control. It may be a dimmer in the wall or in the fixture. Or an electronic remote control that controls the fan and lamps. Also common was a wallplate control to control fan and lamp using the existing two wire wiring from the existing wallplate in ceiling-light to ceiling-fan/light upgrades.
-- larry/dallas
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