Trying to replace a pretty old ceiling light fixture, and after removing
the plate that hides all the wiring, etc are, i found no metal outlet box.
Instead, there is this really strange setup:
There is black round plactic disc (about 2 inches in diameter) which has a
1 inch long srew type rod sticking out of it. Then there are the
appropriate wires around it. But thats it.
There is no outlet box or anything at all.
The light i want to replace it with comes wtih a hanger bracket and the
instructions tell me to install this hanger bracket onto the outlet box.
Since there is no outlet box, i don't know what to do. What are my
I suspect that the round plastic disc is actually an old black enameled
metal pancake box. The 1" screw rod may be an old gas pipe from an former
gas light fixture or just a fixture mounting stud.
I hope that you are in the mood for an electrical challenge. Turn off the
power. You will need to remove the old box. Do it carefully so as to not
damage the existing wiring. Make sure that you identify each conductor in
the box before you take apart the splices. Most likely the color coding is
almost gone on these wires. I'm guessing that the wires are soldered and
taped. Most likely the insulation on the wires is brittle and will break
off as you separate the conductors. Get a roll of white and a roll of black
electrical tape. You may need a roll of red also.
If there aren't too many wires in the box, you may be able to get away with
installing a new larger pancake box which will easily accept your fixture
mounting bracket. If there is a gas pipe coming from the ceiling it will
have to be removed. If there are too many wires then you may have to
install a 4" round electrical box.
Plan on spending a few hours doing all of this.
Why? Gas pipes are very stable strong mounts for the heaviest of
The OP needs a hickey to screw on the end of the nipple or sometimes
he can mount the cross support directly on the nipple with an
appropriate lock nut.
Alternatively the black round plastic (?) disk may be an old...er not
sure of the name... maybe
"end-wire-terminator-for-fixtures-attached-to-gas-lines" <g>. Quite
ingenious actually. It's about the diameter and thickness of a hockey
puck and made out a some sort of junky electrically conductive metal
and has a blind threaded hole in the center one side of which
terminates the gas line and the other takes a nipple + hickey + nipple
(as required) to support the fixture. Around the center hole there are
four or six (I suppose they came in various sizes) holes the same
diameter as an AC box connector and like the AC box connector there's
a screw (in this case with a captive nut) coming in at an angle which
engages the AC cable, prevents it pulling out, and provides electrical
continuity for the equipment ground. The " box" is really supplied by
the canopy of the fixture which itself was metal (usually brass).
Although I'm sure it would freak out the code fanatics, it's not
really a bad arrangement supplying all the protection and grounding
that a modern setup would. Any heat (lamps) is a couple of feet below
and behind the wiring is non-combustible plaster. The only thing you
have to ensure is that the canopy is big enough for the connections.
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