American Restoration Restores Vintage Blown Glass Electric Car Charger – Video


Vintage Electric Car Charger

Vintage Electric Car Charger

“Check out a blown-glass vintage electric car charger on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum in this scene from “Mr. Lucky.”

Simply put…wow!

This restored vintage electric car charger is absolutely stunning and its method of operation is unique too.

But it’s the blown-glass element of the charger that really catches the eye.

Would we want one to charge our electrics cars? Umm…no, but it sure would make an interesting display piece.

Check out the video for additional details on this one-of-a-kind vintage electric car charger.

Categories: Charging, Videos


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22 Comments on "American Restoration Restores Vintage Blown Glass Electric Car Charger – Video"

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Beautiful Restoration.

More in-depth video on these early EV Chargers:

The tube on the History Channel is missing the probe start shown in your video. Oops?

I had a poly phase rectifier around here that may have worked for that instead of making a fake one…… I’ll have to look..

I wonder what the output voltage is?

For the 72 volt baker electric, 72-84 volts.

The inductors mentioned below also increased the efficiency of the charger, seeing as there was little heat coming from it. The unit as a whole didn’t have poor efficiency since there was only around 8 volts drop across the rectiifer.

(Some of those blink fast chargers were actually worse efficiency than this model).

In those washington, D.C. archives, it was noted that larger commercial garages used a motor – generator set to charge several cars simultaneously, and these single-phase units were only used for small garages, and home-charging setups.

Interestingly, they also made small 3-6 amp micro-miniature chargers for general trickle charging a.k.a. “battery maintainers”.

Of course these GE chargers could only be used where the available power was alternating current, although made for either 25, 40, 50, 60, or 133 cycles per second (hz), the common utility frequencies at the time.

If you happened to live in the congested downtown areas of any major cities, where only 125 volt DC was available, Baker supplied a tapped resistor box to lower the pressure down to 72-84 volts. Jay Leno seems to have gotten one with his Baker.

“While General Electric sold mercury arc rectifier based residential chargers to EV owners, the majority of the more than 14,000 chargers that GE sold a century ago were sold to public facilities like hotels and parking garages.”

14 thousand! From only one company!

Also check out this handy guide to early electric car charging, with lots of useful info:

Yess! I looked for this site, but didn’t find it this morning. Awesome!

It shows us how little things have changed and gives a hint of how hypocritical are established car makers when they say the technology is not there yet.

I was hoping they would fill it with mercury and light her hp!


Ok here’s a trivia question to test people’s understanding here.

What is the inductor used for and why was it absolutely necessary?

(In the second video, they say the inductor ‘limits current’, but then the wirewound resistors do also). So, answer the question.

It maintains the arc by providing a current as it discharges, for the portion of the voltage wave that’s descending through zero and going negative. It maintains the arc until the voltage is positive on the other electrode, which then arcs.

My question is, if I looked only at one of the two anodes and the cathode at the bottom, would I see a continuous arc, or a periodic arc over several cycles?

This is cool stuff, that I feel I missed out on. With solid state electronics, you see nothing, other than traces on a scope.

Yes – you don’t have to re-tip the rectifier every 1/2 cycle to get it going again since there is always current going thru it.

The second video which showed a ‘working ‘ model seemed to have a very worn tube – it was not running symetrically on each 1/2 cycle.

You can see these things in action at youtube… wow, a dream for all the steampunk-guys (though it should be called something like electric tesla/edison-punk).

That’s post-steampunk era; if you want a similar term, it’s sometimes called “diesel punk”. Personally, I prefer the term “retro tech” to “punk”.

Watching the videos, I can’t help but think of the movie “This Island Earth”.

In one scene, two engineers are discussing condensers (capacitors), the one they typically use is about 12x12x5, and the one that the mysterious supplier sent them is the size of a “bead”… And both are the same spec.

I’ve lately restored a few car radios (the latest was a nice Delco unit from a 1956 Buick Roadmaster (with a clean 8 watt audio output vs the typical 3), that had its sound greatly improve when replacing the original wax capacitors with physically tiny polystyrene capacitors, almost the size difference as mentioned in the science fiction movie. The cathode bypass capacitor also had aged, necessitating a new replacement, albeit physically much dinkier.

What happens to those old electronics is that the paper spacers between the plates start to eventually become acedic and slightly conductive, knocking the bias out of whack on the tubes (valves). New, cheap, non-leaky condensors (capacitors) bring the radio back to ‘spec’.



You HAD to go there.

c’mon you can’t just leave a “this island earth” comment go by…how many opportunities is there for that? (=

I watched this episode last week and must say that restored charger is the most stunning piece of equipment I’ve ever seen.