Trouble Shooting Old Ceiling Fan Lights

NKBJ

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Anyone who has an idea, please chime in. Please.

Here's the story.
It's an older ceiling fan with a four light bottom unit. Only one of the four small base bulbs have legible writing and it's a 60 watt bulb.
The owner thought that the wall switch was bad because the lights would go out in an erratic manner. So, she left the wall switch in the ON position and just used the pull chain to turn the lights on and off. Then the erratic behavior started again.
This is the point at which I've entered the picture.

The story so far...
1) The lights are in parallel circuit as should be. There is a inch and a half or so length plastic box in the circuit that I think must be an automatically resetting overload circuit breaker, but I don't know for certain that this is its function. I just cannot fathom it being anything else.
2) I've replaced the pull chain switch and the wall switch.
3) I've remade the circuit connections to the lights to eliminate the possibility of a fault there.
4) After re-assembly, initial testing was performed with a bulb in one of the four fixtures. And the switches work perfectly.
5) Install all four bulbs (brand new 60 watts) and the lights go out in the exact same erratic manner.
6) Remove two of the four bulbs and it works just fine. Add a third bulb and it gets goofy again.

Suspicions
1) Perhaps it is supposed to have 40 watt bulbs and I'll have to buy some.
2) if the little black box is a circuit breaker then maybe it's gone goofy.

Should anyone have thoughts, I'm all ears!
 

NKBJ

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Junction box, the breaker panel? No I haven't.
Sitting here thinking about it I don't remember what else is on that breaker. Not my house so it didn't get memorized.
 

Jaybird1980

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New ceiling fan?
She might go for that.
A lot of light kits will fit other fans, may not need an entire fan.
A couple of pics would possibly help some diagnosis, even a video of what the lights are doing.
Sounds like something could be heating up with the addition of the lights. Check all connections, junction box, light kit connectors, even the metal tab in bottom of the sockets.
 

4651feeder

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Anyone who has an idea, please chime in. Please.

Suspicions
1) Perhaps it is supposed to have 40 watt bulbs and I'll have to buy some.
2) if the little black box is a circuit breaker then maybe it's gone goofy.

Should anyone have thoughts, I'm all ears!
From my past experience that is a current limiting circuit and when they fail will either open the circuit or produce the conditions you described. A new light kit may not solve the issue as in examples I've seen this circuit is prior to the light kit connection. At the risk of causing some to gasp in disbelief, I may have removed the defective current limiting circuits encountered in our home knowing we don't exceed the bulb wattage ratings.
 
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IndyBeerman

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Question,

Incandescent Bulbs, or LED, some older fixtures just don't want to work with LED, CFL bulbs.

But I do think it would be better to just replace it.
 

NKBJ

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Gentlemen, thank you all.
Looks like it's going to be a new light, no fan.
 

lrdudley

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There are two boxes with wires in the can on the bottom of a ceiling fan of your vintage. The one with what looks like epoxy poured into it is the fan speed control. DO NOT bother that box. The other box is a wattage limiter. The wattage limiter is set at 190 watts. Three 60 watt bulbs. Four light fixtures came with 40 watt bulbs. There should be a modular plug that connects the light kit to the fan wiring. On one corner of this plug will be a "L". That wire is the hot wire for the lights. Follow that wire to the wattage limiter. The wattage limiter usually has a black wire on one side and a red wire on the other and also a white wire. Cut and cap the white wire. Cut the red and black wires and connect them together, then throw the wattage limiter away. Change over to LED bulbs.
I have been selling fans and interior lighting for going on two decades. Have dealt with this issue hundreds of times. The energy act of 2005 required a reduction of energy use in lighting by 25% and a maximum light output of 190 watts. The first change was to require candelabra based bulbs on ceiling fans because candelabra base bulbs were only made up to 60 watts. Therefore, three 60 watt bulbs or four 40 watt bulbs. Also required the bulbs come with the fan. That immediately ended "add on sales" of light bulbs when you purchased a fan.
All the new fans come with either integrated LED lights or LED bulbs with standard medium based bulbs. Not a fan of the integrated LED lights, but that is a different topic.
 

JettaKnight

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All the new fans come with either integrated LED lights or LED bulbs with standard medium based bulbs. Not a fan of the integrated LED lights, but that is a different topic.
This is INGO - we don't need to other threads when we can morph this one!

As a lighting control engineer, I hate LED retrofits - trying to shove in dubious quality electronics in to disposable screw-in lamps leads to terrible compromises all around.
 
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