Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Does Anyone Else Have This Problem? Vintage Plugs and Modern Extension Cords

Here's a little issue I encountered recently. I wonder if any of you had the same.

Being the lover of vintage lamps that I (and so many of you are) am, I bought some standard household (read cheap) extension cords to be able to add more lamps to my living room.

I discovered the new extension cords will allow a vintage plug to go in HALF WAY, then it stops. As if that's all the space there is inside those new plugs!

I wiggle and wrigggle, and can sometimes get one to go in, but not with every lamp.

It's as if the new extension cords (no doubt made cheap in China) are made so the last half is narrower than the plug. By an amount that makes it impossible to plug in some of my lamps!

Have any of you come across this problem, and what have you done to solve it?

Other than using a hammer or pliers or razor blade? lol...


  1. I have not had the problem but maybe it's because I am using older extension cords.. I have not purchased a new one in years.

  2. I've had that problem, but not just with vintage plugs -- I've noticed that often two-prong plugs in general get stuck going into extension cords. I don't have any idea why this is... I've switched extension cords and it's worked fine. Again, no idea why.

    You could also rewire the lamp with a longer cord, though depending on the lamp, this might be more trouble than it's worth.

    Good luck!

  3. Thanks Melzaelf and Doc.

    Hmmm maybe the extension cords they are importing (guess here) are not quite up to standard. I'll check with Home Depot and see what they have to say, or if they offer US made cords that don't have this issue.

  4. I've ran into that too. Usually I've had to rewire most of the older cords anyway since the older ones get cracked and brittle (blew out a toaster that way).

    The heater installed in my fireplace came with a type of large 3-prong plug that isn't even used anymore. It's a shame because there were some nights that we could've used that heater!

  5. Ahhh don't you hate that?

    There is one outlet in my living room that never even had a plug wired in. Unfortunately, that's also the line that WOULD light my living room lamp, but that's never worked because that electrical line was never finished nor fixed.

    Fingers crossed an electrician can get that fixed easily. Meanwhile, I am short TWO electrical outlets in the living room because of this, hence the extension cords.

  6. Yes, this has happened to me too. Fortunately I have some older extension cords that still fit. But the other bloggers have it right...it sometimes requires rewiring. I love your little pink lamp!

  7. Is it possible because they are designed to accept the polarized plugs that are now required by UL? I think the change was sometime in the 60's or 70's, so that would also explain why older extension cords work, but new ones don't......Just a thought.

  8. No answers here, but just want to tell you what a step back in time and away from it all your blog is.

    I love coming here, it's so cool and I feel like I"m out of my life for awhile.

    Thank you for that.

  9. I just have my clocks and lamps on display, unplugged. Generally they have American style plugs, and in Australia we have slanty ones. As tempted as I am to bend them into shape, I don't want to win a Darwin Award...

    It's definitely safest to get old appliances rewired.

  10. Fortunately I have a husband who can fix stuff like that. Otherwise I'd be like Lucy and just display everything. I have a garage full of lamps that I need to have him check out but all he says is, "It's on the list." I HATE that list!

  11. Thank you, Empress!

    Bah, can you have your lamps converted Lucy?

    I buy mine to use, so maybe if I raid all the extension cords from the Studio I can make it good lol...

  12. Always rewire old lamps. It doesn't cost much, and it is super easy to do it yourself.

  13. Yeah, you can get the lamps converted. I've ripped apart some lamps for artworks. It's not hard, but I'd recommend getting someone knowledgable to do it for you. I'm not brave enough to do it myself with the older style lamps.