Philips MA 50

I saw this lantern being removed on the morning of the 15th August 2003; however, I didn't have time to stop and ask for it then, which was a shame, but at least, I thought, there are still plenty of other gear-in-head MA 50s around, so all is not lost. (It was replaced with a Thorn Alpha 4 using a lamp of the same wattage.) Well, a few days later, Jeremy brought the lantern round, along with a replacement ballast, as the existing one had failed - hence the reason for the lantern's removal. He was planning to fit the new ballast without removing the lantern, but was away when the work was carried out, and the repairman who was instead given the job couldn't find the replacement ballast, so he just changed the lantern over. A date written inside the MA 50 shows that the lantern was installed in April 1998 - not really the 25 year life expectancy!

UPDATE - The Alpha 4 itself has now been replaced! I first noticed this change on the morning of Monday, 21st February 2005. The new lantern is a Thorn Alpha 8, running a SON-T lamp. The only reason that I can think of for the Alpha 4's replacement is that it is near a Zebra Crossing and so better colour rendering might be required for motorists to see pedestrians crossing the road. The next column on from this, a sleeved 10 m Stanton, has also had an Alpha 8 fitted, replacing a gear-in-base MA 50. The second Alpha 8 was saved into my collection in May 2011.


The MA 50, photographed shortly after the replacement ballast had been fitted. It is a very long lantern - easily as long as the radiator behind it.


The gear components are well spread out on the gear tray - this is because the lantern body is also used to accommodate a 180 Watt SOX lamp in the MA 60, and the 135 Watt lamp of an MA 50 is sufficiently short enough to allow this amount of space. I have disconnected the photocell socket, in order that the lantern will run permanently unless switched off at the mains. What can't be shown here is the dreadful smell that greets you when you open the bowl - it is like chemicals that have gone off (if you know what that smells like!).  Underneath the ballast is a dried substance - this is what is giving off the smell. I suspect that the substance may have leaked out of the ballast - probably the reason that the ballast failed. Some of the substance has leaked onto the bowl - I will endeavour to remove it when I clean the lantern up. A label on the inside of the canopy states that the lantern was made at Philips' Hamilton (UK) factory in March 1998.


The lantern has been fitted with a brand new 135 Watt SOX lamp, so the warm up time is fairly quick at present. In fact, on first ignition, the blobs of sodium in the arc tube's dimples glowed before the rest of the arc tube became evenly yellow - it looked amazing!

The MA 50 was cleaned and the canopy and shoe repainted on Friday, 8th July 2005. Surprisingly, the substance could not be removed from the bowl, but it isn't really that noticeable, so I will leave it now. The canopy was painted in order to cover up some thick scratches in the GRP, and also to prevent the fibres in the material from being released.

Due to the length of the lantern, photographing it sideways-on in one go is difficult. This is the best that I could do: photograph the front and back ends separately and then join them together on-screen, using the middle clip as a reference.

These views of the canopy were more successful, however:

I guess this must be how the lantern looked when it was installed in April 1998!

The lantern was mounted to an AC Ford AC872 wall bracket on Wednesday, 10th August 2005.

Lantern warm-up video:

The following couple of pictures show where the MA 50 was installed. An Alpha 4 originally replaced the lantern, but this in turn was replaced with an Alpha 8 to provide better colour rendering for the nearby Zebra Crossing. The neighbouring MA 50 shows how mine would have looked when in situ. 

Philips MI 26 | Thorn Alpha 6




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