Thorn Europhane Pilote T1

Lantern acquired in September 2020.

This lantern has the unusual accolade of being installed since 1994 but may have only worked a very small number of times in all of the intervening years, and even then, it is unlikely to have been lit for long. The reason for this is that it served as a work light for anyone working on its feeder pillar after nightfall, with the light being operated manually using a switch located within the pillar. The lantern served a secondary purpose, in that the NEMA photocell installed on top of its canopy provided the group switching for all of the street lighting that was fed from that particular pillar. In the case of this lantern, the pillar (95966) was situated on the westbound A516 at Burnaston, and switched a group of larger T2 Pilotes, each running a 150 Watt SON-T lamp. Indeed, the two T2 Pilotes that I acquired in 2016 were from the A516 too, although they were fed from a different pillar - all were of the same age, however. This lantern was removed after the Pilotes that its cell switched were replaced with Thorn Isaro Pro-M 87 Watt LED lanterns; the new lanterns were equipped with individual NEMA sockets, and so the group switching was disbanded, with the circuits being made live permanently. Other than these control lanterns, no other T1 Pilotes existed in Derbyshire, though a number of examples can be seen just over the border in Leicestershire, where they light the footpaths and cycleways that were situated around the A50 near Castle Donington.

An image taken from Google Street View of the Pilote as it looked when guarding the feeder pillar. All of these control point columns featured the Pilote attached to a heavy-duty Abacus base-hinged column. Most of the feeder pillars were supplied with three-phase services, with a contactor to match, owing to the amount of lights that each would feed. This one, however, only fed around a dozen lights, and so a single-phase supply was adequate in this instance.

The lantern was still fitted to its Abacus bracket when acquired. This bracket is designed to fit on a 114 mm diameter column spigot, which is massively over-engineered for supporting a lantern that weighs only 8.1 kg (17.64 lb)! The whole scheme involving the Pilotes seems to have been done to a specification, rather than a budget, with the columns used for the actual lighting being heavy-duty too; hence, why they were able to accommodate the new LED lanterns, despite being 26 years old.

A Royce Thompson RTB 1065 35 Lux photocell provided the dusk-dawn switching for the section. Until 2017, a Zodion SS2 dating from September 2000 was installed here. Prior to that, the photocell may have been another Royce Thompson product - a P5 thermal photocell. The lantern's polypropylene canopy is not too heavily ingrained with dirt for saying that it would never have had chance to become especially hot when installed - the lamp having not run for long enough to heat the lantern up and prevent fungal spores from growing.

The NEMA socket itself is dated October 1992.

All of the T1 Pilotes featured flat glass covers, compared to the T2 Pilotes that lit the roads, which had semi-cutoff bowls. As with the T2s, however, two polycarbonate hinges and clips secure the cover during normal operation.

The lantern is something of a time capsule - its original GE-Thorn lamp, made at Leicester, and dating from August 1992, remains in the optic. The reflector shape on the T1 is slightly different in comparison to that of the T2.

Moulded into the underside of the lantern are the two IP ratings that the Pilote boasts - when used with a bowl or flat glass cover (Ferme = Closed), the optic is rated at IP 65. An official option with the Pilote was that it could be supplied without any cover (Ouvert = Open), which reduced the rating to IP 23. Surprisingly, this version of the Pilote could accommodate lamps of up to 150 Watt, whilst the T2 could accommodate 150 - 250 Watt lamps, and the largest T3 Pilote could accommodate up to 600 Watt lamps.

As with the T2 version, access to the internal wiring and lamp control gear is gained by pressing a screwdriver against the two stainless steel locking clips at the rear of the canopy, and pressing them inwards. Apart from the interior being very dusty, it is in good condition. Two cables enter the lantern - one for the lamp circuit; the other, for the photocell.

The ignitor and capacitor (dated to the third week of 1992 - the 13th - 19th January) are positioned on one side of the removable gear tray, while the ballast is located on the other. Notice that the G53498 ignitor is rated for 100 - 400 Watt lamps, meaning that the ignition voltage would be in excess of that required for striking the 50 Watt lamp employed.

As an homage to the lantern's French origins (probably), the NEMA socket wiring colours are red, white and blue...after trois, Allons enfants de la Patrie..!

The first task of the lantern's restoration was to separate the lantern and bracket - an easy task, you may think, but no! Thankfully, the spigot detached from the lantern, but the bolt holding it to the bracket was completely jammed - even after being heated with a blowtorch for some time, the bolt barely moved at all. I was able to separate the spigot from the bracket with this method, however, but still, could not move the bolt. I was surprised to discover a small Abacus tag within the bracket that stated the year of manufacture (1994), and the stamped datasheet number BKT RL/1100. This was cable-tied to the hanging hole, though there wasn't much left of the cable tie after being fried by the blowtorch!

The u-shaped gear tray that supported the components was removed and wiped clean, as were the components themselves. The ballast carries "Sabir" branding, although its design is very similar to Thorn-branded ballasts from the 1990s.

The lampholder is attached to a separate plastic moulding; this allows the lamp to be focused depending on the beam angle required, though as this particular Pilote was only ever going to be lighting the area surrounding its own feeder pillar, I would expect that the lampholder's position here is the factory default.

Different settings apply, depending on whether an E27 or E40 lampholder is fitted. As the former is true for this lantern, the right-hand column would be used for focusing the lamp in the vertical plane.

The lateral position is adjusted by removing the (normally - the component shows condensation here, having just been washed) transparent plastic enclosure from the centre of the moulding, and pulling a lever forwards or backwards.

The seized bolt was replaced with a (non-seized!) grub screw by Friday, 22nd January 2021.

With this completed, and the exterior cleaned, the lantern was affixed to a wall bracket.

The lamp took about ten minutes to warm up; by comparison, a modern lamp would take only a couple of minutes to reach full brightness when being started from cold.

A second 'in operation' picture, but with the flash activated this time.

Lantern operation video:

Testing with my energy monitoring device (after the lantern had been working for around thirty minutes) revealed the following results:

Test Voltage (V) Current being drawn at full power (A) Measured wattage (W) Apparent Power (VA) Frequency (Hz) Power Factor True Power (W) Difference to rated wattage Percentage Difference
243.8 0.56 62 137 49.9 0.46 62.80 12.80 25.61%

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