Urbis ZX1 (1986)

Lantern acquired on Monday, 27th July 2015.

With thanks to Nick Cooper for this lantern. This version of the ZX1 pre-dates the use of the 'SealSafe' optical system for which Urbis Lighting is today perhaps best known, with the result that it is somewhat rarer than the versions that do employ this method of sealing the lantern optic to an IP 66 protection level. This lantern's history is largely unknown - it is understood to have been installed on a railway platform (as my 1998 version was), although exactly where this was cannot be discerned, nor can the reason for its removal.

As with the 1998 version, this ZX1 features a two-tone grey canopy and a flat glass optic.


The plastic top section of the canopy is noticeably faded - as would anything that had been left outside in all weathers for 29 years!


Although there is provision for attaching the four plastic canopy clips to the aluminium chassis, the buckles are nowadays purely decorative; the clips having broken off over time. The piece of red insulation tape that is applied to the inside of the flat glass cover is not an attempt at a repair to the glass (this not being damaged); it is perhaps a form of identifying when the lantern was last re-lamped, though of course, where would the railways be without a certain amount of red tape?


The contemporary Schréder logo is cast into the underside of the chassis casting, as well as being etched into the flat glass cover; Urbis becoming part of the Schréder group in 1976. The logo is also visible on my 1998 version of the ZX1, though it is a lot less easier to spot on this later lantern, owing to the use of a thicker powder coating finish. Also etched on the glass is '210 Watt'; I assume that this must be the maximum permitted wattage that the glass can withstand. The 210 Watt SON lamp is a somewhat obscure type (I believe that it is only manufactured by OSRAM) that can be used as a direct replacement for a 250 Watt MBF lamp, without needing to make any alterations to the existing wiring or control gear in a luminaire.


Only with the canopy removed can the difference in this version of the ZX1, in comparison to the later SealSafe versions, be appreciated. This must have been one of the last ZX1s to be produced without the sealed optic, as Urbis literature states that 1985 was the year that this was introduced. The flat section of the canopy that is designed to accommodate a NEMA socket was never revised, even on the newer ZXU1 model. This is despite the NEMA socket (when fitted) on newer versions being set further back on the lantern, in order to prevent it from fouling the back of the SealSafe unit. Of course, before the sealed optic unit was introduced, this position was in no danger of fouling anything, and indeed situated the photocell in a more central position on the canopy. (As a side, the ZX1's much younger relative, the Sapphire 1, can be seen reflected in the flat glass cover.)


The lantern's ballast and ignitor are made by Parmar, with the former dating from 1986, and the latter dating from 1985. The hand-written number above the bracket spigot (48-86) suggests that the lantern was installed on the 4th August 1986, which was a Monday, in case you were wondering. The gear tray can be removed completely by disconnecting the earth bond that links it to the lantern chassis, the wiring to the lampholder, and then loosening the bolt that is located in the bottom-right corner of the gear tray.


The capacitor carries '8640' (week 40 of 1986, I assume) as a manufacturing date code.


Interestingly, a corrugated piece of reflective aluminium is placed over the reflector's original distribution pattern (a trait seen on some Atlas Alpha 3 lanterns, though, not my own); this is perhaps a modification that was required in order for the beam distribution to be altered for railway platform use. Both this additional reflector, as well as the original one, are secured to the canopy with two slotted polycarbonate screws. After years of being in close proximity to the lamp, these screws are now too brittle to be turned.


The identification label appears to have been produced on a typewriter (a generation of people are probably now appearing rather confused at hearing this strange, alien word, whilst a very different generation is reminiscing with rose-tinted spectacles at the familiar clatter of keys and a carriage return bell...never once did the ribbon ever become jammed!). I am interested to see that Thorn lamps were specifically recommended for use in these lanterns - good luck in trying to find stocks of these on the shelves of your local lamp supplier these days! The mention of Thorn is curious, considering the 210 Watt etching on the glass, which, as explained earlier, presumably relates to the 210 Watt SON lamp that this company did not produce.


The lantern was attached to a wall bracket on Friday, 25th May 2018.


With this lantern positioned alongside its 2006 equivalent, we can see that the design has barely changed in the twenty-year gap between both versions.


The side portions of the reflector were especially bright when the lantern was in use.


The concertina reflector above the lamp didn't seem to alter the beam angle too significantly.


Lamp switch-on video:

Testing with my energy monitoring device 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
243.6 0.88 89 214 49.9 0.42 90.03 20.03 28.62%
Urbis ZX1 Lanterns in the Collection



2008 (ZXU1)

Philips 'Libra' 2565 | Thorn Europhane Pilote T2 × 2




© 2002 - English Street Lights Online