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Old 03-18-2009, 09:33 PM   #1
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Ancient light boxes, how to remove


I'm updating the lights in our kitchen. Our house is 82 years old, and when I got down to the lighting box, it may be original, and they're in rough shape. Some bracket had broken off, and didn't allow me to mount the new light.

So, new boxes were purchased today, and I went to pull these old ones out.
I can't figure out how to get these things out.



Furthermore, I can't tell if there's enough room above the hole to mount an "old work" box in. I picked up two different kinds of old work boxes, but both are fairly deep, and I'm not getting far with the old boxes.

If anyone has seen or worked with these old boxes before, please share with me how I can either repair or replace them.

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Old 03-18-2009, 09:57 PM   #2
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Ancient light boxes, how to remove


that one is prob. plastered in place...sometimes they have a hickey that holds them on along with screws...best bet is the CAREFULLY chip around the box and replace with a deeper box...do you have access above it?

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Old 03-18-2009, 10:09 PM   #3
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Those boxes really really really really You have to losen the clamp that holds the BX in place. You might have a few screws holding the box in place if not than just gently chip a little bit of the horse hair plaster away form the box and pull on it. It should come out
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:11 PM   #4
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that one is prob. plastered in place...sometimes they have a hickey that holds them on along with screws...best bet is the CAREFULLY chip around the box and replace with a deeper box...do you have access above it?

Unfortunately I don't. The next story is finished, so I have to get to it from this side. I've got a rotozip tool, but it wasn't getting through the upper layer. A hammer and chisel may be my best bet?
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:20 PM   #5
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looks like they shoved nm through one of the knockouts on that box... i use my linemans and a think screwddriver to chip out...a hammer and a chisel with destroy the plaster be careful....once you pull that box down,see where the joist is you may be able to use a biscuit box or you may need one of those old work fan braces...what are going to hang there ?
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:20 PM   #6
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I can't really tell from your pics but I recently pulled this one out. They have screws that attach to the beam above or the lath. Remove the screws, pull the "box" down and you will see screws on the sides holding the wires. Loosen the screws and pull the wires out. You will need to measure and cut out a new opening for the old work box. Hopefully the old one was not screwed to a beam above as this would mean you will have to move the new box and patch up where the old one was. Hope this helps.
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:21 PM   #7
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* THIN screwdriver, not think
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:47 PM   #8
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That looks like a similar box. I'll try the screwdriver chipping and see what happens. I already made a huge mess and cleaned it up working on this today, so I think this gets put off until tomorrow.

Thanks for all the replies and help!
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:59 PM   #9
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Actually, I believe the box is secured via the pipe in the center of the box. In the old days there used to be gas lighting that was simply a threaded pipe exiting the ceiling going to the lights. The pipe was strapped to the side of the joist in the ceiling. When the gas lights were no longer used, they put in the pancake boxes and some were attached to the old gas line. The newer pancake boxes don't have the threaded fitting in the center of the box and its just a standard knock-out.

You will probably need to cut away at the raised nub in the center of the box, since it doesn't sound like you can pull the wire out of the box to twist the pancake out.

As far as old work boxes working here, good luck. Like I said, this box is going to be mounted right over the center of a joist so your best option would be to just replace it with another pancake box (screw mounted to the joist of course).

Good luck to you in removing that box, it is a real pain. I've been lucky enough the couple I have had to remove I've been able to access the other side of the box in the attic and pull the wires out first.

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Old 03-18-2009, 11:02 PM   #10
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Actually, I believe the box is secured via the pipe in the center of the box
right, except he said it is broken off, you can see the hickey is missing
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:41 PM   #11
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Wow, I guess I never considered that this house may have had gas lighting in it long ago. So the pancake box is going to be a pain - I've got at least four of these in the kitchen/dining area alone. Only one of them has a broken "hickey" (I've never heard that term in this context before, I assume it refers to the plates on the side with large and small holes in them).

Someone asked what I was hanging. I'm putting in a trio of fixtures that have a round base, and then three aim-able spots on each. Not very heavy, but probably heaver than a standard double incandescent and bowl/cover fixture.

Think I could solder/weld the hickey back in place? Is that a whole new can of worms I don't want to get into?
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:08 AM   #12
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Ancient light boxes, how to remove


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Originally Posted by Local Yokel View Post
Wow, I guess I never considered that this house may have had gas lighting in it long ago. So the pancake box is going to be a pain - I've got at least four of these in the kitchen/dining area alone. Only one of them has a broken "hickey" (I've never heard that term in this context before, I assume it refers to the plates on the side with large and small holes in them).

Someone asked what I was hanging. I'm putting in a trio of fixtures that have a round base, and then three aim-able spots on each. Not very heavy, but probably heaver than a standard double incandescent and bowl/cover fixture.

Think I could solder/weld the hickey back in place? Is that a whole new can of worms I don't want to get into?
This is a pretty simply, although somewhat messy project. With the right tools, the project is pretty easy. Were it me, and I didn't have the correct tools, I'd head out to Home Depot, Lowes or Menards and buy them.

Here is what you need:

Milwaukee Sawzall (About $100)
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Buy some good blades like Milwaukee or Lenox:
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100001846

Cut the box out. The sawzall and blades shown above will cut that box into pieces. Cut an access hole as large as is necessary to properly mount a new box, Install blocking between joists if needed.

If the hole ends up being much more than a couple inches larger than the box, you will need to throw some plaster board up there (available at home depot, about $6 for a 4'x8' sheet).

Buy a bag of Durrabond 90, You can use Easysand if you have to, but Durrabond is much better. Mix it by hand, leave it thick, but well mixed. Fill up the entire area around the box with Durrabond, and strike it level with a taping knife or trowel.

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Old 03-19-2009, 01:03 PM   #13
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Only one of them has a broken "hickey" (I've never heard that term in this context before, I assume it refers to the plates on the side with large and small holes in them
thats what i call it and no, its not the clamps that hold the bx...its the nipple that affixes the box to the barhangar
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:04 PM   #14
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Ancient light boxes, how to remove


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Originally Posted by jamiedolan View Post
This is a pretty simply, although somewhat messy project. With the right tools, the project is pretty easy. Were it me, and I didn't have the correct tools, I'd head out to Home Depot, Lowes or Menards and buy them.

Here is what you need:

Milwaukee Sawzall (About $100)
Attachment 9015


Buy some good blades like Milwaukee or Lenox:
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100001846

Cut the box out. The sawzall and blades shown above will cut that box into pieces. Cut an access hole as large as is necessary to properly mount a new box, Install blocking between joists if needed.

If the hole ends up being much more than a couple inches larger than the box, you will need to throw some plaster board up there (available at home depot, about $6 for a 4'x8' sheet).

Buy a bag of Durrabond 90, You can use Easysand if you have to, but Durrabond is much better. Mix it by hand, leave it thick, but well mixed. Fill up the entire area around the box with Durrabond, and strike it level with a taping knife or trowel.

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Old 03-19-2009, 01:22 PM   #15
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Ancient light boxes, how to remove


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Originally Posted by Local Yokel View Post
Only one of them has a broken "hickey" (I've never heard that term in this context before, I assume it refers to the plates on the side with large and small holes in them).

Think I could solder/weld the hickey back in place? Is that a whole new can of worms I don't want to get into?
Here is a picture of a "hickey":


No I don't think you will be able to "solder" it in place, maybe if you had a welder, but thats putting a lot of heat there to do that and there no telling what kind of insulation is on the other side of this box.

Something to try, instead of the "Sawsall' method like Jamie mentioned, is get a large drill bit designed for drilling in metal and just drill the center out. Treat it much like a rivet.

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