Weird/Quack medicine from the past: Sun-Kraft UV lamp

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Weird/Quack medicine from the past: Sun-Kraft UV lamp


Post by asavage » 7 years ago

I've inherited this blast from the past: A Sun-Kraft (Chicago, Ill.) Model A-1 UV lamp.

It looked too dangerous to donate to a thrift store, but too cool to throw away, so I stashed it to deal with later. Well, later has arrived, and I dragged it out today and did some research or sorts.

(click on any image for larger)

Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

If you've got some time, you might enjoy the Sun-Kraft promo At the End of the Rainbow. Part One is fairly dull, but Part Two had me howling with mirth.

From the Prelinger Archives, curated by
Part One (from (or, from my server)
Part Two (from (or, from my server)
scientificos on eBay wrote:Rare Sun-Kraft Lamps such as Disc Model Original Sun-Kraft 'Superman' Lamp and dual 8W lamp unit plus JRs. and H-1 Lamp all original Sun-Kraft. These lamps were the Pride of Chicago and mfg. in what is now downtown Chicago on West Superior St. They were unique for their wireless UV Ozone Quartz Tubes and bright stainless steel MACHINE AGE styling. Using just a little over 20 watt they produced large amounts of Ozone as well as Short Wave Ultraviolet that would give the user/owner a tan in those dark and cold Chicago winters. You can find the lamps in almost every antique or used items store in the Midwest although the manuals may be missing. [ . . . ] Machine Age Gizmo Technology and are the reason people would shell out about a week's wages just to purchase one of these lamps for their good health and maintenance. As we now know, Ozone is not healthy for you or is questionable unless you are treating some respiratory ailement that is thus benefited, and SW Short Wave UV Ultraviolet known as Short Wave (UVC) can cause cancer from enough exposure, although dermatologists STILL use this waveband of light to cure or treat psoriasis and other skin ailements.

Current Values of Sun-Kraft Lamps as recorded by purchase price on various websites as of 6/1/12 are as follows >>>

Sun-Kraft A-1 with Hard Case or Soft Case in GOOD COSMETIC and WORKING CONDITION >>> $30.00 to $85.00+ if Exceptionally Clean and with wearable goggles and case and full literature and tags.

Sun-Kraft H-1 with built-in Infrared Heating Element with Hard Case or Soft Case in GOOD COSMETIC and WORKING CONDITION >>> $65.00 to $150.00+ if Exceptionally Clean and with wearable goggles and case and full literature and tags.

Sun-Kraft Original ' S - Superman Model ' with original case and in GOOD COSMETIC and WORKING CONDITION is currently $375.00 to $1200.00+ due to the scarcity of this 1933-1934 orig. design product. This Circular Dishbowl model is anticipated to fetch upwards of $2,500 in the next 5 years and only a few dozen are known to exist.

Finally the Sun-Kraft Jr. which is highly prized by Sun-Kraft lovers is currently fetching from $65.00 to $500.00 depending on condition and accessories provided (top price only if hand strap is pristine and outside surface is glossy and not pitted Aluminum).

There were also several hundred DUAL 8W Standard SW Sun-Kraft Test Marketed Lamps which used plug-in UV Arched lamps same as found in UVP Products UVC Shortwave UV Bakelite Handsets produced in the 1940's and 1950's and these units are appraised value by our estimation at $250.00 to $500.00+ and UP depending on condition due to their scarcity.

Sun-Kraft Mercury Bulbs are currently valued @ $6.00 each delivered to purchasers
Power Tubes (Sun-Sol) @ $4.00 each and TWIN Power Tubes for Sun-Kraft Jr. valued at $10/set
Eye Goggles (rubber or hard plastic white) we purchase for $4.00 delivered per set.

When doing a search on ebay remember looking at BOTH spellings of Sun-Kraft & SunKraft

ALL SUN-KRAFT LAMPS were produced in Downtown Chicago which makes them one of the most sought after and collectible Machine Age U.S. mfg. Innovations from early to the mid 20th Century.

As Seen in the New York City 1939 World's Fair

A-1 and H-1 and Jr. and S-1 and UVC2 Sun-Kraft Lamps ALL produce 253.7nm SW Ultraviolet UV + OZONE which can be Hazardous to your Health. - d.k.a./scientificos
Sun-Kraft apparently went bankrupt in 1957.

From what I'm reading, these things were/are pretty darned dangerous to use. From a comment about Part Two above, on
carl willis wrote:May 10, 2009
Subject: Interesting history and technical details

I got a Sun-Kraft lamp at a flea market a year or so ago, and found this video by way of an Internet search for details. The video is quite entertaining to watch, especially the glassblower making the quartz discharge tubes, the line workers assembling the electronics, and of course the explanation of the vintage science that largely drove the lamp's popularity as a domestic appliance.

Of course, it's understood today that quartz-mercury lamps like this produce mostly very damaging UVC radiation and not much UVB (desired for tanning and rickets prevention). So those people who want to use a Sun-Kraft for tanning or "medical" purposes are getting on the Skin Cancer Express. These are really very dangerous if used as advertised half a century ago, so take the medical message from the video with a grain of salt.

A few technical details about the lamp from my own experience: it does use shortwave RF energy (~15 watts, at 18 MHz) developed by a push-pull Class-C vacuum tube oscillator in the lamp base that is driven off unrectified, unfiltered 115-VAC line voltage. Tube filament power is inefficiently obtained with a beefy wirewound dropping resistor right off the line, and this is responsible for most of the power consumption in the circuit. The quartz discharge tube in the head is capacitively coupled to the high-impedance open feeders that come out of the oscillator in the base. When the lamp is turned on, it takes about ten seconds for the tubes to warm up and RF power to be produced. At this point the blue mercury discharge ignites and a stench of ozone fills the air in front of the bulb. If you have trouble getting your lamp to start, try repositioning the feeders and make sure the metal strip along the back of the quartz tube is in good contact with it. It is safe to touch the lamp electrodes during operation, but you might get a small RF burn.

The lamps are good for making ozone, for sterilizing the living shit out of cutting boards and the like, for neutralizing bathroom odors, for exciting fluorescent minerals and uranium glass, etc. But again...if you are using a Sun-Kraft for irradiation of a person, you're a bonehead and that's all there is to it. Be safe!
Here's a link to ones that sold (or didn't sell) on eBay recently.

I will say that this thing is constructed with a commendable lack of plastic.
Last edited by asavage 7 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Nissan_Ranger » 7 years ago

Now that was a fascinating thing to see and read about!
The old 'six gun' was as popular as the cell phone in its time and just as annoying when it went off in the Theater.

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Post by plenzen » 7 years ago

That is one bizarre piece of equipment.

I like the part about sterilizing the shit out of a cutting board.

You have to wait till Antiques Road Show comes to town and collect your $100,000.00 + for a "Mint in working condition piece of witchcraft "
$80.00 to the first collector/rube that stops by.

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