Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Broken Dollhouse Chandelier

The chandelier in my dollhouse nursery has not been lighting for a long time.  Trying to trouble shoot the copper tape wiring I found out that there were 2 problems.

Problem #1 - No Juice:  After connecting the transformer and using the two prong tester, there is no ‘juice’ to the copper tape strip that the chandelier is hooked to.  Tracing back I had to figure out how the electricity was getting up to the 3rd floor where the chandelier is attached (through the ceiling of the 2nd floor room, I had wired the chandelier into a tape strip on the floor of the 3rd level).  Finally I found my old wiring diagram and followed the tape down.  This is how you troubleshoot a wiring problem.  First – hopefully you created a diagram of your wiring when you first installed it.  Second, use the two prong electrical tester and backtrack toward the area where lights are working, pushing the tester into the wallpaper where you think there is a copper tape strip.  Problem #1 was a bad connection between tape runs on 2nd and 3rd level.  I’ve taken wiring classes from several people including Tim Kraft (Illuminations by Mr. K), John Fowler (of The Little Dollhouse Company in Canada) and they are a wealth of info.  Tim is a proponent of soldering wherever possible and now I see why.  Those brads I installed years ago must not have survived the years and the move /months of storage by the moving company.   I soldered that connection and now I have JUICE!.  I hope I won’t have a problem there again.  Ooh, if I could just go back and solder everywhere I have had to troubleshoot my wiring!!!

Problem #2 - After all this troubleshooting, the fixture still doesn't work -- wires must be broken (from me hitting it so many times while rearranging items on shelves, etc!  Finally I had to remove it and take it apart.  So sad!  It was so cute and irreplaceable (sad face).

Lessons Learned in Dollhouse Wiring:

1.   Make a wiring diagram.  Try to record distances of “L” runs from doorways, windows, heights of sconce runs, etc.
2.   If using copper tape, keep the height consistent throughout the dollhouse (Tim Kraft uses a jig that holds a pencil that you use to draw around the entire room so all tape is applied at that height).
3.   Solder all the connections (where you would have used brads – once you learn it’s very easy).  This prevents them popping out down the line.
4.   Cover all the solder joints (and bradded joints if you refuse to solder) with a piece of clear Scotch tape.  This protects the joint from paint, wallpaper, humidity.  Also prevents paint from getting into the brad joint and shorting it out.
5.   Attach door jamb covers with wood strips and only a FEW dots of glue everywhere you have continued the wire tape around a doorway.  I rely on these easily removable door jambs to test the copper tape because it is the only place you can see the tape.  Also testing it there doesn’t poke holes in your wallpaper.
6.   Make wood flooring removable.  I have made many tape joints on the dollhouse floor to skip past a door or past a previous failed joint to an outlet, etc.  Some of my flooring is all one piece and I can slide it in and out.  The baseboards are glued to the wall only so the floor is kept in place by the baseboards.
7.   Install chandeliers LAST (after all wallpaper, window & door trim, cornice and baseboard molding, flooring). I broke this chandelier by hitting it with my hand every time I put my hand into the room.  Eventually the tiny wires just broke.

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