Friday, August 10, 2012

Restringing an outdoor lighted deer

I have 3 five-foot-tall lighted holiday deer that I like very much.  Plus two smaller deer.  But they are lit with the small incandescent bulbs and the wiring was getting frayed.  I looked for new deer, but couldn't find any like the ones I have.  Replacing them would also create the quandary of how to dispose of the old deer.  They were still good deer.  I couldn't just trash them.

So I rewired them.

I decided to replace the lengths of incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs.  White wire was prohibitively expensive, so I settled on green wire.  I have no idea why green would be cheaper, or more available, than white.  I also don't know where the manufacturers of wire decorations get their lights. I couldn't find any wiring with those nifty clips already attached.  So I settled for zip ties.

Lots and lots of zip ties.

Here are the step by step photos of the restringing.  This is how it looks coming out of the box. Which may explain the fraying wires. (Well, that and the bunnies chewed through some of the wiring.)


This is how it looks assembled. Except this one has a broken antler bracket.  That's why it looks like he has a mane.  His antlers are laying against his neck.



I stripped off the white wire (this is a different deer). At first I was tediously following the wiring to unfasten it. Then I had an epiphany and realized there was no reason to preserve the wire. So I snipped it. Much, much easier to remove.


Because the wire I bought wasn't designed for wire sculptures, I had to string sections at a time, trying not to double the wire or ruin the outline of the sculpture.



In some areas of the structure, it was hard to decide the best direction to run the new wiring.  Liberal use of clothes pins allowed me to test layouts before zip tying.


After zip tying the bulbs, the reindeer looks more like a porcupine.


Here he is completed and looking much better with his antlers repaired.  I fastened the wiring in such a way that the deer can no longer be disassembled for the off season.  This should enable them to look better longer.   Granted, they take up more storage space.



Here is the tableau during the day. (And yes, the small deer in the foreground was done with different wire.  If I get ambitious, I will change him over.)



And here is the tableau at night.  Here the green wire is a non-issue.  And honestly, very few outdoor sculptures look good during the daytime.


I have one final stag to rewire.  I planned on getting them done early last year, but I procrastinated.  I did the 4 in the picture in the two weeks after Thanksgiving of last year.  The fifth spent the season in the garage.

I've promised myself I will finish the last deer next week.  I'm not sure I believe me.

Updated:  I did finish the last deer, but not until December, 2012.

Related:     Red nose for a white wire deer

18 comments :

  1. Great Job! I'm in the same boat and need your advise. Sue, can you tell me what type of lights you used? The length and how many lights per string? I appreciate your time. thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bought inexpensive, generic LED strands from my local Lowes hardware. I bought mostly strands of 100 lights, with a couple extra 50 light strands for filler. The 100-light strands were 25 feet long.

      The large male deer took 500 lights. The large female deer took 450. The small does each took 300 lights. It all depends on how closely you place the bulbs.

      I bought the zip ties at the hardware store in the wiring department. I used one tie per bulb, with a few extra to take care of dangling wires.

      Delete
  2. Menards has LED white wire lights that work great and look like the old ones. No. 284-6014. Now to find the clips. A lot of mine just broke because so brittle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found some clips at buyhardwaresupplies.com. On order so will see when they get here. I have redone 13 of these now and they look terrific.

      Delete
    2. What were the clips listed as? When I searched just for "clips", it came up empty.

      Delete
    3. I think I put bulb clips and deer or something like that to get the wire animals to come up. Think they also had wire sculptures listed too.

      Delete
  3. Found another place for the white clips - http://www.holidayleds.com/holiday_catalog/christmas_light_clips

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am in the process now.. what a job it is! I did the first one with white electrical tape, but now I am ordering clips. It originally had clips but they were disintegrating. One more deer and 1/2 sled to go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a lot of work, but worth it when you see the result. Good luck!

      Delete
    2. I did my two gold flecked metal deer this Christmas thanks to the encouragement of this post. I didn't get around to special clips, but used garden velcro, still a chore but perhaps easier to redo down the road? I bought special glue and gold glitter to patch the swirling soft metal surfaces where glitter has flaked away but decided to do this next year. If you have glitter deer, here is a tip. Don't do this in the dinning room :) Work outside even if it is raining. The glitter gets all over EVERYTHING.

      Delete
    3. Velcro is a wonderful idea. I'll have to snip my zip ties if I ever need to redo a strand.
      Thanks for the tip on the glitter!

      Delete
    4. How does the use of clear fishing line sound to secure both light strings and new grapevine?

      Delete
    5. It would be more subtle, but slower I think. Tying line takes longer than zipping a tie.

      Delete
  5. Sorry if this article was soo long ago but may i know where did you get your wires? Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By wires do you mean the light strands? If so, at the local big box hardware store. You can also get them on-line at Holiday LED Lights, but they are more expensive.

      Delete
    2. I mean the white color wire that you use to make the reindeer. Are those wires? Thanks!

      Delete
    3. Oh, I didn't make the deer. I bought them years before and replaced the lights when they went bad.

      The deer appear to be made out of a type of rebar. Maybe 1/4"?

      Delete