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I grew up in the Calumet Region of Northern Indiana when the blast furnaces and rolling mills still lit up the shore of Lake Michigan at night. The rusty red sky was a familiar sight.

“Da Region” was full of automobile bone yards and I couldn’t wait to get inside those beat-up corrugated steel gates. My brothers and I tore apart every mechanical thing we could get our hands on. Even put some back together.

We worked heavy construction –pipelines and chemical plants- in the summers and one year we blew the whole wad on Triumph motorcycles… that we bought in England and rode all over the British Isles. We had the only non café racers on the Isle of Man. We would later spend many years in SCCA road racing and we ran in the Bosch Super Vee series against the Semi-trailered “Sons of Indy” in the 80’s. No sleep, No money, No vacation left. I would do it all again in a blink.

As a teen-ager, I raced my ‘57 Chevy’s at US 30 drag strip and out on the “dead end” of highway 80/94 before it was finished. Old cars and motorcycles of all types were always making new oil spots on our driveway.

I’ve always had a project car somewhere but having run out of room I turned to something I could keep on a bench. The Piston Lamps started as a way to make use of a bunch of Porsche 911 pistons and cylinders I had left over after an ill advised, but educational rebuild. I started picking up pistons from other old engines and then I found the Jacobs 5 inch aircraft pistons. This big piston fell right into a reawakened interest in WWII Warbirds for me. Aircraft pistons are all interesting and many from the 40’s are huge.

I studied Advertising Art at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana so I sometimes draw out lamp ideas first and then try a lot of different combinations before I get the design right. They have to have a solid look and feel. If I wouldn’t have it on my desk, I change it or start over. I think I have come up with quite a few nice designs. The Flathead Ford Lamp is a favorite. It just came together. I had a picture of it in my head before it was even started. Now I search for rare or vintage pistons for one-of-a-kind desk lamps. Finding them leads to searching out the history of an engine or the builder, like Art Sparks. Sparks was a Hollywood stunt man/genius engine and car builder in the 30’s and 40’s who perfected the forged piston. His brand, Forged True, lives on today.

Thanks for your interest and I hope you find a Piston Lamp that will light up your desk and make you want to get out there in the garage, all at the same time.

Light em up!





Flying Cirlce H Metal
dave@flyingcircleh.com - 630.624.6618