If you want to build a Steampunk – Victorian – Dr. Frankenstein lab in your garage this weekend, here are some suggestions of where to “get that look”. Suggestions always welcome.
X-RAy-Tube sparks regulator
Spark regulators work by adjusting the distance between two conductors such that a spark will flow with sufficient voltage difference to cross the gap. The mechanism is used for switching in things like Tesla coils, but their size is generally less impressive than this fine pair of brass cojones.
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Any kind of Tesla device will do, from coils to plasma balls. we’ve covered coils in a separate list, so how about a nice Jacob’s Ladder.
Large Knife Switch
For that authentic re-animator moment, you will need the largest knife switch that you can find. An ordinary rocker switch would be pathetic. Preferably it should be made of brass and Bakelite.
Clearly not Victorian, but for a late 20’s setting, magnetic coil meters from as late as the 40s will do. Like these, they can be gotten for around $40.
Glass Distilling Apparatus
The classic experiment in the background of all mad scientist labs, involves some form of distillation, since this involves complicated glassware with spiral condensers. A Friedrichs condenser is particularly attractive.The kit above will set you back $90, but you will need some large flasks, retort stands and an old brass Bunsen burner.
Van de Graaf generator
Mad hair is the cliche of mad scientist labs, despite the fact that the scientists and mad hair post dates their Victorian to late Edwardian setting. For instant mad hair you need 1,000,000 volts of static charge. A Van de Graaf generator will do this easily
Gelatin Model Corpse
Corpus Delicti (body of a crime) is a theater performance where a realistic dissection is performed on a gelatin model caste from a cadaver. You really want one of these.
Shelves should be lined with cylindrical or bell jar specimens suspended in formaldehyde, and on the table, as big a vacuum pump bell jar that you can find or improvise.
Surgeons Head Mirror
Every profession has its outfit. The mad scientist one is easy – a white lab coat, but as a result can look like a cheap Halloween outfit. Invest in a decent authentic head mirror, they still make them
DiY Saline Electrode Set
This is from a page labeled build your own EEG at home. Clearly only a mad person would to do that. Such genius.
Gas Lamp Chandelier
Obligatory gas lighting is an absolute pre-requisite for the Victorian lab look, despite the fact that the lab will be decorated with a multitude of early electrical devices
Antique Diving Shoes
Frankenstein’s monster was really big and needed really solid shoes. Antique diving shoes are perfect. The crippling effect on the ability to walk on dry land, will have someone wandering around like Dr. F’s monster in no time. Good luck finding them.