Remembering/Restoring The Past

One day when I was fifteen, my family stopped to pay my grandparents a visit as we often did, while we were there I decided to rummage around in my grandparents shed. Inside the shed I came across an old metal fan sitting on a shelf. It looked like it had been there for a hundred years, it was caked in dirt and covered in a thick layer of dust. The fan was in pretty rough shape. What was left of the paint that I could see was very dark green in color, almost black in appearance. All of the screws and fan blades were made of brass, although I did not know it at the time as they were heavily corroded and dirty. The cloth covered electrical cord was frayed and it had several spots that had been “repaired” with tape. Overall it left a very poor impression, a candidate for the garbage dump I thought.

I brought it into the house to ask my grandfather about it. While we were talking I slowly came to the realization that my grandfather was rather fond of this fan, it had only been relegated to the shed because it was not safe to have around children, or pets. He told my the blades were brass, which I found hard to believe as they certainly did not look like brass to me. He went on, as some folks do, about how they don’t make things like they used to, and how much better this was than a modern fan. I questioned him on this, since the fan certainly did not look “better” than the nice shiny plastic fan they had in their house. He insisted it was better, and to make his point he declared, without having touched the fan for at least 10 years, that it still worked! As a typical fifteen year old, I responded, “No Way!”. He proceeded to plug the fan in and turn it on, to my amazement it started up with out hesitation. I sounded like a small airplane, and my grandfather was quick to remind me not to get anywhere near it, as it could “take your finger off”.

A couple of years later my grandfather passed away, and my family moved to accompany my grandmother. I asked my grandmother if I could clean up the old fan in the shed and she gave me permission to. I dove head long into the task. I took the fan apart, and as typical for a headstrong, impatient and foolish fifteen year old, I managed to break the gearbox and the head wires. I was pretty upset about it, but my dad helped me repair the gearbox using epoxy, it was agreed that it would be ok if the fan didn’t work, since it was “dangerous to fingers”. I cleaned up the metal as best I could, or rather as much as I was patient enough for. I painted the fan black and polished the brass. I looked good, it just didn’t work any more, and it served as a “knick-knack” for the next 23 years.

A couple of months ago, I pulled down the old knick-knack from its high cupboard perch in the kitchen to dust it off. While I was cleaning it, for some reason I decided now was time to fix it, and to refinish it correctly. I started by stripping the fan down completely, even removing the motor from it’s housing so I could fix the head wires on the motor. My impatience during my my first attempt to refinish the fan was evident by simply looking at the parts, the rust had not been completely removed and it left many areas with a rough finish through the paint. I had also attempted to reassemble the fan before the paint had fully cured which left many handling blemishes. This time, I stripped all of the paint off the parts by soaking the parts in lacquer thinner. There was still quite a bit of rust on the parts, more than I remember leaving there the first time. I did not want to lose any more metal, sanding was out of the question, so I soaked all of the parts in a rust removing solution, this removed all of the rust and left the remaining metal intact. The old epoxy I used on the gearbox was still holding strong, and I filled any visible cracks with new epoxy. I filled what pitting was on the metal with epoxy and refinished all the metal parts in Hunter Green enamel paint. The brass was polished and clear coated to prevent any further corrosion. New fabric covered electrical cord replaced the old, new grease was added to the gearbox, and new 3-in-1 motor oil was added to the oil cups. After 2 months of work, the fan looks great, and now it runs great as well, no longer a candidate for the dump……….

Front Left..
1927 GE AOU Fan Pic 3

Back Right..
1927 GE AOU Fan Pic 4

1927 GE AOU Fan Pic 5

1927 GE AOU Fan Pic 6

Front Right Running..
1927 GE AOU Fan Pic 1

Front Left Running..
1927 GE AOU Fan Pic 2

Video Running, Stationary..


Video Running, Oscillating..


This entry was posted in Family. Bookmark the permalink.