Fanning is typically a relaxing and enjoyable activity, but there are plenty of times when a day in the workshop ends with more setbacks than there are accomplishments. There are a few problematic aspects of restoring antique fans that will periodically occur as you gain more experience with this hobby. I'd like to talk about a few of them.
Head Wire Woes
When a 100 year old head wire (the wire that goes from the base of the fan to the motor itself) rots, you can be sure that your repair could get interesting. In the perfect case, a fan will have a great condition head wire and replacing this wiring will be as simple as some solder and heat shrink. More likely your old fan will have a rotted head wire that crumbles away in front of you as you inspect it closer and closer to the motor. In these cases sometimes the only solution is fan surgery or a full replacement motor winding. Subject for a future blog!
Jaws of Death: Buffing Wheels
Buffers can be your best friend or worst enemy. While they are a necessary tool to obtain a mirror finish polishing brass, they can also rip your precious parts right out of your hands and send them flying across your shop! As you learn how to properly buff a fan blade assembly or individual wings, you are bound to make all kinds of mistakes. Even an experienced restorer may occasionally drop a a blade or get it pulled out of your hands. The absolute worst feeling is spending a lot of time polishing a delicate brass cage only to see it crushed by your buffing wheel in the blink of an eye. Remember to always be careful!
Professional painters are well aware of the woes in paint finishes. Fisheye, solvent pop, runs, etc. All of these problems can be prevented with a good painting process but every now and then we all make mistakes or get thrown a curve ball. The trouble with paint problems is that in many cases you have to start from scratch, literally blasting the finish you worked so hard to achieve right off of the fan.
No matter how careful you are, the parts on an antique fan are so small that eventually you may lose one or two. Spare parts will save your butt here. Also, having the ability to fabricate new parts is a useful tool for this frustrating problem.
Parts arrive on antique fans already broken or break during a restoration process because of their age and fragility. Having the know-how to repair or fabricate parts is critical. Keep reading White Glove Fans to learn these tricks.