Just like anything, there are a variety of ways to approach the restoration of a fan. These methods vary from professional to down right dangerous! The goal of a professional restoration is to achieve perfection in the eyes of the restorer. Most restorers I know are so obsessed with perfection that the result is spectacular. However, remember that just because a restoration looks good to the casual observer does not mean that it is a “professional” restoration. The purpose of this series of articles is to educate our readers in what the contributors to White Glove Fans’ do for a typical high-end restoration. Many of us restore desk fans full time. What we all hold in common is that the restoration process is extremely time consuming and an exercise of passion.
– Tim Marks, Editor
The Quick-and-Dirty Restoration – an Overview
By Josh Backens
Quick-and-dirty is one way to restore a fan although this is not my preferred method. Just like anyone, when I started out restoring I cut several corners just to get an antique done. We have all been there; the restorative arts are a practice that is learned by trial and error, after all. There is nothing wrong with someone passionate about the fan world restoring a fan to the best of their abilities and budget. However, there is a difference in the quality of this restoration compared to a professional restoration.
A professional restoration begins with a complete tear down. By this I mean complete disassembly of all parts: Every nut and bolt is removed, the motor housing is separated, stator and rotor removed, speed choke and switch removed and wiring labeled. If a complete disassembly isn’t done, it’s not a restoration at all even if it looks like a pretty fan on the outside. This is because there are a variety of very important tasks that need to be taken care of inside of the fan.
In the case of a quick-and-dirty restoration, the restorer will typically use stripper from a local hardware store and strip the part down to bare metal. Or, they simply sand the part in preparation for the next step with sand paper or a wire wheel. Once the part is either sanded, scuffed, or stripped, a spray can or more commonly known as a “rattle can” is used to paint the part. The paint process is done in a matter of minutes and does not produce a desirable result. Sure, from afar one may not see the imperfections a of a rattle can paint job, but up close it very dull and hazy, full of imperfections and orange peel (when paint has the contour of a peel of an orange). The paint may not even last long on the part, especially if a primer wasn’t used.
Next, the quick-and-dirty restoration will deal with the fan’s brass parts. Usually, this is as simple as a little steel wool and a variety of brass polishing products found at any retail store. Again, from afar the part may look to have a shiny appearance, but up close there are scratch marks all over the wings/struts/and cage. Some pitting corrosion still remains and is very noticeable. The worst part is that many of these imperfections are not easily seen in pictures. If the buyer saw the fan in person, it would be obvious just how significant the difference between a quick-and-dirty restoration and a professional restoration is. I personally know people who have been burned in the past purchasing a so-called “restored” fan from the web.
There is a place for any type of restoration, and if you are the one performing the restoration than this is your decision to make. However if you are shopping for a perfect fan then you deserve to know the difference. In the next installment of this blog I will overview the process of a complete and professional restoration.