Cool Air for 5 Cents

I’ve done quite a few of these just in the past few months. I work with my dad who is an incredible wealth of knowledge and has probably done well over 100 of these “GE Coin-Ops”. But this one was fascinating and according to my dad, had to be perfect. With part of the fan body being filled in with bondo (body filler), perfectly polished brass and high gloss clear coat over black paint, I did my best.

Like I said when my dad gave me this project, he told me it had to be perfect. I took that as a challenge. I have done three of these in the past two months. Learning the mechanical mechanisms of these fans (Coin-Ops) is tough. There’s so many parts that make these fans take a nickel, turn on, run for an hour and then shut off, begging you to drop another 5 cent piece to get air for another hour.

The GE Coin-Op was located in hotel and motels across the US in the first part of the 20th Century (circa 1915). For an hour of cool air on a warm summer day it would cost you 5 cents or $1.20 in 2017. The inner workings were very meticulous and very well thought out.

Here’s what I started with. It’s not bad looking and not in terrible condition, but it’s definitely not perfect…


I started with this fan as I start with any fan. Making sure it works! After that I took it apart and made sure there weren’t any broken pieces. But of course there were. I’ve yet to find an antique fan that was in perfect condition. I’m not going to go into everything I did, but I will say I sandblast the body of any fan I work on and after this was complete I bondo-ed the holes in the base.


Now the tiny holes you see are for rivets for holding tags, so I definitely didn’t want to bondo those.


After that I put it into primer, sanded the primer and did some “spot checking”, which are little tiny imperfections that don’t need bondo just a small filler. The biggest was the switch gap. I had done a little work to it before primer but I wanted it nice and smooth. (By the way, Bondo is white, the spot filler is red.)



After all this was finished, I sanded down the spot filler and put it into paint and clear coat. After clear coat, I get about a week to do everything else that needs to be done. First was the hardware, I puller the blades apart, cleaned them, polished them, put them back together and then balanced and re-pitched the blade. All the hardware was cleaned and the brass hardware was polished and clear coated.

Then onto electrical. The stator on this fan was in bad shape. After years and years of being ran, the copper wiring basically burned itself.


So I rewound a new stator.


I also cleaned the housing it goes to, but thats what a restoration is. Everything gets checked, everything gets attention. Otherwise, I don’t want my name on it. Every single aspect of every single project I take on, gets attention. These fans I dod for customers, get their tags restored, new electrical wiring, blades cleaned and balanced, new paint. And on the coin-ops…they usually need new parts that either have to be machined or have to be bought. And this one was no different, but in the end, it’s worth it.


I hope you enjoyed it as much as I. If so, leave a like, leave a comment or share it! Thank You!

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