The Tank and The Emerson

After taking a break from blogging, I have felt the need to update my website. As a vast majority of the new clients I seem to be getting are coming from here. I honestly have been so busy with life and restoring fans, and updating my home that I just haven’t had the time.

But you’re here to read about antique fans, not my busy life. So lets get down to it. I recently finished a project for a client who wanted two fans restored. One is antique white, the other is gloss black. I can’t tell you which is my favorite.

Lets start with the white one. I picked an antique white for the color, and added a little gold flake to the clear coat (unless you’re in the right light, it’s very hard to see). The color is beige base coat, with automotive clear coat. Per the client, I had all the brass sent out to be nickel plated. This turned out extremely beautiful and will be doing this to future projects.

The white fan is what is known as a “tank fan”. As you can see in the pictures, it’s built like a tank, hence the name. This particular model is a Western Electric Victor Tank, although the “tank” model was popularized by Westinghouse, other fan companies such as Western Electric, R & M and Dayton re-badged and sold this type of fan as well. Outside of GE fan’s, tanks are by far my favorite.


The second fan is an Emerson 1010 model. The fan, like I said above, was painted in Automotive Gloss Black, base-coat, clear coat. All the brass was clean and polished. Even though this is a normal, bread and butter restoration ( Black Paint, Polished Brass) I am really proud of this fan. It seems like the more I work on these fans, and the more I practice this craft, the better the product is. Practice makes perfect I suppose.


Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of the Victor Tank, but the little Emerson turned out just as good in my opinion. If you’d like to see all of the pictures of these two projects please click on the links below. As always, any questions or comments are appreciated. If you would like to get into contact with me, please send inquiries to [email protected]

Victor Tank Restoration

Emerson 1010 Restoration

What Is an Antique Fan?

I get this question, a lot. I also get “So I have this fan and it’s really old and I just want it to look brand new.” And more times than not their fan, isn’t that old. The way that true collectors distinguish fans is ‘Antique’ and ‘Vintage’. Antique is anything before 1950, and Vintage is anything after 1950. So some people have fans that are 1950’s and while yes thats old, in the grand scheme of things it’s not that old compared to the 1904 fan I restored for a client earlier this year.

Now when it comes to restoring fans, I try to not go over 1920’s. Sure if you have anything after that and you want it to run again, I have no problem rewiring it and making sure the blade is balanced, but to put a brand new restoration on a fan that isn’t that rare, just isn’t financially smart. If you take a fan thats only worth $100 and I put a “over $500” restoration on it, it’s still only worth $100. But if you take let’s say a complete GE Coin-Op (by complete I mean it has everything in working order) that is valued at $1000 and I put the same restoration on it, it’s now worth $1500-$3000. Now I have had some people who are willing to spend the money on a $50-100 fan because it’s a family heirloom or they remember their grandfather running it at his desk and they just want it to look brand new and they want it to run again. Thats fine, but be warned, I will give you the same spiel I just gave you here. When I do a restoration on a fan that’s only worth $100, I feel bad charging someone 5-6 times that and the value not increase.

I also try to stay away from fan’s 1920’s and newer because, well for a lack of better words, they’re crappier. Stamped Steel to Aluminum to Plastic…no, no and hell no! Give me your cast iron, your brass, your old fans yearning to run free! (Those who know what it says at the base of the statue of liberty will like that reference.) Face it the old fans, just like anything else were made better, sturdier and unfortunately gave way to the cheaper, more mass-producible (is that a word?) products. GE made some 300,000 fans between 1894-1908…pretty sure a small fan company could do that in a week now.

So is your fan “old”? Compared to a dyson-no-blade fan, yes. Is it important to you because its been in your family for 50 years? Absolutely! Will I restore it to brand new? If that is truly what your heart desires. But I will strongly advise against it. I have no problem rewiring it, and balancing the blade. I’ll clean the cob webs out and put some new oil in it, but I’m not in the business of taking advantage of an unsuspecting client. I’m in the business of Making Old, New.

Feather Vane Take Over

Here’s a project that was handed down to me. When my dad took over at Fanimation to start working solely for Mr. Frampton, some of his “client projects” were then handed down to me. Which was great. They are great learning experiences and I’m happy to take them on. This one, though, was way out of my league. The client wanted it to look old, so I did my magic on that. The tough part, was all the moving parts. The motor of this fan, sits on two bearings that help it oscillate. Also there’s this feather (hence the name ‘feather vane’) that makes the fan oscillate. With a host of other issues and components you don’t find on your every day antique fan, it was definitely out of my league.

This project, however, got the full meal deal. Completely restored, to look old. All the hardware was aged, and a special paint was used to give it that old timey look. I sent it out to someone else, to have the pin stripes put on, because if I’m being honest, I didn’t want to take the time to do them.  All the internal guts were cleaned up and rewired as I have done in the past. So take a look and let me know what you think…


Coin-Op Clean Up

Not all restorations are as invasive as, tearing it down, sandblasting the paint, laying primer, painting, rewiring, cleaning the hardware, etc. Sometimes a restoration is as simple as putting a fresh coat of polish on the old paint, or buffing the brass blade and cage. Sometimes it just needs some TLC with a stator rewire. I guess what I’m trying to say is, some fans don’t need to look like a million bucks, to be a million bucks.

I had a client send me this GE Coin-Op fan, and honestly the only things it needed was a rewire job, a fresh coat of polish on the paint and I left it at that after looking at the outside. Now, once I got into the bones of working on this, it turned into a little more expense, as internal working parts were broken. But we got that figured out, no problem.

I always start coin-ops with breaking them down, piece by piece to figure out what I need to make this thing run again. I knew it would need a stator rewire, and the rotor would need to be cleaned.

As you can see the rotor (top) and the stator (bottom) both were dirty, and were in need of the attention.DSCN0059DSCN0061

I cleaned the rotor and I rewired the stator. I also cleaned the metal of the stator as you can see in the pictures below. DSCN0065DSCN0064

After a few other replacement parts were acquired, the fan was put back together. DSCN0038

It’s also important to note, the original bank door (the big metallic circle just below) was still intact. Normally we make these out of brass, but this had the original door so I left it as it was.DSCN0042DSCN0047

These fans are difficult to work on, when you first start. Even after restoring or working on probably around 15 at this point, I still run into problems. But once you get a hang of the basics, they become enjoyable to work on.

Have any questions about your coin-op or your antique fan in general? Send it over to [email protected]

Best Fan of the Year

Wow, it’s been almost a year since my last posting. Not that I was making that many postings anyway, but jeeze. I was really busy this year, everything from really getting out on my own, to special projects (I can’t put into writing), to winning Best Restoration of the Year. Yep it was a busy, but good year.

Although, 2018 looks like it might be even busier. I’m booked with fan restorations until at least July, I’m getting married in May and new clients are contacting me every day. This should be my outlet though. Maybe I can get on here more. Get some more of my work out there and get some more followers.

But let’s talk about the highlight of 2017, the coveted AFCA Best Restoration of the Year. All of the entries had to be a certain type of fan. 2017’s fan type was the Emerson 29646. I ended up restoring two of them, one for fun and one for the entry. I didn’t get any pictures of the other entries but I did get pictures of my own. Albeit, the pictures aren’t the greatest.

So each fan, was custom painted and all the hardware, ie; the acorn nuts, the grommets, the screws were custom made on a metal lathe out of brass stock. The clear coat on the crimson fan (the BFOTY winner) has gold flake. The guards and blades were sent to a friend of mine to be nickel plated. With a design, for both, in my mind, I got to work.


It was exciting, and humbling all at the same time. Although not a huge or well known event, I just remember being speechless as my dad (the guy who taught me how to do all this stuff) handed me my awards.

I look forward to 2018 and maybe another award. But honestly I just look forward to all the projects I’m working on, and all the future projects coming down the road.

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!

Antique(d) Lamps!!!

So I know I’m a guy, and I also love pinterest…but I’m not telling any of the firefighters I work with about this love I have. About a year ago and I found something very (p)interesting…”steam punk” lamps…I fell in love…but I’m not paying $200-$300 for them on etsy…so why not make them?

So that’s what I did. Sometimes I sit at home and just come up with designs…and then, I make them. Easy, right? Wrong…putting the pipe together is, yes, the easy part. However, unless you know how to wire something, it’s a little difficult…

Let me be clear, I know enough about electricity to electrocute myself, and unless you know how to wire something, properly I would NOT try this without checking your wired mess with a professional, or someone who knows exactly what they are doing.

Now, when I start any project, I like to have everything laid out in front of me, this way when I need it, it’s right there in front of me…



Now after this I usually try to follow a set of (crudely drawn) plans I have made for myself. I hook up all the lighting and wiring hardware and bring it to a junction box…


After all the parts are hooked up, its working, I break it all down. Some parts I use myself don’t match the black pipe I use. So, how do I make a brand new piece look close to the black pipe, or at least old? I drop it into a vat of agin solution. Now I’m lucky, my workshop is down the road from an “antique” hardware store who stock this aging solution. But I’m sure you can buy it online. But this is an example of what it will do for you if you’re looking for new shiny metal, to look old…(make sure you wire wheel it first)


I use that solution like it’s going out of style. The best thing about it…you can use it over and over again! Make sure you’re wearing gloves…it is technically an acid on the pH scale. Anyway, to make a long story short, I’ve made several of these lamps…here are a few…

This one was for a friend of mine, it has a turn knob for the on/off and a usb plug-in for a charging station.img_0195


This one was the first I built, with a flip switch and a usb port.img_8119

Anyway, leave a comment below, share or give it a thumbs up…Have BRIGHT day!

1907 G.E. Pancake

Sorry I started this blog with the sole intention of posting at least once a week, but I just never found the time during the holiday season…So lets start 2017 off with a cool breeze.

Step right up and see the amazing “Electric Fan” brought to you by General Electric…This model is a 1906-07 GE Pancake with 110/115 Volts – 60 Cycles.

Working on antiques, especially old antique fans, brings a certain nostalgia to the equation. If you think to yourself, “this fan was made in the first part of the 20th century…where has it been? Who owned this fan? Why did it end up where I or whoever found it?” These are all good questions, but the most important question, at least for me is, “how do I breath life back into this fan?” And really when restoring any antique, thats the most important question.

Short of wiping the dust off and setting it somewhere, there is a better way to display your fan…and that’s ‘restored’. Restored and working is exactly how I like my fans. There’s the group that likes their fan’s untouched, and the group that likes their wiring redone (that way when you plug it in, your house doesn’t catch on fire) . But I’m in the group that likes it to be restored back to the original, working condition. And maybe make it look even a little better.

When I was given this fan…it was a pile of scrap. I had to but some parts and even make some of them! Anyway, heres some pictures to enjoy…





So, thats the 1906/07 GE Pancake Fan. I love these things, so I’m sure you’ll see more. (Ironically, I don’t really like pancakes for my breakfasts)


Repurposing with a purpose…

This desk was given to me by my dad when I was 12, so 18 years ago…and his parents bought it new in the 60’s…so the desk was well over 50 years old. I used it to do homework on, then after college I used it to pay bills and write “important” things down. Then after I got my grandmothers antique roll top desk…it became a catch-all.

At this time I was well into tattooing, a short lived career outside of the firehouse, and I had this metal and faux wood drawing table that wouldn’t work half the time…so thats where I saw an opportunity…a purpose to repurpose.

I took this left handed writing table/desk and I decided this will be my new drawing table. I put it in the garage and got to work! First I took the whole top off which you can’t tell from the pictures, but used to be one piece. I measured it out and cut it so that one of the pieces could be propped up like a drawing table. Next I took the hardware from the old drawing table and pieced it together to work with the new one…Also I added a piece of shoe molding so that it would catch any drawing paper while the desk was propped up…

As you can see from the pictures I had also stripped the stain and sanded down any imperfections before I made any cuts. I did run into one problem, that being the long space where a drawer used to go, could no longer go in because of the drawing table hardware.img_4162

After it was sanded down and the shoe molding was applied I added little marks like shown above to give it a more distressed feel.


This was the finished product, after stain was applied, the only thing I did after this was sprayed it with a clear sealer. There was a lot more I could have done but wanted it to look more distressed than a brand new piece of furniture.

Let me know what you think!