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…

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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 eddiefrankdesigns@gmail.com

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.

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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…

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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.

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

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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.)

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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.

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So I rewound a new stator.

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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.

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