Monday, June 30, 2008

The Elusive Western Electric

This fan is a Western Electric 7404. It is stationary. It has brass blades. Someone painted the motor and base red. It looks really good for its age. The fan was manufactured by Robbins & Meyer for Western Electric around 1922. I have three R&M 3804's that are exactely the same but are oscillators. This photo is how it looked as I found it. Now for a little history.

In my hunt for fans I ran across this fan about 3 years ago in an antique store/mall located in a smaller town. The fan was marked extremely high no doubt due to the brass blades and an uneducated antique dealer. I saw it a couple more times over the years but always passed on it due to its high price. Then one day while passing through noticed the fan was gone.

Fast forward at least 1.5 to 2 years.>>>>

Then last Sunday I was antiquing in a town that I hadn't been to in a while and in the last store I turned the corner and almost walked right by when I noticed this familiar fan sitting there on the floor of this booth. I rushed it to check the price (happy to see the fan again) and notice that the price was nearly half the previous. So I went to the desk to inquire about the fan and the lady said well I can give you 10% off... Well I know that... I asked her to call for the B.D. (bottom dollar) she tried but didn't get anywhere. I left my cellphone number and asked her to call but she never did.

I recently realized that I am a hunter of a different kind of animal with the same feeling of conquest as compulsion. Besides the fact that I love just working on them... Oiling, cleaning replacing the cords, refreshing the oil cups, balancing the blades. Okay I am off subject... Sorry

Last weekend, we went to the same town that the fan was in for a little family time. Eating shopping etc... We didn't get to the antiques but that was where my mind was. Then the next day my wife and daughter went off to church camp so me and my son were home alone after Church. We messed around at the house for a while and played hide and seek. My neck was hurting terribly because I slept wrong or something, but all the while I was thinking you know I really need to hunt. So my thoughts fell to this Western Electric because though it was made by R&M I don't actually own a Western Electric and I wanted it. I decided that I would take my son with me and we'd go try to negotiate for that fan.

We drove the several miles to the town and directly to the antique shop where the fan was. I didn't have much time and I was feeling lucky. We went in and walked directly to the back then located a different lady and asked her for the discount. She grabbed the phone right away and a few moments later she said their BD was X, I said "NO, call them back and tell them Y. She hesitated as if to suggest that they'd be put off by this request, but relented and called again. Much to my joy she came back with an approval and a comment that I was lucky because earlier that day they'd made a really good sell so they were willing to loose some money. Yeah right.

Anyway, my son and I celebrated with a drink from McAllister's. We stopped at the river park to look at the rising river and walk and talk a while before returning home.

Tonight I decided to work on the fan. In it's found condition, it looked as if it had been dropped. The cage was pretty bad shape for steel. One of the struts was bent very badly, but that happens with R&M struts. They have a pretty weak point that can bend easily. So I get my cage straightening piece of wood and clamp it in my vice and go to work. Done. Then I re felt the base plate. Done. Re wick and oil the cups. Straighten the blades. Put a lighter cord on it. Rotate the motor 180 degrees. Then we are in business. The paint is not original I am sure and it is old. It is flaking pretty bad, but I like it's look as is plus it just runs cherry. Here is a cell phone picture of it after I cleaned it up.

I am really pleased to add this to the collection. It is a great example of the great fun in antiquing. Have a great day!!!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice to see you back on the blog.I miss your stories.