Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tribute Fan

Earlier this year I received an email from Dick Boswell about a lady who was trying to sell her father's fan collection. His name was Ken Grable. He was a member of the AFCA a few years ago. Ken had lung cancer. His daughter, Heather was wanting to sell the remainder of his collection. She wanted help posting them on the BST forum and Dick wanted to know if I'd help. I posted the pictures and contact information and they did not sell.Last month my wife and I had the opportunity visit some family that lives in Jefferson City, MO. I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to go by and see this collection in person on our way home. I made arrangements with Heather to have someone meet us there. I also mentioned to her that I would like to buy a couple of fans in the pictures and she said that would be fine. So we drove to Camdenton Sunday morning and met a family friend named Joe. He took us to a mini-storage shed that Ken had owned and opened the roll-up door to reveal the fans. Once inside, I quickly located the two fans that I wanted, this Emerson 21666 was one of them. Upon examination, I noticed that the front of the motor housing was not attached and there was no oscillator housing or oscillator shaft/gear. I knew there was no cage or struts but this was a surprise. I decided to take the fan anyway in the hopes that I could find the parts and revive it.

By the time we were able to visit, Ken had passed away.
I took the fans home and began to tinker, as my usual routine goes. I was curious to see if any of the fans I had bought that weekend actually ran, especially the Emerson. I grabbed some bolts and tightened down the motor housing, then screwed the blade down tight because it had worked loose... Then with a little power and a flick of the switch the fan came right on. It did have one other problem, it ran backwards. As anyone with Emerson experience knows this just means the wires are not connected correctly. It was then that it dawned on me, that apparently Ken was in the process of doing something with this fan when he got too sick to continue. So I made it my goal then and there to start the restoration of this fan. So I tore it down and separated the parts. Then I got on the Internet and put a call out for parts that I needed: cage, struts, oscillator gearbox, oscillator shaft, rubber feet, wire, leather washer...
Before long I had willing volunteers with the parts I needed. Dick Boswell came through with the cage, struts, gearbox and shaft. Steve Sherwood sent me a care package of fiber washers, leather washer and rubber feet. I placed an order for new wire from sundial for the appropriate cord. Then I set about the ritual of paint prep... I have always used basically the same method of wire brushing and chemical stripper followed with a dip in M.E.K. for a day or so. Then I use Rustoleum bare metal primer and paint. This time I decided to try a Rustoleum Appliance Epoxy. Much to my surprise it was easier to apply than lacquer and less susceptible to the environment.
After finishing the paint and receiving all the necessary parts, I had to spend some time with the brass to bring it back to a shine that matched the gloss of the paint. (I respect the purist's idea of preservation, but for me the rule is simple, if the fan is in bad enough shape, it needs a full resto then let time return a patina. Nuff said...) Anywho, this weekend I had time to work on it since my kids had the flu. So last night I polished the brass cage and badge, attached one end of the headwire to the re insulated stator and put it back in the motor housing... Then I put the feet on and put it all back together except the switch and and lower end of the headwire and cord.
This morning after I had my grits I started to work again. I grabbed the rubber gloves, steel wool, and toilet bowl cleaner and headed to the backyard. After scrubbing the blades to remove all the crud, I installed a fresh buffing pad on the grinder and slung some rouge. Apparently everywhere because my kids were laughing at me later because I had a green moustache. Since the hub was all jacked due to the toilet bowl cleaner, I hand painted it and used a little brasso to finish the shine.

Forgive the length of the story and mind numbing detail, but I felt it necessary to explain the process for those who'd ask, "How'd you do that?"

Were in the homestretch now. I grabbed my colored tester wires with clips on them and my wire labels. I wrote down the first combination of color to number for the headwire test. Apparently I am getting really good, because I nailed it first shot. What are the odds...Oh never mind. REASSEMBLE, WIPE DOWN, BOW TO APPLAUSE....

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you... the Ken Grable tribute fan...