How to Restore Vintage Emerson Electric Fans

Even the best-loved vintage fan might require restoration because of oxidization and other problems.
Emerson fans feature a round shape with four blades inside a round metal cage that sits on an attached base. Depending on the previous owners, the finish might require removal, especially if a past owner re-painted the fan with the wrong type of paint. Restoring the vintage fan lets the original design shine through.

Step 1

Lay down sheets of old newspaper and set the fan on top of the paper. Remove the screws from the cage and set to one side. Examine the base of the fan for more screws and remove those. Separate the pieces, leaving the base on the newspaper.

Step 2

Apply a thin coat of paint stripper to the base and let sit for 60 seconds to 10 minutes, depending on the recommendations of the manufacturer. Carefully scrape away the old paint with fine-grit steel wool.

Step 3

Wrap the cord with masking tape, which protects it from paint and primer. Apply a coat of metal primer to the base and let dry. Paint over the primer with a spray paint designed for metal. Apply a thin and even coating to prevent drips.

Step 4

Coat the metal blades with brake cleaner and let sit for five to ten minutes. Scrub the blades with an old toothbrush, removing any old grease or debris sticking to the surface. Wipe off the residue with a soft cloth.

Step 5

Rub metal polish on the fan blades in small circles. Keep rubbing the polish on the blades until the original metal appears shiny and new. Rub a second rag across the blades, removing any excess polish from the blades. Repeat steps four and five on the metal cage that surrounds the blades.

Step 6

Reattach the pieces together. The blades should fit onto a center piece that slides into the base. Place the cage on the base and screw the metal screws back in place, which keeps the base attached to the cage. Remove the masking tape from the cord.

Things You Will Need

  • Old newspaper
  • Screwdriver
  • Paint stripper
  • Paintbrush
  • Fine-grit steel wool
  • Masking tape
  • Metal primer
  • Metal spray paint
  • Brake cleaner
  • Old toothbrush
  • Soft cloth
  • Metal polish
  • Rag

Warning

  • If the fan does not work, consult an expert in vintage fan repair. Replacing the inner workings is best suited for experts. You might damage the fan or ruin the wiring by trying to do the job yourself.

About the Author

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.