How to Restore Vintage Emerson Electric Fans

The Emerson Electric Manufacturing Company started business in 1890 producing alternating current, or AC, induction motors that were engineered by Nikola Tesla. By 1892, Emerson became the first company to manufacture electric enthusiasts to be sold in North America. Vintage Emerson electric enthusiasts have stayed collectible, but sometimes require restoration to function safely and be aesthetically pleasing. If mechanically and electrically sound, or when you don’t mean to work with the buff and wish simply to show it, then cosmetic recovery is all that’s necessary.

Inspect the Fan

Inspect the fan total condition. Start looking for any missing components or broken pieces that will need to be replaced or repaired. Evaluate its outside electrical wiring. Age and previous use can cause the electrical wiring to become toxic. Remove the blade cage and mounts and try to bend the blade to learn whether it’s seized up. If it does not spin, it might be rusted in place or need the replacement or repair of internal components. If the fan blade is not caught, pull it in and out to check for play on the rotor shaft. The rotor might need shimming when the movement is over 0.125 inch. Remove the bottom plate and the cover to the oscillating mechanism, if applicable, to examine the enclosed parts. Check all electrical wiring and connections; the fan might need to be partly or entirely rewired.

Dismantle the Fan

Take pictures or create drawings during disassembly to make reassembly easier — you can even utilize taped-on tags tagged numerically in the order that the pieces are eliminated. Remove the fan blade and set it aside. Remove the fan motor covers or cover to expose the inner rotor and stator. Remove the rotor from the stator and inspect for damage. Remove the stator from the fan housing and inspect the windings for harm. Using a volt/ohm meter, check the winding lead-in wires for continuity. If there’s not any continuity from the windings, the stator will need to be rewound or replaced. Remove any other components and parts from the buff and set them aside.

Wash and Paint the Fan

Remove any grease, oil, rust, dirt, dust and debris from all fan components. Most fan blades and fittings on old Emerson enthusiasts were created from brass; these will likely need to be cleaned and polished. All previously painted surfaces needs to be stripped down to bare metal with a chemical stripper or by sand blasting the surface. Apply a base coat of metal primer before applying the finish coat of paint.

Repair and Reassemble the Fan

Perform all needed repairs to the electrical and mechanical elements of the fan. Electrical connections must be soldered together and protected with heat shrink tubing where important. Proper cable straps should be used in any way terminals. Apply oil and grease synthetic lubricants to all oil cups and grease reservoirs as you reassemble the buff. Replace any old wicks within the oil cups using fresh wool wicks. Install a cover to the foundation to protect furniture from scratches. Green felt works nicely for this and is easy to apply. Run the buff for fifteen or ten minutes and check for overheating.

See related