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Sterling ASU 8" Desk Fan Maintenance  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Sun Aug 6th, 2017 12:25 am
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George Grant
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I have a small 8" Sterling ASU desk fan that needs a thorough cleaning and lube.  The only date info I've found on the web is that it's likely from the 30's or 40's.  If anyone has a better date, I'd appreciate it. 

I have two extended maintenance questions and one operational question for this fan:

Q1: The black crinkle paint on the base of this Sterling seems to be in excellent shape but there's some white paint splashed on the finish in several places.  I want to remove the white paint - but don't know how durable the underlying finish is.  What's the best method to remove the white paint from the crinkle finish?  Paint thinner?

Non-crinkle paint can be polished to bring back some of the original luster.  Aside from a thorough washing, what else can be done to crinkle paint to bring back the deep black (in this case), if anything?

Q2: The blades have about 1/4" of play so the rotor needs to be shimmed.  I've read elsewhere (and possibly here) where a combination of metal and fiber washers were used for shimming.  Other posts say they used fiber washers only.  Is there a right way, or is it up to the mfr. or the person restoring the fan? 

With 1/4" of slop, it would seem I'll find several disintegrated fiber washers when I open the case.

Q3: This fan will be hung on the wall above my computer desk and pointing straight down, but I'm not sure I want it running full blast - which is its only speed.  Is there any reason I shouldn't be able to use a fan speed controller meant for ceiling fans to slow this Sterling down a bit?

Thanks for any info you can provide.
George

Note:  I've been searching the web extensively for the past month or so, and most of those searches brought me to this forum.  In the near future I'll be starting my first full fan restoration - a recently acquired Wagner 5260 L53A68 single speed oscillator - and the information I've gathered from these forums is absolutely amazing.  Thanks to all of you for sharing your vast amount of experience, knowledge and of course - your opinions!

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 Posted: Sun Aug 6th, 2017 03:00 am
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Levi Mevis
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Well I can from experience answer 2 of the 3 questions you have, your first question regaurding the paint slop on the base of the fan, usually when I see that on an antique fan I usually just use my thumb nail and scrape it off that way, which usually does a great job at removing the paint drops without damaging the underlying finish and also if there's still a little bit of paint left on there from scraping off the paint drippings with your fingernail then an old sock that is dampened with soap and water (preferably Dawn dishsoap) will take of the remaining paint and won't harm the original finish, also you can use that to clean the original finish up so that it will look like new (it will clean off any grease or dirt and dust buildup that has accumulated on the fan's finish over the years).
Question 2 concerning the 1/4" of play in the rotor shaft, those fans are actually supposed to have a little bit of play in them but not a 1/4" of play, more than likely just like you pointed out the original fibre washers have disintigrated after over 60+ years of use and disuse in the fan, you can get new fibre washers for the fan at your local Ace Hardware and or at Lowe's or Menard's as well. You should only need about 2 fibre washers for the front and back of the rotor for proper spacing between the rotor and the bearings. Another thing you should do is to make sure you oil the bearings in the fan with either 3-in-1 in the blue can (20 wt motor oil for electric motors of all sizes), or Zoom! Spout Turbine Oil (don't let the name "Turbine oil" fool you its also formulated to work with electric motors of all sizes as well).

As for the 3rd question, the only best way to "slow down" the fan in your situation would be to use a Variac set at 110v AC (because with the current household electric current being 125V AC it tends to make the fans run faster than they ought to but using a variac set to 110v AC which is what the fans were originally built to run at and would of ran at when it was in use will make the fan run slower).

I hope this helps.

Levi   

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 Posted: Sun Aug 6th, 2017 11:44 am
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Lane Shirey
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As far as paint, if you're not able to remove it. Give the wrinkle paint a LIGHT coat of Rustoleum Satin Black. Just the right amount and it will freshen up the wrinkle paint and look perfect. Too much and you'll fill in the wrinkle. When you first spray it, it may look filled in a bit, but when the paint dries and the solvent evaporates, the paint layer will be one thinner, revealing more of the wrinkle. 

Just make sure to clean the paint very well with mineral spirits before painting. 

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 Posted: Sun Aug 6th, 2017 04:27 pm
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George Durbin
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Post pics and that will help us to help you! The guys and gals of the AFCA love to help and pictures clarify what you are working on!...
Geo!!

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 Posted: Sun Aug 6th, 2017 04:36 pm
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George Grant
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Levi - Thank you for some  good info.  I already tried using my fingernail to remove the white paint, but it's very thin and settled into the valleys of the wrinkle paint.  I think I'll first try to soak it for a few hours in Dawn and then use a toothbrush to see if that will remove it.  Roger the lubrication, and I already have the Zoom! oil.  The Variacs I see on Amazon cost around $60 and up, so that's probably not an option for this inexpensive fan.  Once I get it lubed and put back together I'll determine if the fan is too powerful for the intended use.

Lane - Thanks.  Of course, repainting will be a last resort - but I'll keep your info in my hip pocket!

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 Posted: Mon Aug 7th, 2017 11:31 am
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Lane Shirey
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Generally a variac is something you buy one of and use it as needed on various fans. It's a great piece of equipment to have, especially if you own pre-1930's fans. 

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 Posted: Mon Aug 7th, 2017 02:11 pm
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Levi Mevis
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+1 I  have  yet  to  get  myself  a  variac  but  have  been  trying  to  keep  an  eye  out  for  one.


Lane Shirey wrote:
Generally a variac is something you buy one of and use it as needed on various fans. It's a great piece of equipment to have, especially if you own pre-1930's fans. 

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 Posted: Mon Aug 7th, 2017 05:47 pm
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George Grant
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Thanks Lane & Levi.  If the Sterling fan is too powerful for its intended use, and I've grown fond of it after getting it squared away - I'll look into getting a variac.  

From what I've read in other threads, the only benefit to using a variac is speed control, and it's neither beneficial nor detrimental to an old fan if it's used properly.  (Keep the fan on the high setting and set the variac high enough that the fan can restart if there's a power outage.)  If anyone has a different take, please reply.

Fiber Washers Follow-Up
Are all of the common red fiber (fibre) washers pretty much the same when it comes to quality, heat resistance, oil penetration resistance, and longevity?

Thanks - George

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 Posted: Mon Aug 7th, 2017 07:49 pm
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Levi Mevis
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All of the fibre washers should be the same quality wise and actually modern fibre washers are actually of better quality than the ones that they made 60+ years ago so you shouldn't have to worry about them disintegrating for a long time.

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 Posted: Mon Aug 7th, 2017 08:00 pm
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George Grant
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Good to know; Thanks Levi.  That's something I've wondered about from time to time.

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 Posted: Sun Aug 13th, 2017 11:37 pm
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George Grant
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This little 8" Sterling fan has '8-518 G' stamped inside the cast iron base.

White Paint
The white paint on the case is stubborn.  It may even be White-Out typewriter correction fluid.  I very very gently worked on it with a very soft brush but went too long and in one spot lost some of the wrinkle paint.  I'll have to use Lane's advice and lightly coat the whole fan with Rustoleum Satin Black.

Smoke!
I turned the fan on briefly a couple of times and it seemed to run fine although it made a lot of racket.  A couple of drops of Zoom eliminated all of the clanking - I was amazed a little bit of oil could make that much difference.  I then ran the fan for about five minutes, and then smelled something burning.  I turned it off immediately and when the blade spun down I saw the slightest bit of smoke.  I took it apart and found no scorch marks or indication of what was causing the odor and smoke - but the coil was far too hot to touch.  Let it cool, wiped away a drop or two of oil, put it back together and started it again with the same result.

Took it apart again and took a picture of what appear to be black rubber spacers that are now misshapen - apparently due to heat.  My only guess is that I'm smelling the disintegration of these spacers, so I'll replace them.  That brings me to more washer questions:

Washer Q1:  When used on a rotor - Assuming fiber washers should always be on the outside, can non-fiber washers be sandwiched between fiber, without causing damage?  Non-fiber: metal or nylon washers?

Washer Q2: The local Ace Hardware has various sized fiber washers that are deep (or long, if you prefer) and would be perfect to use as spacers.  However, they are in the plumbing section and the clerks could provide no information on whether they are appropriate for other uses.  Does anyone have any info on fiber 'plumbing' washers?

A Note on ATD Fiber Washers
Not being able to find fiber washers locally, I just received an ATD brand assortment from Amazon.  I found their 1/8" washers are slightly too small to fit on the 1/8" rotor spindle.  Of course, the 3/16" are slightly too large but that's what I'll have to use.  Measurements confirmed a lack of Quality control at the ATD plant - and I won't buy ATD products again unless it's the only choice available.

Now I'm off to HD for some 18 gauge wire so I can permanently secure the coil wire ends before I inadvertently break them off.

Many thanks for any advice!
- George

Attached Image (viewed 73 times):

0813171510.jpg

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 Posted: Sun Aug 13th, 2017 11:40 pm
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George Grant
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Perhaps a better picture of the washers and spacers.  The two fiber-like wings in the foreground were rattling around inside the motor.  They're obviously shields of some sort but I haven't figured out where they go.

Attached Image (viewed 67 times):

0813171745-1.jpg

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 Posted: Mon Aug 14th, 2017 12:20 am
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Lane Shirey
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You will need to check current draw of the motor. My guess is that the stator is shot and drawing too much current. That's common on these cheaply made fans. The cardboard "shields" likely go around the thin wires that connect the coils together in the stator.  That's of little concern though if your stator has a short. 
You'll need to get a kill-a-watt meter to test current draw. 

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 Posted: Mon Aug 14th, 2017 01:24 am
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George Grant
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Thanks Lane. I'll check it out.

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