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1956 GE Vortalex  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Sun Oct 1st, 2017 04:24 am
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Joel Meyers
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I just bought a 1956 GE Vortalex fan at an auction.  I turned the knob and it broke off in my hand.  I have done some research on that and have located the three speed switch at Grainger that should work.
The oscillator doesn't engage.  I took the cover off but don't know what I am looking for.  Other than that, the fan is in excellent original condition.

Could someone please let me know what I am looking for when taking the screw out of the oscillator.  I have read about different washers, etc. but don't know what I am looking for.  Also, after I take out the grease, what is best to replace it with? 

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 Posted: Sun Oct 1st, 2017 11:12 pm
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Richard Littlepage
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Me personally I use red high temp Grease. The reason I use it is because it was free and I believe it's good grease. I'm sure someone will tell me that I'm wrong but that's what I use. Good luck to you whatever you use

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 Posted: Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 12:53 am
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Stan Adams
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If you ask about grease, you will get 10 different answers & most of them like Richard's are fine. Unlike disc brake wheel bearings, temp isn't an issue. I am old school & still use plain wheel bearing grease. There is just enough breakdown to keep the shaft lubed.

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 Posted: Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 04:21 am
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Joel Meyers
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Ok, thank you. What can you tell me about the oscillator? What parts am I looking for if I take it apart. I turn the screw both ways and it doesn't oscillate. Thanks.

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 Posted: Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 09:55 am
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Richard Littlepage
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Screw ? Are you talking about the screw on the very bottom? Pictures would help use help you.

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 Posted: Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 11:41 am
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Lane Shirey
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If you turn the knob on the top of the oscillator clockwise until it tightens, it should oscillate. If you turn it counter clockwise until it gets snug but not tight, it stops the fan from freely drifting left to right with the oscillator off. 

You may be missing parts in the gearbox but without pics, we can't tell. 

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 Posted: Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 02:31 pm
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Joel Meyers
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Here are the photos.  I meant knob when I said screw.  I turn the knob clockwise until its tight and then counter clockwise until its tight.  Either way, it doesn't engage the oscillator.   Thanks for your help.







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 Posted: Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 04:01 pm
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Michael Mirin
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You need to clean out the old grease and check the gears. It also looks like the oscillating washer is missing. If that washer is missing the oscillator wont work.

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 Posted: Thu Oct 5th, 2017 02:02 am
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Greg Miller
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Definitely start by scraping that earwax outta there and greasing it properly, but...

... you need to take a picture of the underside of the oscillator gearbox- where is the screw that attaches the arm to the base of the fan? I've bought a couple fans that had "bad oscillators" and it turned out the arm was positioned so that it could never oscillate, no matter what (center hole).

Does the bell crank on the bottom of the gearbox turn when you tighten the knob? If it's turning... the fan should oscillate... unless it's together wrong. That looks like a 12" fan and those gears can generally take a joke.

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 Posted: Thu Oct 5th, 2017 09:29 pm
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Joel Meyers
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Ok, thanks. I cleaned out the gearbox and just put it back together to test. It oscillates but kind of irregularly. It stuck in one position and I nudged it and it started again. It speeds up and slows down. The only loose part was the washer with the key hole in it. Other than that, there were just the gears. Should there be any other parts?
Greg, by the way, I will be driving right past Tarrytown in a couple weeks.  I have a son at West Point and we're heading out there for Parents Weekend.

Last edited on Thu Oct 5th, 2017 09:31 pm by Joel Meyers

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 Posted: Mon Oct 9th, 2017 04:52 pm
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Richard Daugird
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I have the same problem with my Vortolex.

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 Posted: Mon Oct 9th, 2017 05:13 pm
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Lane Shirey
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If the washer was truly in place, it should work.  Try removing the washer, cleaning excess grease and oil from both sides as well as the mating contact surfaces with solvent on a q-tip.  I've found that some slip between the washer and surfaces is ok, too much can cause it to disengage too easily.

When I reassemble these, just before I screw the knob onto the threaded shaft, I take a qtip and run it around the shaft to clean the top of the washer of excess grease.  This keeps it from trapping too much grease under the clutch.

That washer setup is a friction clutch that is meant to hold the oscillator mechanism in the "on" position unless the fan is prevented from oscillating, like if it bumped into a wall on it's swing back and forth.  The purpose is to allow it to disengage instead of breaking a fragile year. Too much lubrication and the clutch disengages too easily, stopping motion for no reason. 

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 Posted: Mon Oct 9th, 2017 06:43 pm
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Joel Meyers
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Thanks.  I cleaned up the new grease from around the washer and knob and it know oscillates.
I let the fan run for about 30 minutes yesterday and was surprised at how hot the motor casing and handle was to the touch.  Is this normal?

I had taken all of the grease out of the oscillator and hadn't put any new in yet.  I don't think that would have caused enough friction to heat everything up.

I was just curious if these get really hot while running.

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 Posted: Tue Oct 10th, 2017 12:16 pm
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NM Whitney Jr.
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Joel Meyers wrote: Thanks.  I cleaned up the new grease from around the washer and knob and it know oscillates.
I let the fan run for about 30 minutes yesterday and was surprised at how hot the motor casing and handle was to the touch.  Is this normal?

I had taken all of the grease out of the oscillator and hadn't put any new in yet.  I don't think that would have caused enough friction to heat everything up.

I was just curious if these get really hot while running.


First, running it unlubricated will absolutely make it run warmer (if it runs at all).  You wouldn't drive your car without oil in the engine or proper fluid in the transmission, right?

Second, shaded pole motors like the GE Vorty's will run warmer than most... 125*F to 135*F has been my observation.

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 Posted: Tue Oct 10th, 2017 01:23 pm
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Jenn Selchow
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^^^ What NM Whitney said about the grease.  Before you destroy the fan, grease the gearbox immediately!!

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 Posted: Tue Oct 10th, 2017 01:43 pm
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Joel Meyers
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Ok, thanks. I did grease the gearbox with normal bearing grease. Hopefully that will help.

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 Posted: Sun Oct 15th, 2017 04:12 pm
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Gunner Lake
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Don't forget to oil the bearings too.

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 Posted: Tue Oct 17th, 2017 01:46 am
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Christopher Harding
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Stan, I was glad to hear you say this, I also still use plain wheel bearing grease with great results. My grandfather taught me to use it as a kid as it is close to what would have originally been used. 

Stan Adams wrote: If you ask about grease, you will get 10 different answers & most of them like Richard's are fine. Unlike disc brake wheel bearings, temp isn't an issue. I am old school & still use plain wheel bearing grease. There is just enough breakdown to keep the shaft lubed.

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 Posted: Tue Oct 17th, 2017 01:57 am
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Tom Morel
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As do I. It's gotten several GE oscillators back up and running.

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