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GE Vortalex Wing Bolt 110/120V  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Sun Jun 3rd, 2018 01:55 am
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Michael Woods
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Hello everyone, newbie here and first time poster.



Here's my story...



It gets fairly hot in my third floor apartment but air conditioning just isn't my thing. I like having my windows open and don't like the sudden change in temperature when exiting an air conditioned space. I decided an old fan was what I needed. Something with some style, some class. Not some plastic piece of junk from Wal Mart. Besides, an old fan would look nice with the rest of the antiques I've collected over the years. I searched and researched old fans online and really liked the look of the GE Vortalex four blade fans. Made me think of something you might see sitting on the desk of some private dick from years gone by. I had to have one. Simple as that.



Found some beauties on ebay but sadly my pockets were more shallow than others bidding on "my" fans. Then I got lucky. Finally! I was going to be the proud owner of a GE Vortalex 3 speed oscillating desk fan. Oh joy! The fan was listed as "Great used, working condition". The wires were in rough shape, though most of the fans I looked at seemed to have the same issue. No problem. I ordered a kit online (you know the one) with replacement wires, wicks, felt etc. The kit arrived a few days later and made me even more excited about my fan and getting to work on it. I had read some very informative articles and watched some YouTube videos and felt fairly confident that I would be able to put the kit to good use. And I continued to wait. Checking the tracking number 2-3 times a day until...



Finally it had arrived! Bliss! I took my prize inside and carefully cut open the box to reveal...packing peanuts. What kind of a monster uses Styrofoam packing peanuts in this day and age?! I lifted my fan out of the box, cradled in my hands like a newborn child, making sure not to get white, magnetic confetti all over my apartment. As I carried my metallic baby over to the kitchen counter for closer inspection I noticed some limpness. Like someone with narcolepsy, my poor little fan seemed to keep nodding off, not able to keep her head up. Don't panic! A few turns of the screw and all will be well. A few turns. A few more... SON OF A B*TCH! Threads on the wing bolt rolled. Hole stripped. Excitement quickly turned to disappointment. Disappointment to anger. This fan was listed as "Great used, working condition". I plugged her in and turned her on fully expecting more disappointment. Holding her neck I carefully went through the three speeds. To my surprise the blade was balanced and quiet as a mouse. The oscillation, smooth as silk. A keeper for sure. Just needs some work. I'm going to have a local machinist install a helicoil but I'm having a tough time finding the pivot set bolt (not even sure if that's what it's called) but found a picture on here of exactly what I need.



Any help in locating this part would be greatly appreciated. As I type this at 9:42 pm my thermostat reads 81 degrees and we're still three weeks away from summer. Please help me to help my baby keep me cool at night.



Thanks for reading and stay cool guys.














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 Posted: Sun Jun 3rd, 2018 01:45 pm
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Kevin Massey
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Good luck on that one. I'm in the same fix with a Quiet Blade fan. The pot metal neck is where the issue is. I'm not sure of a proper fix without a donor fan.

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 Posted: Sun Jun 3rd, 2018 02:29 pm
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Michael Woods
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It's going to need a helicoil for sure. I'm going to talk to a machinist tomorrow. I'm thinking that the threaded shaft could be cut off, the wing piece could then be drilled and tapped and a grub screw inserted. I know this can be done as I worked in a machine shop for five years in my younger days and could do it myself but I lack the necessary tools. If I can find someone with a drill press I might just buy a helicoil kit, taps and tap wrench and do the job myself. I guess the direction I go all depends on the price the machinist quotes me and whether or not I can find someone with a drill press.

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 Posted: Sun Jun 3rd, 2018 05:34 pm
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Geoff Dunaway
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 I've used a helicoil to repair one of those and was able to reuse the original wingnut just as it is. Great repair for that weak spot in a great fan.

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 Posted: Mon Jun 4th, 2018 06:24 pm
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Richard Daugird
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Where do you live?

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 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2018 02:34 am
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Jeff Jones
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Where is your location? I've got a drill press and a tap & die set.

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 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2018 07:53 am
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Michael Woods
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*Update*

I went to the hardware store to look for grub screws and to find out what the thread count was for the wing bolt. Turns out it's 5/16-24. So the hardware store has a little display with different size nuts so you're able to find out what thread size your screws or nuts are. After trying my bolt I knew it was 5/16 but didn't know whether it was 18 or 24 because I couldn't get it to turn in far enough. I figured I could find the grub screws and match up the threads and find out that way since there were some in tact threads towards the wing part of the bolt. As I searched for the grub screws I was fiddling with the wing bolt in my pocket and noticed a burr or something on the bolt. I pulled the bolt out of my pocket and as it turns out the burr was actually one long coil of pot metal stuck in the threads of the bolt. I felt like a real dummy but at the same time was overcome with joy. The wing bolt is totally fine.

On another happy note the ebay seller agreed to make things right and buy and send me a helicoil kit and drill bit needed to fix the stripped out neck hole.

I rewired the fan yesterday, replaced the wick and felt and used up the rest of my q-tips cleaning it. It's looking good. Just need to pack it with some new grease and install that helicoil and she's good to go.

I want to thank everyone for their input and offers of help. You guys have a great community here.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2018 10:48 pm
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David Kilnapp
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Hi Mike. Like you, I love the GE Vortalex and have restored five or six different models. How about a picture of yours? I have spare parts for a Vortalex if your repair doesn't work out which I'm happy to sell to you for short money. Below is my favorite Vorty.


You are lucky that the plastic switch was not missing. That's the part that is usually gone. There is a replacement that can be had from Granger (a rotary switch) that fits the opening. I take the head from the Granger switch and glue a piece of fiberglass rod into it then shape that with my one inch band sander to fit into the old switch guts. Works like a charm and pretty cheap too ($8). I'm working on another Vortalex that needs to be painted the color that you see above (unlike the one above that needed nothing but cleaning). That color is surprisingly difficult to match with modern spray paints. I was driving around with my Vorty blade in the car when I spotted a Toyota Camry (a newer model) whose color was a pretty close match. The local Toyota dealer sent me to Napa auto parts where they have a machine that can scan any color and make spray paint to match. I may go see the Napa guy if the Toyota paint that I ordered isn't as close a match as I hope it will be.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2018 11:39 pm
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Michael Woods
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That's a beauty! I have the cage and blade off till the helicoil gets installed. Seems like it'll be easier to work on it with them off. When I was cleaning it I found that a piece of the switch was broken off in one of the interlocking slots. I used a pick tool to get it out and superglued it back in place. It worked fine before but I figured I should fix it or all the stress would end up on the one remaining interlocking "tooth". Still waiting on the helicoil kit. :sleeping:

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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2018 01:38 am
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David Kilnapp
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That Vortalex is in GREAT SHAPE! No wonder you were excited to get it! Yeah the switch breaks easily that's why it's usually missing. You can replace the whole thing if you don't mind re-soldering the four connections with the $8 rotary switch that you can order from Granger:

https://www.zoro.com/carling-technologies-rotary-switch-sp3t-4-connections-700-bl/i/G1361394/feature-product?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4afH_LDA2wIVkWV-Ch3qtQ3pEAQYBSABEgLPyPD_BwE

I buy the Carling rotary switch and take the top off. That leaves a circular hole. I cut a one inch piece of fiberglass rod (my wife gets them for her window treatment business), sand one end so that it fits snugly into the hole in the back of the plastic switch, then slowly cut away the body with my band saw and one inch belt sander to match the old switch. I'll take some pictures of an original with my duplicate tomorrow. Or you can just buy or order a new switch by mail from Granger - only $8 or so plus shipping. Easy to replace the whole switch if you are good with a soldering gun. Is the part on yours that's busted between the trumpet on the bottom and the base of the case? If that is the piece with the stripped threads, I have that part. There are two pieces to that neck. sometimes you can pull the whole thing off of the metal rod that goes into it and sometimes not. Remove the screw from one side and the flat thumbscrew on the other side. Then give it a pull. If it won't easily come off, then take a stiff flat putty knife and tap it into the crack one inch below the top of that neck piece. It will open enough to get a screw driver into the space. Then put the tip of the screwdriver into the crack and rotate it all around the crack. The bottom half of that neck piece will start to come off the metal rod that it rotates around. There's a small single ball bearing on bottom of the rod that helps the neck piece rotate easily on the inside of the neck piece. Be careful not to lose it. It fits inside of a depression on the bottom of the metal rod. If your repair doesn't work, contact me at davidkilnapp@comcast.net and I will arrange to ship you that neck piece. We'll talk about money if it fits (won't be much - glad to help out). You'll have to paint it to match the existing paint. Let me know how your repair goes. Be careful. That's how I got infected with my love of fans (my brother asked me to repair a 1923 GE). I'll send pictures of my switch repair tomorrow night (I left my iPhone at work today or I'd send you pictures now).

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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2018 01:50 am
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David Kilnapp
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I woke up my wife who took a picture with her iPhone. Is this the part you need? The original switch is the one on the right with my duplicate on the left.


If the switch repair is more than you want to do, not to worry. I'll make you up one from my inventory of Carling rotary switches. Again, I'll only charge you what I paid for the switch plus shipping which should be minimal. Let me know. I'm glad to help out.

Last edited on Thu Jun 7th, 2018 02:00 am by David Kilnapp

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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2018 06:14 pm
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Larry White
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Just did one that Doc sold me.  Had a growl in it on startup and speed change.  Issue was the front bearing was too loose.  I used twine to re pack the collar and re tightened, re installed and it runs just a quiet as can be.  95% original paint. Good for another 50 years.   







Attached Image (viewed 112 times):

20180606_150641_resized.jpg

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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2018 06:34 pm
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David Kilnapp
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It looks perfect in that setting. Color matches your counter top and cabinets. Super cool too!

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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2018 10:14 pm
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Michael Woods
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Here's some pics of mine in better light. I might take you up on your offer David, if I botch the helicoil job. Hopefully all goes well. The switch is ok, just needed a dab of glue. It's the same exact switch as Larry has on his. Still checking the mail each day for that helicoil kit. :hammer:

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 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2018 10:47 pm
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David Kilnapp
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Just let me know and in the mail it will go Michael. I'll be surprised if that superglued switch stands up. No worries if you need one, just let me know. Mine are very strong being made of fiberglass not plastic like the originals.

Last edited on Thu Jun 7th, 2018 10:52 pm by David Kilnapp

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 Posted: Sun Jun 10th, 2018 05:13 pm
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Kevin Massey
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Larry White wrote: Just did one that Doc sold me.  Had a growl in it on startup and speed change.  Issue was the front bearing was too loose.  I used twine to re pack the collar and re tightened, re installed and it runs just a quiet as can be.  95% original paint. Good for another 50 years.   







Hi Larry:

  What does the twine do?  Is this for a loose neck.  Thanks.

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