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RESTORATION DIARY: EDISON STANDARD MODEL A #132017


martinola

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martinola

I hope you'll forgive posting this old thread from the TMF, but as the photos have all disappeared on that site and that I've been asked to dig out the photos for reference, I thought it might be better preserved here.

 

Sat Aug 29, 2015 8:49 pm:

 

My first Standard was a Green Oak Standard Model A that my cousin decided I needed to buy from him. From that grew a strange obsession with the Edison Standard in general. As time went on, I acquired other Standards, some in better condition than others. In restoring the cases, I got fairly good at replicating the Antique Oak finish, but I never got a chance to do a Green Oak finish. For some reason this has bugged me over the years.

In order to be a complete Smarty Pants when it comes to refinishing Standards, I decided that I needed to do a Green Oak Standard. One additional problem is that over the years I've developed an ethos to never refinish when the original can be salvaged. That meant that I was looking for a machine that was either already refinished or one that was really beat. When Ken Brekke (Phono-Phan) listed one for parts or restoration in the Yankee Trader section some months ago, I finally had a candidate for the project.

The machine seemed to be a barn find. The finish was mostly flaked off, the Banner transfer was largely gone. This was a mid-production version of the New style Model A. It had a button lift, the lid moulding had a smoothed top edge. The baseboard had warping and splitting as is often found these machines. It needed re-gluing and a complete cosmetic makeover.

The motor was missing a few key components. It appeared that someone may have begun parting it out or it may have simply been a case of an arrested restoration.

Here are a few "before" photos of the Case:
031_Front_w_lid.jpg.80977f8daca1af3b73d8afdcdf46142b.jpg
Excessive finish loss, makes this an ideal candidate for a total refinish.

032_Banner_CU.jpg.9eacf4b12663c8552381857f0c5e99dc.jpg
Alas, the remnants of the original Banner decal only hint at its former graphic beauty.

040_lid_splits.jpg.f3f54bc09807aa066297a148a96938fa.jpg
The lid has splits from dampness and drying cycles.

046_base_splits.jpg.ff3b56bd10a93155abf27a369819dfd8.jpg
The baseboard is made from three glued boards. The front board has completely split away and the other two boards are thinking about it.

078_wasp_nest.jpg.90dc356f09b05807b63ce0d39ed2a6ac.jpg
It looks like there was a wasp's nest inside the case on the right rear corner.

072_Orig_Color.jpg.fcd2f0fe99f82cba1e04422bea723fc2.jpg
Here's a hint of what the original color may have looked like.

060_Ins_3.jpg.77f9ca5dced4893ec941597f0db3d7bc.jpg
Looks like the lid was passed by inspector #3.

Here are some "before" pictures of the bedplate and motor:

057_motor_B4.jpg.070d1ce6c9c856cce2b82b2709366aa1.jpg
Typical open-spoked spring barrel. Some rust. Missing the Speed control arm, governor, yoke and "on/off" lever.

053_top_view_B4.jpg.6cf24630233a51f93547444ba5b27ef4.jpg
The bedplate's shellac coating looks kind of beat. The gold decorations are about 70 percent there. The patent plate still has a bit of the original silver highlights. Thank goodness the mandrel still looks good.


Now to begin!

I let the case sit in the breakfast room for about 3 weeks. It was winter and I wanted the internal moisture of the wood to stabilize before I tried gluing everything back together. I'm not entirely sure it made much of a difference, but it also gave me some time to review different methods of staining, finishing, grain-filling and the like.

When the "go" day came, I started by disassembling everything, and labeling. Ideally, I wanted every screw to go back into its original position.

093_screw_ID.jpg.8f51e14bd55052f3966d5d56ef185e54.jpg
I had a bunch of this stuff in ziplock bags.

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martinola

I began by re-gluing all of the dried-out joints. In order to have extra assembly time, I used liquid hide glue. Besides being historically appropriate, it's also easily reversible. (Just don't leave the machine out in the rain.)

089_base_pre_glue.jpg.817c15d4459efcd0d921edf82475ac18.jpg
Preparing to glue up the baseboard. Wax paper helps keep things from sticking to the work bench.

090_base_clamp.jpg.2badcc21a4d35acd2b719b04c80690f0.jpg
Clamping it up.

Re-gluing the split baseboard was a bit tricky in that the boards had warped somewhat from exposure to moisture. The messy glued areas were caused by using my fingers to "feel" the smoothness of the join.

105_base_clean_up.jpg.d5b5edd134069e23a0eaaebaef125575.jpg
The glued baseboard getting cleaned up with my favorite tool.


Three of the four finger-jointed corners on the box were dry and loose. A few knocks with a mallet got them apart for scraping the junk out of the joints.

087_clean_fingerjoints.jpg.53ccb6ec2bf383e30d941e5800b64a45.jpg
clean fingerjoints


104_reassb_case.jpg.dc1ad9fca828ce99981a245ab72a57ab.jpg
I didn't want to drill new holes, so I aligned everything using the original screws as position guides.

113_glue_up.jpg.e0b2becaebf40e3c3c5c7e9d3d4c0abd.jpg
Starting the glue-up. Wax paper protects the cleaned-up baseboard used for hole alignment.

118_case_clamp.jpg.bee983336203012bffc1b6b9c4771bbd.jpg
Clamping the case.

137_case_unclamped.jpg.5d74c17163040f8959c58149aa06ee7d.jpg
Case unclamped.

The veneer splits and lifts in the lid required a little scraping-out and re-gluing.

140_lid_glue.jpg.c81f8eeb5f73ccb54a80ea441b5fdf01.jpg
During this process, I noticed how the box was attached to the baseboard about 1/16" too far left. (See first photo.) I finally decided not to "improve" the factory error by re-drilling the holes.


After all of the wood was back together, it was time to take off the old finish. In this case a lot of the work had already been done; it had simply fallen off. I wanted to start off fresh. I didn't want to run the risk of having the old finish sink into the wood and mess up the staining process. Therefore I elected to sand-off the old finish rather than melt it off with alcohol or use a caustic stripper.

143_sanded_case.jpg.e86f7c66c6aeecca030a981710616b66.jpg
Naked again.

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martinola

In between times, I had contacted George Vollema for some of the missing motor pieces. In a week or so, I had in hand everything I needed to make to old motor function. I disassembled everything and gave the parts a scrub-down in lacquer thinner. The spring seemed good and was cleaned with some 0000 steel wool and lacquer thinner. The inside of the barrel seemed on the rough side so I sanded and smoothed it a little bit to aid things being able to slide around better.

084_Spring_barrel.jpg.f9fe02c894b911bd80aeef2f18cf5a8a.jpg

Spring and barrel after cleaning.

 

 

From the looks of many of the screws, they had been attacked by ill-fitting screwdrivers. I spent an evening filing, reshaping and bluing the screws.

128_screw_clean.jpg.d645699b5c74d532ac46dafc67429e59.jpg

Cleaning screws.

 


124_screws_in_place.jpg.bd22d5b52cad3ba53f5ad298f7d5c657.jpg

Screws in place.

 

 

The bedplate needed help. Besides dirt, the shellac had begun to flake and oxidize. I did a lightly damp wipe-down, followed by a light pass with 0000 steel wool. The decoration that was missing was still visible as a "ghost image" on the black paint. Using Mica Monster's technique, I touched-in new gold paint using the original outlines as a guide. As a bit of insurance, I also masked-off areas.

129_bedplate_B4.jpg.42d6b96359074c415b1522bfed14b758.jpg
 Bedplate as found.



146_stripe_repair.jpg.10322fe5e4f23b290eb3c5b906f25e39.jpg

Stripe repair.

 

 

Some paint was missing around the screw holes and a couple of other areas. I touched that up with a little Nigrosene and shellac.

After all was dry, it was time to build-up protective coats of shellac. I started with amber, to even out the color, then switched to clear.

176_bedplate_first_coat.jpg.0d89a3107c66017a2fac907b427eb25c.jpg
First coat of new shellac.

 

 

The silver highlights on most of the type 4 and many of the type 5 patent plates is usually completely gone or largely missing. It was a thin, fragile coating and it was a logical improvement when the Edison company went to using nickel plating in 1906. I like a good patent plate. (Who doesn't?) Toward that end, I decided to try my hand at re-silvering the highlights. I ordered some clock face silvering powder from a clock restorer in England. (This particular plate actually had a fair amount of silver on it and I would have left it as-is were I not doing a total refinish of the case.)

The black paint on the background looked OK, so I elected not to re-paint. Then I used some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper to clean off the highlights back to shiny brass.

161_plate_brass.jpg.a028497e60715348dd6dfa61fee8356e.jpg
Shiny, isn't it?

 

 

After a thorough cleaning with soap and 120 ℉ tap water, I rubbed the powder on and Presto! The highlights were silver once more. In a nod to more permanence, I went ahead and coated the plate with clear lacquer to protect the bright silver.

163_silver_plate.jpg.dc1fbc784653662023f0e0fdea8f1ddb.jpg
Matte silver again!

 

After the shellac had cured on the bedplate, I did a final sand and polish.
002_finished_bedplate.jpg.e16d56783e59cae103341b13d2c0419c.jpg
Different, huh?

 

 

It took me some time to work up the nerve to mix the Green aniline stain. I decided to try it as a water stain so that the color would not "move" so much when applying the shellac. As I quickly found out, a little green stain goes a long way. I used a test block of Oak to try out the stain strength. It took a while to get it dilute enough so that I could control the amount of color without going straight to "traffic light green".

Before staining, I wiped the case down with water to raise the grain and quench the dry wood's thirst before hitting it with the stain. After a very light sanding, I used a paper towel wad to apply the stain. Once the stain dries, it bears little resemblance to the final color with a top coat. This is an area where one needs to have faith.

154_stained_case.jpg.a116c7691efe780d609756fcb9cfad12.jpg
No, it's not going to end up looking like that.

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martinola

After drying, it was time to do a thin flash coat of amber shellac followed by a grain filler. I used an oil-based Walnut colored grain filler from Mohawk. As you can see, even after scraping and some sanding, it darkens up the color.

173_case_filler.jpg.eef332fe01a5f11053c6370b16a05b12.jpg

Filling the grain.

 

As is typical with me, I ended up pulling out too much filler in the scraping and sanding part. This resulted in many coats of shellac, sanding after every 3rd or 4th coat. Along the way, I noticed that the color had drifted somewhat from what I considered a good "green". I mixed up some thinned shellac with about 5 to 8 grains of green stain. This gave me a very dilute shellac stain that I could build up in 2 or 3 applications.

178_Add_green.jpg.87768c8e817d0a40630b680a52a56f4b.jpg
Boosting the green with shellac stain.

 

 

Eventually, I got to the point where the grain was as filled as I was going to get it. Finally it was time for an almost final sand and polish. I was impatient and didn't wait for my buddy to bring me his bag of rotten stone. Once again, I used white auto body polish.

001_lid_polish.jpg.aa486e05fa9fd3273cce73971e18666c.jpg

Polishing the lid.

 

 

After the polished case had sat for some days, it was time to put on a new case decal. As I've said elsewhere, this was something I had dreaded. The original Edison Banner transfer is a beautiful but intricate thing. It visually dominates the front of the machine and even the best finish can't overcome a mediocre decal. I had collected the three best decals I could find.  The first was rather a "pig-in-a-poke". It was an original style varnish transfer with the front side under tissue paper. (I bought it about 15 years ago when I first considered re-doing an already OK green oak finish. My sanity returned and so I put it away.) Unfortunately, to see the front of the transfer, one had to actually install it. So I did.

010_3_decals.jpg.e2e7e154f8246bad39835c5bbfb3b702.jpg

Which to choose??

 


019_apply_decal1.jpg.ea2cdfde39c9bb9fb13b19c89a90008c.jpg

Applying the varnish transfer.


021_first_decal.jpg.2ff4bc604b7b081ce246f84197e5de0f.jpg

Decal (varnish transfer) - first try.

 

In some ways it was great. In some ways not. I had a hard time deciding which decal would be best overall. Thanks to some careful study, good advice, and a coin toss, I settled on one that seemed to have the most accurate drawing. (The "E" of Edison - most notably.) Still not perfect, but would have do for this project. This necessitated sanding off the transfer and again preparing the surface for the new water-slide decal.

After a brief soak in warm water, I used Micro Sol to aid in the decal application. Then I used Micro Set to help the decal "settle in" and cling to the surface of the case. I applied about 8 more coats of shellac (sanding every 2nd or 3rd coat) to hide the edge of the water slide decal.

005_decal_2.jpg.09c9cdcf6f317414871829ba4e3f74e7.jpg
All the way from Peru.

 

 

At this point I have no idea how many total coats of shellac I've applied. I can safely say it's well over 15. After a final sand, everything got to sit for a couple of weeks to harden up enough to polish. I've found that refinishing this way with many coats requires a fair amount of curing time for the finish to harden.

In between the case work, I spent time considering the other odd metal parts. The exposed lid hardware was fairly rusty. The clips and latches got a few passes under the wire brush and kissed the polishing wheel a few times. I opted for the quick and easy brush plater for the nickel plating.

007_rusty_latches.jpg.9d89197ac20502095b8416a42f649baf.jpg

Rusty latches.

 


026_reinstalled_latch.jpg.947cbaa345adb94d3c57d21617d8776c.jpg
Latch reinstalled.

 

 

The final mechanical assembly went rather quickly. I used some nice belting that Mica Monster had made. I chose a good 2 minute Indestructible cylinder for its first trial run. It wound up nicely and the motor seemed to have good power but I found at the last moment that I had somehow acquired a model B brake lever instead of a model A lever. I didn't realize that the clearances were so tight. With the taller model B brake installed, the carrier arm turned the lever into an auto shut-off device. Very effective, but not what I had in mind. With George's help, a proper brake lever was located and installed.

005_brakes.jpg.e1076c5a8bc5b2eca9cd555f277be029.jpg
Longer brake is for Model B and later.

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Martin, it's a great idea to post your restoration diary here, where it will be preserved for the long term.  I remember this vividly!

 

George P.

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martinola

This type of motor was mounted to the bedplate using natural rubber cushions as shock absorbers. I used medium soft neoprene grommets (cut in half) as modern replacements. Because of the primitive shock mounting, the motor is a bit louder than the later model B type. The machine functions quite well and reminds me what a great machine the New Style model A is.

011_final_case_front_CU.jpg.92268364034aa5b3192343822d8cd5fd.jpg

013_case_final_crankside.jpg.1af71141cf390e111614df3ca2d8a4bf.jpg

014_final_topworks.jpg.6ec56b56aaf028c8b162b105d20fccbe.jpg

018_final_rear.jpg.3fde0286ec059192022d814c37f809d1.jpg

021_still_OK_nr3.jpg.d0af46adc6887f8af39f534395fe176f.jpg
Still OK by inspector 3.

008_final_wide_w_horn.jpg.00dd9f861429751fca924dac4a006008.jpg
Since this was an experiment, I spent a good deal of extra time fooling around with application of the color. I look forward to refining the process of doing an accurate Green Oak finish on future projects. I like the impression of depth you get with aniline stain rather than the grain-hiding effect of pigmented stains. In retrospect, it wasn't as hard to work with as I had feared. It just demanded some experimentation, faith and patience. Big thanks to Ken and George for their help and patience!

Thanks for checking out my project!

Martin

 

 

...Back to 2024:

 

Looking back I'd have to say that I'd like to caution anybody doing something like this today.  First, shellac is a wonderful finish - BUT - it takes a really long time to fully harden up and will become soft again with heat and moisture.  I found out the hard way in finishing a case for somebody that even after a couple of months of curing is too soon to ship - especially in. summer.  Secondly, I'd pick a neutral filler for the grain.  I had such a nice green before I added the dark filler - alas!  Thanks again to all of you!

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You're welcome, Martin!

 

I must agree about shellac.  I stopped using it about 25 years ago because of its delicacy.  Since then I've been using a product called "Water-Lox," which is very easy to use, slow-drying, goes on thin so it never shows brush strokes, and it quite durable.  As its name suggests, it's water-proof.  The bad?  A minimum of 2-3 coats are required because it's so thin (I always do multiple coats of any finish anyway).  It's also pricey.  Still, for a professional-looking finish EVERY TIME, and modern durability with a shellac appearance, I'm willing to pay.  It even comes in a satin finish if you want.  I've used that as a top coat, and after a week or so to cure, I've applied a coat of Johnson's paste wax to give a nice sheen without gloss.

 

George P.

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I wondered if Waterlox was a tung oil finish, and it is.  I have used tung oil for years and it is a great, durable finish.  I always applied it with 0000 steel wool and then wiped it off before drying and before applying another coat.  It doesn't require drying for days between coats, like shellac, so it's easier to work with and more forgiving... 

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martinola

Thanks George and Curt for that recommendation.  I still use and like shellac, but it requires far more patience from the user and I would never use it in a context where I did something for hire.

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Roaring20s

Wow, I just looked all of the photos and work that you did.

What a fantastic job! :classic_cool: A labor of love. 

 

James.

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I would like to say that when I first started, this post was a big inspiration for me. Since then I have have restored many machines, always trying to match this level of work. Wonderful restoration, very well written and educational

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Tinfoilphono

I remember this from the original posting, and it's a great treat to see it again. Incredible job. Thanks for the repost here, where it will be archived.

 

I've been a huge fan of tung oil for years. Amazing product. It does take many coats but it's easy to use and with enough buildup can have nearly a piano finish. Back in the 80s I used to restore huge 1930s-1940s jukeboxes, and used tung oil exclusively, matte or gloss depending upon the result wanted. The results were professional in appearance, and had a comfortably 'mature' look that didn't stand out as new.

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I learned about tung oil when I was a teen helping my dad refinish gun stocks.  It was the clear choice for high grade guns.  Like Rene  said, it results in a beautiful aged look when done properly.

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Valecnik

Really nice work Martin.  You brought it back to life.  Well done!

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  • 3 weeks later...
Fran604g

I'm happy to see this once again resurrected here, Martin. Very inspirational!

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  • 3 months later...
oldtvsandtoys
On 2/27/2024 at 1:46 PM, martinola said:

In between times, I had contacted George Vollema for some of the missing motor pieces. In a week or so, I had in hand everything I needed to make to old motor function. I disassembled everything and gave the parts a scrub-down in lacquer thinner. The spring seemed good and was cleaned with some 0000 steel wool and lacquer thinner. The inside of the barrel seemed on the rough side so I sanded and smoothed it a little bit to aid things being able to slide around better.

084_Spring_barrel.jpg.f9fe02c894b911bd80aeef2f18cf5a8a.jpg

Spring and barrel after cleaning.

 

 

From the looks of many of the screws, they had been attacked by ill-fitting screwdrivers. I spent an evening filing, reshaping and bluing the screws.

128_screw_clean.jpg.d645699b5c74d532ac46dafc67429e59.jpg

Cleaning screws.

 


124_screws_in_place.jpg.bd22d5b52cad3ba53f5ad298f7d5c657.jpg

Screws in place.

 

 

The bedplate needed help. Besides dirt, the shellac had begun to flake and oxidize. I did a lightly damp wipe-down, followed by a light pass with 0000 steel wool. The decoration that was missing was still visible as a "ghost image" on the black paint. Using Mica Monster's technique, I touched-in new gold paint using the original outlines as a guide. As a bit of insurance, I also masked-off areas.

129_bedplate_B4.jpg.42d6b96359074c415b1522bfed14b758.jpg
 Bedplate as found.



146_stripe_repair.jpg.10322fe5e4f23b290eb3c5b906f25e39.jpg

Stripe repair.

 

 

Some paint was missing around the screw holes and a couple of other areas. I touched that up with a little Nigrosene and shellac.

After all was dry, it was time to build-up protective coats of shellac. I started with amber, to even out the color, then switched to clear.

176_bedplate_first_coat.jpg.0d89a3107c66017a2fac907b427eb25c.jpg
First coat of new shellac.

 

 

The silver highlights on most of the type 4 and many of the type 5 patent plates is usually completely gone or largely missing. It was a thin, fragile coating and it was a logical improvement when the Edison company went to using nickel plating in 1906. I like a good patent plate. (Who doesn't?) Toward that end, I decided to try my hand at re-silvering the highlights. I ordered some clock face silvering powder from a clock restorer in England. (This particular plate actually had a fair amount of silver on it and I would have left it as-is were I not doing a total refinish of the case.)

The black paint on the background looked OK, so I elected not to re-paint. Then I used some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper to clean off the highlights back to shiny brass.

161_plate_brass.jpg.a028497e60715348dd6dfa61fee8356e.jpg
Shiny, isn't it?

 

 

After a thorough cleaning with soap and 120 ℉ tap water, I rubbed the powder on and Presto! The highlights were silver once more. In a nod to more permanence, I went ahead and coated the plate with clear lacquer to protect the bright silver.

163_silver_plate.jpg.dc1fbc784653662023f0e0fdea8f1ddb.jpg
Matte silver again!

 

After the shellac had cured on the bedplate, I did a final sand and polish.
002_finished_bedplate.jpg.e16d56783e59cae103341b13d2c0419c.jpg
Different, huh?

 

 

It took me some time to work up the nerve to mix the Green aniline stain. I decided to try it as a water stain so that the color would not "move" so much when applying the shellac. As I quickly found out, a little green stain goes a long way. I used a test block of Oak to try out the stain strength. It took a while to get it dilute enough so that I could control the amount of color without going straight to "traffic light green".

Before staining, I wiped the case down with water to raise the grain and quench the dry wood's thirst before hitting it with the stain. After a very light sanding, I used a paper towel wad to apply the stain. Once the stain dries, it bears little resemblance to the final color with a top coat. This is an area where one needs to have faith.

154_stained_case.jpg.a116c7691efe780d609756fcb9cfad12.jpg
No, it's not going to end up looking like that.

So how did you clean and polish the bedplate?

 

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martinola

I don’t think the bedplate was very greasy, so I may have just done a lightly damp/ perhaps even slightly soapy wipe down.  I wanted to avoid adding too much moisture and was trying not to use anything oily, because I was going to re-amalgamate the existing shellac using alcohol (or a coat of shellac thinned with a fair bit of alcohol).  I built up several coats to form a protective layer.  After curing, I very carefully sanded the bedplate (so as not to cut thru into the stripes) with increasingly fine grades of sandpaper.

 

For polishing, rotten stone would have been the right thing to use, but I had the car polish on hand.  The important thing is to be sure it is well cured and hardened.  Also be aware that excessive polishing of shellac will build up heat - which softens shellac - so take it in small increments.

Thanks again, and good luck.

Martin

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