A few years ago, I found a very cool-looking
electric floor polisher in very sad condition, in an old junk shop down in Inglewood,
California. I only paid $5 for it, brought it home, and then it sat in my garage
for several years awaiting my attention which was long in coming since it was
in such awful condition.
The circular base was originally natural metal in finish, and the motor hood
was dark green. The brush was in wretched condition -- the machine had been used
until the bristles were worn down to nubs, and then it had stood on top of those
brushes for Lord only knows how many years.
Well, one day I thought
the time had come to do a restoration on the machine so I started into it. I took
it all apart, cleaned and greased the motor, bearings, and gears, painted it a
fun blue hammertone finish -- not original but quite festive looking, I thought.
And then I set out to find brushes for it. Easier said than done. The machine
was made by the Clarke company, a noted manufacturer of floor polishers. I found
their phone number and called. I described what I had, and the clerk sort of laughed
and said that it was from the 1940s and that no, they no longer carried parts
for it. *Good-bye!*
So the next place to look was my favorite Vac Shop in Los Angeles -- Boulevard
Vacuum. The owner of the store, Ron, seems to have a knack for finding just about
anything. I brought the polisher in to him and he was quite amazed at the sight of this vintage appartion! He had never
seen one, and expected that finding brushes for it would be tough but he would try.
A few weeks later he called and said that he had found a brush of the right
size, but the hole to attach to the fitting was the wrong diameter and I would
have to figure out some way of overcoming that problem. His polisher parts source
had looked the planet high and low and this was all he could come up with.
I went and picked up the brush and came up with a rather clever way of adapting
it. I took its circular measurements to the lumber store and got a second piece
of 1" wood cut in the same dimension as the wood base. I had the guy make a smaller
hole in the center so I could attach the mounting bracket from the old brush.
I took the wood base home, wood-glued and screwed it to the base of the "found"
brush, lacquered it with several coats of clear varnish, attached the mounting
bracket from the old brush, and VIOLA! It worked!!
I have been quite happy with the machine. I really love its very retro, "Flash
Gordon" look but even after the restoration it was a bit tired looking and it
did not seem to run with a lot of pep. Ron, nice as he is to me, would have had
to have charged me to take it apart and find out why it was running so slowly.
So I just used it as it was and figured when it gave up the ghost, that would
be it --- a day I did not want to see come as it really was a fun machine to use.
I most recently used the polisher for this year's "spring" cleaning (in July!)
It seemed to be running even more slowly than ever so I was a bit sad about that, although
it still did an excellent job of polishing. The machine is heavy and the motor
runs with a lot of torque which is the key to a good floor polisher. A light-weight
plastic thing with small nylon gears just isn't gonna cut it. You really need the
brute force of a commercial-type polisher to do a good, thorough, and FAST job
of buffing floors, and this mighty Clarke fit that bill in every regard.