Guest Author – Dean Ronnie

Today, we live in a technology-driven society where new gadgets and machines are created everyday; in fact every minute. At the same time, older technologies are forced to die a premature death due to obsolescence. While we are all nostalgic about some good old machines that we grew up with, we rarely bother about reviving them.

Restoring old machines can be a wonderful thing, since it allows you to bring back items from the past right into the future. Sometimes vintage design cannot be bettered; there are many machines from the past that just haven’t been replicated. For those seeking to bring an old machine back to life, there are two options: bringing a machine back to its full working glory; or restoring it aesthetically and use it as a showpiece. Here we take a look at a few examples of machines from the past that can make wonderful restoration projects:

Old Radios

Nostalgia - murphy-valve-radio
Vintage Radio

Whether it has been passed down the generations or you just spotted it in a second hand sale for a good price, an old radio makes for a wonderful restoration project. Taking you back to the golden age of broadcasting before TVs, video games and the internet, a vintage radio such as Murphy, Bush, Philips features superb vintage appeal. It is up to you whether or not you restore it back to working condition or not, but even if you don’t, restoring the outer of a vintage radio makes for a great antique to be displayed in your home.

If you do choose to restore the radio electronically, there are a number of things to look out for. These include replacing tolerance resistors, repairing any ripped speaker cones, cleaning and lubricating any mechanisms. While this all may sound daunting, there are hundreds of guides and videos available on the internet for your assistance.

Vintage Sewing Machines

Singer Sewing Machine-Odin's_raven
Singer Sewing Machine-Odin’s_raven

Although modern sewing machines are easily available and are much more effective, there is just something about a vintage sewing machine. Whether you want to restore a vintage one to put it to use or you just want to use it as a showpiece, there many options available.

If you don’t have one already, the best place to find a vintage sewing machine is by asking friends and relatives; they might have one hidden away in their garage or attic. If not, there are plenty to be found among newspaper classified ads, the neighbourhood scrap dealer and of course, the internet. Major sewing machine manufacturers to look out for include Usha, Nagpal, Singer and also imported ones like Jones & Frister and Rossmann & Bradbury.

If you are purchasing a sewing machine, don’t rush into buying a machine that shows signs of a hard life. Check the underside and look inside the covers and doors. Any chips to the paint, rust or missing parts are all signs that the sewing machine will need a lot of work to get it back to its best. If you plan to use it, you may have extra work on your hands to get it moving again that will involve dismantling it, removing the rust from the parts and then giving it a thorough clean. Never use common lubricants such as WD-40 as these will harden over time and will collect dust and lint, and can also gum up the metal gear driven parts.


Yezdi-Classic | Sandeep K Ram
Yezdi Classic | Sandeep K Ram

There is nothing quite like riding a classic! Once you are astride a vintage motorbike from the past such as Yezdi Roadking, Royal Enfield Bullet, or Triumph, you will be immersing yourself in history. A large part of the fun with riding a classic motorbike is taking something that has fallen into disrepair and resurrecting it. For many like me, working on a restoration project is as much fun as actually riding the bike itself.

Even if you don’t plan to ride the bike, if you have the room, a vintage bike can make an excellent addition to your garage as a showpiece. Of course if you do plan to ride it, restoring the bike to roadworthy condition will be no overnight process, as you find yourself taking the bike apart piece by piece. As part of the restoration process, you will need to fully inspect every inch of your bike. Check for cracks, holes, rusting parts; check every fixture and fitting, and be sure to test all electrical components. Serious attention to detail is needed as one loose bolt could cause a breakdown.

While spare parts for vintage motorcycles can be hard to come by, advances in technology mean they can be reproduced in certain cases. Using processes such as rotary swaging, specialist engineering companies have recreated parts for motorbikes from as far back as the 1920s.

Push Lawnmowers

Lawnmower | CubaGallery
Lawnmower | CubaGallery

The basic design of hand-push lawnmowers has changed very little since they were first invented in 1830. With a gear wheel connected to a rear roller featuring a cylinder of sharp cutting blades, the design of these machines is incredibly simple. Using a scissor like action, the blades cut against a bottom blade for a very precise cut.

As they were built to last a lifetime and were often engineered using high grade materials, these lawnmowers can be repaired and brought back to working order. Once refurbished, a push lawnmower will require little maintenance aside from little greasing, cleaning and blade adjustment. Since they are entirely manual, they are harmless to the environment, save you money on electricity and are also great exercise. Even if you don’t actually plan to cut your grass with these lawnmowers, refurbishing them can give you a great showpiece for your garden, which taps into the trend of upcycling.

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