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Thread: Refinish Question re: 1920 Era Cabinet

  1. #1
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    Refinish Question re: 1920 Era Cabinet

    Below is the latest addition to our family.

    LOML 'rescued' an Edison Diamond Disc Phonograph (model C-19) from an antique (old stuff) store in a small town just across the line in Florida. From the information available, it was produced after May, 1916 and before 1927 when Edison made the last of them. It's actually in fairly good shape mechanically. Fifteen Edison 'Re-Creations' (records) came with it and it plays just fine. It's amazing how good one of these things sounds without any of the electronics we're accustomed to these days. We did a little cleanup internally, then I oiled and greased the necessary points. I actually found an owner's manual for it online! OK, enough of the good stuff.

    The exterior finish of the cabinet looks decent from a distance, but has a wrinkled appearance up close. It's a tight wrinkled look, whereas the undamaged areas look almost like a French polished finish. I have not done any testing of the surface to determine what topcoat was used. My best guess is shellac, since that was common back then. Before I start doing anything with the finish, I'd like to get your educated opinions on the best approach to deal with this issue. The back of the cabinet has the same appearance, so I can experiment on it first.

    Here's an overall look at the machine.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a closeup of the top edge of the turntable section, showing some of the wrinkled appearance and some smooth area.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks is advance for your help!
    Last edited by Bill Arnold; 10-21-2013 at 10:28 AM.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  2. #2
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    Likely is shellac. My grandparents had a rocker with the same thing. First was to clean it thoroughly. These days I'd use Simple green and copious rinsing. Then some solvent. In the day, my grandma used lye soap.
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  3. #3
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    It is french polished , you can take some very fine paper , 400-600 lightly sand the wrinkled areas and polish it of use a cleaner I make up and clean and buff. That's a nice addition.
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  4. #4
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    Bill, this is crazy...I heard one play this past weekend that looks exactly the same as yours. I had never even seen one before and now 2 in 3 days!
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Bower View Post
    Bill, this is crazy...I heard one play this past weekend that looks exactly the same as yours. I had never even seen one before and now 2 in 3 days!
    I had never heard of this type of Edison machine until my wife told me about it. We did a little online research, then went back to the store to purchase it. It's amazing to me to see how many of the records have survived the decades since being made!
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    Likely is shellac. My grandparents had a rocker with the same thing. First was to clean it thoroughly. These days I'd use Simple green and copious rinsing. Then some solvent. In the day, my grandma used lye soap.
    A good cleaning is the first thing that came to mind, although the cabinet doesn't look "dirty". We've used Murphy's Oil Soap on many things we've purchased but Simple Green might be the better choice on this item.

    Some DA (denatured alcohol) will confirm if it's shellac, of course. One thing I plan to try is wiping with a pad saturated with DA/Shellac similar to French polishing to see if that will smooth the wrinkles as well as refreshing the overall finish.

    My wife and I are preparing to head to Alabama to see her mother, so all of this will wait until we return. Film at 11.....
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

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