Thursday, September 10, 2009

Restoration: Mechanical Coin Operated Horse Kiddie Ride

I have an amazing mother. She has a gift for repair and restoration, and she can do just about anything: restore a Model T, re-key a vintage gumball machine, reupholster a Victorian sofa, rewire an old lamp, or refinish an antique oak bookcase (all projects she's completed). That she's doing these things in her 60s is even more remarkable to me.

Earlier in the summer, I bought an old coin operated kiddie ride horse at an antique fair. It had been sloppily re-painted in very drab colors, including a heavy coat of black paint over the entire base, and mom was just itching to tackle it. I could see her looking appraisingly at it the first time she saw it, and after that, every time she stopped by, I heard, "You know, I could rewire that thing in a few minutes, and then we wouldn't have to worry about it catching the place on fire when you run it. And, while I'm at it, it would be nothing, nothing, I tell you, to just go ahead, strip it, and repaint it." This went on all summer. Finally last weekend I agreed I was ready to let him go, and before I knew it he was gone, whisked away to mom's workshop of wonders, where he was completely disassembled in mere moments.

Within a day, she had painstakingly stripped all the nasty black repaint off the base to reveal the original colors and even the lettering. The base was originally red with yellow trim and the words "PONY RIDE 5 c" stencilled on the side. It was so exciting to discover this had survived! We debated whether to completely restore the base by repainting and restencilling, but decided to leave it as is, showing all its use and wear. This horse was ridden by a LOT of kiddies back in the day (1940s), as the paint is worn almost completely away on the base top, where they would have been climbing on and off. To me, this wear is an important part of its history, and I enjoy seeing it. How someone could have just slapped all that nasty black paint over it is beyond me...


The next day it was reported that the mechanism had been thoroughly cleaned and regreased. And the rewiring job was finished, complete with a new electrical switch (mom: "like I told you, it took less than 20 minutes!").


Yesterday the primer was applied, and we picked out the paint colors. The first picture below shows the stripped horse, followed by the primer stage. The next picture shows his first coat of paint, and the final image is the finished project. He's a black circus pony now!




















7 comments:

  1. You're mom is friggin' amazing!!!!!! I admire her so much I must see more of her work!!! Send me pics, Tracy!!! I'm in awe of her and this is an amazing piece to restore! Congratulations to you both!
    Hugs,
    Michelle

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  2. Where can I find that horse? I wanna ride it!!!!

    -ilovehorseyrides

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  3. can you tell me what type of paints you used. We are thinking of restoring one for a small zoo my son works for. I will fave to figure out stripper etc.... Your horse is BEAUTIFUL.

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    1. Thank you for the compliment! I will pass it along to my mother: she did all the hard work. We used just a regular paint stripper, and then some hand sanding for stubborn spots. For paint, the black base is just Rustoleum (spelling?) spray paint from the hardware store, and the trims and details were done with craft paints (from Michael's/Jo Ann Fabrics.) Then there was a clear sealant put over the whole thing. I'm not sure if what we did was technically correct (we're not professionals) but it seemed to come out okay. Good luck with yours!

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  4. Could you show me/us a video of the horse while someone is riding it? Looks very fun!!!

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  5. I am restoring a coin operated aluminum horse. It's being soda blasted and primed. What type of spray paint did you use? How is it wearing? Thanks for your help.....

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    1. Hi, we just used Rustoleum spray paint from our local hardware store. It's held up well.

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