Restoration of a 100-Year-Old Electric Coffee Grinder

If you know anything about our inbound marketing firm, you know that our entire team believes the coffee bean contains the lifeblood for creativity.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when I found an old, non-functioning coffee grinder from the early 1900’s, we would restore it to its glory days and start grinding beans. This model is a Valley Electric Corp coffee grinder.

This photo shows how the machine was found. When plugged up, it would just hum with no motor rotation. The rust was very heavy on the lower brown area – so heavy that I would later have to take a side grinder and “re-shape” the metal in that spot because it was so pitted.

These original photos also helped me know where the black striping would be put back.

Here, we see the results from over an hour of grinding with a steel wire brush attached to a side grinder. YAY, lead paint! I was sure to use a full blown respirator and not just one of those “Asian Bird Flu deals“.

A few more hours of grinding…

You can see one of the worn-out wire brushes in the background of this shot.

The removed power switch from the back reveled the original paint color. I taped this off before painting the custom-mixed, red paint that would follow. This allowed me to remove the tape and see how close I was.

Lots of taping…

For painting, I used a Harbor Freight paint gun that hooks to an air compressor (20 fl. oz. HVLP Gravity Feed Spray Gun). For $14 you could literally throw it away after a project. The good news is, though, that I have run over 20 gallons through this thing in the last year, and it still works like a champ.

Once you get the hang of setting your pressure correctly, you can really cover a lot of space. This primer took 6 coats, and the old red paint base kept coming through. I just crossed my fingers and hoped the red would cover it.

This red was nowhere close to matching. It’s like candy apple meets fire engine. I mixed some black with it, and it looked better. I also did no sanding between coats, like one would do in automotive painting. It is a rough cast piece. To sand, clear coat, and polish the piece would show all the flaws in the casting and would not look authentic.

 …More taping. I eyeballed the earlier photos to determine where the black lines should go.


Three coats of black paint later and my favorite part, tape removal. It was like unwrapping a Christmas gift!

Another nice little surprise was the brass casing bolts that keep the motor in place. I also had to scrub this slide and re-shape it with a hammer to get it to function properly.

This grind adjustment dial was solid rust before polishing. Luckily, the numbers had not eroded away.

The motor was cleaned, and the shaft was wet sanded then polished to a high sheen. This allowed the adjustment knob to function properly by closing or opening the gap for coffee to fall between the burrs.

Grind testing…

And french press coffee making! Now we have one more weapon in our arsenal for caffeine intake.

If you are beginning the restoration of a classic coffee grinder like this one, don’t hesitate to email me with questions.