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May 24, 2012

A Vintage Air King Vent Fan Gets A Special ‘Spa Day’ at Mom’s 50s Time Capsule Condo

By Sara In AZ

A lot of you who have older homes might have something similar to what Mom has in her condo in the kitchen – a vent fan in the ceiling. Or, maybe your vent is in the wall by the oven. Many kitchen vents were done differently at that time, they were not always vented with a hood right over your range.


There was no way to install a vent directly over Mom’s oven unless we wanted to destroy the cabinet above the oven, which we did not want to do. Besides we all liked the ceiling vent, we just knew it needed a little sprucing up. 

The picture above is exactly how we found the vent on day one….with a zillion layers of paint over it.

I removed the vent cover only to discover that I was probably the first person ever to have done so, as there were tons of leaves in there that fell out all over me and then there was the small matter of a VERY filthy fan!!!! Eekssss!!!!


Here is the actual ceiling vent fan. When I say it was filthy I mean it was FILTHY!!! I am pretty sure that this fan was never cleaned in the past 50 years – like ever. We worked and scrubbed for a good few hours on the fan before we got all of the layers of grime and grease off. It wasn’t pretty y’all.


Here is the little fan resting out in the sun to dry after it’s first cleaning in years.


Now we turned our attention to the cover. I’m not sure what I was really thinking going into this project. I guess I thought I’d find some really great finish underneath all of those layers of paint.


But I didn’t.

I think it was originally probably a light color painted/enamel finish. Which worked against us in the end, because if it was a baked on enamel finish it was never going to come off…but I had already scuffed some of it up, so where do we go from here. uggghhhh.


We really tried hard to get all of the paint off, we even used some paint stripper. But the paint was just adhering like it was never going to come off. I was getting discouraged and did not know what to do. I didn’t want to reinstall the cover looking like this.


I asked Mike his opinion since I was completely stuck. Mike thought a plating shop might be my best bet to have this cover turn out nice in the end. For those of you not familiar with what a plating shop can do – you can drop off virtually any metal item and have it plated in nickel, copper, chrome etc. I hunted around the Phoenix area and found Metro Plating in Mesa. Let me just tell you right now, their work is amazing!!!!


After a few weeks at Metro Plating here is what we picked up!!! Our newly chromed Air King Vent Cover.


It’s SO insanely hard to get good pictures of how great this chrome job really is, but trust me – it’s top notch.


Every little detail came right through!


It’s like a million times better looking after the beauty treatment isn’t it!


Ahhhhh, SO much better!


Before we put our beautiful  new cover back up we had to remount the actual fan back into place, which was no easy task being that the fan was super heavy! It still works like a charm though!


Then we installed the pretty, newly chromed cover.


It’s little details like this that I just love!


And I hope that no paint with ever touch the surface of the vent cover again!!!!



Come back next Thursday when we install the new kitchen sink and faucet!!!!

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51 Responses to A Vintage Air King Vent Fan Gets A Special ‘Spa Day’ at Mom’s 50s Time Capsule Condo

  1. thatmidcenturyfella Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Long time reader, first time poster. Great work in the condo. I love tuning in on Thursdays just to see the progress that has been made.

    Thanks for the fun!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks so much midcenturyfella, I really do appreciate your leaving a comment 🙂 and stay tuned…only a few more condo posts to go and the project will be all wrapped up!

  2. deb Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Looks amazing!!

  3. James Owens Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Very nice!

  4. RetroRuth Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Wow, Sara!!! What a huge difference! Looks so fab compared to the before.

    Can I ask, about how much was the plating? Was it very expensive?

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Thanks Ruth! 🙂 I know, it looks SO much better doesn’t it!

      ***Hey y’all, here is a comment to everyone who asked about the pricing of the chrome job***

      I won’t lie, chrome is not cheap. The cost to do this fan cover was $160. Stay with me though and I’ll explain. The fan vent part was $100 because it was kinda big and because of all of the nooks and crannies and the button was $60 – it was smaller but also had the name and those ridges on the sides. All of that stuff is hand polished in the end, with great care into the finished product. If you look at the Metro Plating site you will see that they do chroming for vintage show cars, bumpers and such. Their process is a triple plate process, so it is more costly. My husband told me you do not have to get triple plate if you are maybe not as concerned about the look in the end and it would cost less, as he had a lot of items chromed for an old Jeep and he said the prices would vary widely according to how you wanted it done and even the chrome shop itself. It is hard to saw how prices in other areas would compare, as I am sure regional areas could vary in price by quite a bit. Also, keep in mind that your individual items, that you might want chromed, might not need as much attention as this vent cover did and thus could cost you less. I would definitely call around to a few different plating shops in your area to get an idea on pricing, also you might want to read some on line reviews of places you are considering for your work. I hope this helps y’all out! Please let me know if you have any more questions!

      • RetroRuth Reply

        May 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm

        Not too bad! Especially if it is in that excellent condition when it is finished.

      • Queen of Fifty Cents Reply

        May 25, 2012 at 9:15 am

        Thanks for the info! Actually sounds rather reasonable, comparing to what something new that looks like this might cost.

        • Sara In AZ Reply

          May 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm

          No problem! And I know, even if we were to get a modern fan and cover as a replacement they are not cheap either. Thats why I really wanted to stick with the original, as it has so much character!

  5. Sherree Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 9:01 am

    It looks wonderful; great job! Our 1951 ranch has 2 similar fans; a “Blo Fan” in the main bath ceiling and an unnamed one in the kitchen ceiling. (Although we may find a maker when it is taken down). It has also been painted multiple times and I am sure it has never been cleaned either! I always look forward to your posts 🙂

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Oh gosh, thanks Sherree! Ooohhhh, your vent fans sound super cool too, though I don’t envy your having to clean them! 🙂 You’ll have to take pics sometime and post them on your blog for us all to see!

  6. Queen of Fifty Cents Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I’m with Retro Ruth, if it’s not too nosy I’d love to know how much something like this costs to have done. I’m sure I could find a bunch o’ things to have plated if I could afford it. Wow, what a difference!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Queen! I know, it’s a huge difference isn’t it! 🙂 I commented on the pricing of the chrome job right under Ruth’s comment, let me know if you have any more questions!

  7. Charlotte Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Wowza! I cannot believe what an excellent job they did on that fan!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks Charlotte!!! 🙂 I know, I was SUPER impressed with their chrome job!!!!

  8. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Wow! That looks probably even better than it did when it was new.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      I think you are probably totally right Eartha!!! 🙂

  9. nickarmadillo Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Gorgeous! Can’t believe it turned out so well. If I might ask, how much did the plating run you? I’ve got a few plating and powder coating jobs to do but have been apprehensive because it sounds super expensive.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Thank you so much Nick!!! 🙂 Yeah, chroming is not totally cheap…..I commented on the pricing of the chrome job right under Ruth’s comment, let me know if you have any more questions!

  10. Silvercat Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

    That looks so awesome. I can’t imagine anyone would paint over shiny shiny chrome.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you Silvercat!!! 🙂 And from your mouth to God’s ears that no one shall ever paint over that chrome!

  11. sablemable Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Beautiful! I have one of those on the wall where the stove sits. Not painted, but it’s turned dull after 57 years.

    Was it very expensive to have it plated, Sara?

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Oh, thank you Sable!!! 🙂 That’s so cool that you have one too….I commented on the pricing of the chrome job right under Ruth’s comment, let me know if you have any more questions!

      • sablemable Reply

        May 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

        Wow! Really, I expected it to cost waaaay more than that!

        Would like to have my fan chromed, too and you gave us loads of info in your comment, Saraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

        Great post!

        • Sara In AZ Reply

          May 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm

          Yeah Sable, I had no idea how much chroming would cost before I had this done. I really think for all of the work they do it’s completely worth it! I’m totally hoping that you get your fan chromed too, I can’t wait to see!

  12. Pat M Reply

    May 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    The fan is gorgeous, and I think it would be hard to replicate with a modern replacement. In any case, I have loved the series on your mom’s condo because you inspire me to see beyond the surface and jump in to refurbish. It seems almost nothing is impossible! The results are awesome. Thanks.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Thank you so much Pat! 🙂 Yeah, I guess that is why it was so important for me to keep the old fan – I don’t think any modern fan could even come close to looking as cool!

      And thank you SO very much for your kind, kind compliments, it means the world to me. That was really my main goal with this whole condo series….to show everyone that older homes can be brought back without gutting them to bits and still look beautiful, yet maintain the period look.

  13. Andrea Reply

    May 25, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Smart choice to have it chromed, Sara! It looks fantastic, and I think it was well worth the cost.

  14. Tasha Reply

    May 25, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Wow, I really didn’t know about plating before but I’ll definitely keep it in mind in the future! What a great transformation!

    Our 50s ranch has a vent in the ceiling, made by Blo-Fan. It’s chrome…well, not shiny any longer, but I assume chrome. It’s a bit dusty and dingy but otherwise in pretty good condition, and works like a charm. It’s the on/off switch on the wall that’s pretty grimy and greasy, so we need to figure out how to clean that up.

    Interestingly, the cabinets were also clearly built to accommodate a hood (it currently has a 70s or 80s era one). Not sure why there would be a vent in the ceiling and a hood, but there they are!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      I know Tasha, I had never really considered it/known about plating before my husband brought it up as an option. I’m sure glad he knew about it though since it worked out so well!

      I’m picturing your wall switch looking somewhat like my fan! 🙂

      That is so weird that you have both a vent in the ceiling and there was one over the oven. The builders must have had a thing for venting! 😉

  15. Uncle Atom Reply

    May 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Wow Sara, great job. The plating was well worth it.

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  17. Katy0123 Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    please tell me what did you use to clean the gunk off the fan… I can’t believe I found this I said let me google old vent from 60s and found this very happy… Mine stopped working cause of the gunk I assume , was thinking of D44 ?? I don’t know if that’s correct .. But some one please help me try to find a way to clean this Vent
    Thank you

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 28, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Katy – We used Formula 409 and that scrubby brush thing you see in the pics….also A LOT of paper towels and loads of patience as cleaning something that dirty took a hour or so!

      Instead of 409 you might want to try a cleaner/degreaser called LA’s Totally Awesome, I’ve heard great things about it and it’s available at the dollar store for, you guessed it, $1!


  18. Phil D Reply

    December 25, 2015 at 9:20 am

    This is funny… I’m fixing up my kitchen and have one of these. I’ve been going crazy trying to find a new fan to replace the dirty old one inside. Mine is actually on the horizontal wall just above my stove, which I just tiled. So I pulled the cover off, cleaned it, and did a high gloss white spray paint which made it come out smooth. I haven’t attempted to clean the fan yet but now that I’ve seen this, I think I will give it a try.

  19. Sara In AZ Reply

    January 1, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Phil! Hope the cleaning worked for your fan, I have seen vintage NOS replacements for sale on ebay – but they are $$$s…so it will save you a ton if you can get your original up and running!

  20. Earl johnson Reply

    July 29, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    How can we order this particular ceiling ventilation fan. can you p;ease reply asap. thanks for ou cooperation.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 1, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      Hi Earl – Sorry! These “Air King” type of fans are not available any longer, you might want to check with you local heating/air conditioning supply store to see what modern equivalent might fit your needs.

  21. Cynthia Reply

    June 8, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    We have the same exact fan in a transom window. My question is how did you get the old vent off? I don’t see any screws?

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      June 8, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Cynthia – just unscrew the middle button…the part that says “Air King”…it just threads onto a bolt on a bracket holding in the fan motor!

  22. Rachel Reply

    June 21, 2017 at 11:30 am

    So this posting is super old – did you clean the hole the fan came out of? We just moved into a rental that probably has never cleaned this, and we accidentally turned it on and black stuff came sputtering out. Yuck! So I took off everything to clean it and the “hole” the fan came out of is covered in grease. Not sure how to tackle it! The difference is ours is above the oven and goes into the cabinet above it. It’s all one giant piece that shoots up into the ceiling so I don’t want to attempt taking it out. Any advice?

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      June 22, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Rachel – I did clean the hole, but it was not super greasy being that it was SO far away from the cooking area…up in the ceiling…it just was more regular dust/dirt.

      You might want to try a cleaner/degreaser called LA’s Totally Awesome, I’ve heard great things about it though I have never personally tried it and it’s available at the dollar store for, you guessed it, $1!


      I see the website has it listed only by the case, but I would swear the last time I was in there you could just buy one bottle. Good luck, let me know how it goes for you!

  23. Catherine Dillon Reply

    August 12, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    We have same fan above stove. Is yours hardwired to a wall switch?
    We cannot see how to turn it on.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 14, 2017 at 2:42 am

      Hi Catherine, Yes, Mom’s fan is hardwired into a wall switch which is located on the wall above her sink. There definitely should be a switch somewhere, on a wall, to turn your fan on as well….unless your fan was made differently since it is right above the stove???

  24. Janet Okonek Reply

    August 29, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    We have the same vent and are looking for the fan portion of the vent. Our blades on the fan are broken. Do you maybe know of a place where we can purchase just the blades.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 6, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Hi Janet – I do not believe you’d be able to buy only the blades anywhere…..I have never see just that for sale. If the motor assembly behind the blades is still working you might consider taking what you have left of the blade portion to a metal fabricating shop in your area and seeing if the might be able to help you out? Otherwise your best bet is to search ebay/etsy for a new old stock fan assembly and buy that.

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