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Restoration and Repurposing of an Old Pair of Scales as a Fruit Bowl
Multi-Purposing Pair of Scales
Restoring an old pair of scales is not as hard as it may sound, and once restored what then. Retro thinking, they would look great and be functional in the kitchen. Although if you have modern digital scales you may not want an old pair of scales taking up valuable kitchen surface top space. My solution was to repurpose them as a fruit bowl in the dining room. Below here is my journey into restoring and repurposing an old pair of scales given to us by a friend after clearing out his garage.
We were given an old pair of scales, with one original weight, 7lbs. The scales had been stored in the back of a friend's garage for years and were in a bit of a sorry state, with decades of grime and the paintwork pit marked with a touch of surface rust. Nevertheless I saw potential in these not just for weighing vegetable crops I harvest from our back garden but also to multipurpose as a fruit bowl.
Being almost self-sufficient in growing our own veg it can be quite a chore weighing them on modern kitchen scales for our records; whereas a proper pair of scales like these, provided I could obtain some new (or second hand) weights, would be ideal. And for most of the time, when not otherwise required for weighing organic home grown vegetables, I saw the potential for multi-purposing them as a great ornamental and functional centre piece on our sideboard as a display item and fruit bowl; provided I could clean and smarten the scales up.
Before embarking on this project I wanted to learn more about these scales, their history, and their worth. In researching I discovered that these particular scales, as identified by the manufacturer plate fixed to them, were made by Chayney & Co. Ltd, Scale Makers in Canterbury; the full address being 50 Burgate Street, Canterbury, England. This Company, which was bought in the 1950s by Vandome & Hart has its roots in a Thomas Sinclair Chayney, who appears in the 1882 Kelly Directory as scalemaker at 7 Market Buildings, Maidstone, Kent. Further research revealed that Chayney and Co. appears as Scale Makers at 50 Burgate Street, Canterbury from about 1917. Therefore I assume that these particular scales were manufactured sometime between 1917 and the 1950s. And although classified as vintage scales their value at best is only £50. My intention in renovating them was to strip the paint back to the bare metal and re-paint with car spray paint of a similar colour. Obviously in doing this I strip the scales of their original authentic finish and thus their value; but at £40 or £50 its not a great loss, and I am sure that if I were to sell them in their modified restored state as an attractive pair of scales (if not as a collector’s item in its original state) I could get £20 for them anyway.
This DIY makeover project provides a few simple tips and ideas for multi-purposing and repurposing an old pair of scales as a fruit bowl.
- Cordless drill
- Wire brushes to fit electric drill
- Wire brush for Dremel
Time required: 2 days
- Electrical tape
- Car spray paint
- Soapy water and dishcloth or sponge
1. The first steps to cleaning-up and smartening-up an old pair of scales we were given was to start undoing all the nuts and bolts and screws, making a note of where everything goes and how it fits together. All of these undid quite easily except one screw on the underside that required a good soaking in WD40 before it would loosen.
The next step was to give all the parts a good wash in warm soapy water and a good scrub to get rid of any surface dirt and grease. If at this point the scales come up good and clean and all the paint work is intact and in good condition that would be great; all that would be needed then would be to dry the parts off and reassemble it ready for use. However, the scales we were given had surface rust so the paint work was patchy. Therefore I ordered a set of wire brushes from Amazon to fit an electric drill and used these to clean off the rust and to make the surface smooth and clean in preparation of spray painting.
2. However, I was keen to preserve the manufacturer label in its original state, so when using the wire brushes to clean up the metal work I switched to using a Dremel with a wire brush around the manufacturer label to give greater control in cleaning, carefully inching my way towards the label, getting as close as I dare without any risk of damage. And to protect it when spray painting the rest of the body I carefully cut a strip of electric tape to size, using a Stanley knife which was particularly useful for cutting the bevelled corners, and stuck the electrical tape over the label. As demonstrated in the image of the label after the scales were painted shows, it pays to take your time and pay attention to detail like this.
3. Only the body of the scales, and any parts previously painted should be repainted with car spray paint. The bare metal parts just needed a good clean in soapy water and the brass and copper pieces, including the weighing scoop were polished up with Brasso. The scales weighing platform, although solid iron, I polished off with a good rubdown of Silvo.
4. For repainting I could not find an exact colour match to the original I just wanted it to look good as a show piece so that I could repurpose it as a fruit bowl, when not needed for weighing crops from the garden; so rather than taking up valuable space in the shed when not in use multi-purposing it so that its put to practical use at all times. Therefore I found a green car spray-paint which I liked that was a reasonably good close match to the original colour. I spray-painted the scales without a primer and found that one small can was just sufficient for two coats. However, although I found not using a primer worked just fine, if you tackle a similar job using a primer is something you might wish to consider.
Sourcing Weights for the Restored Scales
Having restored the scales back to a reasonable state and wishing to use them as scales in the kitchen for weighing crops I harvest from our garden I needed some weights. We were given one original weight (7lbs.) with the scales, along with an iron weight of about 700 grams. Most of the crops I harvest at any one time is usually less than one or two kilograms
Therefore, not being able to find a suitable set second hand I bought a new set of weights from Amazon that weighs up to 2kgs., of which the largest weight being 1kg. Although not original this is ideal for my purposes, and with the smallest weight being 5gms. I can get some accurate readings from the scales.
I recently tried them out with the newly restored scales when I harvested 980grms of Brussels sprouts, and the weights worked a treat. Also, as the weights stack, they take up little space when not in use; and in themselves become a display item on our sideboard, along with the scales being multi-purposes as a fruit bowl.
Pride of Place on the Sideboard
Having given the old pair of scales a makeover, so that they make a good show piece and a novel fruit bowl when not needed for weighing veg from the garden, we put them to practical use on our sideboard.
Not only does the weighing pan make a natural fruit bowl, but placing a fruit bowl on the weighing pan doubles up its use for keeping fresh fruit. And its fun watching the scales over the days as one side becomes lighter than the other and the balance in the scales is tipped from one side to the other; only to be reverted as the fruit bowls are topped up with fresh fruit.