How to Restore Vintage Coke Machines

By Gabrielle Black

Acquiring and restoring a vintage Coca-Cola Machine can be an exciting and ambitious undertaking. There are many steps and expenses involved with soda machine restoration. A machine may look like it's in decent condition from the outside, but once the cabinet is stripped down and all the parts are removed, you may find a good deal of rust and deterioration. Machining, painting, refurbishing, and tool and parts knowledge are all necessary skills for restoring a vintage Coke machine. Many professional restoration shops strongly recommend having the specialized labor performed by a professional in that given area.

Dismantle the Coke machine down to the cabinet, and separate the removed parts into piles based on their finish. For example chrome parts, zinc plated parts, etc. Use the necessary tools in your tool set to dismantle the machine. Order any parts from the part catalog that need to be replaced.

Hire a professional to sandblast the machine to remove old paint and rust making sure the technique used should be gentle enough not to harm the metal.

Send parts away to professionals who specialize in these areas. For example, most professionals recommend that the parts of the coin mechanism that need chrome plating restoration, should be sent to Custom Chrome Plating in Grafton, OH. Zinc plated and stainless steel banded parts should also be sent away for detail restoration.

Hire a professional powder coating business to powder coat and oven bake all necessary parts such as the cabinet and vending stack assembly.

Hire a professional paint shop to do all finish painting on the unit.

Disassemble the refrigeration unit. Thoroughly clean and wire wheel polish it. Repaint and rewire the unit.

Send the coin mechanism to a professional vending equipment service and repair business for cleaning and restoration.

Undercoat the inside of the cabinet for extra rust protection. Install new leg levelers and insulation.

Reassemble the Coke machine. Professional restorers recommend using all new hardware, glass, ballasts, etc. to prolong the life of the machine.

Hire a professional artist to paint the lettering on the exterior of the cabinet.

Apply new decals that were on the original model. Apply decals on the exterior as well as the interior such as logo decals and necessary warning labels.

Tip

The final coat of paint should be Dupont Enamel which was originally used by the factory.

Paint the lettering with a slow drying, sign painter's enamel to eliminate brush strokes.

Use the internet to find the professional shops needed to complete the restoration project.

Warning

Replacing the refrigeration unit with a modern substitute will not properly weigh the machine down and could create a dangerous tipping hazard.

Follow all safety procedures listed on labels when using various chemicals, paints, and power tools.

About the Author

Gabrielle Black has been a professional writer, artist and designer since 2002. Her theatrical designs, puppet design and construction have been featured in "Theatre Design & Technology" magazine and she has written numerous articles for various websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Luther College and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Idaho, both in stage design and painting.