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How to Repair an Antique Meat Scale

Monty Fresco Jnr/Valueline/Getty Images

Antique meat scales provide a nice piece of history and can be a decorative addition to most home decors. Highly collectible and used in trade for centuries, there are many varieties of antique scales on the market today. Repairing one can pose a bit of a challenge but can be done with a little effort. It should be noted that doing so yourself may decrease the value of your scale, and if you care about its' originality and value, should consult the many restoration avenues that exist.

Evaluate condition of your antique meat scale. Cosmetic and minor repairs can be made easily and for a low cost. Locate make and model number in case you require missing parts, making notes in your notebook. If your scale is in ruins, a professional restoration job may be needed.

Check for calibration. If your antique meat scale is in good physical condition but showing strange weights, calibation may be an issue. With your dumbell for a preset weight and using the tools to adjust the set screw, you can do this easily. To calibrate, turn the set screw and set your antique meat scale to zero empty. Place the barbell on the scale and adjust the set screw until the scale is reading the exact weight of the barbell. Continue to do this several times until the scale is reading properly.

Disassemble your scale for a cleaning and maintenance session. A thorough cleaning of your scale may be required, as dirt, dust, and grime over time will impact performance. Disassemble with tools and maintain a sketch in your notebook to indicate how to reassemble. It may help to use masking tape to mark and pen to number the pieces if that will help you reassemble. If you notice parts are missing, then you can call restoration places available online with make and model to see if they can obtain these parts.

Clean the inside parts using caution. Remove gunk on dirty parts by soaking in a solution of "parts cleaner" in a metal bucket or basin. This cleaner is available in most auto parts stores. Rusty parts may be soaked in a five gallon plastic bucket with lid, in a solution of paint thinner. Both of these methods should be done by an adult in well ventilated areas and exercise caution when dealing with these chemicals. Soaking for two to three days is recommended. Remove with tongs and dry with old rags.

Evaluate and make do-it-yourself cosmetic repairs.

Perform touch ups on missing paint, having matched the color with a like paint at the local hardware store. Use masking tape to protect any non-paintable parts. Before painting ensure any chipped or bubbled areas have been sanded away.

Clean dirty chrome parts with fine steel wool. For extremely pitted chrome use the Internet to find replacement parts. (Check for like model scales as buying a whole one for parts may be cheaper than buying just one replacement part.) Chrome colored spray paints are also available but investigate customer reviews online first.

Reassemble your antique scale and calibrate in accordance with Step 2. During assembly use lubricating oil such as WD-40 to oil any moving parts. If your scale is still not working properly once you do all of this, then additional parts are either missing or malfunctioning and you should consider a professional restoration company, using the Internet to search for someone reputable. Otherwise, your scale has been repaired to the best of your ability, and would serve as a nice decorative item.

Things You'll Need:

  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Tools
  • Iron or metal barbell - 3 or 5 lb
  • Masking tape
  • Parts cleaner
  • Old rags
  • Metal bucket
  • Paint thinner
  • 5 gallon covered bucket
  • Tongs
  • WD-40 lubricating oil
  • Phone book
  • Touch up paint
  • Sandpaper - fine to medium
  • Steel wool - fine grade
  • Internet


Most antique scales are not considered legal for trade, however professional restoration shops can calibrate them as close to exact as possible.

Auto body shops will sometimes color match and paint a scale for a flat fee.

There are companies who can re-chrome items but this is very expensive.


  • Do-it-yourself scale repair can negatively impact the value of your scale. These low cost repairs may work if you are only displaying it for your use, but if your make and model is worth money, a professional restoration job will ensure your scale is fixed properly and maintains it's value.
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