So, I’m in the workshop today, dismantling a grubby old paraffin stove that has only recently seen the light of day after spending goodness knows how long consigned to a forgotten life in the darkest recesses of a dilapidated garden shed.
A stiff wire brush takes care of the worst of the consequences of decades of neglect, and then it’s fine wire wool to gently reveal what lies beneath the remaining grime and grease.
Virtually flawless enamel is uncovered where I thought I’d find flaky, thin paint, and, still able to smell the unmistakable aroma of paraffin after all these years, I wonder who was the first person to use this bygone device? Was it merely an appliance of necessity for a busy family, or was it someone’s pride and joy – shiny, brand new and unused, filled for the first time with fuel and ready for the wick to be ignited?
More bits are taken off and laid to one side for later cleaning and the main body, the fuel tank, is given some attention. A good 65% of the light pea green paint is missing here, exposing dull, bare metal, pockmarked with a multitude of shallow dents, each one, I’m sure with a story to tell.
To my delight, the remaining paint and bare metal polish up beautifully leaving the sort of ‘look-at-me-I’ve-been-around-a-bit’ look that can only come from, well ….. being around a bit!
As more components are cleaned, polished and reassembled, the once dowdy, unloved item of scrap, starts to develop a character all of its own and I wonder, not only who was the last person to use it, but why?
Well, I know why – the advancement of the electric age, that’s why. It’s just such a shame, as all that’s needed is some fuel and a match and without a shadow of a doubt this beauty would burst into life.
The two main parts are married back together again, the wonderfully distressed paraffin tank and the gleaming, enamel stove tube – she looks fantastic! Yes, it has a gender now.
I finish up for the day, put my tools away, brush the workbench off and drain the last dregs of cold coffee from a dirty fingerprinted mug.
Turning the radio off and heading for the door I find myself asking the question “Why am I doing this? Why am spending time and effort on something that is probably worth less than the polish I’ve just used on it? Why will I spend even more money and time on it, just to (hopefully) turn a modest profit?”
If you’ve read this far you’ll know – it’s because, for some of us at least, old stuff is just the best!