Early 20th Century TC Model A Restoration


Airbush Analyst
Bringing an old one back to life - I picked up this early 20th Century Thayer Chandler Model A mostly because the case was still in decent shape for the age. This is what it looked like when it arrived -

I did some research finding some early print materials that help to potentially date the brush. The two pieces that I found most important were ad's from both 1912, and 1914 publications that illustrated a change in the shape of the back of the handle on the model A. Ad materials were an important means of showing people what the brush was, so they tended to be very current with production. They most likely would not have illustrated something that was not available - These materials (along with others previously seen) help to potentially date this brush to be from between 1900 and 1913.


The overall condition of the brush itself was really not horrible considering it to be in the neighborhood of 100 years old. I already have one from the same time period that is in very good condition though. So I decided to try my hand at a complete restoration on this one.

Because I already have a very clean, working example from this time period, with this one in questionable shape by comparison - I decided to take a shot at rejuvenating this one. You can see by the position of the trigger it was non-functioning upon arrival.

The scratches up front run through the plating, and into the brass base material. The plating itself is etched pretty badly

Those spots running along the side of the brush turned out to be a worthy adversary. They turned out to be a filler used before the original plating process. It needed to be completely ground out, and a new filler used to repair the imperfections in the brass. I used a high quality silver solder to fill the voids were the original filler was removed.

I used a chemical bath to remove the original Nickel plate, returning the brush to the original bare brass state. In addition to the scratches, I also found stress cracks in the belly of the brush, in front of the air valve.

The brush was re-plated first using a copper "strike" coat, followed by a thicker layer of copper. I used several layers of copper to rebuild a good surface for final plating.

I used both sanding and polishing methods to fill imperfections in the brass base material working to create a good surface to re-plate in Nickel.

Sanding, polishing and re-plating all happened again - until I achieved a surface I was happy with to do the final layers of Nickel Silver.

Limits on image upload force me to continue on in a response to this post - so, on to the next window!
Brushes don't just need to look clean to work- so more work was done.

The needle was kinked pretty bad -

First step was to straighten the original point out as much as possible - I use drill rod for this, rubbed against a hard surface.

Next, into a "Sharpenair" for a gentle massage -

Polishing pad (3200 grit between slots on the Sharpenair) -

Metal polish on a soft cloth -

Restored needle -

Still more stuff comes next -
Springs are usually rusty, or just plain wore out in brushes this old. So, I made a setup for my lathe that allows me to make mandrels the right diameter that mount in the chuck, along with a wire tensioner/holder I made that mounts to the tool post, to twist my own springs. I count coils on the originals, as well as measure wire diameters to set the threading gears on the lathe to produce a similar spacing between coils to recreate a spring that matches the original.

In this manner, I made a new needle spring and air valve return spring for this brush restoration -

This isn't the actual color cup I made to go with this brush (the original was missing), but the steps are the same -
A replica cup was turned from brass, soldered together, and finished by nickel plating just like the brush.

Same thing with these pictures of a handle - they are not of the one from this particular restoration, but the process was the same.
The threads on this particular brushes handle had actually shrunk with age (material is most likely something along the cellulose acetate lines). I chucked the handle up in the lathe, cut the threads off, then counter bored the handle to accept an insert.

Cut an insert, complete with fresh new threads to match the brush body -

and then bonded the original handle onto the new threaded insert -

Last bit, and I have no photos of this part - was the nozzle. The original nozzle was still in good condition, in spite of the needle damage on the brush. On older brushes like this, I soak the nozzles in restorer, run them through the Ultrasonic, and finish them off with a light polish inside and out. I use carefully carved bamboo to create a shape that is very close to the internal shape of the nozzle. Soak the skewer in water, and then use a fine metal polish worked only by hand to finish the insides of the nozzle If need be, I may hit the outer edges of the nozzle tip with ceramic stones while turning in the lathe to clean up any potential burs or irregularities at nozzle edge.

Restoration complete - may this brush make it another 100 years!
Wow, just wow. That restoration is truly a demonstration of a Master Machinist at work doing what he loves. The care and precision is a joy to behold. The airbrush restoration is awe inspiring, the cup an absolute work of art.

Thank you for assembling this SBS and posting it. A tedious task added to an already ambitious project.

My hat is off to you,Sir. Extremely well done.

And I am happy and proud to clean a 10 year old Badger... lol (deleting the post I was writing about the latest 150 I "restored" 😛 )
Dave, when I grow up I want to be like you.

You're a very talented individual w/ a great appreciation for detail. Great job and very well done. Looking forward to seeing more.
You're a very talented individual w/ a great appreciation for detail. Great job and very well done. Looking forward to seeing more.
a few of the more interesting ones I have played with -

1898 Liberty Walkup -
walkup complete1.jpg

Wold Model N (pre-1920) -
Wold Model N repair1.jpg

An undated, and undocumented Wold based on an early 1900's patent. I suspect this one was a prototype that never made it into production. I accidently broke the air valve casing on this one years ago. The owner finally allowed me to take a stab at a repair. I made the air valve casing, a new trigger (originally had been broken elsewhere), and I added a color cup based off the original patent drawing (ca.1904), The repairs made the brush completely functional.
mystery wold complete1.jpg
mystery wold color cup1.jpg
This is a truly beautiful brush and one well worth restoring Dave. You did your usual masterful job. To show us the process you used in the restoration is an added bonus. Seeing what you started with and where you ended up is amazing.

You know I have a fondness for TC model A brushes. Mine will need to stay in their as found condition as it would take me another lifetime to even get close to your abilities.

You are a genuine craftsman sir.

Your other restorations are works of art in themselves. I particularly like the Wold N.
... I particularly like the Wold N.
This Thayer Chandler sits on the windowsill above my desk, and it gets usd kind of frequently. It produces a wonderfully soft shading with just a breath of air. Yes, I too have a fondness for them.

Love the N, too. This particular one wears an Iwata .2 nozzle and needle, and could easily be used any day of the week. Super soft and responsive action to work.
It's great that the A is one of your go to brushes and it gets used a lot.

Converting the N to Iwata is awesome. I would imagine it would be quite the improvement. They are beautiful brushes albeit a bit different looking and working. I'm sure yours works better than those from the factory.
You laugh Ismael, but I was serious, this guy is good.
I'd trust him to get it right.
Although you do fit right in with the rest of my family
Sorry for the thread hijacking Dave, it really is outstanding work.
I saw this on your Facebook page, it’s really beautiful work. I’ve been lurking on this forum for a good long while and you’re a unique entity in the airbrushing world. Thanks for the inspiration.

P.S I’m only being nice so you’re inclined to be more forgiving when I steal your custom HP-B 😉