Older finds (part 5)

Some small items found a while ago from a thrift shop.


These are some random pick-ups from another thrift store nearby.  This is a newer one, and usually I walk out with something in my hand – a book, a tool, or something else.  Anyway, a few odds and ends:

First up: A vintage Team Dressing Room sign!


This is mounted towards an opening to part of our crawlspace, since I don’t really have anywhere to put it.  If we ever have a house with a pool and we have a small change room, I’ll put it up there.  This is a pretty weighty sign, and is chromed with a black textured area around the letters.  It has a slight bend in it, probably from where someone tried to pry it off of the door it was on.

What’d it cost: $3.99

What’d it take: A little bit of elbow grease to get it shining again

What’s it do: Nothing right now

Next up, a vintage Durabell fire bell!

This was another find that was totally random.  I was going through a shelf of housewares and tools, and found it.  It totally reminds me of the ones I saw in schools of my youth – aging, random drips of paint on it, but overall, very good condition.


I took an old power cord from an old light and wired it up – and it works!  Someday, I’ll try rigging it up outside to use when it’s time for the kids to come in for dinner, but for now it’s just hanging in my workroom.

What’d it cost: $4.99

What’d it take: Nothing other than wiring a power cord in

What’s it do: Scare people when you turn it on!

Next, an Apsco 330A hole punch!

While defnitely not old, it’s the style used in schools for the past 20+ years, as well as offices and workplaces still to this day.


I picked this up only because it was a steal of a deal.  These things retail for almost $90 new, and this one looks almost brand new!  Besides, I needed a hole punch to put some old papers into a binder and didn’t have a working hole punch at the time.

What’d it cost: $4.99

What’d it take: Cleaning out old holes that had been punched, and some flash rusting from it sitting in the rain for a day

What’s it do: Punch holes in paper

Finally, a Polaroid 440 camera!


I was taking a look at the cameras and found this on the shelf.  It’s a pretty neat design – the plastic shell folds forward (and can come off, as in the 2nd picture), and the camera uses a bellows design to open up, and the viewfinder and flash attachment flip up.  You can still get film for this camera so I was going to get some and try my hand at getting this guy to work – there’s something neat about taking a picture and waiting for it to develop in your hands.

The battery for this was long exploded (but it had not leaked) – I had a small 2xAAA power supply from Radio Shack/The Source and wired it in with instructions from the Internet, as well as cleaning up the rollers and the insides.

I picked it up mainly because my wife likes photography and we have a small collection of some older cameras, but no Polaroids.

What’d it cost: $6.99

What’d it take: a 2xAAA power supply wired in, and some cleaning.  Will also need some Polaroid film at some point to actually test it

What’s it do: On display with our other vintage cameras

~ Ryan


Older finds (Part 4)

A Shell oil barrel from the early 1960s being used as a flower urn

This is another online auction find from a couple of years ago.

I put a bid on this and ended up winning it, I was surprised as it was a last-minute bid and I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it.

It’s a Shell oil barrel from about 1960.  Spirax EP (Extreme Pressure) is some sort of pneumatic oil for farm equipment.


Someone had tried to touch up the paint on the barrel at some point, and while I Was cleaning it out, I washed it off since it apparently was a latex paint.  Anyway, I like it a bit more untouched.

Inside it was pretty rusty, and I’ve cleaned it out thoroughly and used some rust remover and rust inhibitor inside to try and protect the interior.  It’s a nice thick gauge metal so I’m not worried about rusting through, but it has cleaned up OK.

We happened to have a plastic planter that fits nearly perfectly inside the barrel; I am working on maybe either drilling some small drainage holes in the bottom and using a bit of waterproof caulking on the top lip to try and make it as water-resistant as possible.  For now I just have some rocks in the bottom and periodically open it up to check if there is standing water inside.

This year we bought some red and yellow begonias to pick up on the colours of the barrel.  This is right near the front of our house:



It may get repurposed into a trash can on the back deck, when that gets built.

What’d it cost: $6 and a drive to Nanticoke, and $10 on rust cleaning/inhibiting chemicals

What’d it take: 30 minutes of cleaning and prep

What’s it used for: Holding flowers during the warm weather

~ Ryan


Some older finds (Part 3).

Moving right along, here’s something I found a few months ago at a thrift shop not too far from my house.  It’s an older store but a big one, and the turnover is pretty fast here.  This store is very hit and miss; sometimes you find a lot of neat things, other times you’ll go weeks without finding something that catches your eye.

We were there because we were nearby while running some errands, and we thought we’d stop in.

While wandering the shelves, something metallic caught my eye.  I pulled it out and found a dull, stained, and dirty piece of chromed metal.

Upon closer inspection, it was something called a Paper Welder:


While somewhat hard to see, in the diamond it says PAPER-WELDER with the patent number, and then MEDINA, N. Y.  It also says MADE IN U. S. A. beside that.

While looking at what exactly it is, and what exactly it does, I found out that this is considered a great example of 1950s design.


This device is a paperless stapler, if it wasn’t clear.  You put a few pieces of paper into the opening, push down the handle on the top, and it binds the 2 pieces of paper together.  While not as firm or permanent as a stapler that uses staples, the neat part is that if you want to separate the papers, you just use something like hard surface overtop of the bound area, and it lets go!

What’d it cost: $7.99

What’d it take:  About 10 minutes of cleaning and polishing

What’s it’s use: Right now it’s just sitting on a desk but it could be used at any time

~ Ryan



Some older finds (Part 2).

A Coleman 631 cooler found in a Burlington online auction.

Here’s another find from about a year ago.

This was from another online auction site, one that I have a love/hate relationship with.  The proprietor of the site is, in my opinion, a bit of a jerk.  His auctions tend to have some nicer items, but he only takes 1-3 photos of each item and descriptions are non-existent.  I’ve also had some difficulties with picking up items from him in the past – showing up an hour before the pickup window ends and he’s already packing up.

Anyway, enough griping.  Here’s a cooler I found in an auction.

Coleman 631 cooler, the original cooler that Coleman offered for sale!  Like the Pleasure Chest, this is a galvanized metal cooler, with a nice green hammertone paint on it.  This one even came with the original cardboard box and instruction manual!

Here’s photos from the auction:


It was clear it had been sitting for a long time, but it looked pretty good.  It even has the original Coleman-branded church key on the inside of the lid (the Pleasure Chest has an opener integrated into the side where the handle connects to the cooler).

Once again, this one needed a good thorough cleaning, but it turned out pretty good.  A coat of wax really helps the paint to pop, and some metal polish has made the closing mechanism look fantastic!


Both this guy and the Pleasure Chest get used regularly – for any parties we host, or where we’re invited to someone’s backyard.  They’re great conversation pieces, and truth be told, while they weigh a ton when loaded up (or really, even when empty), they are worth it!

This one holds about 16 bottles of beer, but it usually gets loaded with cans of non-alcoholic beverages for the kids who can’t drink yet.  Anyway – like most of the items from this time frame, they’re built to last and are still working!

What’d it cost: About $60 and a drive to Burlington.

What’d it take: About an hour of cleaning, waxing, and polishing.

What’s it doing now: Used for events where we need to BYOB.

~ Ryan


Some older finds (Part 1)

My first find in an online estate sale auction!

Here’s some items I’ve found in the past.

First, some background.

A couple of years ago my wife was watching the local morning news and saw a spot on local businesses.  A new(ish) online auction site was on and so we checked it out.  It was something new to us, and kind of neat.  Similar to eBay, you bid online, but the nice part was that it has something called a soft close – when you are outbid in the last few minutes of an auction, the end time of the auction is extended by 3-5 minutes, so that you can’t get sniped like on eBay.  Anyway, here’s some of my older finds from the past couple of years.

First up: the Pleasure Chest.

I love the name of this 1950s-1960s cooler.  It is clearly playing on the double-entendre of the phrase, as well as on the colour schemes that were popular at the time (this came in a red with white text like a Coca-Cola cooler, this one is green with white text, similar to a 7-Up cooler of the same vintage).

Here’s what it looked like from the pictures in the auction:

pleasure chest original

It came with the blue kerosene can behind it, ad well as a cheap volleyball net and an old stationary bike.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to get but I figured I’d try.

Once home, I found that it looked like it had been rarely used.  It was covered in grime and dust, but the paint was clean, and the whole thing was rust free!  The only thing that wasn’t perfect was that it was leaking from the drain spigot.  I fixed that up by running a thin bead of waterproof caulking around the inside of the drain.  Problem solved!  Next up: A thorough cleaning and a coat of wax, and it turned out pretty good.  It keeps drinks cold, holds 20 bottles of beer plus ice:


The Coleman cooler on the other side is the original Coleman cooler, a model 631.  More on that in the next post…

What’d it cost: $18 and a drive to Oakville.

What’d it take: About 2 hours of cleaning, waxing, and polishing.

What’s it doing now: Used for events where we need to BYOB.

~ Ryan


Welcome to Thrift Shop Finds!

Thanks for stopping by!

Welcome to my site.  This will be a place for me to document things that I’ve found and find at local thrift shops, flea markets, auctions, and the like.  It will also cover some creative upscaling of items that I’ve got.  I’m located in Hamilton, Ontario and travel 1-2 hours in any direction of my home in search of interesting things.  Thanks for stopping by!

Lighting the darkness

I’ve been away for a long time.  Life has that funny way of getting away from you.  Writing about this stuff can be therapeutic, so here, late at night, I am going to write about a few things I’ve picked up since last posting.

First up, is a Rayovac Sportsman 360 lantern!


This is a late 1960s – early 1970s fluorescent lantern.  Solid state and waterproof, it is a heavy beast (it runs on 4, 6-volt lantern batteries in the bottom) but is well built (in the USA!), and looks like it was mostly cared for by the previous owner.  It has 3 power settings – low (partial light from a single tube), medium (full light from a single tube), and high (both bulbs on high – as seen above).

What’d it cost: $7.99, plus another $28 in lantern batteries

What’d it take: Some scrubbing of the contacts inside to clean off some corrosion, and some goo gone to get the price tag off the globe

What’s it do: Provide light during power failures, at night while camping, and I’ll see if it can be incorporated into deck lighting in the summer.

Next, an Eveready “Big Jim” lantern flashlight!



This is probably late 50s to early 60s in age.  It’s a flashlight that runs on a long, thin lantern battery, and does not have any housing to protect it.  It is a big head that pivots, and looks like it was probably stored in a shed or garage.  The contacts that connect the battery to the light are pretty poor and a lot of jiggling is needed to get it running.  I really just bought it because of the name “Big Jim”.  Companies nowadays don’t tend to have fun like that when naming products any more.

The pain was finding a battery for the thing.  These style batteries aren’t common, and aren’t cheap.  Luckily the Canadian Tire near my house had one in stock.

Pictures to come…

What’d it cost: $4.99, plus a $20 lantern battery

What’d it take: A lot of patience to get the contacts to connect correctly.

What’s it do: Look cool on a shelf in the workroom with other vintage tools.

Another vintage light, a Rayovac Sportsman flashlight!


This is probably a bit older than the camping lantern, although they do seem to be a part of the “Sportsman” line of lighting products from Rayovac.  This is a vintage looking flashlight – chrome, nicely made, and feels sturdy in the hand, even without the 3 D-cell batteries in the handle.  It has a button to enable you to use it for morse code too if you like.  It has a nice big head on it too, and has real glass in it, instead of today’s plastic or plexiglass.

When I saw it on the shelf, I had to take it.  It’s now become a regularly used light when walking the dogs at night, replacing a shoddy made in China LED light that never stayed on.

Pictures to come…

What’d it cost: $3.99

What’d it take: A bit of cleaning and removal of the vintage batteries, and replacement with fresh ones

What’s it do: What a flashlight does.  Nice and easy to hold while giving a great beam.

Here’s a bit of a different piece of lighting, a Star Barricade 877 light!

This was a total random find a while ago.  When I found it, I had no idea what it was, but a big blue light was something that was very different.  Turns out, this is the type of light that you see mounted to the top of the big road pylons!  It works, and when turned on, the light blinks for a second, then out for a second, then blinks.  It runs on a couple of 6 volt batteries, and has 2 light bulbs inside – according to the literature, it should auto-fail over to the backup bulb if/when the primary bulb burns out.  Anyway, it has become a fixture on my ‘oddities’ shelf, and gets used at Halloween to warn the kids of a zombie-filled house when heading up to the door!

Pictures to come…

What’d it cost: $9.99, plus another $15 in batteries

What’d it take: Just the replacement of the batteries

What’s it do: Not a lot.  But it looks cool.