To me it is all about passion.

By Peter Warns

Without passion there is no interest and without interest there is nothing going on. I am the 3rd generation of a cash register family. My grandfather was a repairman for NCR when the brass machines were made. When my father married my mother in 1929 he left a well paying sales job to become partners with his new father in law in the 2nd hand cash register business. When my grandfather retired my father and uncle went on for another 40 years selling and repairing 2nd hand cash registers. So I guess you would say it's in my blood. I knew I loved these things the first time I saw one. I was about 10 years old and the brassies as they were called had long since come and gone. It was 1957 and all the cash registers in my father's store were from the20's 30's 40's. One day I went to work with my father on a day I had no school. I was walking about this huge room filled with hundreds of broken cash registers. There in the corner on the floor was an old brassie. It took my breath away. I climbed over several machines to get to it and could not take my eyes off it. I never forgot that moment. After what seemed like hours I climbed back to the isle where I could walk, found my father and could not stop asking questions. When I got home that night I felt like I had discovered a sunken treasure. I said to myself someday I am going to have a bunch of those things. At one point I had as many as 250, and thought I had to have everyone in the world. If that isn't passion I don't know what is.

When I work on these machines I am always looking for better ways of cleaning, polishing or repairing worn or broken parts. One reason I can do things that no one else can is because of the tools I inherited from my grandfather. NCR made their own tools to build and repair the machines. They had to because you could not just go out and buy them at the local hardware store. Without these special tools there are screws and fittings that you just could not get to and things you could just not do. One example of this would be the ability to take out the amount keys on class 400 & 500 machines. Most people would not notice, but over the years rust and grime builds up some times to the point that they are frozen solid. I take them out and put them on the wire wheel or in the bead blaster and they come out like new. I clean out the key bank channel, replace the springs on the keys and put it all back together. No one else does this. What it boils down to is that I am a perfectionist and as I have found myself saying many times as I am grinding rust off the back of the inside of a chassis, nobody will see this and no one will know if it is done or not. But the problem is I"LL KNOW!! and I will have to live with myself if I don't do it right and I can't do that because I am a firm believer in if you can't do it right, don't do it at all. It's right or it's not. That's it. Period. I pull all the key stems out of press down machines and send them out to be nickel plated at a cost of $20.00 each. I send all indicators out to a man who has the original silk screen to be repainted. I put new springs in so the indicators will pop up and down smoothly. The list goes on. I even replace the rubber bumpers on the bill weights in the draw. These are very hard to find and no one else that I know of does this.

This is the way it is with my Antique Cash Register restorations. The National Cash Register Company made a beautiful product. Both aesthetically and mechanically. When you think about it, they made it relatively easy. Why shouldn't I do it right and make John Patterson (he was the fanatic founder and president of NCR in those day's) happy. If they didn't do such a wonderful job, these machines would not look or work as they do. In fact they wouldn't be here at all. I take no credit because it belongs to them. You can't restore tin or soft wood like pine. As I said, they wouldn't be here to restore. That's why they used Brass for their cases, iron for the mechanisms and hard wood s like oak and mahogany for the bases and draws. They built them to last forever and as you can see, they have. They wanted to be the best and only company that manufactured cash registers. So do I. They were being sent to Europe and the foreign countries all over the world. They could not come back because of poor workmanship. When I work on these machines I am constantly amazed at the quality in the workmanship and it's is inspiring to make the right repairs or replace all the necessary parts along the way. Believe me when you're already that far into a project it doesn't take that much more to do it right. All my machines are as clean on the inside as they are on the outside. Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it should not be clean and correct. More importantly I want my customers to have the BEST. I don't want them to have any problems with the machine after they get it home and they should enjoy it for many ,many years to come. It is the type of piece that can be passed down from generation to generation. How many things do we make today that you can say that about?

Peter Warns
Cutchogue, NY 11935


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