Even in this digital era, many people still find a measure of comfort in touching a newspaper, bending the paper over to read an interesting story instead of scrolling on a screen and clipping an article or photo of a loved one.

Our hometown newspaper, The Daily News, manages newspaper vending machines that distribute single copies of every edition printed. These green machines or “boxes” are placed in public places that are convenient for the community.

The Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center (HCCTC) was contacted by TDN publisher, John Cook, regarding the possibility of restoring their newspaper machines. The boxes are located outside and are subjected to harsh elements of the weather.

“These newspaper machines last a couple of years before they need refurbished. They are made of metal and like car bodies. They become faded, rusted and dented. We thought the auto body (collision repair) students would be a natural fit to help us out with this project,” commented Cook.

The students in the collision repair program at the HCCTC have restored one machine, bringing it back to life, and are working on their second.

The students began the process by color matching the paint of the old newspaper machine to a color chip. The rust needed to be sandblasted to remove it. Josh Coons, a collision repair student said, “I liked working on the machines. I sandblasted the box and did a lot of the body work. It was very similar to the work I do on a vehicle.”

Next, the paint was removed from the machine by using air sanders, taking it back to a bare metal. The dents were repaired using body filler. An etch primer, which is like an acid, was applied for corrosion protection. A primer surfacer was used to prepare the surface for paint and cover imperfections. “I think the priming was the most challenging part for me, but I did that along with wet sanding, bodywork, and filling in dents with body filler. It was a great opportunity to use the skills we learned in the classroom and the shop,” offered student, Jeremy Hamman Jr.

Then a guide coat was applied. This is a speckled coating which fills any imperfections, if they still exist. The wet sanding process was next. This process uses water and a 400-grit fine sandpaper to prepare the surface for adhesion of the paint. Another collision repair student, Richard Long shared, “I liked the wet sanding process the best because I think it’s easy. I like to help the community and I want to work on more newspaper boxes. I feel like if we do a nice job then the hard work will pay off by everyone buying newspapers.”

The machine was spray painted in the paint booth using a green single stage enamel paint. After the paint dried, “The Daily News” stencil lettering was applied with spray paint using yellow enamel paint. The students refurbished some of the machine hardware and sanded and re-buffed the plexiglass window.

Collision repair instructor Bill Ross said, “It’s good to help the community, so I wanted to get the students involved with this project. This project gives the students the chance to practice the skills they are learning. These skills line up with what the state requires us to teach.”

“We are very pleased to have the students at the Huntingdon County Career & Technology Center refurbish our newspaper machines,” said Brenda Hoover, TDN circulation manager and NIE coordinator. “They are making the machines new again, which is a special part of our NIE program and very important to our circulation program.”

Hoover plans to drop off one to two machines each month for the students to refurbish. There are approximately 30 machines in total. Future plans to refinish the machines will involve the welding students fabricating new bases for the machines and using new equipment that will speed up the sanding process.

The refurbished newspaper vending machine is located at Brenneman’s Meat Market at 211 South 10th Street in Smithfield.

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