don't pedal backwards...
Join Date: Jul 2005
Bikes: Surly Long Haul Trucker set up for commuting and loaded touring, old Sekine road frame converted to fixed-gear, various beaters and weird bikes, waiting on the frame for my Surly Big Dummy build
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This is freaky, but...
Oddly enough, I did nearly this exact maneuver to my (really old) breeze box last night. My motivation was not cleanliness, but rather getting the fan to start again. Over the last few weeks, it had been increasingly stubborn when turned on, usually requiring some kick-starting from a pencil through the grille.
I removed the grille and was able to remove the blade assembly from the motor shaft by unscrewing a single small screw that went into the end of the motor shaft. Once the screw was out, the blade assembly just slid off of the keyed shaft.
Some 3-in-1 oil applied to the bearing normally concealed by the blade assembly as well as the one on the backside of the motor restored the fan to it's former glory.
Your fan may or may not use this simple (and serviceable) method of blade attachment. If there is no screw or other removable fastener at the center of the blade assembly, the blades may simply be pressed onto the motor shaft. You could try simply pulling and wiggling the assembly to see if it will come off of the motor, or you could find another fan. I'm particularly fond of move-out week at the U of M in Minneapolis because people will leave amazing amounts of good stuff curbside or stacked in a dumpster. Fans, lamps, and small furniture are usually plentiful. Try your local university during the last week or two of the semester to get a new fan and/or all kinds of other awesome free stuff.
For the record, one of my college roommates dubbed the fan "the turboprop" because of the rather impressive amount of air the fan could displace on the highest of the three settings. It also has a very appealing sound while winding up to full speed.
Good luck with the fan!