Repurposed Coca Cola Cooler

Repurposed Coca Cola Cooler

Who doesn’t LOVE an old Retro Coca Cola Cooler????  For us “older” folks, it takes us back to days of “Dime Stores” and Penny Candy!!!  This particular model was manufactured in the 1950’s and holds 168 bottles of Coke!

I found this treasure at a local antique market, and my son convinced me to spend the money to buy it, despite it’s hideous condition on the top.


Check out the amount of rust on the top!!!  And, to beat that, one of the hinges was missing!


There was even some rust on the inside of the galvanized tub! (Galvanizing isn’t supposed to rust!)


I spent many hours on the internet reading posts about removing rust from galvanized surfaces.  I went to several hardware stores and got advice.  I tried several products that didn’t really get me very far toward my end goal.

I did not photograph this project from start to finish, but here are the products I ended up using with a basic description, telling you what I did.

First, I had to get in touch with my masculine side, then purchase and learn how to use a hand-held sander!  I spent HOURS with the mask over my nose and mouth, and sanded, using an entire collection of various grits of sandpaper!



In the really bad areas of rust, I ended up with numerous small holes where the rust had eaten through the top layer of metal.  I was coached to purchase a product called JB Weld to fill those holes.  I used putty knives to apply.  After these places hardened, I needed to sand again …. lots!


After getting the top pretty darn smooth, I applied a few light coats of grey primer so I could see how my finish actually looked.  I used the Painter’s tape to tape the hinge and the knobs.


At about this point, a WONDERFUL friend of ours took my lid and was able to remove the rivets from the missing hinge, and remove the existing hinge as well.  He then very kindly inserted new rivets and brand new hinges …. PERFECT!!!!

When I was pleased with the smoothness of the lid, I made sure that there was no lint on the surface by using a Tack Cloth.


Then, before painting, my son applied some toothpaste to certain spots where he wanted to help me make the newly painted lid look already weathered and scratched (like the body of the cooler).  The toothpaste kept the paint from adhering to those areas.



After that, I sprayed the lid with this red paint I bought from a company called Funtronics … the company handles items used to restore Coca Cola products.  Again, I carefully taped off the hinges and the knobs.


After spraying, I wiped away the toothpaste, which exposed areas of the grey lid below, and occasionally some of the darker grey of the JB Weld.  So, I took this medium grey acrylic paint, and carefully painted the spots, using a very small paint brush.


After this, the new red paint was actually TOO shiny, and looked too NEW, compared to the body of the cooler.  So, I took a fine grit sanding sponge, soaked it in a bucket of water with a drop of Dawn, and “wet sanded” the surface.  This took away the screaming shine.


Now, my lid looks like this!!!!  AWESOME, isn’t it????


The inside of the cooler had rust too.  So, I took my sander to that as well.  After sanding, I used this oil based enamel in “Metallic Aluminum” color, and painted the entire inside, as well as the top edges.


Now the inside looks like this . . . .


The final correction was to purchase a new Coca Cola bottle opener, and replace the old one on the front of the cooler.


Now, we are SO ready for that patio party with our new (old) Coca Cola Cooler!!!!!


I hope this inspires you to go out and repurpose something you find!!!

This past weekend, we had a party at the firepit in the back corner of our yard.  I carried out the cooler, and filled it with a variety of drinks for our friends.  Here are some of the guys around the cooler!  It has now officially been christened!!!


Find an old relic, and give it a new life!!!

Happy Making!

Molly 🙂


4 thoughts on “Repurposed Coca Cola Cooler

  1. Molly, you never cease to amaze me. Your sewing projects are my favorites! You need to be a guest on a t v sewing show!!!!

  2. I finally gave up my soda habit and now you are tempting me-I would have a hard time turning down an ice cold one from your cooler!!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *