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Antique Engine Archives All archived posts from 1999 to 2004 when SmokStak was on EnginAds. This is a read-only board.

Antique Engine Archives

Preservation Methods for Original Finish

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Old 10-23-2003, 09:14:15 AM
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Default Preservation Methods for Original Finish

Saw a post below that alluded to methods of maintaining/enhancing the original finish on the old engines. I saw in the archives where linseed oil could be painted on, but other than that I can't seem to find much. What might some of the other methods be and what is the best? Looking forward to another long winter in the shop...Baggsy
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Old 10-23-2003, 12:14:14 PM
Bruce Wambach
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Default Re: Preservation Methods for Original Finish


I have left all of my engines with the original finish. First they are cleaned with kerosene and left to dry. Then I apply a 50/50 coat of boiled linseed oil mixed with mineral spirits. It is important to have 50% mineral spirits because straight linseed will leave a sticky finish. You will be surprised of the result with an engine that appeared to have no original paint left when you started. The kero is key to the cleaning process. Let me know how it works out for you.

Old 10-23-2003, 02:17:50 PM
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Default Nothing works for me.

I like to leave them origional with nothing on them. Less work for me and protects my investment as there is no risk of future collectors wanting origional, un enhanced finish.

And Thats also the way I like to aquire them.

Old 10-23-2003, 03:25:07 PM
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Nothing works for me.

I tried the streight linseed oil. It took a long time to not be stickey. Other things that don't work are; saran wrap, lamination, imbedded in polyurathane, and having it bronzed. I hear clear coat works, but may yellow with time.
Old 10-23-2003, 05:21:05 PM
Lester Bowman
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Default Re: Nothing works for me.

In 25 years of restoring these wonderful old engines my concept has changed from "creating the beautiful" to "preserving a character". Preservation of character is done slowly.You begin by documenting the engine.(if possible) When and where was it used? Original owner? What did it do? How did the seller aquire it? Statement # 1.Lose the original history of the engine when you had the OPPORTUNITY to preserve it translates into idiot. I clean engines in various ways but always gently.Soft brass bristle brushes used around detail parts wont scratch paint.Use plenty of kerosene when cleaning dried grease & oil.Steel brushes can be used carefully to clean larger areas while wooden scrapers can be made to rub off softened residue. Dont rule out hot water and washing detergent to make the initial cleaning.There is information on Harrys site alluding to these cleaning methods.Go slow,preserve what remains of original finish.

When its clean,THEN begin disassembly.Clean each piece as it comes off.Keep assemblys together.Think about what your doing.Observe the craftsmanship as elbow grease reveals past skills.Appreciate the file marks and specks of paint.Note the iron filler,let your mind go back. Do the mechanical repairs to duplicate the old look.NO cadmium nuts or washers.No bolts with modern markings.Perform all the aspects of a sound mechanical restoration while maintaining the integrety of age and history. Fire it up and listen to it!Beautiful,Isnt it? No? Well,it is to me. Now I am speaking in terms of an engine with oh say,20% or more original finish.At this point I would spray it down with something like John Deere multi-purpose lube or WD40 rubbing it in with a soft cloth.Do that once or twice a year and after a year or so,the cast with take on a lovely dark patina while the paint is preserved.No,The paint wont be glossy but protected.I also like the look some guys achieve using a clear coat but sometimes this can be too glossy.The suggestion in the previous post says lindseed and turpentine works well but is slow drying.Use BOILED lindseed and increase the turpentine ratio.This works nice too but is difficult to remove if required. From this point on enjoy and feel proud of your work for you have preserved the character of a piece totally dependent opon you for its character survival. Go ahead,Sandblast the boat anchors and paint the welded up engines or the engines made up from a dozen others just like it.These already have lost character patina.Anything will be an improvment. Statement # 2.An engine in good unmolested original condition cannot be made more valuable by ANYTHING we do to it excepting maintaining its character as I have lined out.IN other words the most expensive paint in the world can only decrease its value. Just an opinion guys.These engines stand on their own and always will as long as we protect them.OK! I'm ready for ya,eat me alive!
Old 10-23-2003, 05:35:21 PM
Doug Wilson
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Default Re: Nothing works for me.

Lester, I'm behind you 110%. Doug.
Old 10-23-2003, 06:08:17 PM
Kid Dynamo
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Default Re: Nothing works for me.

The Fairbanks 3hp ZC I bought came on original wood skids with original paint, but had suffered numerous paint spills and splashes.

The spills and slops came off with vigorous scrubbing, but this injured the gloss on the paint.

After consulting the archives, I branched out a little and used a couple of wet coats of "Penetrol" additive for oil based paints. It is a multi-use product. It dries overnight, ordinarily.

My results are good. The gloss is evened out and where paint was dried and flaking from the wood skids, this appears to have knitted things together, as if the remaining paint is holding and the "bare" wood looks like it has a coat of semi-gloss varnish. The gloss is a bit more than I suspect the paint originally had but not overwhelmingly so.

I am very glad that I chose this route for this particular project. On another project, a trial area could be evaluated before committing to the whole engine, etc....

Worked for me, that day.....
Old 10-23-2003, 09:16:22 PM
allen lapage
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Nothing works for me.

Not trying to stir the pot too hard, but I cannot say I personaly agree with leaving A engine as found with only 20 or 30% of its original paint remaining. Unless it is A very rare engine or with A speical history. I have been involved in many types of collecting, motorcycles, cars, ect. but cannot recall another hobby where 30% of the original finish was better than correctly restored. Not even farm tractors. Now lets be honest here. How many of you would buy A Studibaker golden hawk and completly re-do the eng, trans, wireing and so on and not do any body work, upolstry, or paint it. Then take it to A show and expect any one to even look at it. Thats not how it came from the factory now is it? Just my personal opnion but to each their own.
Old 10-23-2003, 09:29:45 PM
Lester Bowman
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Nothing works for me.

Sorry you misunderstood allen,My point is with one lung antique farm engines with flywheels,spark plug or igniter fired with water hoppers and cooling tanks.NOT old cars,motorcycles or tractors.
Old 10-23-2003, 09:37:35 PM
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Nothing works for me.

I believe comparing cars to antique farm engines are like comparing oranges to golf clubs. Just my opinion, but everyone has the right.


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