First of all this month, I just want to explain for new readers of GEM where the material for these articles comes from. The ATIS Stationary Engine Mailing List is an internet mailing list which is free to join. Questions and comments are sent in the form of an email, and replies usually come in quickly, electronically posted to every member of the list. Because there are members around the world, no matter what time of day or night it is, there's always someone at their keyboard. The wealth and breadth of knowledge (in fact, the depths are also pretty well plumbed) seemed too good not to share with those who don't use computers and this column was born. The individual contributions, each marked with an asterisk, are from the various list members; it's my task to select a subject from the previous months' postings, gather the relevant material and turn it into the articles you see here.
Some months, a suitable subject is easy to spot but this month was particularly difficult as the subjects ranged far and wide, covering insurance, recharging magnetos, various shows, new acquisitions plus a multitude of other engine related topics. I finally settled on a few different questions about the finish.

* I just brought home a Hercules 1½hp. It still has the original paint and decals on it. I cleaned it up with kerosene and looked real nice when wet - is there anything a guy can put on this to restore the shiny finish and keep it that way?

* A spraycan of tyreshine or similar does a good job of sprucing up am engine if you don't want to varnish it.

* If it was my engine I would clean it WELL--three to four applications of Gunk applied with a soft scrubbing brush, and then I would give it two coats of Krylon clear!

That is for the original finish look. Sometimes, a full restoration is called for with a perfect new paint finish.

* Over 25 years ago I began automotive painting. During this time I have settled on a combination of primers that has served me well for the automobile restoration hobby. It is fairly simple and includes phosphoric washing bare sheet steel, priming with zinc chromate primer, primer surfacing with a lacquer based primer, and top coating with a
good catalyzed enamel or urethane like Dupont Imron (my favorite).
I am working on slicking two 3½hp Hercules engines right now and what I used for automotive is NOT working so well on cast iron. With cast iron I first sandblast with AlOx to remove any rust. I immediately spray a very wet coat of zinc chromate primer that gets down into all of the crevices and holes in the cast. With all the humidity in North Carolina you have to spray within minutes of blasting or the rust will return. After this primer dries for a week or two I use a side grinder fitted with a 80 grit sanding disk to lightly sand the entire casting surface to remove the high chunks of cast iron. This leaves bright cast iron with low areas coated in zinc chromate primer. Then I whip up a batch of body filler and quickly skim coat the whole surface of the casting. Once cured the fun begins, sanding all that body filler to slick up the casting. Once the body filler part is done I use lacquer primer surfacer to get the surface ready for paint. I use the good primer surfacer at $97 a gallon!

Here is the problem. On flat surfaces this technique works great. However, on inside radii/fillets I am having a terrible problem of the primer surfacer lifting and unadhering to the body filler or zinc chromate under it. I have concluded that this is due to the shrinkage of the primer as the solvent evaporates. Sometimes this happens immediately, other times it happens weeks later when I think I have finished a part. I'll poke around in the fillets and find huge flakes of primer surfacer coming up.
So I am asking if any members have experience with slicking engines and what procedures do you use and what primers have you been using? Are catalyzed primers the only solution? I have heard of some new self etching primers. Do they have application here?

* I always use glassfibre filler for the first layer, put it on a little rough, and after 6 hours of drying I sand it with a rotating sander and 60/80 paper. After this, I take polyester filler and smooth it up, two layers of spray putty then let it dry for at least a week.
The next week is sanding, sanding and sanding again (you must have a lot of patience).
When the engine body is perfectly smooth, I give it a last layer of primer and sand it with 600 paper. After spraying the engine with a quality brand paint, you can see yourself in it like in a mirror.
On the other hand, for the parts and steel trucks that I paint I use three layers of thick industrial primer. I have three colors of it and when sanding it is easy to see how far I'm.
It costs a lot of time sanding this but when you're finished with it it's almost ready for spraying the top coat. Before I do this, I give it a last layer of primer out a rattle can, this primer is very special as it flows by itself and when it is dry you have one smooth surface. After a light sanding with 600 paper to remove the dust it's ready for the final touch.

* One good method used for getting a good paint job on cast iron is the technique used on milling machines, lathes, and other large cast iron machine shop equipment. After a good washing down with solvent to get the grease off, the cast is treated with phosphoric acid, leaving the surface dampened with the dilute acid to dry (as best you can in a humid environment), then covered with a thin layer of auto body repair putty like epoxy Bondo (that you have to mix the catalyst in with) or whatever is the really good stuff nowadays. The putty is put on with a trowel or diluted and brushed on so it is like a really thick layer of paint. This gives a tenacious veneer covering to do whatever you need to do to give it a good smooth finish. The layer of putty is never sanded through to the metal. If it is, a new layer of putty is put over the bald spot. When it is the way you want it, prime it and paint it with a hard automotive enamel.

At this time of year, it's show season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the World Wide Web is the ideal place to put up photographs of the shows everyone has attended, which inspired another series of discussions about the standard of restorations. How far is "too far"?

* I have just been looking at photos of engines at the Astle Park (UK) show and was impressed by the overall quality of the engines shown. Is it perhaps that they look better in photos?
No matter how much effort I put into a restoration, I can always see room for improvement after it is done.

* It would be nice to tell you that what you see is the general state of restoration in England, but to be honest I think that anyone posting to an international list only takes pictures of the best as a matter of national pride. Also in the case of Astle Park everyone knows that the best are likely to be there and so people take the best restorations or rarest makes they have.
I personally see nothing wrong with the US & Aussie restorations that get posted on the list so perhaps this is universal.

* I have often wondered what I thought "restoration" meant. Also what is over restored? I can't say I know the answer and I have completed engines to various stages of restoration. I consider my Fuller & Johnson restored: it is on a nice transport, original paintwork (or what's left of it) and it runs like a clock. Then there's my KA Stover. New paint, no filler, pretty rough here and there but looks okay and runs fine. Next example would be the Hornsby - body filler, 2 pack paint, decals etc etc. I'm happy with all of them. I think I sort of decide the character of the engine when I get it and from there decide to what degree of restoration I will give it. Dare I say it but all that seems to be important in my view is that your engine exhibit looks pretty clean. They always display well no matter what state of restored they are if there clean

* The old topic is back again! Usually it comes out to each his / her own. On the 1908 Crossley that I have just finished it had 1/8" of filler all over under the paint, and yes, it got a new coat of filler, even though I will still get the purists to go out of their way to criticize because "it was never built that way." Conversely I have watched the non engine people looking at engines at Australian rallies. The normal mums and dads, they don't know what is rare or different and they usually walk past an engine that has no paint then stop and have a good look at an engine that has been "over done."

* We have found filler on the Lister diesels and on the Ruston & Hornsby diesel. Rustons were known for their quality of finish but I was surprised that Listers had the time to put filler on their castings, being mass-producers of engines since the early 1900's.

So once you've decided whether to leave your engine with its original paint, use filler and paint to achieve a mirror finish, or anything in between, the final hurdle is the decal.

* I have never found any thing that will not eat the decals or at least wrinkle them. I find that it is best to prepare the area that the decal will occupy with some filler and primer so that the decal will have a nice flat surface to get a grip on. For the most part the decals that are available to us are nothing like the ones that were used by engine companies. They were mostly water transfer, screen printed "lacquer" decals, and some were "enamel" paint that was reverse printed on thin paper and were treated with a solvent that softened the enamel and released it from the paper. That's why when you find original decals on many engines they feel raised up like they were thicker than the paint on the engine: they were, John Deere's are a prime example.

* If you are using water transfer decals, you can "borrow" a product from my other hobby... model railways. There are two products which may prove useful to you....

a) Solvaset - You paint this over the decal and it "liquifies" it - makes it shrink down over every bump and detail and adhere really well to the paint - note that if the engine metal surface is really rough under the paint, this would wreck the decal - but on smooth paint it works great
b) acrylic satin (or matt as per preference) medium from an art store - paint it over the totally dry decal to protect it - note that fuel and other solvents will just take this stuff off, but it will protect them for a while

A final piece of advice on this subject:

* That brings up another good point: anytime you are going to place any substance be it paint or solvent or even cleaning detergent, pick a spot that is not easy to see and do a spot test, it will save you much heartache.

Happy restorations!

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