Striping A Hercules

Engine after restoration

Engine after restoration.

Content Tools

1650 Elmdale, Glenview, II 60025

I like restoring engines but when it came to striping, the fun really faded away. I have restored several engines, and ignored the striping as it seemed unnecessary. Getting an engine to run was naturally most important. A close match with the original overall color was always my next concern. The application of the appropriate decal was an essential detail as well, but it seemed to look bare somehow. Finally I realized that striping the engine would add that final touch and complete its restoration.

I had never striped before because I didn't know how and it looked too difficult. How could I master the magic stroke needed for all those -inch straight and curved lines? I bought all sizes and shapes of brushes, and used them with all kinds of guides and straight-edges. The harder I tried to draw a straight line, the worse it looked. All my attempts ended in failure with crooked, uneven lines. Restoring the engine was simple compared to this frustrating problem. Seeing many engines at shows, I had noticed that many are not striped. Now I knew why.

Then I realized that I could apply the same technique that I used in my model boat building hobby: painting by the use of masking tape. This is a two-step process that proved to be simple, fool-proof, and actually fun to do.

First, the engine part is cleaned to the bare metal, and the red striping line is painted on freehand. At least two coats are needed to cover the bare metal. Don't rush it now, as the paint should be thoroughly dry before masking. Depending upon drying temperatures, the time required for the paint to dry varies. In my case, since it was mid-winter, I brought the parts into the house to dry rather than leaving them in the outdoor engine shed, which is unheated. Under these conditions, it took three weeks for the paint to dry completely.

The second step is to use masking tape to define the stripe by using a -inch tape of the kind that sign painters use. You'll be positioning the tape over the freehand roughly outlined red paint, so test an area with the tape to ensure that it's completely dry. If the paint does not stick to the tape, it's ready to be masked. The real beauty of this process is that you can reposition the tape if it doesn't go on straight the first time, and make any other corrections to your liking. Lightly press the tape down, securing the edges so that paint can't seep under it. Then simply paint over it with the green engine color. The tape should be removed immediately after painting, while the paint is still wet. As it is carefully peeled off, a beautiful, straight red line will appear on the part. Any green paint that seeped under the masking tape can be retouched with a fine brush. This is and easy, effective method that you should try on your next engine restoration project. The looks of the finished striped engine are well worth the extra time it takes to do.