Old Iron Poll: What Do You Think About the Deliberate Aging of New Gas Engine Parts?

| 12/13/2010 10:24:00 AM

Tags: antique gas engines, restoration, investment vs. hobby,

old christensen engine 

When restoring an antique gas engine, replacing broken or missing parts is a necessity. Sometimes, those parts no longer exist and a restorer must fabricate new parts. In order to preserve the otherwise natural, barn-fresh condition of an engine, some restorers will intentionally age the new pieces to give it an artificial, yet realistic-looking patina that matches the engine. In a matter of a few hours, a combination of heat and chemical reaction can add 100 years of "age" to a newly fabricated piece. For these collectors, the goal isn't to deceive anyone - it's simply to maintain the visual integrity of the engine they're trying to restore.

Other collectors, mindful of the investment potential in antique gas engines, question this practice. Antique gas engines in complete, original condition hold greater value for some collectors when compared to engines that have been restored. For these collectors, the process of intentional aging represents an obstacle to guaranteeing authentic original condition. And while the restorer of a piece may be upfront about what pieces have been restored and intentionally aged, the provenance of the engine will likely get murkier the further removed that engine is from its restorer.

So what do you think about this practice? Take the poll and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below:


David Kraft
1/25/2011 5:22:52 PM

I never gave much thought to aging replacement parts. All of my engine restorations required full repainting due to their poor condition. I always restored the engines to a factory new appearance. My engines, now, after being operated, in some cases for nearly fifteen years,have the appearance of an older, perhaps "original" engine. I have found myself aging the paint on replacement parts or repairs to match the older look of the engine. I always describe the engine as a full restoration and list all of the replacement or reproduction parts. I believe the bottom line on "aged look" to replacement parts or repairs is fine. I however belive the engine owner has a responsibility to document the history of repaires and replacement parts, as this effects the market value of the engine.

Richard Grimm
12/14/2010 9:28:51 AM

I belive it is up to the owner. But to have a new part or weld stand out like a sore thumb would take away from the the item....

Ron Westphal
12/14/2010 8:23:51 AM

As a museum curator my perspective may be somewhat different from the average collector. When the replacement of original parts is necessary to present a complete artifact for exhibit, the parts are identified as replacements within the permanent records and, when possible, marked as "replica" or "reproduction." At my museum, we restored a Conestoga wagon box and painted all of the replacement parts in the appropriate colors, while the original parts were left in original condition. Anyone looking at the wagon can readilly see what's "real" and what is new. The artifical aging of new parts may be intended for asthetic purposes by the original owner, but subsequent owners may not be aware of the replacement parts or may not care to reveal the facts if an all original engine is worth several hundred dollars more than one with new made and aged parts.