Engine Painting

Stationary Engine List: Online discussion about engine painting

| November/December 2004

As I was collecting the material for this month's article, we had a visit from a friend bringing some bearings for a Hercules that he'd picked up for us at the Portland, Ind. show, along with a couple of calendars. As he left, the mailman turned up with a large envelope containing yet another show calendar! I'm starting to think that people are trying to make sure we don't make the error of missing a show next year!

I know that I have covered the subject of whether or not to paint an engine before, but in the most recent discussion of this dilemma, several new and interesting points were raised.

- Now that I've got this Economy running, I'm wondering which way to go with it. Is it better to clean and paint, or leave it all original? The Economy sat in the orchard on its side for Lord knows how many years 'til my dad and I rescued it. The original buzz rig fell apart as we tried to rescue it, to the point the wood powdered when touched. It's still a greasy old thing and looks like both the original undercoat and final coat of paint are partially intact. I got it running in the "found" condition, and at the least I think I should probably give it a good steam bath to see exactly what's left there. No traces of original decals are to be seen anywhere.

- Steam cleaning would remove the old grease and oil, but might also blast off some remaining paint. I like to go easy on a new engine with a bucket of kerosene and a brush. It's slower and messier, but less aggressive. You can always steam clean later. You'd feel really bad to spot pieces of decal and paint sitting in the drain at the steam cleaners.

- Is there currently a mix of original paint blended with the patina of well-oiled cast iron showing through? Perhaps a faded but still visible Economy logo? Is some of the pin striping still there? If this is the case, then I would certainly leave it original.

However, if it is a rusty lump with no paint anymore, or if it has been repainted in the past, it needs some painting TLC.