Giving New Parts an Antique Finish

Rob Skinner's goal in restoring gas engines is to make them look as original as possible. To that end, he needs to paint the parts and then age them to the tune of a hundred years, giving new parts an antique finish.


| October/November 2010



patina 2

Rob Skinner uses a torch with a carburizing flame to deposit soot on freshly painted parts, then heats the parts up with a neutralized flame, baking the soot into the paint. The process will add many years to the look of a piece.

Photo courtsey Rob Skinner

Editor’s note: This article originally ran in the April 2010 issue of Hit & Miss, Journal of the Western Antique Power Association and is reprinted with permission of the author.  

Selecting the type of finish for an antique gas engine restoration is a huge decision. It’s a lot of work, and you’ll want to be happy with it for a long, long time.  

Such was my dilemma on my current project. It’s a work in progress, and at a stage in the project that might be of interest to Gas Engine Magazine readers. The engine has a lot of original paint, which I want to preserve. It’s also missing a few parts that needed to be fabricated.

Newly machined parts are really shiny and spiffy, and if left bare, are a testament to the skills of the craftsman who created them. On the other hand, my goal in restoring gas engines is to make them look as original as possible. To that end, I need to paint the parts and then age them to the tune of a hundred years, giving new parts an antique finish.

Showing its age

Aging paint isn’t really a science, per se, but a process in which the artist can employ any number of tools and techniques. The following are the steps and techniques that I used for these parts, but there are plenty of other ways to achieve a similar result.  

The new parts were bare machined iron and brass. I was able to pick up some Rustoleum in a color that is very close to original. The painted parts looked very nice, and would go nicely on a new engine. My engine, however, is scratched, chipped, oil stained and looks well-used. The newly painted parts would not look right.