Smokstak

Smooth Engines


| May/June 2003



Smokstak

The following comes from a recent topic on SmokStak, which can be found on the Internet at: www.engineads.com/ smokstak.cgi. As ever, various individuals started, commented on and concluded the following bulletin board thread.

Visiting the Coolspring power museum in Pennsylvania a few years back, I noticed that most of the engines there looked smooth and free of any pitting from rust. I was wondering how they make the parts look so good and smooth; do they resurface the parts or put some kind of filler on them, or just a really good, thick primer? - Tanner

Most likely they grind the castings smooth using a floppy type grinding disk and then apply body putty over that. Then they use fill coat primers followed by several coats of paint. As always, the important work comes well before the pretty paint. - Doug

I'd advise not putting too much effort into smoothing cast iron engine parts. Some engines do end up more pitted than others (due to the elements), but original cast iron is supposed to have a somewhat rough look and feel to it. Its slight imperfections are what make cast iron from the olden days stand out as original. Casting outfits these days remake parts a little too perfect.

I've seen many engines that have been sanded and smoothed down to where the cast iron looks like glass. This is about as far away from original condition for the engine as you can get. When these engines came off the factory line the cast iron didn't look and feel like glass! In my opinion, engines that look like this have greatly decreased value. These days, collectors want engines in original condition. An engine that is over restored is not original and it will not have the same value on today's market.

I've been to Coolspring, and I'm not sure why some of their really old/rare engines look so smooth. I do know they are mostly restored and came from a single collector, so maybe that person did a little over restoration. However, when you walk around to the rest of the buildings, you'll see many of the engines are in original, unrestored condition and they have that slightly rough casting.