Gentlemen, I recently got back my '13 block from rebuild and I purposefully had the rebuilder refrain from painting the block b/c I hoped to perform a accurate finish on it myself. Ihave read pro and con for black paint on the block. I'm looking to have as appropriate a finish as possible on the engine b/f I put it back in the car. So, I look to those who are more knowledgeable than I to direct me. The pan and the side valve covers would be black, but at this point in production was the block/head black or left cast metal? Thanks
Black, preferably a semigloss black, not glossy or flat.
It would have looked close to a semi-gloss out of the factory but quickly turned near flat within a few months. It was more of a wash applied with large dauber. The wash was applied after the engine was installed. Sometime between 14 and 17, the engines were painted before being installed in the chassis.
In this 1913 photo there's a guy in the background, far right, that appears to be holding one of the daubers. At this point, the engine is black. In the foreground, you can clearly see the engine being installed without paint.
Go with what Trent says. He's done the research on this.
I used Rustoleum satin black on my 1915.
Of course, leaving your engine unpainted will invite rust. I can't imagine what Mr. Ford had in mind when he made that decision.
I notice that the philosophy of fidelity to historical detail is a little bit different with cars than airplanes (from where most of my irrelevant knowledge comes).
The warbird guys will play a little game of "Bait & Switch," which came about, in part, because of the FAA's insistence that antique airplanes operated in a modern environment be equipped with the latest avionic safety equipment. This up-to-date equipment would look wrong embedded in the instrument panel of, say, a P-47 Thunderbolt, so it gets hidden in the map case or behind a false panel with a dummy antique instrument face. Of course, the guns are all replicas, as is the ammo. A big, half-inch-thick sheet of heavy, face-hardened, steel armor-plate might be replaced with a piece of lighter-weight aluminum. The exposed turbochargers on most airworthy P-38 Lightnings are non-operational dummies (And I painted my humble L-17 Navion silver because maintaining polished, bare-aluminum skin would have been a full time job. So yeah, I cheated). The point is, what’s being presented is the ILLUSION of historical accuracy.
In the world of antique automobiles (as opposed to antique airplanes), purists abound in much greater numbers—and it's awfully hard to fault them for wanting things to do things correctly. But both types deal with a problem which neither Henry Ford nor William Boeing anticipated; that of their products being maintained in working condition for the better part of a century (Combat aircraft such as the B-17 Flying Fortress were designed to have an operational life of somewhere between 100 and 150 hours).
The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair had spot-welded skin instead of rivets because, once the specialized manufacturing machinery was in place, it streamlined production, was much cheaper, and the whole airplane was considered disposable. Certainly, it wasn't intended to be kept airworthy indefinitely. Today, restored Corsair skin is flush riveted and thick paint is applied to hide it—another “Bait & Switch” tactic that extends the life of the machine far beyond the designer’s original intent.
Today, automotive custodians, driven by a desire to do things right, ponder over things like the wisdom of leaving an engine unpainted. Well, this is my very round-about way of getting to what might be a warbird enthusiast’s method of creating the illusory appearance of bare cast iron, and this spray paint is reputed to do just that:
Oh—and my apologies for being my usual, insufferably verbose self.
Paint designed for motors made by companies is formulated differently from other paint.
It helps if the paint allows heat to be dispersed easily, therefore thick coats are out.
Actual engine enamel is a thin coating, normal enamel needs to be thinned down to a wash type material as Ken points out is what was used originally.
So if you don't get an actual engine enamel purchase normal air dry enamel, over thin it with its recommended thinner and apply it to the clean cast iron.
If its thin its less likely to be discolored by the heat and as brushing only uses a small amount of material you can easily redo any any suspect parts which do loose their original look.
Rustoleum makes a high heat satin black that is typically used for bbq grills and such. It's recommended to be used without a primer, and one coat only. It's also quite thin already, and goes on and dries quickly. FWIW, I used it on most of my engine parts (not the head) with good results.
Several years ago I researched this forum, judging guidelines etc. and felt there was evidence that at least some of the motors were unpainted. So, I went with the unpainted cast iron look and had the engine painted to appear as cast iron. Since then thinking seems to have shifted more to painted. However, I still like the "unpainted cast iron look"
Painted, black, photo from Ford Methods and Ford Shops, (1914) printed 1915.
I find a lot of the early photos where the engines definitely appear to be unpainted. Especially the brass era.
Hard to believe that they put the engine together and then start slopping black paint near aluminum manifolds and brass carburetors and spark plug wires,dashboard and the spark plugs,etc.
Here are some pics of an engine I did recently. I paint them with semi-gloss engine enamel from my local parts store and have always gotten good results.
I'll go along with Mike. I use a spray can of Rustoleum Satin Black. Way easier than firing up the air compressor!
If you're not a purist, a nice compromise is "Cast Blast". Google it and you'll see. A really nice compromise,.....painted for protection and rust prevention, but looks just like cast iron.
thanks for the input. What I didn't say and that I intended to do was paint the engine/head in a cast iron-colored paint if I didn't paint it black.
As Dan Treace said here on a previous thread, at the assembly plants they were painted black or they were left bare, but they were never painted "cast blast."
BTW Larry, I use Duplicolor brand engine enamel, not Rustoleum. That's what my local O'Reilly's carries, and it works great.
How about the 1927 engine? I painted my engine the recommended green in 1989 but since have seen references to Moleskin which seems to be a dark brown. Now that I have the engine out it's a perfect time to repaint.
Are there any readily available paints in this color or color chips to have it mixed?
Kevin, having the chance to rebuild an original '16 engine that was out of a one owner car, I decided to answer that question once and for all for my own satisfaction. What I found, upon removing the accumulated oil and dirt with solvent, was bright cast Iron with what appeared to be daubed on patches of very thin black paint here and there on the block.
The crankcase was painted more or less, again with a thin wash, the front cover had no paint at all and the aluminum hogshead had no paint and was bright after removing the oil.
The engine had no manifold when I got it so I don't know how they were painted, but the valve covers were partially painted as if the wash was applied after the manifolds were installed.
The conclusion I reached was that engine painting was done to the assembled engine, done with a dauber or very soft mop like brush with a very thin wash of paint... no runs but flows of very thin color. I don't think Ford was into engine detailing back then!
Ok, who is going to be the first to correctly paint/slurry their engine block with a hand mop? Step forward purists!
Eric, I've seen a picture of a 1927 engine that's in a museum. I probably saw it here on the forum. A better internet searcher than I am could probably find it pretty quickly. If I remember correctly, to my eye it looked like a slightly browner version of OD. I should have saved that photo, as this subject seems to come up often.
There is a cutaway 1927 engine at the Henry Ford museum likely still painted in "M-124 Moleskin Motor Pyroxlin". Trent Bogges pictures can be seen in this thread: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/321997.html?1352963361
I think maybe Day-Glo Orange would be nice!
Example on RAJO Head:
Wow, I have a lot of reading to do now.
Thanks for the info!
Here are pictures of the '27 moleskin color. factory cutaway on display at The Henry Ford.
My guess is this debate will still be being contested in 50 more years too. were they painted in '13 or not or just lightly oil coated ?????????????
The photo posted by Ken is 1913, the engines painted with slosh black after installed in the chassis.
This photo is 1914 and shows the engine line, neat rack of pipes to slide the motor along, at the final step, paint. You can see the motor on the right is unpainted, and the young worker is brushing or slopping on the slush black on the center motor, the one of the right is already sloshed black.
Imagine at the day, the status of the Ford, and the factory methods, and pride of doing good work, an unpainted engine wouldn't be appropriate. Ford Methods and Ford Shops noted that the final step of painting took 68 seconds! Not much paint, maybe not neat, but black paint was on that Ford motor!
I see that in this 1913 /14 pic but what about early 13's and 12, 11, 10, 9 and even an 08 ??
All black slosh paint or /?/
Personally l have no idea at all ... I have cast blast mine , but if it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they were all sloshed with a thin black - l'd do that just for a little more authenticity too.
I HAVE to believe that ALL of the engines were painted/COATED with something; Gilsonite, very thin black paint, solvent thinned roofing tar, Something.
The Model A ('03) through NRS engines were painted. Why in the world would the Ford Motor Company suddenly stop painting their engines on this new model? ( The T.) There was no assembly line running at a fast pace and forcing workers to toss an unpainted engine into a chassis and send it down the line, not prior to 1914.
It doesn't take very long for unpainted/uncoated cast iron to start developing surface rust. Leave a sandblasted cast iron part in a non-climate controlled area (perhaps like the Piquette plant) for a few days and the rust will start to show up.
And please consider this scenario: The unpainted engine of a 1910 car spends a few days (a week?) at Piquette as the car is built around it. It then gets loaded into a box car to be shipped to who knows where and during the journey there may be a day of rain or at least high humidity (and don't forget the winter). Now at the destination it gets unloaded. The receiving dealer prefers to get the cars on a dry day, but perhaps sometimes the rail cars need to be unloaded quickly and the vehicles have to be off loaded on a damp day (or it's winter). Now the car is in the dealer's show room and the salesman, with a customer at his elbow, lifts the hood to display the mighty 20 HP engine; and behold- a rusty lump. Hmmm.
OK, so did the dealer touch up unpainted engines? I doubt that they would have endured that for long without complaining to the home office.
As I stated at the beginning of this post: I have to believe that the engines were coated with something. We can debate the color.
Let the condemnation, insults and questioning of mental stability begin. Bill