Conservation VS Restoration

Intended to stimulate debate:-
"CHARLES HAMILTON" said... . On
reflection, I think I preferred "as found" engines which ran well, compared
to "overdone" ones that didn't! Opinions anyone?
I'm with you on this, Charles. I would never paint anything which had a
reasonable amount of original finish left. I have to admit that as well as
wanting the engine to look antique and reflect its working life, I hate
painting!
Sadly, several of the engines I have were "got-at" by people who had more
enthusiasm than sense and were painted in colours best reserved for use by
graffiti artists, so they will have to be painted :-(.
Regards,
Arthur G
Where possible I'd go for conservation rather than restoration every time.
Why not start a new thread on this topic Charles?
Reply to
Nick H
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Absolutely, any mechanical problems should be sorted, I was really only referring to cosmetics. Mind you old repairs, if reasonably sound, add something to the character of an engine.
Reply to
Nick H
presuming that whoever put the paint on has put canned car spray over the original. Could you try some thinners and tcut, to wash it off. Can it wash off, leaving the original enamel behind?
Reply to
mooninpappa
It is possible and I have done it using wire wool and paint stripper but usually the previous 'restorer' has scrupulously removed all the original before applying, with a worn out bog-brush, numerous thick coats of mucous-green or vomitous-vermilion or even in one case phlegm-yellow :-) ttfn Roland
Reply to
Roland and Celia Craven
I once rescued an old radio which had for some unaccountable reason been treated to a good coat of battleship grey paint. I gave it an experimental wipe with thinners and sure enough the paint started to come off. An hour or so later and it was all off revealing a quite acceptable polished walnut veneer finish underneath!
BTW. A radio cabinet which has been 'restored' with several coats of lumpy varnish slapped on with a tar brush is often referred to as a "toffee apple", don't know what the equivalent engine term would be.
Reply to
Nick H
Whenever possible, conserve. Even if only because anything else by definition destroys for ever the patina of age, wear, crud & general decay brought about by real use of the engine. This an irreversible decision not to be taken lightly.
However, once originality is destroyed then decide how to refinish. If it's an early engine that orginally had splendid lining, polished rims & wonderful transfers, restore it so. If the maker had even better quality exhibition engines that are well documented & you want to pay homage to them, do so. Fill all the imperections, polish to your hearts content, & be proud that you have faithfully emulated the very best done by Hornsby/ Blackstone/ Petter et al at the big shows.
If it is a little kit engine such as early Gardners or open crank Stuarts, then do as happened then, & paint it how you prefer. Open season really, but no shocking pinks please -- let's at least be contemporary in what we do.
If it is a common engine with plenty of original versions around as reference, then if you want to vary the colour style it is up to you -- I may not like it, but it is your engine ....
FWIW, Colin
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Reply to
Colin Osborne
So far, we are all in agreement - if it's a rusty lump of tat from the back of a hedge, repaint and refinish.
If it purchased in sound cosmetic - although worn - order, fix the mechanicals and clean the exterior, adding new bits where required.
How about a once fixed engine that is now to be exhibited? Should the new tanks for water and fuel be made from old stuff? be distressed? made from scratch and painted up as new products? What about the trolley?
I'm in two minds, what do others think?
Regards,
Kim Siddorn
Reply to
J K Siddorn
Original if poss if not then more or less to finish and style and time. My pet hate is grossly overfinished hardwood trolleys covered in modern varnish. AFAIK most manufacturers used a decent Pine (Oregon probably) finished in either brushed paint or heavy gas tar. I find Douglas Fir gormed with 50/50 sump-oil/creosote creates a passable facsimile and saves a lot of timewasting wiping too. ttfn Roland
Reply to
Roland and Celia Craven
My favourite flywheel rim finish is that satiny chocolate brown which results from years of light rusting and oily rag treatment.
Reply to
Nick H
In two minds is just the way I feel.
For what its worth I like to see an engine in good original (or original looking) condition or, second best, restored with a good paint job and with polished flywheels if appropriate (basically looking as if it were new from the factory at the time of its making). While I can see the attraction of gleaming brass, I feel sometimes restorers go over the top on this.
Polyurethaned mahogany trolleys which have had the obvious attention of a router (a very recent tool) going round corners do rather put me off. I don't know how many trolley builders make their softwood SO orange, but I have difficulty in seeing the beauty of it. The original trolleys I have are pitch pine (does anyone know what species this is?) and oak, these are Bamford and Lister respectively. Creosote, like many other useful but environmentally questionable substances is no longer available in the shops, but I agree it does do a good ageing job on trolley wood.
I think new parts, if the restorer is clever enough, should be distressed to match the look of the distressed engine. If there a lot of new parts, then the refinishing route is the one I would take.
I think that a lot of thought should be given to refinishing before doing it. There are fewer and fewer of our these relics of the early 20th century in their original clothes and it would seem a tragedy if we just had the colour references in SEM to go on, without ever seeing an engine in the remains of its first finish.
In antiques of other sorts, particularly furniture, a lot of value is lost if the original finish is gone. Few people would now attack an 18th century table with skirting board stain, so why assault an old engineering artifact unnecessarily with plastic paint?
Regards, Arthur G
Reply to
Arthur Griffin & Jeni Stanton
The problem with conservation is that as soon as you wipe off a layer of filth you destroy something. Should we not change the oil in an engine because we loose originality? I shall now put my head on the block and disagree with you all. I think that engines should be restored to the highest standard possible This is what the manufacturers would have made if they could afford to. That's why their show engines were finished to such a high standard. I like to see engines presented in the best way possible. They were painted when they were new so lets paint them now. Finding a bit of dirty, old, faded paint and crying out about originality is a sham. The paint was probably not that colour when it was applied and would not now pass QC by the original inspectors. When it comes to trolleys etc. my mind is similarly set. If I make a trolley, then it is mine to make and make as I please. If I want to show off my woodworking skills then so be it. Should I make a wonderfully crafted wooden structure then I feel proud of it. The engine manufacturers would have liked to have supplied better trolleys if they could afford them. Perhaps, more to the point, if the customer would have paid for them. Yes I like polished brass. I also like clean, shiny, well presented engines that you can put away without getting filthy. The pinnacle of "show" engines were the steam showman's engines. These were built to work but the customer was prepared to pay for something above a mere machine. The result is a beautiful engine that gleams and works. I feel that stationary engines would be far more attractive if presented in a better way than many of them are now.
John
Reply to
John Manders
Well done John, at last a difference of opinion!
Curiously though, my wife, who is far from being an engine enthusiast but usually humours me with a walk down the line together, shows far more interest in grimy old lumps wearing the scars of their working life with pride than she does in the bulled up examples.
Reply to
Nick H
possible
probably not
Personally I tend to favour the well maintained original look, but it is also nice to see how an engine looked when it was new (either just out of it's shipping crate or tarted up for trade show purposes). What really incenses me is some scruffy non running piece of junk used as a ticket for a free camping weekend.
Reply to
Richard H Huelin
Gentlemen,
To conserve means to stop something from being changed and leave as original. To restore means to return to use or bring back to former condition. (Concise Oxford Dictionary)
To completely rebuild back to factory finish is neither especially if many new parts are used.
Martin P
Reply to
Campingstoveman
My feeling is that we are only looking after these lumps of iron until we get fed up with them - "Look, it runs - bored now.", sell them because we cannot manage them anymore with the onset of old age or are forced to reluctantly let go of them when we die!
If we take a perfectly sound mechanical device that has, by some miracle, just got older with the passing years, strip it to the metal and then present it as the manufacturer might have done if price was not a consideration, then we have reset it's clock. All the years of living in the real world are wiped away and what the onlooker sees is not a little bit of history but an idealised construction, a might have been, rather than an authentic glimpse of something our fathers knew.
Just my opinion, you understand, it's a big world and there is room for us all. I like to look at the occasional restored pinnacle of engineering perfection too - no-one said I had to be consistent ;o))
Regards,
Kim Siddorn
Reply to
J K Siddorn
Well I'm glad to have opened up the topic a bit. I can see the reasoning behind the conservation arguement. However, the history of every engine is different so if they are all frozen in time, no one will see what they looked like when they were new. It also brings up the rather interesting question of whether we should reverse someone's actions? If an engine has been painted an interesting shade of sick green, that colour has become part of it's history and character. Should it be left like that? I approach my engines from a slightly different angle than most of you. My engines are there to perform a job of work as well as to show. The fact that they are old(ish) and have some history is an added attraction. As well as working, I also like them to look good so I clean and paint them. I do try to match the original colour as closely as possible and try not to make them too garishly bright, but painted they are. The nice clean finish means that I can spot any oil leaks early and they don't mess up my car when they travel in the boot to shows and on holiday. If we do get together as Peter was suggesting, it will be interesting to see all these lumps of metal.
John
Reply to
John Manders
Some thought provoking opinions up to now, and lets not forget that they are only opinions and as such are all valid, nobody is either "right or wrong" on the topic and up to now it seems that everyone is appreciating that, but so far it seems to me that "Unrestored" is slightly in the lead!!
Reply to
CHARLES HAMILTON
"Simon Taylor" wrote
Hmm. You clearly dont know Helen! Mind you perhaps an affection for grimy old lumps explains why she married me in the first place ;-)
Reply to
Nick H
Well, being a good wife, she probably feels sorry for the mucky ones and wants to give them a spring clean!
Simon Taylor
Reply to
Simon Taylor

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