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 Post subject: Engine Paint colors
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:16 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 5:19 pm
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
I have been studying DeSoto engines for some time. One thing still vexes me. It looks like most DeSoto engines made before WW II were painted black with either silver or red cylinder heads. It also looks like most DeSoto engines made after WW II were painted silver with black pulleys, electrical accessories and air cleaners, although some mid to late 1950's DeSoto performance engines also had Gold trim. Does anyone know when the engines changed from black to silver?

Brent

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Brent Jacobsen
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 Post subject: Re: Engine Paint colors
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:04 am
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Location: Windom, KS
Somewhere I came to believe that MOPAR started using silver on all engines (everything cast iron) beginning in '34. Can't say that I have any documentation for that, but I have repeated it.

I have 2 '33 Imperial CQ cars in my shop and the engines are documented as being green/gray with red heads.

Interestingly, years ago we restored a '28 Chrysler Model 52 (4 cyl) and when I went looking for answers regarding engine colors, people from the NCPC told me that Chrysler engines were blue. Meaning the blue from the '60s.

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 Post subject: Re: Engine Paint colors
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:28 pm 
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My '41 DeSoto engine bay is all original... both the block and heads are silver.

I have never seen a black engine with silver heads.. though I assume it is possible. The only colors I have seen over the last 20 years is an all silver engine with a silver head. This doesn't count accessory items like horns, brackets, spark plug wire loom, generator, etc... these were usually painted semi-gloss black.

I would love to see an original engine with the black still on it.. . :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: Engine Paint colors
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:02 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 5:19 pm
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
Gents,

Thanks for the responses. I guess I am not alone in having questions in this area.

I have been reading three books that address Chrysler engines. The first is "70 Years of Chrysler" published in 1974. It is a Chrysler anniversary book, but it has many historic plant photos, some that show engines. The second book is "The Plymouth and DeSoto Story" by Don Butler. Don was a Chrysler stylist, and accessed the Chrysler archives to write his book. The third is "Chrysler Engines; 1922 - 1999" By Willem Weertman. Willem was a Chrysler Engine Engineer, and also had access to the Chrysler archives for his book.

The three books show many photos of early DeSoto engines, and they were pretty clearly all black. The verbage in the books mention optional "Red Head" high compression cylinder heads for these engines. When DeSoto and Chrysler went from the original DeSoto engine to the new shallow-skirt engine in 1937, It looks like the base cylinder head went from black to silver, with optional high compression heads being red (and made from Aluminum). The verbage mentions silver and red head engines. But these engines were still using black engine blocks. After the war, optional heads stopped being available, and the engines are photographed as all silver.

Some photos and charts from the books follow.......

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 Post subject: Re: Engine Paint colors
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:06 pm 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
Here is a plant photo from the Wyoming Avenue plant from Don Butler's book. This photo is of a 1941 DeSoto chassis built for advertising to show off the new chassis. The photo is black and white, but the engine here has a black block and silver head.


Attachments:
1941 DeSoto Chassis0001.jpg
1941 DeSoto Chassis0001.jpg [ 2.79 MiB | Viewed 133 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Engine Paint colors
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:20 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 5:19 pm
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
Here is a chart from Willem Weertman's book showing the specifications for a few pre-war versions of the new-for-1937 "long block" six. Notice that only the Chrysler had optional cylinder heads available. In his text, Weertman mentions the mix of "silver and red heads" used on these engines.

Additional photos from the 70 years of Chrysler book show the Chrysler Jefferson Avenue plant in 1942 with a row of 8-cylinder engines awaiting installation. They too are black with silver heads. But photos from the same book show 1937 Dodge engines that are all silver. The Dodge used a different engine of course, made in a different plant. But all this leads me to believe that Chrysler as a corporation changed the engine color from black to silver gradually, and on different cars at different times.


Attachments:
Long Block 6 Engine Data.jpg
Long Block 6 Engine Data.jpg [ 780.32 KiB | Viewed 132 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Engine Paint colors
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 5:19 pm
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
Tim,

I am interested in the color you are calling "gray-green". Here is a photo of a circa 1928 ZSB H-series engine taken at the Chrysler historic museum back in the fall of 2016. According to Willem Weertman, in 1928 Chrysler started painting the cylinder heads of their engines a color different from the block. The standard compression ratio head called the "Silver Dome" was painted silver. The optional high compression ratio head called the "Red Head" was painted red. This engine would be the standard compression ratio. It is also painted what I would call a "Gray-Green" color- dark almost an olive, this color photographs as black in black and white photography. Is this the color you are using on those two model CL ZSB eights you are restoring?


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1928 Chrysler ZSB H-Series Engine with Silver Dome Head Right Side.JPG
1928 Chrysler ZSB H-Series Engine with Silver Dome Head Right Side.JPG [ 1.67 MiB | Viewed 7 times ]

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