View topic - What color were the Spark Plug covers on a 1952 Firedome?

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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 12:40 am 
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I'm almost afraid to ask this question for fear of starting an argument. Opinions on this are likely to be like noses- everyone has one and they are all different.

Attached is a photo of my 1952 Firedome engine after rebuilding it. I'm pretty sure the engine was silver, and most of the accessories were black. I'm also reasonably sure I have painted the spark plug wire covers that say "DESOTO FIREDOME EIGHT" incorrectly. The question is, what color should they be? In Willem Weertman's book on Chrysler engines, he shows a couple photos from the Chrysler archives of the Jefferson avenue plant where these engines were built. The Chrysler firepower engines seem to have black wire covers. But the Desoto engine line photos are before the covers were installed. There are numerous different paint schemes used on show engines- most with red rocker covers- the engine line photos don't show this scheme in production though. So, let's hear some opinions- what color were they?


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Brent Jacobsen
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 2:29 am 
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Brent,

The web links below suggest you have painted your covers correctly. This link shows an original, apparently unrestored '52 Firedome. Check out the engine photo.

http://www.cardomain.com/ride/3824277/1 ... -firedome/

This link shows a Motor Trend road test performed in 1952. This road test is reproduced in a book containing many other similar DeSoto articles. The article shows a photo of the engine which although in black and white appears to show the plug covers painted the same color as the valve cover and the wording in a dark contrasting color.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1952-DESOTO-FIR ... true&rt=nc

Mark


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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 2:34 am 
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Thanks for the response Mark.

Photos like these are what inspired me to paint it this way in the first place. But I still have my doubts. I just can't figure out how you would paint a recess like that in production.

A lot of press road test cars were detailed different than production, and a lot of owners would paint details in other ways than production. Those covers had to be removed to change plugs, so they were ripe for painting.

When I bought my car way back in 1980, it still had some original paint on the covers. There were traces of silver, and traces of black, but the black wasn't in the logo. Do you suppose they painted them black, then applied a mask and over-sprayed them silver?

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 1:44 am 
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I've seen even more photos that show the silver with black letters. A couple of press release photos and one from a dealer's showroom. The case is pretty compelling that those really were painted that way. I can't believe I accidently painted them correctly.

I am still vexed as to how that debossed surface was painted in production. I did mine with an artist's brush and a magnifier visor. I'm having trouble figuring out a production friendly process- some sort of inked or paint loaded stamp maybe? Could they have used adhesive stickers?

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 6:49 pm 
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Unrestored sparkplug wire covers that I've seen usually have inaccuracies in just how well they got the paint into the depressed letters.

I would assume that a stencil was quickly placed over the covers, exposing the letters, and then the paint was applied.

The quality was probably affected by how well the individual placed the stencil. I bet there wasn't much time for making adjustments!

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 12:58 am 
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Thanks for the reply Tim.

I had considered stencils, but those require attaching links to the center of the "D"s and the "O"s , and would result in an unpainted area giving the "military bumper number" look. Still.... If a stencil with thin wires to connect the centers were to be used on a debossed surface, you might be able to reliably get the paint under them. Hmmm. That could explain the use of a debossed surface. Makes me want to get some extra spark plug wire covers, make a stencil, and try it......

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:53 pm 
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Yup. I'd love to see how they did that stuff.

We have a local rebuilder of industrial diesel engines that is also a Packard enthusiast, and when I was at his place one time I noticed that they had cut masking stencils out of the thin magnetic stuff that everbody makes refrigerator magnets/business cards kind of things out of. Very quick to stick a magnetic stencil on an area that wasn't to be painted and it stayed put.

How long has that magnetic film been around, lol?

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 2:20 am 
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Tim,

I had to do some research to see if those flexible magnetic strips might have been available then. At least one site claims that flexible magnets- those with iron particles imbedded in a flexible polymer were invented in 1956 by Max Baermann in Germany. You can read about it here:

http://www.max-baermann.de/uk-flex-perm ... agnets.htm

That could make an easier stencil, although you would still have to apply small parts to the middle of the "O"s and "D"s in "DESOTO" and "FIREDOME". In your experience, were the sides of the deboss painted on the survivors, or just the bottom surface? That would provide a clue.

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