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Art & Inspiration The History and Art of Engine Turned Material - Lets See Yours

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Speed~On, May 17, 2017.

  1. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283

    Speed~On
    Member

    The origin of Engine Turned stainless (and other material) can be traced back to 1914 during World War I. The sheet metal parts of the Fokker-Eindecker fighter aircraft series had engine turned stainless on the engine cowl and associated sheet metal.

    Engine turning can also be found on bank notes and other high value documents to make it difficult to forge copies.

    Perhaps the most recognizable and memorable engine turned stainless was on Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis.
    upload_2017-5-17_19-59-4.png


    During the 1920's and 1930's engine turned material found its way to race cars. Often, this practice was used on the dash, cowls and hoods. I've always been fond of the look. Whether it's a vintage Bugatti, speedster, or dry lakes racer from the late 1940's, there's just something that screams nostalgia. The look of a faded engine turned dash with late 1940's Stewart Warner 2 5/8" smooth bezel, crescent needle gauges is hard to beat.

    Some use eraser tips while others have used cartridge rolls to accomplish this look

    For quite some time I've wanted to try. So, today was the day. I made a short video so you can see my technique (not that I'm in any position to teach this) hell, this was my first whack at it. I will also show you my set up. I used a product called a Cratex Stick. They work great. It's a cylindrical sanding stick.





    Before I started I cut my 6" Cratex stick to a piece that is about 3/4" in length. I then took a 1/2" diameter wood dowel and cut it to a length of approx. 3 1/2". I used super glue and glued the two together.
    upload_2017-5-17_20-27-42.png

    Then into my drill press....
    upload_2017-5-17_20-28-13.png


    After a few passes I took a look at my progress....
    upload_2017-5-17_20-28-45.png


    Once complete, I wiped it with lacquer thinner to remove some of the sanding debris and finger prints. Then some Gibbs spray to give it a nice sheen. I was happy with the results for my first attempt.

    upload_2017-5-17_20-32-26.png


    Lets see your Engine Turned parts!
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  2. Fordors
    Joined: Sep 22, 2016
    Posts: 3,159

    Fordors
    Member

    I worked with a European trained German toolmaker that was taught to use a wooden dowel, olive oil and emery powder. That was the old world method before Cratex abrasives.
     
  3. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,793

    tfeverfred
    Member

    Looks good!
     
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  4. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,570

    The37Kid
    Member

    I used to do the Bugatti GP car dash & firewalls in the 1970's, time consuming, but very satisfying work when it was done. Cant imagine the time it took to redo the Delage Torpille that is part of the George Wingard collection.Bob upload_2017-5-17_22-1-29.png [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2017

  5. H380
    Joined: Sep 20, 2015
    Posts: 448

    H380
    Member
    from Louisiana

    A lot older than WW1. The Romans and probably the Greeks were doing it too.
     
  6. xpletiv
    Joined: Jul 9, 2008
    Posts: 938

    xpletiv
    Member
    from chiburbs

    I used the medium grit on a piece of stainless and it took forever, wtf was wrong with what I had!?
    Also, I had to used WD40 as it wasn't consistent when dry. Each "circle " took approximately 30 secs or it just wasn't pronounced enough, longer didn't make much of a difference, drove me bonkers!
    No idea as to what grade stainless it was, but it came from Ikea.
     
  7. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,570

    The37Kid
    Member

    So they had to wait what, 2000 years for the engine to be invented before they could name the process? :confused: Bob
     
  8. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283

    Speed~On
    Member

    I'm thinking the goofy material from Ikea is a big part of your problem. I was tempted long ago to try it with an eraser head, but that just seemed weird to me...like it would just make a mess. Then I watched a guy use a Cratex stick and it was so slick. So, I ordered a few sticks.
    I know Stainless Steel is the preferred material. Since I was just practicing today I used a sheet of steel. As you can see in my video, I only make contact for a few seconds and the circular imprint is very profound. I then used Gibbs Penetrating oil, so I'm not worried about it tarnishing or rusting.

    Try using cratex and get a quality piece of Stainless Steel from your local steel supply company. I'm sure a smaller sheet can be had for really cheap.
    I used a 6" Cratex stick, 1/2" Diameter, Medium grit.
     
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  9. williebill
    Joined: Mar 1, 2004
    Posts: 2,637

    williebill
    Member

    Very cool. Thanks for posting. Looks great.
     
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  10. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283

    Speed~On
    Member

    This is outstanding.


     
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  11. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 2,303

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Nice job. I've been meaning to try this, just haven't gotten to it yet.



    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  12. H380
    Joined: Sep 20, 2015
    Posts: 448

    H380
    Member
    from Louisiana

    As stated above it was a stick, oil and sand. Turn the stick with your hand or a bow. In a grid layout on your work. I have seen Roman gold work with "Engine Turing" in Machine shop text books back in the 70's. It is only making circular scratches in a pattern. Nothing modern about that. Look up watch and clock making. That is almost 1000 years right there.
     
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  13. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,847

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    Dumb ?#87, what's it really for? Is it just decorative (which I like a LOT) or is it to somehow help reduce future marring of the finish, hide fingerprints, reduce reflections (that has my vote), or what? And why on earth - engine turning being so time consuming to do - would aircraft mfgs use it when the half life of a fighter plane in WWI was probably about a week? Gary
     
  14. Shamus
    Joined: Jul 20, 2005
    Posts: 1,187

    Shamus
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NC

    These original S-W gauges & panel were restored by Morris Gauges without the engine turned panel. Planned them for my roadster but couldn't bring myself to cut the original dash. The engine turning really brings out the beauty of the gauges.


    IMG_5791.JPG
     
  15. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283

    Speed~On
    Member

    Shamus, that is a beautiful gauge panel. Paired with awesome vintage Stewart Warner gauges, you can't go wrong. Very nice!
     
  16. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 5,099

    jnaki

    Hello,
    When I was a fanatic teenager about trying something new on hot rods and stuff, I got hooked on this machined turned look. But, without a standard floor drill press, it was hard to continue the long process to the finish. So, we used different grit, wet dry sandpaper and our index fingers wrapped with the wet sandpaper. For small surfaces like flat face plates, it was fun to do the whole plate with swirls. They were not exactly uniform like the drill press versions, but the overall look was pretty good.

    Most of my friends liked the look and wanted me to do a couple of machined surfaces with the hand turned look. A lot of the drag race cars had these hand turned plates in various places on the cars. it was totally a custom approach to showcasing your build, but non functional. The ash trays, glove boxes, small plates around window/door cranks all got the experimental treatment, as long as the fingers did not get a cramp with all of the swirling. It was a tedious process.

    Jnaki
    After I finally got a bench top drill press many years later, I tried the whole process again on some aluminum plates. It looked pretty good, but it was too tedious a job for that look and it had to fit the design of the car. When anyone compares the hand process to the machined process, there are all kinds of answers and comments. Most people like the machine "Even Steven" look over the random hand swirls. But, to each his/her own...yrmv.
     
  17. LBCD
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,026

    LBCD
    Member

    I have always loved the look of turned metal too...I especially remember dash inserts as a kid....how the sun would hit the metal and it was mezmorizing.

    I wanted the look on my radiator and my air cleaner which is a 40's era 14" hi hat my uncle gave me in the early 80's...pretty sure it is B20 bronze...more sentimental value using that cymbal as an air cleaner top than the edlebrock I once had on there.

    I couldn't mount them on a drill press so just used my air tool and eyeballs

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  18. Guilloché (/ɡɪˈloʊʃ/),(or guilloche) is a decorative technique in which a very precise, intricate and repetitive pattern is mechanically engraved into an underlying material via engine turning, which uses a machine of the same name, also called a rose engine lathe. This mechanical technique improved on more time-consuming designs achieved by hand and allowed for greater delicacy, precision, and closeness of line, as well as greater speed.
    .....traced back to at least 1770
     
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  19. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 6,711

    seb fontana
    Member
    from ct

  20. LBCD
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,026

    LBCD
    Member

    ^^^^the reason we (work) turn or swirl all our partitions now is so if the gang bangers carve or scratch the stainless it can easily be fixed...I work in the Jail system.
     
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  21. burl
    Joined: Nov 28, 2007
    Posts: 685

    burl
    Member
    from Minnesota

    original engine turning on my gauge panel.Needs some work but I don't thick it could be fixed unless the plating was stripped and re-done.Not sure how they did this from the factory as it looks like the base was brass and then nickel plated gauges.jpg
     
  22. banjorear
    Joined: Jul 30, 2004
    Posts: 3,816

    banjorear
    Member

    Awesome post. Thanks for doing this. I haven't watched the video, but I've always been curious if they need to be in line and spaced the same or not? If not, is that part of the overall look of it?
     
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  23. 4wd1936
    Joined: Mar 16, 2009
    Posts: 866

    4wd1936
    Member
    from NY

    I also like the look and have always been fascinated by how it was done, thanks for the posts. The question remains however, why was it done in the first place? To eliminate glare, reflection or did it somehow work harden the material for added strength?
     
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  24. dave plmley
    Joined: Oct 24, 2014
    Posts: 141

    dave plmley

    I made this panel for my Willys Jeepster. The one and only engine turning piece I ever made
    [​IMG]
     
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  25. banjorear
    Joined: Jul 30, 2004
    Posts: 3,816

    banjorear
    Member

    One more question: Is there any reason why you can't use the Cratex stick as is in the mandrel or is it too soft?
     
  26. Fordors
    Joined: Sep 22, 2016
    Posts: 3,159

    Fordors
    Member

    I've cut off a 1 1/2" piece and chucked it directly into my drill press and it works well but I can see the benefit of gluing it to the dowel. I like to dress the end of the stick on sandpaper periodically, it helps keep the swirls more uniform looking. As the abrasive wears down the dowel would allow use of the whole piece.
     
  27. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283

    Speed~On
    Member

    Yes, good point Fordors. Occasionally you should clean the cratex stick of the "burs" that accumulate at the working end. I did that a few times as I was making my piece.
    I guess I used the wood dowel because I thought the Cratex stick was a bit pliable and would want to wobble a little. Cool to hear I can just put a stick in my drill press.

    Thanks for your update!

    I just made all these this morning from (1) 6" Cratex stick. This is enough Cratex to last a very long time. And to the botton you can see I still have a decent piece left.

    20170518_153012.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
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  28. bonzo-1
    Joined: Oct 13, 2010
    Posts: 334

    bonzo-1
    Member

    Some I did on a 56. The hood and deck lid were perfect not a dent or ding.
     

    Attached Files:

  29. LBCD
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,026

    LBCD
    Member

    Bonzo...you must have had guide lines!
     
  30. This is the original panel for the Ranch wagon.

    54forddash016.jpg

    And this is the one I made to use regular gauges. HRP

    54wagon12-12-2009001.jpg
     

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