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The Driving Force Behind a Patina Surface

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Definition: a surface appearance of something grown beautiful, especially with age or use, which adds value to an antique or collectible and should not be cleaned.

Patina: a surface appearance of something grown beautiful, expecially with age or use, which adds value to an antique, collectible or scarce and should not be cleaned, in some cases, and preserved in other cases.

I grew up in a farm/ranch environment on the edge of the Southern Nebraska Sand hills. Our neighbors to the east and south were miles away, those to the west were closer, yet our closest neighbor was a mile and a half away. It was the late 40's and early 50's and things were not plentiful. We ate well, had a warm house, a good home life, but not many extras.

Most of our toys were made from scrap wood and metal. I made a toy 'self propelled' grain harvester (combine) out of a 12" 4x4, a license plate folded 90 degrees for the header, two pair of large jar lids for the front wheels and a furniture swivel wheel for the rear. We recycled things long before recycling became 'cool'.

I have always liked hot rodding. I had scores of the early "Hot Rod" magazines when I was in high school, the ones that were about 3.5 x 7 inches, small magazines. I dreamed of doing such, yet didn't. As I grew older the skills of body work were not mine and the cost of painting discouraged me from 'restoring' older vehicles.

When I first saw a patina finish truck, then one big obstacle was removed. I appreciate the skill and labor required for a very nicely painted vehicle yet I have a preference for an original surface. I am not all that excited about the faux patina painted vehicles. To me faux is not foxy. So then the patina surface allows me to 'restore' an old vehicle, enjoy the tasks and become a small part of this hobby.

Today I was cleaning small external engine parts such as a solenoid, starter, regulator cap, for repainting. I was using a wire wheel brush and my drill motor. I find it very enjoyable to take a rusty item, wheel brush, sand, etch primer, paint it and make it look nearly new. As I was doing that today it reminded me of my youth.

My point is this. There are two very expensive items in the restoration process, upholstery and paint. That patina surfaces are now acceptable and all sorts of implanted seats will work in an old vehicle, those two items no longer prohibit a novice or one with somewhat limited resources from working with an old vehicle. My philosophy is to bolt off, fix or replace and bolt back on. That way the vehicle is never damaged for someone later who may prefer a finer result.

Often times, progress occurs when we step back a few paces and reevaluate the larger definitions of creativity and imagination.

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Patina: a surface appearance of something grown beautiful, especially with age or use, which adds value to an antique, collectible or scarce and should not be cleaned, in some cases, and preserved in other cases.




This is patina






This is sanded paint



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However, I do prefer nicely worn (original) paint to fresh sprayed shiny finish.

I was so fortunate to find this 1951 Nash from Phoenix AZ.

The Arizona sun and time has resulted perfect patina, which no paint job can ever match (IMO).



on the other side of the coin: Should this be painted over, there's no way ever to get the original back...

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I too appreciate and prefer older worn paint.  Now I'm familiar with the word "patina." At least I thought I was until I started looking on eBay for a truck a couple years ago.  I literally laughed out loud when I saw someone using the word "patina" to describe something I'd been referring to as "rust." 

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My '36 Dodge has perfect patina from 78 years in the Arizona sun. I'm torn between painting it Artic White or just matte clear over the existing surface.

I'd leave it this way but I need to do some body work and replace the rear fenders, and I'd never be able to duplicate that rustic look.

My36Dodge 009 16Feb2013



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Speaking for myself,I have spent my entire lifetime fighting rust,and there is no excuse for leaving exposed rust showing on a car or truck in good enough condition you can drive it.


The only way to kill rust is to remove it and seal the metal so it doesn't come back.


Yeah,I am guilty of liking the look of an original car over that of a restored car or hot rod with show paint,but not enough to keep me from trying to preserve the car so maybe the next owner can be driving it 20,or even 50 years from now.


I have personally met a man that took a grinding disc to the original paint on a 34 Ford coupe and then let the surface rust start before priming it with gray primer so the rust would bleed through and it could look "Old Skool". You could see the grind marks in the steel. He then got a junkyard 305/700R4 drive train to put in it. I guess that was "Old Skool,you know,like they did it back in the 50's,too!"


The blue Dodge pu in the photo above is something I could live with,though. The rust is sanded down,and I suspect it is covered with clear to keep if from rusting again.


My opinion only,and please feel free to disagree. Just do NOT try to tell me "that's how they did it back in the 50's." I was alive in the 50's,my older brother and all his friends owned hot rods,and I know better. They may have been painted with a brush and a can of black paint from Western Auto,but they were painted.

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I'm young enough to have been weaned on rattle cans. Dad never had a compressor capable of paint spraying, & what he painted was usually done with a spray can.


And stuff always got painted. Even if you couldn't fix body damage right away, you always painted it right away. Every time he got new tires, I had to sand & paint his wheels.  


Paint can be pretty or ugly, but its first purpose is not beauty but preservation. Unbroken paint is a good preservative, but once scratched, chipped, etc, it becomes a trap for crap, and crap plus water causes rust.


If, when it comes time to re-paint Edith I (for some reason) cannot afford to have it painted professionally, I'll paint it myself, and I won't have to paint it with rattle cans ;)

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