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1940 instrument panel engine turning


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There was some uncertainty among some members weather or not the engine turning was a decal or not. 1940 Service Presentation makes it pretty clear:

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Unfortunately most of the engine turning on my panels has been buffed out. I wish there was a decal replacement because as much as I'd love to have the turning done again it'd would be right out of my budget. 

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Here is my radio panel. My assumption would be the turning was done first on a flat sheet then stamped into shape based on that the turning is evident in the dial recess. There are some small areas where there is still lacquer, mostly on the unseen parts such as the bottom of the panels. The lacquer has darkened with age and makes the turning stand out more.

 When I peeled away some of the lacquer away it made the turning stand out considerably less.

 

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There are vendors who sell "engine turned" stainless and aluminum 2D panels and will custom make any pattern. I have seen none that can stamp new 3D . i wonder if,after  stripping off the lacquer you could find a non abrasive cleaner/polisher. I love the '40-41 dashes and am considering one for my '37 resto-mod 

 

http://www.fpmmetals.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Street-Rod-Price-List.pdf  This came up one my first Google search. Below is a link to a DIY solution that is pretty cool. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, neil morse said:

Excellent find, 1940Super!  Can you give a more complete description of the "Service Presentation" you show in your photo?  I would like to send it to Doug Seybold.

 

Neil

Thanks Neil. In relation to the instrument panel that is all that is said about it. The 1940 Service Presentation book is available on the Buick Heritage Alliance website. It's not a very good photo so I could scan in that page and send it to you if you like?

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Thank you.  I checked out the BHA site, so now I understand what the Service Presentation book is.  Yes, that would be great if you could send me a scan of that page.  Send to morsefam "at" aol.com.  Thanks so much!

 

Neil

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You guys think this might also pertain to '41's since the dashs are so similar? This is total speculation, but might it be possible Buick turned the dashes initially, ran into production or cost issues, and consequently switched to decals? That's what I would do......

Peter

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Having done it myself, the video does a pretty good job of describing the engine turning process. Not trivial.

How many cars did Buick build? 100,000+?

Having seen how the Buick dash pattern can disipate, my money is on a decal. Real engine turning does not rub off or fade.  Rea turning is scratches - have you ever tried to remove a scratch from steel? You do not rub it off.

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2 hours ago, valk said:

You guys think this might also pertain to '41's since the dashs are so similar? This is total speculation, but might it be possible Buick turned the dashes initially, ran into production or cost issues, and consequently switched to decals? That's what I would do......

Peter

 

Whatever process was used, I would bet that it was the same in 1940 and 1941.  The panels look identical, and I doubt that Buick would have changed the process in mid-stream.

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3 hours ago, DonMicheletti said:

Having done it myself, the video does a pretty good job of describing the engine turning process. Not trivial.

How many cars did Buick build? 100,000+?

Having seen how the Buick dash pattern can disipate, my money is on a decal. Real engine turning does not rub off or fade.  Rea turning is scratches - have you ever tried to remove a scratch from steel? You do not rub it 

I will do more testing on mine with Emery paper to see what it takes to make it disappear. So far I have scraped hard against the steel with a blade, it removed the lacquer but the turning was still there. 

Is your experience with 40s, 41s or both dashes rubbing off easily?

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600 grit was the finest paper I could find. From left before shot with lacquer and turning still instant. Rubbed with paper, after look was removed it didnt tale long got turning to disappear as the paper was scratching into the surface. 3rd photo is paint stripper. Rubbed it away with a cloth, lacquer gone but turning still intact. 

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Appreciate your efforts 40Super but I don't see it. If anything, pics kinda support it being a decal. Here's hoping Bill Anderson can get to the bottom of this. 

Peter

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Your left photo makes me wonder if was an etching process rather than an actual turning or decal. Paint stripper would not remove real engine turning.

 

The pattern is fully removed in the right photos.

If it is an etching process, I can undersatand that as a production process.

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A zoomed in screenshot of the area that had the paint stripper on it. 

I'm not claiming the photos are proof of anything but to believe the process is something other then engine turning is challenging Buick's word, they clearly stated it, not me. 

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Yep I'm with you now; those are clearly machined swirls.  Doesn't rule out the possibility, however remote, that Buick switched methods (to decals) somewhere along the line. 

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Yes that's possible. Or at some point somebody was providing replacement decals. Once the lacquer protection deteriorated the bare metal rust quickly and as I demonstrated, it doesn't take much sanding for the finely machined swirls to be removed before the rust is.

 

Edited by 1940Super (see edit history)
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On 8/15/2019 at 11:50 PM, 1940Super said:

 

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Here is my radio panel. My assumption would be the turning was done first on a flat sheet then stamped into shape based on that the turning is evident in the dial recess. There are some small areas where there is still lacquer, mostly on the unseen parts such as the bottom of the panels. The lacquer has darkened with age and makes the turning stand out more.

 When I peeled away some of the lacquer away it made the turning stand out considerably less.

 

I agree with your thoughts on the process of engine-turning flat sheet, then placing each sheet into a press to stamp out the glove box & instrument panels. I'm a toolmaker by trade so understand this process quite clearly.

 

On another note, are you going to the Buick Nationals (Australia) in October 2020? I am!

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9 hours ago, Grant Z said:

I agree with your thoughts on the process of engine-turning flat sheet, then placing each sheet into a press to stamp out the glove box & instrument panels. I'm a toolmaker by trade so understand this process quite clearly.

 

On another note, are you going to the Buick Nationals (Australia) in October 2020? I am!

I haven't seen the details of it so I'll check it out

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On ‎8‎/‎15‎/‎2019 at 7:05 PM, DonMicheletti said:

Having done it myself, the video does a pretty good job of describing the engine turning process. Not trivial.

How many cars did Buick build? 100,000+?

Having seen how the Buick dash pattern can disipate, my money is on a decal. Real engine turning does not rub off or fade.  Rea turning is scratches - have you ever tried to remove a scratch from steel? You do not rub it off.

 

It rusts off. Or at least the rust makes it fade. This is my '40 dashboard after 78 years of rust.

.

buickmachine.jpg

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11 hours ago, 1940Super said:

I haven't seen the details of it so I'll check it out

No entry forms are available yet, but accommodation can be booked at Whiters Holiday Village where the Buick Club of Oz have temporarily booked the place out (special deal when you mention you're part of the event). Book this ASAP if you wish to go.  http://www.whiters.com.au/. Event is Oct 11-17, 2020.

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10 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

 

It rusts off. Or at least the rust makes it fade. This is my '40 dashboard after 78 years of rust.

.

buickmachine.jpg

Evidence of the engine turning is still there in the photo.

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3 hours ago, 61polara said:

Evidence of the engine turning is still there in the photo.

 

Again, don't shoot the messenger -- this is not my theory but what Doug Seybold told me.  He believes that the "shadow" of engine turning that is left on the metal after the decal is worn off is caused by the way that the metal surface oxidizes over time under the decal.  The oxidation process essentially creates a shadowy "imprint" of the pattern on the metal.  I do not have the expertise to weigh in on the merits of this theory -- just putting it out there.

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I wish Doug could take a look at this photo and comment.  Sure appears to be grooves in the metal but perhaps he's seen this all before and knows something we don't. 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, neil morse said:

 

Again, don't shoot the messenger -- this is not my theory but what Doug Seybold told me.  He believes that the "shadow" of engine turning that is left on the metal after the decal is worn off is caused by the way that the metal surface oxidizes over time under the decal.  The oxidation process essentially creates a shadowy "imprint" of the pattern on the metal.  I do not have the expertise to weigh in on the merits of this theory -- just putting it out 

Not that Doug probably told you but when he says "imprint", does that include grooves being formed into the metal surface. With my own panel I could not see what looks like to be grooves scratched into the surface by eye, it was only by zooming in on the photo I took that they became apparent. I'm thinking of borrowing or buying a dial test indicator to run across the surface.

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Again, not my theory, take it up with Doug.  I'm just passing along what he told me he believes.  It sure would be nice (and enlightening) if we could get Doug and Bill Anderson to participate here directly!

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18 hours ago, neil morse said:

 

Again, don't shoot the messenger -- this is not my theory but what Doug Seybold told me.  He believes that the "shadow" of engine turning that is left on the metal after the decal is worn off is caused by the way that the metal surface oxidizes over time under the decal.  The oxidation process essentially creates a shadowy "imprint" of the pattern on the metal.  I do not have the expertise to weigh in on the merits of this theory -- just putting it out there.

 

There was no decal on my '40. It was machine turned and oxidized.

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On 8/18/2019 at 11:33 AM, neil morse said:

 

Again, don't shoot the messenger -- this is not my theory but what Doug Seybold told me.  He believes that the "shadow" of engine turning that is left on the metal after the decal is worn off is caused by the way that the metal surface oxidizes over time under the decal.  The oxidation process essentially creates a shadowy "imprint" of the pattern on the metal.  I do not have the expertise to weigh in on the merits of this theory -- just putting it out there.

Sorry but vinyl chloride film which Minnesota Mining developed in the 1930's and was the only adhesive wrapping film available at the time capable of a semi transparent photo image will not leave a shadow image or etch a metal surface with a pattern. Latent transfer of engine turning onto the steel  is not possible and really quite an uninformed conclusion. Its not the shroud of Turin imprinted through decomposing bodily chemicals or the result of solar printing.  Doug Sybold can believe this theory but anyone with an eye loop can easily see the machined swirls. You can replicate the same effect using a white rubber ink pen eraser chucked into a drill press. It is a very light imprint and cannot be sanded or steel wooled even with 0000 without diminishing the pattern. Only hand rubbing with a polishing paste like Flitz or Semichrome is safe to a point as you can still ruin the finish. A light Phosphoric solution can help remove light oxidation but if too strong will etch the surface. It is perhaps the lightest damascus  finish I have ever seen as compared to other automotive applications. It can be found on dozens of dash boards and exterior trim but unfortunately Buick chose a very delicate process but really not the mystery forwarded here. Its not rocket science 

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  • 2 weeks later...

About 47 years ago I removed the clearcoat and re-sprayed my dash panels.  I did got completely get rid of the rust but I think they are still presentable to this day.  I just resprayed with clear coat in a spray can. The wood graining is my primitive attempt, done with a kit left over from doing furniture  48 years ago.

 

In addition to reproducing the 1940 Dash Plastic, Skip Boyer does the engine turning. His email is: richboy2@comcast.net

 

Actually I think engine turning can be done with a rotary wire brush chucked in a drill press.

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DSCF1349.JPG

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For what it's worth, I pulled out this unrestored, original dash panel I had on the shelf while I was digging for other parts. The clear lacquer has yellowed with age, obviously, and there's some minor surface rust, but it is otherwise in excellent condition. I looked at it carefully and took the attached photos which seem to confirm the idea that a large single sheet of very thin metal was treated to the engine turning process, then stamped onto a steel dashboard core. It is most certainly NOT a decal or paint. You can actually see the thinner metal wrapped around the heavier panel underneath. I think that would be the easiest way to go if you're doing mass-production and the machine that actually did the engine-turned pattern could be fairly large and do large areas all at the same time. There's no way they could do one circle at a time the way a restorer might, and that's probably why the factory stuff has that unique pattern and straight lines that bend so easily around the contours of the dash. At least, that's what it looks like to me. Your mileage may vary.

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Nice work Matt. Definitely see the engine-turned "veneer" sheet over the steel core. No doubt in my mind now that this was how many, maybe most or all, of the panels were made. What's puzzling is the evidence of decals also being used as proposed by a few members of this forum. 

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There's never been any question about the fact that the pattern is created on large sheets of thin metal which were then stamped onto the panel cores -- that much is readily apparent as you can see in the photos that Matt posted.  The interesting question is how was the pattern created on the sheets of metal.  If there was some kind of machine, as Matt suggests, that maybe had large banks of spinning grinding heads, or the like, it sure would be interesting to see a picture of it.  Such a machine would have been a major accomplishment in that pre-CAM era.  It's frustrating that we are unable to get any definitive information about this process, but anyone who worked in the factory at that time is obviously long gone.

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14 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Dash1.thumb.jpg.3266d2ceaf2b6614dee05de1a2c731e3.jpg

 

 

This example also shows very clearly, the staggered pattern of alternating rows.  Each horizontal row is offset by one radius from the adjacent row. 

It would seem difficult to reproduce the pattern of the curved surfaces.  I wonder if the people reproducing this do each turn by hand.  Accommodating the curve could be done possibly by rotating the tool to follow the curve.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 8/31/2019 at 6:29 PM, neil morse said:

There's never been any question about the fact that the pattern is created on large sheets of thin metal which were then stamped onto the panel cores

 

I have seen a video where the craftsman mounted the panel on a rotisserie-style frame. He previously covered the piece with a grid (used a permanent marker) that marked the center for each machining process. An alternative would be to make an indexing jig for the horizontal and vertical movements of the drill press.

This YouTube video may be helpful if someone wanted to make a new ‘skin’ of aluminum, machine it, and then cement it to the panel.

 

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Matt and Neil have been spot on as to how these panels were done. I will refer everyone to an article appearing in the April 1969 BCA Bugle written by Jim Flaherty Jr. BCA 529. Jim was researching this very question. I will paraphrase his findings. The engine turned pieces were manufactured by Croname Inc of Niles, Illinois.  Mr. Frank Jassen of Croname described the process. It started with a sheet of cold rolled steel. A group of swirling emery brushes descended upon the sheet giving the swirling and overlapping pattern.  After cleaning the sheet was cut and stamped out on a die. A coat of lacquer was then applied.  Plain and simple. No decals used here as was done on the instrument panel wood grains.

 Matt's pictures illustrate well how the finished engine turned product was then mated to the corresponding heavier metal piece.

With regard to the different colors of lacquer  supposedly used  depending on the interior color, the 28-41 Part Books show only one part number for the 50-70 series and only one for the 40-60-90 Series depending on the year. Separate part number for new smaller body 40 series for 1941 as well.

Time and ultraviolet light no doubt  had differing  effects on different panels

Regarding panels that have rusted, I dipped a totally rust obscured radio surround in Evaporust. The pattern jumped right out. Stripped any remaining lacquer, then sprayed clear.  Not bad as Thomas B. pictures illustrate. 

This posting should put to rest any doubt as to the process used on the engine turned panels for 1940, 41,and 42.

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