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Paint Material Advice for Machine Tool Restoration

Tube& plate:

The enamels were bought back when "Tractor Supply" was still CT/Central Tractor. They say "Tractor and Equipment enamel" (or WTTE) on the front, & "made for Central Tractor" on the back of the cans. Apparently I have not bought any since the new regime, but suspect it is all the same. It used to be possible to buy the additive "hardener" at the same point of purchase. The paint would work fine without it, but the additive was supposed to make it tougher and set better. Since I had recalled a very similar looking product in a very similar looking can supplied to add to automotive Acrylic back when I used to paint motorcycles, it seemed like a good idea.

Again, I don't know how this stuff stands up to coolant, my use has so far been woodwhacking equipment.

The potable water supply epoxy is manufactured by TNEMEC in Baltimore. Presumably, a potential user can call and ask them about recoat or top coat procedure. I have not actually coated any of this batch with a topcoat. I have it used on exterior steel parts (man access) for my well but have not got round to painting over it. I have painted over the Ditzler automotive epoxy with tractor enamel and didn't have any adhesion problems. I always scuff sand & solvent wash. 2 projects at about the same time, were a bandsaw, and my Torit cyclone, which has been out doors perhaps a dozen, maybe 14 years since painting and is a little dulled, but still in great shape.

Recent photo of bandsaw after putting it on wheels since my shop has shrunk:




Sep 18, 2007
Springfield, TN
Stephen-THANK YOU....I'll cogitate on your post as I think paint choices...

That Bandsaw looks Great!

Thanks for the link, Tom...I'm checking it out now....



Aug 2, 2008
I like POR-15 for painting cast iron. It goes on with a brush, smoothes out nice, and has a high solids content. I'ts tough as nails after it cures.


Sep 18, 2007
Springfield, TN
Forestgnome-I'm unfamiliar with that product...do you have a brand name and what type of material is it? Sounds like a one part enamel????



Jan 15, 2010
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Be aware of the lead hazard

Be aware of the lead hazard, lead was in many paints, up until the mid 1970's.

Be careful about the dust, if you suspect lead paint when sanding, grinding, etc.

I wouldn't allow any child, pregnant woman, etc. around the shop, and I wouldn't allow a pregnant woman to wash my dusty clothing, etc.

And some guys worry about lead and their virility.

Be careful, do some research on the hazards of lead.


Jul 25, 2006
ICI paints

Mike; aparently ICI has been bought out by "Glidden" they used to have engine enamel IIRC in rattle cans and had used it about 6-7 years ago to Paint my Monarch 14; they do not carry this any more but they do have rustoleum that when it went on recently looked nice but as soon as kerosene hit it ran like a child's watercolor <grrrr> looks like I will have to go to TSC.........the old ICI store still carries the Industrial Alkyd Enamel in Gallon Containers but only White............WHITE!?........they would look dirtier than they really are!......just my 0.02;


Imron and all the similar urethanes contain iso-cyanates.... mean stuff.

I have painted several machines with ICI industrial alkyd enamel... just a good heavy duty oil based paint. Flows out nicely with a brush, hardens fairly quickly and is extremely durable. My old provider (AT&T) puled the plug on my webpages, so all the pics are gone, but I am sure some have seen the pics of my 12X Steptoe-Western shaper, the 1918 L&S selective head lathe, the Fosdick radial and other machines I painted with that stuff. It's also real cheap, about $30 a gallon, and a gallon of gray did a VN6, a 20x72 American Pacemaker, two medium sized shapers and some other stuff. The black goes a little quicker, the L&S and Fosdick radial got almost the entire gallon.


Nov 1, 2004
Webster Groves, MO
For my use, there is another overriding requirement. I sometimes use the synthetic coolants such as Bio-Cool. They attack most normal paints. When Steelcote was still in business, I asked their chemist for a recommendation. He had me bring in a sample, which he tested on a tank lining product. It stood up well. It is normally a light gray, so my 10EE will be light gray. I painted some cast covers, thinking I would sand them down to smooth out the rough surface and apply a second finish coat. Silly me. It is about like sanding quartz. I may just settle for a rough finish, but I can be sure it will stay on. The stuff was $100 a gallon. Steelcote has since been sold to another company that dropped most of their products, but I think they still have this one. I may buy a second gallon while it still available just to be sure I don't run out.


Patrick Black

Dec 11, 2007
Middle Tennessee
I missed this thread the first time around. Here's a quick rundown of what I think I know about enamel paints.

Maybe I should clear up what is meant by the term "synthetic". Synthetic enamel is a term use in automotive circles which is synonymous with oil base or alkyd enamel. These enamels use alkyd resin as the base. This is the same stuff used in Rustoleum and oil based house paints. This is fairly old technology which was also used in some automotive finishes before some fancier stuff came along.

Improvements over alkyd based enamel include acrylic, urethane (used as a common OEM automotive finish these days) and polyurethane (Awlgrip, Imron, etc.) Each of these respective resin types comes with an increase in quality and price.

Although the TSC tractor paint I used is a fairly high quality synthetic/oil base/alkyd enamel made by Valspar, it's still fairly cheap as paints go. A lathe sitting in a shop doesn't have to contend with the rain, UV degredation, and temperature extremes like a car sitting out in the elements. One thing that improves the look and durability of this paint over other oil based finishes is the addition of the hardner.

The problem with using hardners is the concern of real health risks. That's why I sort of glossed over this detail when I wrote about the Hendey rehab. I didn't want it to tail off into a long discussion of "who heard what" and "I read somewhere bla bla bla". Enamel hardners may be used in alkyd and acrylic based enamels. Urethane and polyurethane enamel paints require hardners. No matter the resin base, all hardners contain isocyanates (this does not include epoxy hardner which is actually a catalyst). To use enamel paints with hardners, one must use a supplied fresh air breathing apparatus. I'm sure many have heard horror stories of someone who's lungs were damaged or died using Imron. Well the same stuff (hardner) they sell off the shelf in TSC contains the same nasties that causes lung reactions in Imron users. Anyone using hardners for enamel based paints would be well advised to read and understand the MSDS that comes with these products.

Disclaimer: I'm not a paint expert and am not in a position to give advise on using dangerous paint additives. If you read somewhere that you'll probably be ok with just a organic filter mask for a short period of time or some such senario, please don't ask me to comment. All I can say is read the label and MSDS. Different people react to isocyanate exposure in different ways ranging from no reaction to death.

The easiest way to avoid these health risks when using alkyd or acrylic enamels is simply don't use the hardner. The finish will be closer to the original anyway on antique machinery.

All this rambling relates only to what are referred to as "enamel paints". This does not include lacquer and epoxy type paints.

Pat Black


Hot Rolled
Mar 13, 2009
Realville, Penna.
The problem with using hardners is the concern of real health risks.... No matter the resin base, all hardners contain isocyanates (this does not include epoxy hardner which is actually a catalyst). To use enamel paints with hardners, one must use a supplied fresh air breathing apparatus. I'm sure many have heard horror stories of someone who's lungs were damaged or died using Imron. Well the same stuff (hardner) they sell off the shelf in TSC contains the same nasties that causes lung reactions in Imron users. Anyone using hardners for enamel based paints would be well advised to read and understand the MSDS that comes with these products.

Eyeballs, too. Wearing a full face mask is ideal because they can absorb that which you're spraying into the air and cause problems on down the road.


Jul 25, 2011
Vancouver, BC
my 2 cents
used to build boats and spray a lot of boats and cars...
Imron and Awlgrip are probably the best paints you can use for durability and resistance to almost anything hands down
They are standard issue for airplanes and trucks due to durability (think concrete trucks...)
These products are correctly called "linear polyurethanes" and not at all like any other type of urethanes or enamels - totally different performance
the awlgrip guys (US Paint) have a great website that explains the complete system of primers, primer / surfacers (for building and sanding) and then topcoating.
take some time to understand the nuances of each different product
you can use epoxy primers to get a bond to your steel or cast parts, then use either an epoxy (2 parts) or polyester (catalyzed with MEKP)primer surfacer to build thickness to allow for sanding to a perfect surface finish if you so desire.
The LP topcoats are somewhat nasty products and there are isocyanurates in the hardeners (and no you cant use the paint without the hardener...yeesh)
Keep in mind that there other automotive finishes that have isocyanurates in thier hardeners and are just as nasty for you but are NOT the same performance as these 2 products.
Nasty means you might feel no effect or you may have an allergic reaction and be unable to breath and then die... so follow the requirements and only spray with a fresh air supplied full face mask. Charcoal filters do not filter isocyanurates. The problem with these chemicals is you tend to become sensitized to them over time (like epoxies give you dermatitis over time) with repeated exposure until one day you are wheezing when exposed, at that point you need a new job.
Would I use them? yes they are great products but either find a guy to spray the top coats or get the right gear to protect you (see SATA for the right gear).
They will stand up to anything you might have around any shop.
Are they hard to spray? not really but if you have never sprayed anything before dont try painting something huge with these, small parts are easy for anyone, just be aware of your temperatures and humidity or you will be cursing and wow is that paint hard to sand out if it sags on you.... there is no "fixing" an awlgrip job, you get one crack at it or you are sanding it out and re-shooting it
give it a go but be aware of what you are doing

lead paint on your old finishes is for sure a big issue
test kits can be found at most paint stores to do a quick test but make sure you test ALL the paint layers on a machine
if lead is anywhere it will be in the primers way down below...
if it is lead paint send it to a blasting shop that has the equipment to contain and dispose of the old paint properly
and the comments about contaminating everything around you, your house, washing machine etc are dead on - dont do it, not smart.



Jun 30, 2012
Minnesota, USA
Marcibb-Yes indeedy...a great example or standard to shoot for if you have the time...Pat's machine would be at home in the entrance hall or living room!

Travis-This is what I was thinking...thanks for the confirmation


Great response....nothing too museum like or collectable here for #1 "Authentic" treatment....yet....Logan 820, Monarch A, CW, etc...Practical sounds the way to go...I'll look at the SmokStak link

John-When you say you bought it at TSC but it's a known brand, WHAT BRAND???? Is it actually a TSC brand or another name that TSC carries?

I concur on the brushing and super glue stuff

Stephen, Peter, and John-

This is what I figured on the cyano/super glue stuff...and spraying...

George...thanks for the tips...nice surprise on the Krylon stuff...

In General:

Are urethane enamels the same thing as when you guys and Pat Black mention "synthetic enamels"? Or are these 2 different families of material?

If not, what are the differences?

Are both one part paints?

Or is the urethane additive Stephen mentions something that you add to synthetic enamel to make it urethane (harder?) enamel????

Stephen-Are the epoxy primers you describe compatible undercoats for this family of "TSC" urethane/synthetic enamels, or should I use the appropriate primer for them OVER the epoxy primer?

What tractor paint are you adding this to? A "synthetic enamel" that has an approprate urethane addidive available? This additive is a harder as you say...to make the final dried result more durable???

When you say "tractor paint" are you speaking of the same thing as John Oder?

And just so I'm clear, and not overdoing this (too late I guess)...

When we all say tractor paint, we mean a one part, oil base, enamel (either synthetic or urethane...and I still don't understand if these are the same things?)....right?


Tractor Supply paint used to be made by Valspar. Valspar is based here in Minneapolis, and they make a very durable paint. Unfortunately, Tractor Supply switched to a different brand that I've heard isn't as durable. I know Valspar is sold by Hardware Hank, and a check on the Valspar web site might tell you who else sells it. There are probably a few on-line agricultural suppliers who sell Valspar as well

jim rozen

Feb 26, 2004
peekskill, NY
A couple of comments.

1) the cold-galvanizing spray I have, specifically says "do not use as a primer" although
for some difficult items (vintage tail lights that get beat up badly by road kick-up) I have
used it and there seems to be no ill effects.

2) the use of primers for rustoleum paints sounds good but as far as I can tell if the
prep is good then it's not really needed. My recent milling machine is holding its own
as far as paint sticking is concerned. The small bench lathe I did, had the yellow zinc
chromate primer that is NLA now.