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AMC ENGINE PAINT CONFUSION

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Rebelmachineguy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rebelmachineguy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: AMC ENGINE PAINT CONFUSION
    Posted: Jul/18/2008 at 1:06pm

AMC ENGINE PAINT CONFUSION

The following is a sort of chronology of events from when this issue first became known to me in 1995 that occurred as an investigation over several years to solve the AMC engine paint confusion. As it turns out, there should never have been any confusion at all despite AMC’s propensity for using whatever was at hand and keeping minimal records.

The bottom line is this: It states clearly on page Ge – 15 of the Parts Book 1967 to 1972 exactly what the engine colour is. There is no ambiguity at all - no guess work required. The colour is still available, it has always been available. For subsequent years the correct colour is listed as well in the later edition of the parts book.

            When I wrote the first six of THE INTERNATIONAL REBEL MACHINE NEWSLETTERS in 1995 and 1996, I published a page from the Parts Book that showed all of the Rebel Machine colours – exterior and interior (less two that were later added in an internal AMC bulletin that Patrick Foster still has a copy of). I didn’t publish the engine paint or the trunk spatter paint numbers because at the time because I missed them in the book. They are difficult to spot even when you know they’re there.

            At the time, heat paint was all the rage and paint companies took full advantage of people who knew nothing about paint other than what they learned from rumours and innuendo. Pretty well everyone at the time bought into it including me. Heat paint was a product that the market wanted so strongly that when the paint manufacturers understood what was going on, they simply marketed their regular autobody paint as heat paint even though they knew there was no such thing. It was a placebo and a way of shutting people up who didn’t know any better.

When this “heat paint” did become available for AMC the colour of paint that was marketed for AMC’s was Alamosa Blue Metallic and it was sold by Seymore of Sycamore – an AMC paint supplier. No one seemed to know that this was not actually the correct colour including me.

At the time I was having my #3 Rebel Machine’s original 390 rebuilt and upon completion it was sprayed with Alamosa Blue. I didn’t think or even know about the colour matching thing and it didn’t occur to me to simply have the original engine block colour matched. It wouldn’t have mattered though because I was still under the mistaken impression that what was needed was the authentic heat paint. Everything about that build up was unlucky right down to the paint colour.

            Then in 1998, I had the bright idea to take a good look at the original and untouched (with after market paint) paint overspray on the bell housing from the Rebel Machine I’d owned since August of 1970 – the only original paint left on the whole car. The sample was taken to Sherwin Williams. They scanned it in and told me what the colour was. It turned out to be Sea Foam Aqua Metallic. It is a 1970 colour. What wasn’t clear at the time was that this paint colour was an anomaly and it added more confusion to the issue.

So for a brief period, Sea Foam Aqua Metallic was accepted as the correct engine colour so the paint chip from my original bell housing was used to order a can of the good stuff. When I went to pick up the finished product I took along a 304 valve cover with the same colour on it. It was a perfect match. I ordered more of the paint and self-etching primer. When the engines were painted originally, there was no self etching primer applied. The finish paint just went straight on the bare metal. It’s the application of the self etching primer that allows the paint to perform better and last longer than it used to. The ratio for painting an engine worked out to one can of primer and two cans of finish colour when using spray bombs.

I bought a quantity of the paint and sold it to customers in the belief that it was the correct paint colour. For whatever reason, as far as I can remember, the people who bought the paint had engines that were newer than 1972.

You know how it is when you’ve irrevocably invested your money in something and are completely committed in every way that you finally find the information that you needed in the first place that completely wrecks your marketing plans? Well that’s exactly what happened to me. Shortly after spending a pile of money on Seafoam Aqua Metallic, my parts book opened magically to page Ge -15. and there, about a quarter of the way down the page under Miscellaneous Paints . . .   was the information we all needed all along:

Trunk Spatter Finish (Ditzler) ……………   DX1768

Engine Blue (Ditzler)  ……………………..   DQE13730

            That little nugget of information made the original paint on my untouched bellhousing a bonafide anomaly that confirms that the official engine colour was not the only colour used. In conversations Pat Wnek and I had about it we both concluded that Sea Foam Aqua Metallic must have been used extensively as we both remembered that colour on engines in our respective areas – Kenosha and Toronto – both American Motors manufacturing areas (Brampton is a satellite of Toronto).

So how did the Alamosa Blue thing get started? Neither of us remembered that colour on anything. In the course of the investigation that was spread over a number of years, I had occasion to talk to Larry Mitchell about it. It was from Larry I learned that the Alamosa Blue Metallic was from Seymore of Sycamore – an official paint supplier to AMC. Their paint number was EN66[1] – a 1969 body paint colour. But in the parts book, the paint is listed as: 

Alamosa Aqua Metallic (Ditzler)  …………...  DQE2005[2]

            Larry said that he saw the paint personally at the AMC engine plant in Wisconsin one day in 1969. According to Larry, AMC got their paint in five gallon pails from Seymore of Sycamore. AMC, Larry went on to say, was not all that particular about what colour the engines were painted and if they ran out of the colour they were using and couldn’t get the proper colour because it was backordered or whatever, then they would use what was available. I don’t think any of us would have trouble believing that. He illustrated the story with an example of Chrysler using the wrong year of reverse dash lights on 1970 Coronets during his shift (he was told to install them despite his objections). Basically, the view seems to have been among car manufacturers, if it fits, it looks okay and the correct part (or paint as in this case) is not available, then use it until the correct material is available. Don’t slow down or stop the line.

            One of the things Larry stressed in our conversation was that the colour could have faded from one colour to the other. However, while paint may lighten, it cannot change hue.

            Further research with Sherwin Williams revealed that the trade name for AMC Engine Blue is Caravelle Blue.

            Sherwin Williams' paint and chemical specialists exploded the myth about heat paint. The only colours heat paint comes in is black, white and silver. That’s because the pigments used to colour paints are heat sensitive and don’t survive at temperatures over 1000°F. Headers get much hotter than that so without a thick buffer between the headers and the heads, the paint eventually discolours. The buffer is generally the header gasket. Of course today, the paint survives much better if you use the self-etching primer first.

As a favour to my Newsletter subscribers I used to stock the engine paint and touch up colours for the RWB Machines. But since I’m not a paint retailer and wasn’t making a profit, I don’t make a habit of it. As well, there are serious health issues with automotive paint due to the VOC’s – Volatile Organic Compounds they're made with. That may have changed in recent years and maybe the VOC’s have been mostly removed as is happening with other types of paints. Regardless, the paint itself is fairly lethal and not something I want to spill in my house. It’s so dangerous it’s illegal to work with it where children are or can be present in most jurisdictions.

Again, you can check this, Sea Foam Aqua is the paint colour listed in the Parts Book for engines 1973 and up. I believe there was another change before lights out but am not sure exactly when. Regardless, it will be recorded in the Parts Book. There is no mystery.



[1] The number is likely Seymore of Sycamore’s number as there is nothing in the Parts Book to reference it.

[2] The Ditzler numbers are all for Dupont Air Dry Enamel Dulux No.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mramc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/18/2008 at 6:46pm
I checked my part books and can confirm the above information , so I checked my 73 to 78 parts book and on page GE 21 it lists AMC engine blue as 73-R-87 and Ditzler number of 14688 for that period of engine. This is probably the Seymour EN-75 the latter flatter non-metallic blue AMC used on that period of engine. That is the paint you almost can not get from Seymour. I have one small touch up can I got some where. LRDaum
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote scott Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/18/2008 at 8:03pm
I have to disagree with some of what you've stated, John. Caravelle blue is not the name for the color used on the engines in 1970. Caravelle blue was used on the engines only in 1968.
 EN-66 is Seymour's part number for AMC blue. All their engine paints begin with an EN. They also make chevy orange, dodge orange, ford blue & many more.
 
I question if Seymour's ever was a supplier of paint to AMC in 5 gallon buckets. Seymour's is primarily a spray can manufacturer, in fact they invented paint spray cans. I can't believe that they could have ever competed with Dupont, PPG Ditzler, RM, & the other giants of the automotive paint world. Seymour's is in a completely different field. We are a pretty good customer of Seymour's paint at work. Next time the factory rep is in I'll ask him if he has any knowledge of them selling to car manufaturers in bulk. 
 
I do agree on the fallacy of high temp paint. Seymour's rates their engine paint to 300 degrees, probably what any quality paint will withstand. If any part of your engine ever sees 300 degrees, the paint burning off is going to be the least of your worries! People start to panic when the water temp gets over 220 degrees,  imagine what will happen if it hits 300 degrees. High temp paint is not needed for an engine in my opinion.       Scott
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PHAT69AMX Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/18/2008 at 11:52pm
May I ask, what is the Ditzler Number for Sea Foam Aqua Metallic ?  Did I miss it in 1st post ?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rebelmachineguy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/19/2008 at 12:15am
I can't remember where the Caravelle name came from now but I believe it was from Sherwin Williams but I think you're probably right. That's one reason I posted the info - I needed it challenged to root out any mistakes or inconsistencies. The information about the five gallon pails came directly from Larry Mitchell in that famous telephone conversation.

Surely to God someone on this site has a 73 and up parts book. I guess I could have checked with Jim Rae but that's a long distance phone call. I keep forgetting he has modernized to e-mail.

When this thread is done, hopefully enough people will have contributed and the paint confusion will be a dead issue.

And yes the heat paint thing kind of sucked everyone in at the time.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rebelmachineguy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/19/2008 at 12:20am
As for paint availability, Sherwin Williams or any good automotive paint supplier should be able to satisfy any paint needs we may have. I've never had any trouble getting spray, paint gun or brush-on paint for any colour.

I guess if I get time I'll e-mail Jim in the morning. He was involved in the discussion too back then and he has the parts book.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote scott Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/19/2008 at 7:27pm
The 1971 & 1973 AMC factory service manuals I have list the following: engine enamel, blue poly Ditzler 13730. The 67-72 parts manual I have does not list any engine paint that I could find. Seafoam aqua is listed as Ditzler DQE2120, so I think its safe to say engine blue is not Seafoam. Alamosa Aqua is listed as DQE2005, so I think its safe to say that Alamosa is not AMC engine blue.
 
My 73--79 AMC factory parts manual lists the following: engine enamel, blue 14688. Again, this is a different # than Alamosa or Seafoam.
 
 
 
The 68 service manual does not list engine paint, but everything I've heard is that it is Caravelle blue Ditzler DQE13416
 
69-73? engine color is Ditzler blue poly 13730, also available in spray cans from Seymour as # EN-66
 
73 up is Ditzler blue 14688, also available from Seymour in spray cans as EN 75 if you want to special order a minimum of 600 cans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rebelmachineguy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/19/2008 at 9:20pm
Scott,  the engine paint is listed on page Ge - 15 a quarter of the way down the page under Miscellaneous paints.  I think you just proved how hard it is to spot even when you know it's there.
The Ge series of pages are right at the front of the book if you don't have this page it's missing.

Last I checked, Sherwin Williams would mix the paint one can at a time. It may be different now but their run is probably still short. Could depend on your relationship with the counter man.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Steve_P Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/21/2008 at 8:08am
Larry went on to say, was not all that particular about what colour the engines were painted and if they ran out of the colour they were using and couldn’t get the proper colour because it was backordered or whatever, then they would use what was available.
 
It's because of this type of thing being said for 25 yrs that AMC people are so confused about what is correct- they believe anything.  They obviously were particular about engine color because they picked a color and listed it in the parts book. Of course if they couldn't get the exact engine paint they wouldn't shut the entire plant down and go home.  But, think about it: they built engines on a schedule based on the car production schedule- they knew they were going to build, say 4000 engines a week and use say 400 gallons of engine paint a week.  Companies like PPG make tens of thousands of gallons of paint a day- do you think they would somehow not be able to make a few hundred gallons of paint a week for a long standing contract with an auto mfg?  The purchasing for something basic like engine paint would be on a simple schedule, and barring a strike or a plant fire, being out of a simple item like engine paint, used on each engine, seems highly unrealistic.  They used more paint on one car than on probably 20 engines, but does anyone say, well, PPG couldn't supply matador red paint, so AMC painted it a GM red. 
 
I am not saying AMC in 1970 was run like a 2008 Toyota plant, but I wish AMC "people" would give them some credit.  They had computers.  They had prod controls.  They had mfg standards and procedures that I bet were followed 99+% of the time.  It's a shame that AMC "people" keep  unrealistic stories like this going forever.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul/21/2008 at 9:14am
Originally posted by scott scott wrote:

 
 
 
The 68 service manual does not list engine paint, but everything I've heard is that it is Caravelle blue Ditzler DQE13416
 
 
 
It sure was. I had a caravelle blue car, the engine was a perfect match for the rest of the car, it was a beauty to behold, that great metallic blue shining on the vc, all under the hood, the whole engine, the engine bay, the bottom of the hood (insulation was gone).
I know the color and code - I repainted the car, replaced the quarter panels, and after a little accident, replaced the hood and a front fender. I got really familiar with that paint. Also, I worked on a lot of cars in that era at the former Rambler dealership shop in Perry, and that engine color was always among my faves, besides the fantastic 1970, etc. color.
AMC had the best engine colors of them all in those years, IMO, bar none.
I'm not going to say you should write a book based on what I say as absolute fact, but I sure worked on enough AMC engines in the late 60's/early 70's and on that the engine colors really stuck in my mind......... I don't recall deviations, however...........
I'm with Steve - paint was so simple, there would have to be a real situation for someone to not have the correct paint, even an alternative supplier working off AMC forumulations.
I am a bit familiar with that as Dad worked in a factory (he was proud UAW for many decades) and was constantly talking about paint, and how things had to match the corporate official colors, and they tossed batches that didn't match (I never lacked for paint for things........)
It was important enough AMC listed the colors specifically...... and it was important enough for a small company like where Dad worked that paint got TOSSED if it wasn't a perfect match.
I got to tour some car plants back in the mid 70's and their computer systems were amazing. Dad showed me their computer room in the late 60's - an entire room filled.
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