The ever-returning question.. When and when not to restore?

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    Replies: 43
    Topics: 20

    So guys and gals, I came to think of this and figured I had to ask you about your opinions on this subject.

    When do you think restoring is the right thing to do, and when is it a big no-no?
    And by restoring I mean making it almost perfect, new paint job, the whole works. Not just getting it running and servicing it well.

    I’ve been in the classic car scene for almost ten years and noticed that there seems to be as many opinions as there are cars..

    My personal opinion is that one should avoid restoring unless it really is necessary, or if someone just wants to do a total restoration. There is a fine line IMO between great patina and junk. And still they are worlds apart. If it is nicely patinaed then one should preserve it, but if it is beyond the line one should restore..

    Some examples from my own fleet:

    Here is my 1951 Seahorse (again, I know). All original, great patina, would be a sin to restore completely!

    And then again, here is my 1925 Wickstrom marine engine which is quite the opposite. There would have been no way to just keep as it was when I got it. It was ugly, smelly, ratty and didn’t work. The only thing to do was to restore it completely.

    Here a few before and after pics:

    So, what are your opinions guys?



    Replies: 75
    Topics: 14

    It’s "whatever floats your boat".
    Pun intended.


    Replies: 43
    Topics: 20



    Replies: 118
    Topics: 7

    I agree with Gary for most part.

    In my opinion, the patina tells it’s history. For scarce motor’s, I say leave it alone unless its ugliness bothers you greatly. For really rare motors, if a restoration is done, it should be done back to original, nothing more, nothing less. For common motors, whatever will make you happy.

    US Member - 2 Years
    Replies: 2713
    Topics: 33

    Generally speaking, the original finish and decals look better and are more durable than most restoration/paint jobs (Mumble’s work excluded!). Doing a nice restoration/repaint job is labor intensive, unless your shop is well equipped for doing this work. It also seems unlikely that one could recoup all the costs of mechanical and cosmetic restorations for most outboards intended for resale. My other big concern after a beautiful cosmetic restoration would be the inevitable dings/scratches that seem unavoidable.
    I guess that it all depends on what you/the owner think. But, I feel that most refinished/repainted engines are actually worth less for resale compared to a good original finish with a few normal scratches.

    US Member - 1 Year
    Replies: 1121
    Topics: 47

    I own both finished & stock. Some models look better painted like the green Mercury’s. I own a friends old motor & I took it as far as I could boring.30 & body shop quality paint factory with some very fine metallic that can’t be seen until a guy is right next to it


    Replies: 267
    Topics: 25

    I did cars for over thirty five years and farmed out very little . All of my cars were runners , even my last one a 98 point car. If you want a trailer queen, restore to your heart’s content but I want my motors to be perfectly running jewels w/"reasonable appearance." You can not prevent nicks, etc. when running , even on a limited collector basis.

    Steve A W
    Steve A W
    US Member - 2 Years
    Replies: 652
    Topics: 42

    I like them a little crusty, Like Me. As the tractor guys say " In Their work clothes"
    All those dents and dings tell a story.
    I worked on a 1960 Johnson 3hp for a neighbor. It had been dropped Squarely on the filler neck and was leaking.
    I told the owner We needed to replace the tank, He said He would just store it on a rack so it stayed upright.
    This motor was handed down from His father. He pointed to a dent and with a tear in His eye said "That ones Mine"

    Steve A W

    Member of the MOB chapter.
    I live in Northwest Indiana

    Canada Member - 1 Year
    Replies: 2469
    Topics: 157

    I personally pay MUCH more for a mint original than for a full blown restoration. In fact, for me personally, I have no interest in restored motors, unless I do them.

    I would never strip down a rare or really nice original, my thoughts are, they are only like that once.

    I have no issues restoring common or basket case motors, to let them live another day

    US Member - 1 Year
    Replies: 335
    Topics: 15

    If the motor is so bad it needs a total rebuild, might as well paint and restore. Many of mine only need a points cleaning and fuel system goo removal. If the paint is decent and I can read at least half of the decals, I leave it alone. I love dents and scratches, and agree with Fleetwin, I would be afraid of scratching a restored beauty. I bought my first ever new car two years ago, and was anal about protecting it until a deer ran into it one early morning. The body shop fixed it perfectly, but I still knew. Now I drive it like a car should be driven, and I love it.


    Replies: 245
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    What you have done is exactly what I’d do myself. Your Johnson is absolutely perfect IMO. I’d restore only if badly beat up or tired looking

    US Member - 1 Year
    Replies: 253
    Topics: 20

    I would rather do a good cleaning and detail with a little clear coat to preserve the decals. Of course, I will have the motor up to snuff mechanically.
    Recently tried a little rattle can painting on a cowl some one else primered. What a MESS! Nothing but paint runs and pulls from masking tape. Just trying to make it look okay.
    I used to think some old guys messed up their motors by painting them. I’m there now.


    Replies: 965
    Topics: 94


    I would leave that particular one alone.

    Those decals really look nice faded, but not too tattered. it exudes happy vibes from the best of good times 😎 .

    I would find another motor that someone else has already done a bad re paint, then you have no qualms about doing a full cosmetic on it.

    There was a member here that destroyed a really nice original Motorgo decal a few years back, and boy did he get flack. Sure, it was his motor to do what he wanted with, but still… 😈

    US Member - 1 Year
    Replies: 1121
    Topics: 47

    Makes me feel good to have an easy starting motor knowing the owner has done the work correctly & completly & will get me back too.

    Canada Member - 2 Years
    Replies: 4183
    Topics: 424

    Na, you don’t want to restore them. Too much wasted time, effort and money. Just run them the way they are. Better yet, if you have a bunch of parts under the work bench, put them all together to make a good running unique motor. I did and nobody else on the lake has anything like it!

    On a more serious note, here’s a ’79 Johnson I did a few years ago. I had no access to the internet and wasn’t aware that decals could be bought online so I had to do the paint and graphics by hand after my dealer said the decals weren’t available so I had no choice. It’s a labor of love done with masking tape, spray bombs and a razor knife. I wish I had pics of my old ’75 seventy horse and matching six horse kicker done the same way but with three shades of color instead of two. The easy part was the gold pin striping which I bought at my auto supply.

    Whether it’s a cosmetic or a full mechanical rebuild/restoration is entirely up to the owner. If you are tooled up and capable of it, why not? At the end of all your hard work, I can guarantee you will feel satisfaction.

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