Terne Plate Oil pans

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    I am working on my 836 oil pans and they appear to be terne plated. Terne is a mixture of tin and lead. It is dull grey in color.

    It was used extensively until the early ’80’s for gas tanks but was phased out due to the lead.

    Does anyone have an acceptable way to restore them?


    I think a nice satin black would suffice.

    (OK, let’s hear from the judges!)


    I would think galvanize paint would be a good substitute, there are numerous products offered called “cold galvanize”” or such.”


    I am thinking along the line of Dave’s suggestion.


    I would never mark points off of a car for having it’s oil pan painted.

    To be honest, I’m pretty sure they were painted from the factory.

    I have pierce oil pans that do have surface rust on them. so while plated with the lead/tin mix, they still can rust.

    I’d prefer to see paint than rust.

    Greg Long


    I used Rustoleum Cold galvanizing compound on the fuel tank of my ’46 Century Sea Maid. Here is a comparison of my oil pan and the Century tank. It is a little lighter but the appearance of the surface is pretty close.

    I found no signs of black paint anywhere on the pan. I caution against sanding the terne as it is about 90 percent lead and the dust is hazardous.


    Here is what I used on the Century tank.


    As can be seen in the photo of Bill’s oil pan, the outer perimeter, the gasket lip of the pan is rusted, this is because it has a heavy reinforcement added to the sheet metal of the pan stamping. This reinforcement is not plated with

    ‘tern’ lead/tin. So it rusts.

    Also note the small spots of rust showing through a few areas on the pan itself. These are areas where the plating has worn thin. and the ferrous metal underneath has started to oxidize [rust].

    So, painting is in order.. regular engine paint in low sheen black is totally acceptable. I would certainly do a double=take if I saw an aluminum – colored oil pan on an 8 or 12 cylinder engine!

    Greg Long

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