Kelsey Excelsior paint color


I’ve just acquired a model F (9x13) in. um, rather rough condition- it sat outside in a northern calif. yard for a few years, looks complete. In order to treat the rust, I’m going to have to pretty much strip any existing paint. What were the original color(s) of these presses? Did they have any detailing like some of the larger presses? It looks like this one might have been gray, but it’s not clear whether that was just a base coat. If nothing else, it gets either black or a deep blue :).

(Rust treatment- wire wheel to remove most of it, either EvapoRust or phosphoric acid, wet-sand as needed w/ 600 & 1500 paper. Don’t have a blasting cabinet but do have access to a machine shop.)

Don’t have the serial # at the moment, it’s at the shop.


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you are lucky to find the big one. all I have seen are gray or army green. they were only made in the early second generation design. find your year on hear look at solid or open front and name type design.

I have new roller and truck sets in stock when ready. click on my name .

That gray will have been the original color. The earlier Excelsiors were black, but they had red lead paint as a primer. Kelsey went to standard machine gray after WWII, just like most machine manufacturers of the day.

Kelsey Company hired famed industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes to redesign the Excelsior in 1938, but the new design didn’t go into production until after the war. I expect they changed the paint color as part of the effort to modernize the press’ look.

I’ve also heard an unsubstantiated story that manufacturers had tons of battleship paint left over after the war and so it was cheap and nearly ubiquitous. I haven’t been able to find any evidence of it anywhere, though.

All of my Kelseys are pre-war, so I can’t verify this personally, but it looks like modern standard light machine gray oil enamel should be a pretty close match. Krylon sells it in both brush- and spray-on forms.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Once I got under the grime, this was definitely gray. Since this isn’t a historic restoration, the new color won’t be gray (unless somebody has a really convincing argument in favour).

(And I decided to have the cast parts professionally bead-blasted instead of me wire-brushing the whole thing.)