M-124 Moleskin Motor Pyroxlin

One of the mysteries of Model T-dom is what color were the 1927 engines painted. Records at the Research Center, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village indicate that beginning in August 1926 Model T motors were painted with M-124 Moleskin Motor Pyroxlin. Unfortunately, the specifications for this paint have not survived in the Museum's documents collection, nor are there any known paint chips. As far as surviving cars, the best candidate would have been Model T #15,000,000 in the Museum's collections, however that motor has been obviously repainted sometime in the past.

The Museum does have a cut-away Model T engine in the Henry Ford Personal History section. Upon close examination of this engine, it appears to be a 1927 model year engine even though there is no serial number stamped into the block that would provide positive identification. My conclusion that this a '27 engine is based upon the paint scheme of the motor. All of the parts appear exactly per the factory specifications dated August 1926. That is, the engine block, head, time gear cover, generator mounting boss and intake manifold are all painted the same color, which appears to be a dark olive. The pan and transmission cover are painted black, as is the timer. The cylinder head bolts are domed and nickel plated. So are the manifold bolts and the bolts that hold the generator mounting boss to the block. All of this is, again, is consistent with the factory specifications.

A little bit of information has been found in the Research Center that indicates that moleskin color was a dark olive. This engine appears to be what one might call a dark olive color. Hopefully the pictures at the bottom of this page will show that.

As you look at the pictures of the motor, you may note that the block and head are quite shiny. At first I thought that these parts had been painted with an oven baked enamel. Pyroxlin is another name for nitrocellulose lacquer, and if the paint had been enamel that would have pretty quickly ruled it out. But upon close examination of the paint it appears so smooth and shiny because the block and head castings were ground and polished before the paint was applied. In fact, the paint exhibits some signs of crackling that is so characteristic of old lacquer finishes.

So the bottom line is: This is my best guess as to the correct shade of green for the post August 1926 engines. Prior to that, records indicate that they were, of course, black.


Top Right Rear View of the Cut-away Motor. Note that the intake manifold is the same color as the head.

Top left rear view of the motor. This is a darker shade of green than Model A engine green. The shiny appearance of the paint is due to the fact that the block and head appear to have been ground and polished befor the engine was painted.

Front view of cut-away motor. Note that the timing gear cover is also painted the same shade of green. Timer is painted with gloss black as is the crankshaft pulley.