Refinishing the Outside of a Steamer Trunk

I am repairing an old steamer truck. I removed the rust, so now I want to know what to use to prime and seal it. It has a shiny, gloss finish. I tried paint, but it's not what I want.


By karen2kevin2003 from Santa Monica, CA

September 21, 20090 found this helpful

If you mean the classic blue steamer trunks with brass corners and latch, they used sheet metal that was tinned, then coated with a linseed oil based spar varnish colored with Prussian Blue, before the sheet metal was cut. You will not be able to spot match that quality, durability and look with modern paints.

You get pretty close if you strip or burn the paint off, wash it with Naval Jelly, rinse and dry, then spray paint it with "Brite Zink" to make it look like smooth chrome, and finish it off with a thin coat of Royal Blue Candy-Apple paint.

The easy way out is to take the fittings off, Mac-Tac it with an old oak look textured vinyl, and slap the fittings back on. They will cover the seams, just like they cover the seams on the old tin. However, I would still wash the tin with Naval jelly to permanently eliminate any rust, before putting the vinyl on.

Have FUN! DearWebby

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September 22, 20090 found this helpful

KJWoodworking Home: this site has a lot of info, or search for "how to refinish steam trunk". Good luck.

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September 23, 20090 found this helpful

Why not decoupage some beautiful paper onto it? I did this with a very old trunk that I had years ago and it turned out so nicely.

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