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Completed Restoration of original American Radiator Rococo units

Our 1770s home has 19 cast iron radiators, all of which are the Rococo model made by American Radiator Co. They were performing very well but were covered with many layers of lead paint that was flaking off, creating an imminent health hazard. On top of that, most of the fine detail was lost under all the paint.

We wanted to restore them but don't have the equipment to do them here and did we want to pollute our home or property with lead paint flakes and dust. We considered chemical stripping and painting but ruled both out due to concerns about odors and off-gassing. We retained a local company to have the radiators sand blasted and powder coated.

Color is a subjective decision, and we wanted them to be an architectural feature but not loud or gaudy. Plus we wanted a color that we thought we could be happy with for the next several decades with no regard to design trends. When selecting colors, we looked at about 60 different variants of metallic pewter and silver. The color we chose was Starnight Silver PMB 5752 by Prismatic Powders. We ended up using 60 lbs. of it, which is pretty staggering in terms of scope.

We are delighted with the results. Aesthetically, they are incredible. There is no more lead flakes, and there are zero odors or off-gassing. I checked their heating performance before and after with my heat gun and it is identical. There are no leaks either.

We wouldn't change a thing about the process, materials or results.

Here are some photos which I thought you all might enjoy.




WMno57Erin Holohan HaskellGGrossPC7060ranzeroxEBEBRATT-EddelcrossvSTEVEusaPA


  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 547
    Wow. That is art.
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 633
    Very nice and thoughtful restoration.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,514
    Great job...Glad to see you restored them to their original beauty.
  • Dan_NJ
    Dan_NJ Member Posts: 247
    I used to commute by train and would pass a scrap yard on the way. It had what I am calling "radiator mountain" - a huge pile of discarded radiators. Many worthy of discard and I'm sure some like these, worthy of a full restore and another 100 or so years of service. You'll not see a heat pump this beautiful ever.
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 226
    Amazing.  Found one yesterday in a friend's storage unit and was tempted to make an offer but doesn't have any orifices at the top, except for a vent, that I need to hook up to my two pipe steam system.

    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • PCapNJ
    PCapNJ Member Posts: 14
    I'm so jealous of you. I've been wanting to do this for years and seeing this might motivate me to do something about it next summer.

    I'm torn between DIY and powder coating and I've read pros and cons for both. I'm curious, did you go with an outfit that has experience powdercoating steam radiators?
  • ArnoldT
    ArnoldT Member Posts: 4
    Looks Great, isn't silver the worse color for heat transfer?
    Long Beach Ed
  • robertantonucci
    robertantonucci Member Posts: 2
    In the restoration process, need you pay any attention to the seal between each section so as to renew it or not to disturb it? Or if it's not leaking leave well enough alone?
  • Nick_Castrads
    Nick_Castrads Member Posts: 26
    @TheClevelandSteamer congratulations, looks like an excellent restoration job. Beautiful old radiator.

    @robertantonucci these will have conical nipples with a metal-to-metal seal. In my opinion, if it's not leaking best to leave well alone. They hold up very well.
  • LynnLennox
    LynnLennox Member Posts: 25
    Nice.  I'm jealous.  Many of my radiators need some love.  :(
  • KAGM
    KAGM Member Posts: 3
    Wow what beauty! Appreciate you sharing because it helps me on a project I'm getting ready to do. Thanks
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,297
    Very nice!!