Welcome to Eamonn Keogh's Engine Turning Page

This webpage contains information about Engine Turning, also called (with varying degrees of appropriateness)

To make it clear what kind of Engine Turning I am interested in, consider the image of the Spirit of St. Louis. If you are interested in the other kind of Engine Turning, the kind done with a machine called a rose engine or decoration lathe.

For the rest of this document, I will use Engine Turning to mean the kind of pattern on the Spirit of St. Louis. This pattern was very popular in the 1920s to 1940s on the dashboards, firewalls and engine covers of luxury automobiles, especially Mercedes, Duesenberg,  Bugatti and Franay. You can also often see it on clocks and safes made in that period. Because Engine Turning is such a labor-intensive process, it came to be associated with high quality luxury items. Recently, with the advent of CNC machines, the process has become cheaper, especially for medium to large production runs of flat (2-dimensional) items. So nowadays one often sees the finish appear on reproduction “antiques” and nostalgic items. 

I first became interested in Engine Turning in 1990 when working as a machinist for the Kreid Auto Collection. Thomas Kreid was considered one of the world’s greatest authorities on pre-WWII Mercedes, particularly the Mercedes 540K special roadster. At one point we had 9 of these very rare automobiles in our workshop. 

The image to the left shows a Mercedes 540K valve cover, one of the first complex items I turned. The image above (left) shows me with the finished item. This was back in 1990. This car is very rare, and it would be another 18 years before I would do another one (summer 2008).

Below is an image of some sample pieces that I used to send to potential customers to convince them I knew what I was doing. 

(Click on image for a "zoom-in")

 

After Tom Kreid died I continue to do some freelance engine turning, to help pay my way through college (and for fun!). The image below shows a Ferrari molding, doing the complete set of moldings for this automobile paid my tuition for a semester in 1995.

  

Above is an Allard J2X dashboard I did in 2001. The owner bought his first Allard in 1953! So he is quite an expert on them. Below is an excerpt from the email he sent me to acknowledge receipt of the part.

"The panel is superb.....even better than I had hoped for. Actually it's far better than some of the original ones I am familiar with. Thanks so much for your wonderful work and incredible speed in which it was accomplished. If you ever need a testimonial, please call on us."

Below is a dash I did in 2005. This piece was the first time I had do a part twice, as the first time the number of rows was not exactly the same as the original vehicle (someone tracked down a old photo) I did it for free the second time, since only perfection is good enough for me.

Here is a typical item that I am asked to do. This is a glovebox for a Willys Jeepster. It looks really beautiful in daylight, photographs just don’t do it justice. 

Below is a Dash Fascia I did for the noted artist and car collector, William Spear. He was so happy with the first one, he asked me to do nine more! So if you need one...

 

Over the years I have engine turned...
 
  • Airplane parts
  • Marine parts
  • Bicycles
  • Vintage auto parts
  • Hot Rod parts
  • Guitars and other musical instruments
  • Safes
  • Clocks
  • Antique firearms
  • Furniture 


I have engine turned aluminum, stainless steel, nickel, gold and chrome.
 

Although I am now a professor of computer science, I still like to do engine turning as an antidote to sitting in front of a computer all day.


 


 
 
Professional Engine Turners  Description  of services
Eamonn Keogh (The author of this website) 
Email: eamonn@cs.ucr.edu

Some more photos of my work.

I rarely get a chance to enjoy seeing the parts I have done installed on a car, but here is an engine compartment that I did for a 1954 Pegaso Z102B at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It was one of 4 cars at the show that featured my work

Contact me and I will send you a free sample of my work (never buy engine turning goods or services without seeing a sample first. There is a huge variance in quality). 

Take the photos of the item you want turned from several angles, and include a ruler for scale. I will give you an exact quote of how much and how long (typically less than one week turnaround). If you want to proceed, send me the item UPS. The container you use should be high quality and be reusable, so I can use it to return the item. 

Customer Comments:

  • The panel is superb.....even better than I had hoped for. Actually it's far better than some of the original ones I am familiar with. Thanks so much for your wonderful work and incredible speed in which it was accomplished. Identity withheld (Allard J2X Dashboard, photo above) 
  • Hi Eamonn, Just received the panel and I am impressed! It will look great on the car. I’ll send a picture at a later date... D. Alchin, Modesto. Ca. (Firewall for a Mercedes 540k Replica). Arrived in fine shape. Looks just fine. I am very pleased and ready to send off a check. D. Dibner. CT. (4 Port Riley: Before and After Photo).
  • The panels look great! I'm really pleased at how they came out... (Custom Kit Car Panels, Dr. Steven Young) 
  • ...the only problem will be how to get the rest of the car to the high standard you have set... (Allard J2X Dashboard Bill Porter)
    Had a chance to get over to Bill Porter's house and see the dash....NICE PIECE OF WORK !!!!! Soft, subtle, it will really make the car! (Mark D., Mr. Porter's engineer)
  • The FedEx guy delivered the wheel/disk about 30 minutes ago, and they are spectacular beyond my wildest expectations! (Jim Philpot)
  • The case arrived safe and sound this past week. Thanks for the quick turnaround. The case looks beautiful. I couldn’t be happier with it. Thanks again, Mike 
  • They look great Eamonn, thanks a lot…. may refer some work to you if you are interested. I have a feeling that when people see those parts on my bike they'll be asking who did it...They (parts) look AWESOME in the sunlight!".  (Officer Kurt S######, Harley-Davidson parts)
  • Hi  Eamonn, the back plate (For a guitar) arrived safe and sound on Friday. Beautiful and just what I was looking for—thanks very much. Best, Mike
  • I took it down to the Knott's Berry Farm kit car show in late April, and had lots of favorable comments on the engine turning. Took a couple of trophies too--that was very gratifying. So thanks again for the wonderful work. Regards, Steve (see photo)
  • Your (engine turning) got rave reviews at the Trans Am Show at Fort Walton Beach, Florida last weekend. (Randy C****, Indiana) 
  • It is perfect, and I truly appreciate it. Peyton M**** (boat part)
FPM Inc If you need to purchase engine turned sheets or have a flat panel fabricated and turned, these are probably the best people in the world to deal with. However they don’t engine turn your existing parts or curved parts.
 

Updates: In 2013 I celebrate 25 years of doing engine turning. My work looks slightly better each year, as I look a lot older ;-)

Cannon Ball Safe
Click for a larger image.
safe

This is the safe in the Utah state capital. The parts are so heavy that I had to reinforce my jigs. This is the largest single item I have every worked on.  (click on the image for more views)

engine tuned part