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really need help, restoring a lathe and cannot find the right color of paint it has!

Jason Murawski

Plastic
Joined
Apr 13, 2019

implmex

Titanium
Joined
Jun 23, 2002
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi Jason:
I just gotta ask; why are you fixated on getting a colour match on a paint that's gotta be 80 or 90 years old for a restoration where the goal as you state it is "just getting it into good shape"?
Is this important to you for a special reason?

I'd just paint the thing in the colour of my choice (or not touch the paint at all) and focus my time and money on getting it mechanically rebuilt so it's solid and accurate.

You may choose differently of course...I am just scratching my head as to why.

Cheers

Marcus
Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
"Vista Green" seemed to be popular.

I call it "Insane Asylum Green" as it is much like the wall paint used therein....
 

GregSY

Diamond
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Location
Houston
Yeah...what's the difference? You already said you're not trying to do a spot-on restoration anyway.

Even if you were, no one alive will ever care if the shade is a perfect match or not. Even if you did find someone who did care, there's no way to ever be sure the color is 'exact' given the changes in pigments, formulations, and materials available today versus back then.
 

Limy Sami

Diamond
Joined
Jan 7, 2007
Location
Norfolk, UK
Alternatively, if you're not fussy and cheap (like me) use farm tractor enamel** (Tractol in the UK) Massey Ferguson Grey and Fendt Green filling both bills in my book to perfection.

IMHO very reasonably prices, not fussy or picky over prep, won't kill you putting it on, sticks like shit to a blanket, covers a multitude of sins and coolant doesn't wash it off too quickly.
 

MoriMillMan

Aluminum
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
I also would suggest the tractor enamel paint. Covers very nicely and levels out good. They have a pretty good variety at my local farm store. I believe I used “old ford grey”, it turned out kind of greenish grey.

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m-lud

Stainless
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Location
Missouri
If you use the hardener that's right next to the tractor paint it improves the durability and the paint flows out better. It's a catalyst
You must use what you mix for that application. Dont leave in a paint gun.
 

jmp

Cast Iron
Joined
Nov 8, 2001
Location
Mechanicsville, Va
When I wanted to match the European-ish green paint on my Boxford lathe I took a piece of it to an auto paint supply store to see if they could help. They had a paint spectrophotometer wangdoodler that matched it dead nuts. Worth a try to see if your local guys can do the same.
 

m-lud

Stainless
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Location
Missouri
When your in there the treat you like your crazy, P'd me off:D kidding
The mind is a complicated machine. Tuning it is a balancing act.
The standards for normal are decided by ???able people.
I dont judge but observe
Somtimes a little:nutter:
 

4GSR

Diamond
Joined
Jan 25, 2005
Location
Victoria, Texas, USA
"Vista Green" seemed to be popular.

I call it "Insane Asylum Green" as it is much like the wall paint used therein....

Dad came home with a gallon can of "Vista Green" paint many years ago. Management decided that was the color all of the machines would get painted. That paint got used on the 9" SBL I have and I don't recall what other things that got painted with it. That's got to be the most disgusting color ever invented to paint machines with. I still hate it to this day!

Ken

Edit: Oh, the 9" SBL is still painted Vista Green! Keep saying I'm going to repaint it, let my son deal with it later in life.
 

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
I wonder if there ever was a specific color of paint that each of the machine tool builders used. I know South Bend would paint a new lathe (or other machine tool of their manufacture) any color the customer wanted, at some extra cost. I tend to think that machine tool builders may well have started out with some basic color typical of that point in time- such as black, then later on going to a light gray or dark green. Machine tool builders, while conservative in their approach to design and much else relative to the machine tools they produced, were probably not immune to changing paint colors as times and tastes changed. The first generations of machine tools in the USA were often finished in black and had pin-striping and sometimes had scenes from nature painted on flat areas (such as on the side frames of planers). As things progressed, the pin striping and scenes gave way to a plain one-color paint job, often black. In an era when lighting in any kind of building was minimal at best, and what light there was, was often obscured by a forest of belts, the move to lighter colors for machine tools probably happened out of practicality. This may have been in the 'teens or 'twenties when more thought was given to improving productivity by improving working conditions. We take good lighting for granted, but "back in the day", an overhead drive shop was a forest of belts, and lighting was often bare incandescent bulbs with reflectors hung on cords at or near the machine tools. Windows were often plentiful to try to use natural light, as were skylights or "sawtooth" roof designs with glazing, but in nothing flat, grunge from the shop covered the glazing and cut down on the natural light. Somewhere in the 'teens or 'twenties, the realization that lighter colors on machine tools might improve working conditions took hold. Then, another school of thought as too bright a color on machine tools being a bad thing came along and the rich, dark green colors became common.

I've seen (and used) machine tools from the 1930's that left the factory with "buff tan" paint, as well as dark green paint, along with the "battleship" or "machinery" gray.

My own take on old machine tools is that they are meant to be used and produce work, not kept as museum pieces. I clean up my old machine tools, make the necessary repairs or adjustments, and put them to work. I got a 1943 LeBlond 13" Roundhead Regal lathe from an estate liquidation. The lathe was painted in an off-white enamel. In contacting LeBlond with the serial number, they told me the lathe's first owner had been a manufacturer of filters, local to where I live. That firm had spent WWII making filters and equipment for the production of penicillin and other pharmaceuticals. Whether the lathe was ordered with the off-white paint job, or whether the previous owner (dead about 12 years at the time I got the lathe) had scraped it down, prepped it and repainted it is something I never found reason to research. Once I put the lathe to work in my shop, hot chips and sulphur/lard based cutting oil have not improved the paint job any.

My old Cincinnati-Bickford "Camelback" drill is from sometime during WWI as it has dual metric/English depth graduations and was shipped with a 220 volt single phase motor drive. As near as I could determine, it was painted some kind of dull gray, much of which had been lost to wear. I scaled off the loose paint, washed the drill with degreaser, and hit it with some green paint as I always like the looks of green machine tools. I think the color may have been "Oliver Green". Like the LeBlond lathe, the old C-B drill sees use, and when I land a piece of structural steel on its table to drill holes, hot chips spiral off and more of that same cutting oil gets slung around, aside from the "total loss" oiling of the various bearings.

In use, my oily hands, often dirty from machining thru mill scale on hot rolled steel, weldments, castings and similar, leave dirty smudges all over some of my machine tools. I am old school in that I stand up to use my machine tools, even on long cuts. Years ago, if a person got the bright idea of sitting to run a machine tool during long cuts, the foremen would be on him in nothing flat, hollering murder. I might find a place to rest my left hand while my right is held ready to disengage power feeds or similar. The result is in the course of many jobs, my machine tools wind up loaded with chips, oily, and dirty with grungy hand prints. I was taught to never have a rag or similar anywhere near a running machine tools, so if I do wipe my hands and wipe the machine tool clean, it is between cuts with the machine tool stopped. More often than not, it is when the job is done with. About all I do when I am done working is clear the chips away, wipe the machine tools down, pay close attention to wiping the bearing surfaces (dovetails, bedways, milling machine table) and put some oil on the machine surfaces. If any of my machine tools ever did have a good paint job, it is long gone by virtue of use.

Another thing to consider is the fact that most old machine tools were repainted a time or two or three along the way. Some shop foreman or owner may have decided the shop needed to be "brightened up" and had the maintenance guys paint the machine tools in the color of the day. This could have been anything from a real good paint job to a "smear job" done with a wide brush and a bucket of enamel and a rag to wipe paint from where it should not have gone- after a fashion. Or, as was often the case, the machine tools were sold due to shop liquidation or retooling, and the machine tools wound up in the hands of a dealer. The dealers were notorious for "prettying up" used machine tools so they would look like they were rebuilt. Worn bedways and tables were cleaned up with emery cloth and then given a fast "flake scraping" or "frosting" to appear as if a proper rescraping had been done. The machine tools were washed with gasoline (back in the day), and any unpainted or finished surfaces were polished with wire wheels and steel wool. The cast parts such as beds, headstocks, aprons, tailstocks, etc were given a quick round of auto body filler to even out deep chips or missing original paint. This was sanded and then a coat of gloss enamel was usually brushed on. The color enamel used was a matter of what the used machinery dealer thought would sell, or what he thought the machine tool would "look good in". Typical colors were gloss light gray, buff tan, dark green, and now and then a medium blue. This was back in the "pre-Krylon" era, and the used machinery pirates had a crew of "mechanics" who did everything from moving the machine tools in and out of their stores or warehouses to the "prettying up". Those guys were good with a paintbrush and could lay on a nice coat of enamel that was free from runs and slopping onto machine surfaces. If any of those dealers ever gave a thought to "original factory color" it was likely a rare occurance, if at all.

My "two cents"- get the C-J lathe set up, levelled, make all necessary repairs and adjustments and get to using it. No one is likely to have a color chart or paint sample of the C-J "factory" color for the lathe, and the color of the lathe could have been anything at all even when it left the factory as a new machine tool. Pick a color you like and paint the lathe if you care to. However, if you use an engine lathe as it was meant to be used, taking hogging cuts on heavier work and using cutting oils, your new paint job will quickly be "broken in". The first heavy and hot chips to land on the painted surfaces will take the "new" out of your paint job quickly enough.
 

Froneck

Titanium
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Location
McClure, PA 17059
I agree with Joe! what difference does it make if you don't have the exact shade or color! More important does it make the part! I have a P&W lathe, the paint color is listed in the manual BUT it's 1960's vintage! The chances of getting that color are quite slim! I used Olive Gray satin Rustolem from Walmart. Wasn't the color I expected but the lathe runs great and looks good! If you really want the exact color maybe find a chip from the glazing that has the original color and take it to someone that can color match it.
 

memphisjed

Stainless
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Location
Memphis
candy or color shift with pearls. If you are going to effort to prep for paint why not go big? Paint tech has changed a whole lot since 19 whenever - take advantage of it.
 

M.B. Naegle

Titanium
Joined
Feb 7, 2011
Location
Conroe, TX USA
While we lived in Yoakum, TX, there was an real estate mogul (small town version) who would buy nearly any property in town, fix it up, and then rent it out, commercial and residential. EVERY single house/building got painted the same shade of green, even nicer brick houses and homes with newer paint. Supposedly it was "money" green.

On the subject of machinery paint: IMO when it comes down to preserving machinery, the exact shade is not necessary at all (unless the machine is literally going into a museum, and even then...). You can look at what's been done with other machines and look at the original layer of paint on your own machine, but no one will ever care if it was the correct shade. It's not like classic cars where you will get points off for that stuff. Having a nice coat of paint on a machine is good, but the people who will appreciate these machines will give it a single smile and move on to more important aspects like it's condition and completeness. If you have a machine that's never been repainted and a majority of the original paint is still there, you're better off to leave it alone. If it's been painted 10 times in multiple colors, then I'm in favor of stripping it down and going back to OEM colors. Practically, I think it's beneficial to keep machines close to the OEM color as when it scratches, you won't see a rainbow of colors, but the shade is not important.
 

m-lud

Stainless
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Location
Missouri
I like the old black shellack look that was on early machinery. I guess you could tint some clear urethane with black. It was not strong with pigment.
If you may resell stick to factory colors. Paint is only rust protection and appearance.
At an paint store they dont charge any more to match and mix your green on your lathe.
 








 
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