Author Topic: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?  (Read 1429 times)

Offline vintage_keith

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1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« on: October 16, 2023, 11:12:26 AM »
Hi Guys
As per photo, I have the sole remaining Triple H in existence (until the others come flooding out of the woodwork), and after much searching now have all the bits to rebuild it.
I'm about to have new decals/transfers made, and got to thinking about the tank colour of 'silver'. Many early manufacturers used silver for the petrol tank (Norton, Douglas, Rudge, etc, etc, etc, etc), and assuming that there may be little choice in suppliers of paint back then (which could open a can of worms as to whether motorcycle paint shops blended their own, or bought in standard colours), thought that many of these silvers could/would be the same.
Anyone any suggestions for suitable currently available silvers? And what paint technology - enamel, 2 pack, water based ( last one makes me shudder)?
Presumably metallic and metalflake versions would be inappropriate (do want to keep to a faithful resto where possible).

Offline cardan

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2023, 12:23:09 PM »
Hi Keith,

Oh it's gorgeous! If it were mine I wouldn't paint it at all... just do the mechanicals, deep clean, and give it a wipe-over with lanolin or similar as it goes back together. The next person can paint it if they want to.

But silvers: ever seen a line-up of restored veteran Triumphs? All silver, but not quite the same silver.

The problem is the way old silver paints change as they age, so trying to guess the original colour is fraught. Anyway there is lots of chat about appropriate colours for the many bikes that used silver as the main tank colour, e.g. Douglas https://www.douglasmotorcycles.net/index.php?topic=5846 The last time I had a silver tank painted (a locally-made "Bullock") I did use a silver with a little bit of fine "metal flake" in it. I was very happy as it looks good but doesn't sparkle too much in the sun! Triumph (and probably others) referred to their silver as "aluminium" - maybe it had some aluminium in it?

When I do paint, it's to stop metal going rusty, so I just use an etch primer topped by "epoxy enamel", both from rattle cans. A bit embarrassing, but I'm more interested in originality, well-functioning mechanicals, and history. And I'm rubbish at painting!

Cheers

Leon

Offline iansoady

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2023, 02:37:24 PM »
For Norton tanks, I use Simoniz wheel silver aerosols. Tough and hard wearing, fairly petrol resistant and a nice satin finish.

Ian
1952 Norton ES2
1986 Honda XBR500
1958-ish Tre-Greeves

Offline R

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2023, 11:44:05 PM »
Oh it's gorgeous! If it were mine I wouldn't paint it at all...

Aye - I'll second that
They are only original ONCE !

A gentle wipeover with phosphoric acid will remove the rusty bits and brighten up the original paint.
and then (once washed off and dry) a wipeover with Linseed Oil will preserve and protect and waterproof the paint.
Phos acid is a major ingredient in Coca Cola, so is not exactly dangerous.
And Linseed Oil was a major ingredient in early enamel paints.
It may take a day or 3 to dry off, and may pong  a bit for a while. (do outside)
But can be polished (gently) once dry.
Should give a superb original paint bike....
A rare find indeed.

Offline R

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2023, 01:41:42 AM »
Can see why you might want the tank more silver-like though.

https://cybermotorcycle.com/gallery/classics-t/images/Triple-H-1922-0858.jpg

Offline Rex

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2023, 12:57:13 PM »
Then again, if you have the sole remaining Triple H, who's going to know that the shade isn't the same as it was when it left the factory(?) 100 years ago?
"What colour red is Indian red?" causes more strife than anything else these days for Indian riders, but the truth is it was whatever was in the vats on any given day. RAL wasn't invented back then.

Offline cardan

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2023, 10:41:38 AM »
Yes I don't think there's much chance of a line of restored Triple Hs displaying their silver tanks! Important to have a silver that looks 1920s rather than 2020s though... I like Ian's Norton colour and finish.

Leon

Offline R

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2023, 10:19:02 PM »
It would still be worth trying a wipeover of phosphoric acid* on that tank.
*Industrial strength (50%), not coca cola strength.

Its amazing what comes back to life with all traces of rusty brown removed.
Someone with a rusty old Napier reported the pinstripes on the now green bonnet were visible again...

Offline cardan

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2023, 11:47:29 PM »
Here's a Rudge tank - previously quite rusty on the surface - after a week in a molasses solution.

Leon

Offline R

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Re: 1910s/1920s Silver paint?
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2023, 12:18:39 AM »
Aye - thats good stuff too.
Non-destructive to most surfaces.

The beauty of phos acid though is that what you see is what you get.
You can wipe/rinse it off, and the process stops right there.
It also passivates the surface to some extent.

Whereas molasses exposed surfaces need some sort of treatment to prevent them rusting again, almost instantly.
And doesn't seem to enhance the paint either ?