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 Post subject: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:08 pm
Posts: 5
My name is Timothy Baisley. I have been dormant in my volunteering. My 9 year old daughter and I have taken on a project of painting our museum’s line car. I am looking for suggestions on primers, paints, and numbering and lettering techniques. The line car is about 120 years old, and is covered with cracked and peeling impervo paint.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:22 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
Posts: 1319
Location: Henderson Nevada
My first suggestion would be to:

1) decide what period you want it to represent. If end of service, as a work car, just minor prep and painting over old paint might be appropriate.

2) before you start preparing the car for paint, sample the old... find out how it has been painted previously... preparation work for painting can erase historic information. We can suggest a process if you need it.

You didn't identify the car or mention your museum...

Thanks, Randy

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:57 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 6:30 am
Posts: 586
Caution: Old paint could mean lead paint. Take precautions while removing any old paint, especially if you are sanding.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:35 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 92
Location: Philadelphia, PA
I suggest you get your curator involved. The old paint has historical value to tell you all the colors the car has been painted over the years.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:18 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
In current experience, are most 100 year old cars being stripped down to bare wood, or are some paint layers still acceptable to paint over? Specifically, with reference to documenting the original paint layers, is there any positive side to trying to retain the old paint layers and just paint over them?

p.s. is there any value in a quick over-painting just to provide protection, without a major paint stripping task?

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:11 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5532
Location: southeastern USA
Having dome a few wooden cars... wow. Every set of circumstances is different. What's common is that about 99% of the job is surface prep before you lift a brush (and brushing is certainly historically appropriate), buying the best quality paint system you can - good paint is far less costly that frequent repaintings, and consider the expression "paint system" rather than separately buying primer and cover coats from different systems and hoping they will play well together and not run with scissors.

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Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:21 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 561
Randy Hees wrote:
My first suggestion would be to:

1) decide what period you want it to represent. If end of service, as a work car, just minor prep and painting over old paint might be appropriate.

2) before you start preparing the car for paint, sample the old... find out how it has been painted previously... preparation work for painting can erase historic information. We can suggest a process if you need it.

You didn't identify the car or mention your museum...

Thanks, Randy

I would add:

3) Define what the proposed use of the car will be, and the conditions under which it will be stored. These factors will determine what paint system would be best for performance and also for cost.


(Interestingly, I just read on a paint manufacturer's web site that their white oil-based paints actually require being regularly exposed to ultraviolet light to prevent yellowing. This suggests that a white car permanently stored in a building which is normally kept dark (such as a museum car-barn) should not be painted with oil-base paint (at least from that manufacturer).)


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:31 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:08 pm
Posts: 5
First, we didn’t intend to be cryptic. It is S-193 (locomotive C of the Ponemah Mills Railway), second we are repainting it in it’s present livery of red body, yellow handrails and lettering, and black roof, ladders, and truck, and the acting curatorial staff is completely on board with the project. That was the easy part. Should we use vinyl lettering? Which paint system? And the best way to prep the surfaces to be painted? Thank you very much for the input thus far. We will attempt to upload photos soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:32 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:08 pm
Posts: 5
Almost forgot, the Connecticut Trolley Museum, in East Windsor, CT.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 10:45 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5532
Location: southeastern USA
As to what paint system, that's entirely dependent on the specific situation and what's available and suitable locally. If you are going to bare wood something different might be better than something that will go on both bare wood and cover paint that's still well fixed to the old wood. Wooden cars have in my experience not done as well with automotive paints that are made to cover metal than with other coatings, some industrial and some made for buildings. You may need to think about what materials you will use to fill cracks and replace missing bits in otherwise stable siding and what will adhere to those, not just the wood itself...... or, you may have a wood surface that's soft and punky and needs to be restored before paints come into the question at all. Go to your local paint suppliers - where the pros shop, not paint departments at big box stores - find contractors who specialize in historic structure restorations in your area and talk to them. You're likely to get good information about what works best in your area and where to get it that way.

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Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:23 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2336
Location: Northern Illinois
Timmy 6714 wrote:
Should we use vinyl lettering?


No. Nothing looks more fake, and screams MODERN than vinyl lettering. Plus, if the piece will live outside, within ten years the vinyl will begin to peal, and look even worse.

Painted on lettering is period correct, and not hard to do. You can use low tack vinyl for stencils, but really, the methods being illustrated in the NKP Baggage Car discussion are just as easy.

Whatever you do, before you remove any lettering, make tracings and note dimensions to permanent features of the car, so the lettering can be put back correctly. If sanding uncovers more layers of lettering, trace those too. The organization should have a restoration file where all these tracings, paint info, etc. is kept for future reference.

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:52 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 380
Location: Orrville, OH
Some things to consider once you decide which paint system to use:

Find a spot where you can get a good, relatively less weathered paint chip. Clean it carefully and varnish/clear coat it if necessary to bring back more of the original color. Then have the chip color matched.

Shoot digital images of all your existing lettering - straight on perpendicular to the surface, highest resolution possible with a 50mm lens (NOT with a cell phone). You'll likely need a ladder. Someone good at Photoshop & Illustrator can correct any perspective distortions and make vector tracings that can be either printed to make paper stencils or the cut vinyl stencils. If you go this route, you don't have take as many measurements - just a few specific ones to make sure it scales correctly.

The low-tack cut vinyl stencils are great for flat surfaces. Burnish the edges to help prevent bleed-under.

Pull the stencil while the paint is wet.

I'm sure there's more I'll think of later....

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:08 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Alberta, Canada
In my experience the vinyl stickers work great on smooth, painted metal, and even outdoors will last for many years on such a surface.

Wood is a completely different story, due to the uneven surfaces, moisture and temperature-associated expansion & contraction the vinyl often starts to peel within a year. And this is on new wood with good quality oil-base paint.

Of course, my experience is with equipment stored outdoors in temperatures ranging from +30 to -40°C (-40 to 90 F) depending on the season. Perhaps the vinyl would last better on wood if the car is kept indoors in a climate-controlled environment.

And like Dennis said the vinyl just doesn't have that historic look to it. Also, in my experience most minor imperfections in stencilled, painted lettering disappear once you stand about 10 feet away, and are very difficult to spot in photos taken from a moderate distance.

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:19 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2528
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Simply put, vinyl lettering is on the wrong side of "uncanny valley". I've fallen over into the habit of hand-lettering. I cut mylar stencils like I intend to spray, then I lightly trace them with a Sharpie of appropriate color, and "paint inside the lines" using masking tape to aid with straight lines. Any spurious Sharpie marks, weather solves; or a rag dabbed in alcohol.

softwerkslex wrote:
In current experience, are most 100 year old cars being stripped down to bare wood, or are some paint layers still acceptable to paint over? Specifically, with reference to documenting the original paint layers, is there any positive side to trying to retain the old paint layers and just paint over them?

It really depends on the condition of that surface. When you prep it, that surface will become the *substrate*, and the new paint job cannot possibly be better than that prepared surface.

Quote:
p.s. is there any value in a quick over-painting just to provide protection, without a major paint stripping task?

*puzzled* strip paint??? Never had call for that unless the paint was badly damaged (e.g. alligatored beyond tolerance). I want to remove the failed substrate that is behind the paint, so I can get down to good substrate. I wouldn't remove old paint for removing old paint's sake; f you have to fight like a bear to remove the old paint, then it's probably a good substrate for your new paint, so you have more important priorities.

The problem with a "quickie" over-painting is now that stuff is in your way when you try to do proper prep. It obscures your view of the substrate so you can't even tell if you have good substrate. It may even hold together "well enough" to fool you into thinking you have prepped down to a stable substrate, only to have it cheerfully separate *after* you have laid your final finish.

Meanwhile underneath the quickie, the failed substrate is continuing to fail, and water that could escape before is now trapped.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden streetcar painting
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:25 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:37 am
Posts: 132
With the timber Pullman sleeper I'm restoring in Canberra, Australia, I made contact with the rep of a reputable paint manufacturer and asked them for advice on the best way to go.
He took it to their chemists, who gave some very valuable advice.
As an added benefit, I found that the owner of this comparatively small, (compared to the big corporates) family-owned company was a bit of a rail enthusiast and as a result they have sponsored the repaint with any paints we need.
Win-win!
Cheers, Bob


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