I have some torpedo questions that I would like some opinions on. First it is a 1911 torpedo with doors, in the 58000 serial number. I'm assuming the entire car is blue including the chassis? Fenders blue? What paint code numbers would anyone suggest. I don't think the MTFCI judging guild lines is dark enough. I prefer to use dupont Centari as a top coat. Is the steering column blue or black? This was a complete car that the restoration was started on in the 70's and my father purchased it in its unpainted state in the early 80's. So I don't have much to go on in terms unrestored patina. I' am however an experienced restorer having restored several brass T's. opinions will be appreciated. Calling John Regan????
call Bill Glass.715-723-7202
Mark, I'm not sure what edition of the MTFCI Guidelines you have but the latest Sixth Edition identifies the "Midnight Blue" color as Dupont Centari, "Dark Blue" 8766A (Code 904). This blue is very dark, is the color of my 1913 touring and my torpedo, and should suit your needs. My 1911 torpedo (sn: 59968) has a black steering column and black chassis. The body, fenders, hood and other sheet metal are blue.
I hope this helps.
MTFCI Chief Judge
904 is the standard code for Dunkelblau, a common dark blue that you see on Mercedes and is popular with the horseless carriage set. If you get down to it, you will actually find there are multiple shades of Dunkelblau (not varying greatly) produced over a period of time and that you have to be specific when ordering. However, I believe this is why some don't think it's as dark as they would like while others say it's as dark as you'd want to go. Factor in to this a store employee being careless when mixing and you can wind up with an even wider range. Color is a very tricky thing even when everything is going well.
Additionally, I know the lore is out there that the colors in the era were so dark that they might as well have been black, but I believe this is bunk for two reasons. One, the ability to create brilliant colors existed well before the Model T came along and, two, varnish based finishes tend to darken with age. Without a time machine, or a very specific formula with ingredients to recreate these varnish based finishes as they were originally, we have to accept that anything we do today is only our best guess.
I lean toward the logic that if they had the ability to create colors as they wanted, what would be the point in making them so dark that they were virtually indistinguishable from black?
Probably more information than you were looking for, but I felt compelled to throw it out there.
The Chassis would be black. The body and fenders would be blue. Steering column is black. I don't have a paint code for the right color in Dupont Centari. I tried. Best I could find is Diamont Uno 4635 A. The color turns out to be a Mercedes color, DB 332 from about 1963-1967. It is very, very dark. II used an undercoat black primer of DP90LF non-sanding epoxy primer.
Pinstripe is French Gray.
Please keep us up to date. Photos?
: ^ )
ps- Trent Boggess has a torpedo, s/n 55336, with a Wilson body. I'd suggest you contact him.
DB332 is darker than DB904
Unfortunately, Centari is not the same wonderful stuff it was 20 years ago. While I think the name is still on the market, the acrylic enamel that everyone loved is not the same stuff the sell today due to both a change in VOC rules and the market. duPont sold Refinish to a private equity outfit a couple of years ago and is now branded as Axalta.
Within the OEM code 904, PPG has three different brand codes in which the formula varies for each, then within one of the brand codes there are four further variations for it alone, making a total of six options.
In DCC Concept, brand code 13907 is the commonly accepted Mercedes blue. It's a rich color that doesn't turn purple in the sun. I can't speak to the others except to read the contents. One even has a touch of "rose" in it.
My original Autocar was "Brewster Green" but today, after 107 years it is black without any hint of color. It has never been touched and even the red striping, which is still visible because it is slightly raised, is now black. I am sure that Walter is absolutely right about the fact that the colors of the day were not nearly as dark as we think they were. I do not know if there are any sources that document the formulas used to make the colors used on the cars of the day but a hand colored plate that I have of a Locomobile which has been protected from light and other contaminants shows a much brighter color than you would expect.
Val, after the work analyzing the color on the other Autocar with which you are familiar, it can almost certainly be said that the green varnish based finish on yours was made using copper oxide as a key ingredient, which is known to darken greatly over time, very nearly turning black.
That's a big difference with the varnish based finishes vs. what we deal with today. Modern finishes are so much more stable than the organic coloring agents from 100+ years ago.
"Automobile Painting" by F.N. Vanderwalker outlines the labor intensive process of applying varnish finishes by brush, including a color list from a popular jobber at the time, but even then there wasn't near the standardization for saying one jobbers "Concord Green" was the same as another. Color matching was (and still very much is) an art and done on an as-needed basis. Different manufacturers would have sourced their pigments from different places. Even then, as pigment batches vary, the final color could vary regardless of them using a formula since their standard had been altered for whatever reason.
While having a code is a good place to start, I think today we put too much labor into trying to pin down a code to a particular shade. Just like with Val's Autocar, the things we see today aren't what people were looking at 100 years ago. It would take both access to the materials they were using for color at the time and formulas. I'd go so far as to say that the finished colors on bodies supplied by the manufacturers even varied amongst them. The blue on a Wilson body was almost certainly different from the blue on a Hayes, etc.
Even today the shade will very from one batch to the next, compound that if the color is custom mixed.
Is there really any reason to be concerned about matching any particular T color exactly? Seems like no (2) are really identical, and in the absence of a universally accepted color chip, who's to know the difference? I can see docking competition points for a bright yellow 1910 car, but what standard says this is or is not the correct duplication of an original varnish color, that is now presented as a paint color? I had these same discussions before I painted my projects, and came away all but empty handed, when (6) restored dark blue cars turned out to have (6) different codes and manufacturers.
Thanks for the great information. I really need to purchase a new MTFCI Judging guidelines, the last one I have has our 11 commercial roadster on it. What I dislike about the color that I used on that particular car is it does look purpler in the sun than it actually is. I prefer the chassis black but have seen a few blue chassis cars over the years. I know it is not a good idea in some cases to use a restored car as a reference point. I'm in the beginning stages of a correct restoration. The engine is assembled and the wheels are back from Stutzmans, I'll keep you posted.
Was red a color choice for 1911 ?
There were some red Open Runabouts listed in the Shipping Invoices section in the back of the McCalley book. I've never seen anything for a Torpedo.
In a Clymer book there is a picture of a "special" Open Runabout outfitted for fire service and I've always wondered if this was the reason for the batch of red ones.
I believe red was NOT a standard color for the torpedo. But many of them are painted that color.
If a dark blue has red mixed into it, it will give a purple hue in the sunlight. I spent a LOT of time examining paint formulas before making my decision.
: ^ )
Dad owns a 1911 open runabout I have always liked the fountainhead museum's model k and thought to paint our 11'to match.
I believe red was not a standard color for the OR. I have seen the drawing for the "fire department" OR body and it was red with black NYFD lettering and I seem to remember that the NYFD marking was on either the gas tank sides or a tool box side that was added to the body so if someone found one of those cars and the tank or tool box was missing they might not know it was originally a Fire Department car. Just speculation on the possible origin of the red OR cars.
This is the excerpt from the Clymer book, Henry's Wonderful Model T, page 55. It has been awhile since I've looked at it. It does say they were finished in red. In the photo there doesn't appear to be any lettering.
I guess I also wanted to comment on the "dark" colors. A lot of this speculation comes from some of the personal reminiscences of Ford employees and one item found there and I think this is credited to Trent as the finder. There is a statement that was referring to the dark green color for typical 1910 Tourings. The former employee said "...well they said it was green but it looked black to me..." This may not be a totally accurate quote but just my memory. There is one thing that has been overlooked here with regard to the dark coloring and that is that Ford was ramping up production big time pretty much all during Model T production and Ford was ALWAYS trying to reduce costs. One of the easy things that was generally done for anything liquid was to try and stretch it by adding fillers. The most common filler for things in that era was carbon (they called it "lamp black"). If you see early pictures of Ford T's they seem to be very shiny if the car is brand new and the light is right yet found cars from today are dull and very dark with crazed finish. The early paints were varnishes basically with additives for color and I think fillers were added to make the paint go farther and that brings in carbon. During WW1 they added carbon as a filler to make the rubber go further and discovered it not only worked, it made the tires wear better but I digress. I think one of perhaps the main reasons the cars colors were darker was that more carbon was added and in fact I wonder if dark BLUE looked better when heavily filled with carbon versus dark GREEN since they used green only for 1 year and then Dark Blue for 3 years before just going with Black. This is speculation on my part and not something I have researched and can prove with documentation.
Hi Mark, I have 11 Torpedo No. 58,226 which I am just finishing restoring. So that number is pretty close to your own. I finally got it back home from the upholstery shop a couple of weeks ago. I agree with what's been said about what parts are black and what parts are to be painted blue. As stated, basically all chassis parts are black and the body parts are blue. However I think the top irons might have been black, but I painted mine blue to match the rest---but I an not sure exactly what color the irons were originally - - but I have some difficulty that Ford would have gone to the extra trouble of painting the top irons and supports blue - maybe someone else can tell me what color the top parts were painted. I did take a couple of liberties in painting the blue on my car, because i just thought the black steering column and black brake handle made the interior look a little strange. so I went back and painted those dark blue to match the rest of the body parts; the steering column looks much better in my opinion. On the dark blue paint selection, I was very happy with how my paint came out. It looks black in the shade, and nice dark blue in the sun, with gray pinstripe. I looked through many original 11 torpedo photos regarding the pin striping locations, and I think I got the pinstripe correct finally. For the paint, I used Val-spar paint code 2240-06. Happy to help if I can on any other question you may have. Rollie in Phoenix
I should have mentioned that to get the paint look I was after, described in my post above, we first painted the body and fenders black, and then laid down the dark blue. I had done this once before on an 11 touring body, and I think gives a much better look to the dark blue on the torpedo body.
Ford "Japan" black was based on Gilsonite, a naturally occurring asphalt. Gilsonite is a very dark color to begin with, although the examples I have seen tend to be brownish. The major pigment in Ford black was Carbon Black, which was cheap and plentiful. It was not a filler. However, Carbon Black alone tends toward a brownish black, so a substantial amount of blue was also added to the paint. This is what gives depth to the black paint.
It is important to distinguish between air dry and oven dry paints. Both were used on the Model T. The Japan Black paints were oven drying paints. They were intended for parts that could go through a drying oven at high temperatures without damaging the part. Fenders, hoods, running boards and shields, frames, axles and such were painted in oven dry paints. Oven dried paints were generally very glossy, and durable.
Model T bodies used a great deal of wood in their construction, at least up until the 1926 model Improved cars. Because of the wood content, bodies could not go through the high temperatures required for oven baking paints to dry. So the bodies were painted in air dry color varnishes. Typically it took four goats, including the primer to paint a Model T body, and each coat had to dry for 24 hours before the next coat could be applied. I have seen pictures of the 6-story buildings at Highland park, where almost whole floors were devoted to bodies whose paint was drying between coats.
The air dry paints are not as durable as the oven dry paints. They oxidize fairly quickly, and while very shiny when new, after a few years they became rather dull looking. A good example was the a Rip Van Winkle Model T. When found, the fenders and hood were still very shiny, but the body paint had oxidized badly.
Respectfully Submitted - from Beijing
The 1911 Open Runnabouts built for the NYFD are very unique unto themselves. As John Regan has indicated above, this bodies were dome what special, they came with a box mounted on the back and painted with the letters NYFD. The most distinguishing of their characteristics was that they were right hand drive.
Apparently, NY State law required fire fighting vehicles to be right hand drive, so that is the way the NYFD's open Runabouts came.
Respectfully Submitted - from Beijing
The paragraph accompanying the above photo of the FDNY Open Runabout reads:
"Special 191 Model T Torpedo Runabout, one of ten built for use by fire chiefs. They were finished in bright red and polished brass. Chief's model included rear box for fire extinguisher, coil of rope, and other implements; also a fire bell and front bumper, and a spare tire inflated for emergency use. Fire Commissioner Waldo, New York City, is on left. Note demountable rims, "special" equipment on these fire department cars. With four lugs they were optional equipment at extra cost on 1920 or later models."
"Henry's Wonderful Model T, 1908 - 1927", Floyd Clymer, Pg. 55
The car in the photo is right-hand drive. There isn't any lettering on it. Maybe this one hadn't yet made it's way to the sign painter.
The wheels on the Open Runabout in the photo above have six lugs. Like a lot of things in Clymer books, the detail could be better. I think with the way the last sentence is worded they are saying the later models had four lugs, but this one does indeed have six.
The spare tire is on the right-side running board, the bumper is a small tube, and there to do not appear to be any sockets for top irons.
Sorry for the thread drift, though it seems everyone finds it interesting.
to continue with the thread drift here...
Fire apparatus stayed right hand drive for years after left hand drive was common so the fire engine driver could see and align the rig with the fire hydrant.
Although a chief's car has no pump I guess they considered it a "fire fighting vehicle" so by law it had to be HRD.
: ^ )