Looking at several earlier T's and the numerous different shades of blues and reds you find on restorations, I'm struck with the question: how do we know the true shades? How many early cars have survived with some original paint that remains intact? And with that, how much has the sun and the years affected the shade of those colors? I'm just curious what standards are being used by those painting a restoration (and considering the number of different blue T's I've seen, apparently those standards aren't very standard).
That is a question that just doesn't have an answer. Debated often, never defined.
Those pre-black color finishes started to yellow before they were even out of the boxcar and once in the sun started to fail like an old piano.
What defines acceptable color? Unfortunately, safety in numbers consensus. The guy that did a 1909 a few years ago for the other club did it in Coca-Cola Red and won the Stynoski award. Every red '09 done since seems to have been the same paint. Not too many green ones about, green is almost impossible as even a today green will still want to yellow up before too long. Folks have pretty much decided that the Blue is one of the current Mercedes colors.
I'd have to do some digging, but I have reason to suspect original finishes had a final coat of plain varnish on them as that would have been about the only way to get depth of color. No one knows for sure.
There have been attempts by chemists, paint lab directors, using microscopes etc. to derive what 'was' separating out original pigment oxidation v. later post manufacture oxidation, but those in the cheap seats tended to boo bird the results as forever 'questionable'. After all, I don't blame them as the guys that have put in big bucks in 5 figure paint jobs and finishes can pretty much 'define' whatever they want
I would think the best estimation of color tone could be obtained from surviving originals. By looking in areas not exposed to the light that may have had a splash of paint like the bottoms of doors or inside trunk spaces or under hoods. That would be my guess but I'm still learning.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
My choice of an all-but-black color of blue (DB-332)
is different from another guy's all-but-black color of blue. (DB-904)
Here is the original color of my car : ^ )
Your mileage may vary.
I expect that exposure to light is not the only thing that affects the original colors. As I understand it, they used a tinted varnish and the varnish and tinting medium they used both must oxidize to the extent air can get to them. I have a car, not a Ford, that we know was Brewster Green from the factory , whatever that color was. Today it is black for all practical purposes. In an attempt to find some of the original color I removed a bracket that had been put on the car after the chassis was painted. Instead of finding green I found more black with only the slightest hint of a very dark green. All I am saying is that even color from protected areas is not going to be close to what it was when new.
Now what about the doors that are photographed in this post: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/47354.html
They are supposedly from an original 1913 touring. They certainly have s familiar shade of blue to them.
The list posted above by Steve Jelf is the result of years of research. I was involved in its compiling, Bruce decided to offer a guide to make it at least possible for restorers to cut back on the continuing debate.
What most people do not understand is that the material used in the Model T days was a lot inferior to those of today.
Even now some will not admit that the cars had a very high gloss equal if not superior to those you get now but the clear varnish very quickly lost it so most photos of the time show a flat color, so agreeing on the color being correct will never happen.
Both dark greens and dark blues always had black applied first before the green or blue followed by the clear varnish was which was not clear but yellow toned, water clear top coats are a recent discovery. Those colors and Maroon do not have good opacity (covering power)
Finding an exact match to those original colors won't ever be resolved. Too many as was noted above will always claim their color is the one and there is no saying that as the bodies on the early cars were supplied at different times and by different suppliers they were always the same.
Want to be as correct as possible, follow the above list. Or do your own thing, people did paint their cars once they got them, In Australia it was offered from new by dealers for those who didn't like the color supplied.
Got a lot of information here,thanks for sharing.
This reminds me of a show I was watching a while back. A "modern" shop (mostly muscle cars stuff)that touts safety as number one was required to restore a '17 Overland. A few things really bugged me while they went on about how amazing the restoration was.
When pressure washing the wheels they knocked wood out of the fellow so decided to cut out that small portion and bend a new piece to replace just that small portion. Remember they tout on every episode safety is their number 1 concern.
Not mentioning it but observable in the video I would really like to know what they did with the beautiful honey comb radiator when they replaced it with a modern core. They tout every car coming out of their shop as better than original.
Constantly refering to a '17 with no brass as a pre WWI car can get annoying.
But to get back on topic one must wonder about some of these $$$ restorations (most of what they do involves 6 figures) when they make it clear that they want a semi gloss paint because "cars of that era wern't shiny"
I see Rich Bingham late night post wound up in the wrong thread.
Good stuff so hope no one minds, I cut and pasted it here......
By Rich Bingham on Friday, January 13, 2017 - 12:02 am:
Misconceptions abound on the nature of the paints used on Model Ts, especially before "all black" production. There's no more point in offering facts about the methods and materials in use over a century ago and the nature of their decay with age than there is in prescribing a single ideal motor oil. Folks tend to think "paint is paint" and become emotionally invested in what they believe is "right" about it.
That said, here's what I believe: The paints used originally presented as attractive high finishes when new, and were better than adequately durable, giving good service through the normal using life of the cars and well beyond when well cared for. Colors on the early Ts were top coated with suitably tinted varnishes as had been common practice for decades.
It is the nature of the paints and varnishes that were used to darken with age in the absence of sunlight, which makes it certain that paint samples which have seldom if ever seen the light of day will most likely appear much darker than they did when first applied. To what extent is indeterminable. These paints do not "yellow" when exposed to UV, but depending on the nature of the pigments employed will generally fade appreciably when exposed to sun and weather.
A turn of the century "green" paint may very well have been formulated with a nickel compound as the pigment stuff; many such pigments are well known to turn black with age, a consequence of chemical interactions with the drying oils and resin compounds in the paint.
Modern paints bear about as much resemblance to the finishes used originally as wood-grained Formica does to solid hardwood. They're more durable, they're practical and readily available in this day and age, and they look reasonably enough like the real thing so as not to be offensive. Close, but no cee-gar. ;- )
Well for what it's worth, here's my '13 in Midnight Blue...pretty darned dark I'd say. Wouldn't really want it any darker.
Rich makes an interesting argument. I never thought the paints would darken in the absence of sunlight. I wonder if that might explain some of the barn finds that have been stored away for decades that appear almost black. Again, the samples from the doors in the link I posted above look awful similar to Tim's Midnight blue pictured above. That said, we are also comparing photographs to photographs vs seeing these examples in real life. The quality of the photographs and whether the photos are taken with the vehicle in the shade vs out in full sunlight will also affect the perceived shade of blue. I suppose when examining surviving original paint samples, we have to accept some happy medium between samples that may have gotten darker from lack of sun exposure and those that have gotten lighter from sun exposure. While it is all and interesting intellectual debate, in the end, if you enjoy your car, that is all that matters.
The "best" example of "correct original color" I have come across was many years ago when I saw an early Lincoln that had been painted over for the war. The repaint had since been polished thru exposing much of the original paint underneath.
The original paint on the inside of my hood on my '13 appears to be black. Never the less, when I paint the car, it's going to be midnight blue!
George, thank you for moving my post. I've no idea how it got on that other thread.
Anybody who is serious about color match regardless of the make of car will typically find a place that has had limited or zero sun exposure such as door jambs, under brackets, under upholstery, etc. and actually clean and polish that area before attempting to do the match.
Also, if the original paint has been painted over later in life, the top layers of paint can be removed with stripper and/or wet sanding to reveal the original layer.
For example: my dad's Waverley Electric had been completely and crudely re-painted with a brush over the original paint. Careful use of chemical stripper revealed all the original red paint on the running gear and wheels including the extensive pin-striping. My dad used the best piece and cleaned and polished it for his color match.
As with other aspects of that bygone world we call the past, we'll never know for sure. I suppose if the original paint formulas still exist someone could recreate the paints and find out, but failing that, conjecture and speculation will rule.
It's ironic that folks will gnaw this bone till the cows come home, and will go to great lengths to use correct parts down to the smallest fasteners, but then put "natural" wheels on their early cars. We are humorous creatures.
Analyzing old paint is difficult to nigh on impossible. When it became necessary to replace the floor of the stage at Boston's acoustical masterpiece, Symphony Hall, they were able to determine the exact wood that was originally used, but could not figure out what finishes had been applied. Not wanting to screw up the BSO's sound, they elected to leave the new stage floor unfinished.
Back when I was a Contractor, a good customer inherited a house from the in-laws, and decided to completely re-do the kitchen. She wanted flat doors on the cabinets, and everything done in White-White "refrigerator" enamel. We ordered Birch cabinets un-finished, and set up a spraying facility in her 2-car garage.
Using the best industrial materials and procedures that Sherwin-Williams could provide, we did what could only be described as a Superb job! They looked great!
A few months later she called me, and showed me that the insides of all the cabinets, right up to where the doors overlapped, and including the insides of the doors, had very noticeably yellowed. But if she left a cabinet open for a day or so, the entire inside would go back to brilliant white (it was a very sunny kitchen).
Don't worry - I'm getting to the point.
Her husband, an hot-shot lawyer, had a field day with this. We ended up with some of the top chemists from Sherwin-Williams standing around in her kitchen, mumbling and shaking their heads.
Here's what they ended up with - the 'vehicle' used in the paint was a soy resin, whose natural color is yellowish. Sunlight can bleach it white, but it will re-yellow in the absence of sunlight. They offered enough paint to re-coat the cabinets, but said it would probably do the same thing.
I tell you all this to say -- If the best chemists S/W can come up with today, with the best products available today, can't make a white paint that stays white, it is illogical to imagine that any paint, varnish, or whatever that Henry had available at a price he was willing to pay, would stay whatever color it started out, when bombarded by sun, snow, rain, the ammonia exuded by manure, and all the other things it was exposed to.
So, I say paint your car whatever color pleases you. Maybe as it ages, it will one day be the exact color your car was as it aged, for one day. You'll never know, but you can pretend!
BLACK IS BLACK
WHITE IS WHITE
RED IS RED
AND SO THE STORY GOES
I have owned T's since the late 50's and read and seen lots of information about them since then. Some of the lengths people will go to 'get'em like they use to be' defies logic in my mind.
I'm glad my T's are black era T's. I can sleep better at night knowing that the black paint I used on them is black enough for me.
I have been trying to get close to the right color for a 1960 Panzer T70B garden tractor that was turquoise in color. Well the can from Rustoleum, of Light turquoise,appears to light. And I can't see paying to mix a gallon of paint and all that crap for this project when Rustoleum will work fine. So Off to the store I will go and get a can of the Seaside,that looks a bit darker and see if that works! ah why can't they make things simpler,
I know when you repair a modern car around here you take the gas door or something to the A J Tuckers auto supply and they use a machine to spectroanalyze it and get a match.Or they can carry it out to the car and check it and get the amount of chemical fade close as possible. But usually you can still tell it was fixed.