Dodge lorry rebuild 1940 Dodge truck

In-depth paint analysis to determine the correct shade of green used on the Dodge's panelwork.

Restoration Part 17. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of oldclassiccar.co.uk. Contact page.

March 2008.
While work has been progressing on the coachwork and mechanical parts of the Dodge, for some time we've been thinking about how to determine the original colour of the panelwork.

A conversation with the widow of Dennis Poore confirmed that the car, truck and trailer were all painted the same shade of green, so that was a big help. Some time back I spoke to one of Poore's team mechanics, and he seemed to recall that the colour might be ICI Westminster Green, but couldn't be 100% sure, so some detective work would be required.
The Dodge truck prior to restoration
Flashback - believe it or not, this truck was dark green in its heyday. The intervening years have not been kind to the paint finish, the surface having oxidised badly, to the crumbly bluey-ness that can be seen in this photograph, taken some years ago, before restoration work commenced.

Armed with this vague nugget of information regarding the correct colour to look for (Westminster Green), I started to look high and low to find a modern paint code to match this old colour name. I've found references to a number of car manufacturers selling cars in their own version of this named colour, including various cars from BMC (including the Mini and A30), and, from the late 40s/early 50s, Triumph, perhaps on their Mayflower and/or Renown models. But I was still no closer in finding an accurate colour sample to use, no-one seemingly still having the data for this old colour.

With the paint on the Dodge in terrible condition, even in areas hidden from daylight, it was apparent that nothing on it would not be suitable to take a conventional paint match from. The paint on the trailer, particular under the remains of the canvas end covers, is in better condition, perhaps through the trailer spending more time out of the weather than the Dodge. With a half-decent sample of paint found on the trailer, the next plan was to find someone who could do the required analysis.

HMG Paints Ltd help with our research.

HMG Logo
Step forward John Falder, M.D. of HMG Paints Ltd in Manchester. Adrian, who has been working on the Dodge at VHC, has known John for many years, so contacted him about this problem. John, having a background in specialised coatings, as well as a keen interest in vintage motor vehicles (he advises the FBHVC with matters relating to European legislation and cellulose paints for instance), agreed to come over and inspect the panels himself.
John Falder of HMG Paints Ltd
Despite having a busy diary, he came over one afternoon in March, and spent a good couple of hours analysing various sections of the Dodge's panelwork, to not only study the top colour, and its degradation over time (which I think even he was taken aback by), but also to interpret the different layers of paint and colour that lay beneath the final colour. This involved using various shades of wet and dry, rubbing back through the layers of paint, feathering the edges of each layer until bare steel was reached. This left a "bulls eye" on the panelwork, giving a snapshot of the various paint layers that were present. John emailed me the following day, with a summary of what he found - this will follow further down the page.

As suspected, the paint on the trailer offered a better indication of the shade of green that the vehicles had been painted in, back in the late 1940s. A decent piece of original finish was found, and the paint match book was put to work. The initial analysis suggested that Brunswick Green, a shade available in three versions (light, medium and dark) was the majority constituent of whatever colour had been used on the Dodge.
John matching the paint found on the trailer
With various notes made, John headed back and promised to contact us with an update on his findings, once he'd returned to HMG's factory and consulted their archives. Next morning I received a telephone call, followed by an email, from John, confirming the results of his analysis, not just on the colour, but also regarding the types of paint used:

"1. The original paint system. This appeared to consist of two coats of an oil based synthetic, deep Indian red oxide (DRO primer), followed by a light brush applied undercoat and then 1 or 2 coats of an oil based synthetic matted top coat, likely colour BS 381C, colour light beige number 366."

"2. Later finishing. This was confusing due to the very radical green to blue colour change on the vehicle. This effect is caused by the lead chrome pigments yellow darkening and weakening across time, due to exposure to sulphurous and nitrogen oxides. The effect turns green to blue and the Dodge is the ultimate in weathering!!"

"As you know I took a number of colour measurements using the "colour logic" and my first impressions were of a Brunswick Green variant. I also took note of the hearsay of Westminster Green. With that information we went through the archives this morning and identified ICI Westminster Green PO30-3732, a colour originating in the late 40's early 50's."

"The colour predates mixing schemes and was made by blending finished paints in the ratio of:

72% Mid Brunswick Green
13% Black
9% Turkey Red Oxide
6% Light Brunswick Green"

The next part of the analysis will involve me visiting John at HMG Paints Ltd (a subsidiary of H Marcel Guest), and taking with me some of the old panelwork so that it can go into the lab for testing, in order to identify the resin systems and fully understand the top coat paint used.

Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 16 - Arrival of new ash framework, and brake re-fitting.
Next Page: Part 18 - Hubs back on, then a move to new premises.
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