Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Painting Narrowboats - Decals and fancy bits

Painting Narrowboats
Confessions of a DIY'er - Decals and fancy bits
1st April 2009

Part seven of seven - phew!

If the work done of the cabin and hull leaves the boat booted and suited, it's the front end that represents the face. It's the bit that other boaters spend long minutes looking at as they approach, so its worth spending some time making the front look as good as the rest.

The old working boats painted the front panels of the hull in corporate colours and designs, to help fleet recognition. There was a huge variety of designs, all of which can be recycled at a tribute to days gone bye. Even the most modern boat is enhanced with a well considered and implemented bit of paintwork on the front. If you are looking for inspiration get hold of a copy of Lewery's Narrow Boat Painters.

I have always been taken by the triangles, circles and crescent moon arrangements, and decided to base my design on that used on Saturn before her restoration.


Jupiter and Saturn (on the right)

Strictly speaking, the coloured panels should stop before the point where water runs off the fore deck, but on a short nosed boat like Wand'ring Bark, this would result in unnaturally short panels so I took the liberty of extending them back six inches or so and balanced things out a bit. I do get some water stains on the paint, but it's no big issue.



As with the coachlines, I decided to paint this by hand rather than opting for the PVC stick on alternative. I therefore packed my paints when I set off to do the Four Counties Ring, together with a ruler, compass and pencils. I started with a cream border, matching that used on the cabin sides and then carefully drew in the triangles, the circular sun and finally the crescent moon. I also added the traditional harlequin pattern to the front of the cratch post, with the colours mirroring those used on the side panels.


The finishing touches were the boat pole, boat hook and tiller handle, which I painted in spiral of the three colours, again using masking tape, This process is a bit fiddly but the end result looks good and draws the three colours together in a single place.


I had also spied a rather natty gangplank on a boat fresh from a repaint at Stone. The gangplank had grooves routed across for grip, plus the initials of the boat routed in at either end. I reproduced this on our gangplank, which now sports a neat W and B at either end, plus non slip panels along its length. Again, this is very discrete and only the very observant notice it. This design is both practical and attractive - I am surprised it isn't used more widely.

Finally, with the summer over and the paint fully hardened, I cut it all back with G3, a very mild abrasive compound like Tee Cut, but much softer. This flattened off all the tiny ripples in the paint and brought it up to a deep gloss finish. This last step is very hard work, but again it is well worth the effort.

The finishing touches, taken with the signwriting, are like a woman with make up. You know that you love them with or without adornment, but the application of the finishing touches adds a "wow" factor that really gets heads turning.

1 comment:

English Blogger (Davie B) said...

Oh Gang plank....I think I need one of those...