Friday 27 March 2009

Painting Narrowboats - Coach lines

Painting Narrowboats
Confessions of a DIY'er - Coach lines
27th March 2009

Part five of seven

The difference between a classy looking finish and something that is just "OK is surprisingly fine. In the same way that accessories can turn an ordinary looking outfit into something special, so some quality detailing can lift a paint job out of the mundane.

I am not one for masses of frills and scrolls, tending more towards the understated and classic. Mind you, that probably says more about me and my personality than what represents good taste! I therefore set about about the detailing looking for something simple yet traditional, impressive but not fussy. Most importantly, I wanted the finishing touches to be achievable to a reasonable standard for an amateur painter.

We had decided on a three colour approach, Ferrari Red for the main body, Union Green for the side panels and Cream for the coach lines.

I started with the cabin side coach lines, which would be 2cm wide and bordered by 5cm of red, which looked about right. I could have opted for some PVC stick on lines, but I wanted all the colours to match plus, I wanted to paint it all myself. The key was getting the lines straight and even more importantly - parallel. The eye will forgive a slightly wavy parallel but and widening or narrowing would be painfully obvious.

So, armed with several rolls of 2cm low tack masking tape I set about defining the lines. As with paint preparation, expect this phase to take much longer than the application. In this case about four times as long, but the investment in time will really pay off. After a few abortive attempts I managed to get the first strips parallel with the cabin roof and gunnels, joining them with various straight and curved uprights.

To achieve perfectly parallel lines I stuck a second line of masking tape inside the last, covering the area to be painted. This gave me a line to follow for my inside strips of masking tape. All that then remained was to remove the middle strip and voila! a perfectly parallel 2cm line ready for painting.

The Rapidpaint product's high opacity means that it covers well, even cream over bright red and green. I might have got away with one coat, but there was no point in half measures at this stage. I left the first coat to dry for a couple of hours and then applied a second, removing the masking tape as soon as it was touch dry. I found a few bleeds under the masking tape (top tip: buy better quality masking tape) but these were easily remedied with the application of some more red and green with a very fine artists brush. Watercolour painters avert your gaze - I used my best camel hair rigger brushes!

With the coach lines done I turned my attention to the two hatch covers, one for the water tank in the bows and the other over the rear cabin entrance. I could have gone for a fancy design complete with a heart, spade or other geometric device. However, I stuck to the less is more approach and simply applied a narrow 1cm coach line in cream. The effect was fantastic - a tiny detail which took 30 mins to apply brought the whole project to life.

As for the sign writing? I will tell more in a couple of days time.


Jim said...

Ferrari red and Union green - eactly the colours i chose for Starcross!


Andy Tidy said...

That must be why Starcross caught my eye. She was sitting there at Norbury when I passed by a couple of weeks ago, but not under the infammous tree!