Le Mans Light Blue

For now, I lumped all the pre-war cars together, I would LOVE for there to be enough demand to split it into groups (hint...hint, post here about your pre-war Singer)
casadecabra
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Le Mans Light Blue

Postby casadecabra » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:04 am

Can anyone please help with the RAL, BS or any other colour code for an approximation of the 'Light Blue' used on the body of some 1934/35 Le Mans.
Thanks,
David

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Phillip
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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby Phillip » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:59 pm

Hi David,

Saw your post here and your pleas for information in the 'Singer Owner'.

My '36 Le Mans has never been restored and is painted in the light blue you are looking for. Although it has been repainted before, there are areas where the original factory paint is still visible. The challenge is that it is not in areas where it will be easy to get it analysed. I also have a '34 Sports which has only been painted once and from which I may be able to get the original apple green and ivory analysed too, if that info is of use to owners.

Are you still seeking the correct colour code?

Cheers,
Phillip
Your Friendly Canadian Pre-War Singer Specialist, Collector & Historian,
Editor & Pre-War Registrar & Canadian Contact -NASOC
Singer Enthusiast for over 40 Years.
'28 Senior, '33 & '34 Sports, '36 Le Mans SS & Bantam

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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby casadecabra » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:10 am

Hi Phillip

I eventually received about a half dozen responses to my query. Many thanks to yourself and all the others who took the trouble to reply.

Several people suggested possible approximations including Austin Leyland ‘Iris Blue’ BMC paint code BU12 (used on Sprites and MGAs) but my best lead so far has come from a 1933 Singer Sports owner in England who has uncovered a patch of original paint on his car. The sample is on an item not yet portable but he has gone to some considerable trouble to match the colour using a number of old colour cards lent by a friendly local paint supplier. The best match he has come up with (which he says is very close) is Honda 5298 Forel Blue, see http://paintref.com/cgi-bin/colorcodedisplay.cgi?color=Forel%20Blue&tditzler=zhondaforelblue&rows=50 which was used between 1977-79. I realise the severe limitations of looking at a colour on a computer screen but would appreciate your subjective opinion on how it compares with the colour of your car. I have asked my paint supplier if he recognises and can supply this colour but have not yet had a reply. If you do get the paint on your car analysed in the future I would be very interested in the result.

Does your car still have the original (presumably blue) upholstery and trim panels?

Kind regards
David

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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby cdk84 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:52 am

Hi David, Hi Phillip,

Thought to weigh in again on this thread.

By some miracle, I have found an original front apron for my 1936 Singer Nine. It is in its original light blue finish and the underside has been exposed to limited amounts of sunlight and heat.

The apron is in transit now but when it comes available I will happily subject it to whatever tests I can find to generate the best match possible.

One of the benefits of belonging to more than one car club is that each club, usually through its members' initiative(s), offer different information and approaches to car restoration. The Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club (SunbeamAlpine.org) has two members, Jan Servaites and Ian Spencer, who worked tirelessly, many years ago now, to find, analyze and match the original colors used on the Series Alpines and Tigers. This kind of project would be of great interest to me for our Singers, but there are logistical challenges that would require a lot of work, most particularly finding examples of original colors.

If anyone has interest in such an undertaking, and/or samples they feel are worthy of analysis, please contact me either on this forum or at Havenhearth at live d o t com

Very Best Wishes,

David
CRL157
1936 Singer Nine Sports

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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby Phillip » Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:14 am

David!

That is excellent news!

I compared the chip reference in this thread and it is indeed hard to tell from a small RGB on-screen colour reference, but the Honda colour does look similar. It will be interesting to see what your apron tests yield when it arrives.
Your Friendly Canadian Pre-War Singer Specialist, Collector & Historian,
Editor & Pre-War Registrar & Canadian Contact -NASOC
Singer Enthusiast for over 40 Years.
'28 Senior, '33 & '34 Sports, '36 Le Mans SS & Bantam

casadecabra
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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby casadecabra » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:42 am

Hi David & Phillip

Thanks for your helpful replies. I would appreciate receiving the colour code if/when either or both of you are able to get it analysed.

Does either of you, or anyone, have information on the colour of the original opholstery/trim?

Regards
David B.

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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby cdk84 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:32 am

Hello again, David,

I suggest checking with Phillip. I've seen his car and have photos of both the car and the interior. I do not, however, remember if Phillip knows whether the interior is original or has been reupholstered.

The fundamental challenges of color matching are time and oxidation. While finding a patch of paint that hasn't been exposed to sunlight is a good beginning, it in no way provides definitive originality. Paint pigments are suspended in a carrier medium that make them suitable for mass application, meaning spray application. These media vary, and in early lacquer paints were highly volatile. This volatility meant several things: first, the chemicals associated with the media were susceptible to temperature and humidity conditions. This means a color sprayed on a hot, humid day could look noticeably different than the same formula sprayed on a dry, cool day. Thus a sample that hasn't been exposed to [i]light[i] isn't necessarily accurate to the original: that same paint has been exposed to almost a century of oxidative pollution, freeze-thaw cycles in some climates, and most likely, a life of varied storage conditions, all of which contribute to color change.

The carrier medium is only one of the constituents in single stage paint. There are also emulsifiers, driers and hardeners, to mention only a few of the chemicals in play.

Then there's the aging process (we're back to time and oxidation again). A vehicle that has lived its life in California, as Phillip's 1936 Nine LeMans did for decades, was, save for storage in a pyramid from the XXII Dynasty, in a pretty good place for preservation. But there is still oxygen in California, and our cars are now at least octigenarians. That's a lot of water (time) over the dam.

With the factors mentioned above and unknown storage conditions, finding and preserving an original color sample for a car is probably no less controversial than the cleaning of Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes. Do you remember the hoo-ha over that? It's a pertinent comparison because generations of art historians had based their assessment of Michelangelo upon his monochromatic sculptures. When the Sistine Chapel was cleaned by some of the most experienced and talented conservators in the world, the brilliant colors caused an hysterical outcry from the reigning professors of art history. 'Michelangelo was not a Colorist,' they decried. The evidence is in the results, not the minds of those who made assumptions about the appearance of the frescoes based upon their own egos and the accumulation of five centuries of (coal-fired) grime.

Getting a good color match for your Singer is a worthwhile challenge. I hope we can come up with something that both pleases you and has some verisimilitude to the original. I should say that I am a trained art historian, a professional photographer of art, and also worked in art conservation for a short time after completing my training at New York University's Conservation Center and The Winterthur Museum. The above comments are derived from my understanding of paint chemistry and physical structure, and from being a car guy. FYI, I value the latter above all but the art photography in terms of experience. The museum world is replete with folks who aren't necessarily receptive to Holmesian logic. Further, there has yet to be definitive research on the effects of oxidation on automotive paints from any period that would lead to a an opinion better informed opinion than seat of the pants experience, mixed with a little 'Kentucky windage'.

Though this is a bit complex, I think it needs to be said in our context, lest we feel we've got 'THE Answer' at the end of our search. At best, we might come up with a fairly good approximation of the color Singer used for their wonderful cars during the 1930s.

And not all those colors were particularly felicitous. Have you seen the Singer Sports Green of the Le Mans entry car that sold in July 2010 after restoration by the late, wonderful Singer expert Ian Blackburn? It's not in any way an attractive color to my eye, but it's thought to be fairly close to the color of the car as it contested les Vingt Quatre Heures du Mans.

Still, like the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51, we'll keep at it.

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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby Phillip » Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:34 pm

Hey David,

As a keen 'complete originalist' - at least in terms of documenting the original specification as far as possible for future reference - I agree with what you say. Time has an effect on everything and we have to make a best guess in some cases.

Many things related to Singer are open to debate and subjective logic. I am working on a project related to the tool rolls right now and much of the references Singer themselves supplied is contratictory. The tool experts at Beaulieu warned me as much and we know that the purchasing department at the factory bought in batches from whoever would supply at the least cost, or who would supply on credit, as they were cronically short of cash in the '30's. In some cases, "what is original?" comes down to what was ordered that week!

My car was last 'refreshed' in @1954, although it has never been restored. The colour is an approximation of the original light blue. There are patches of the original blue under the wings and wheel arches, as well as behind trim panels. The original has more grey in it and isn't as vibrant as the current blue on the car. The seats have indeed been reupholstered - English leather and paint only lasted a few years in the hot sunny California weather - but the trim panels are original, albeit sprayed over with the same tone of medium blue at some point.

The Apple Green on my 1934 Sports was discovered behind the rear wing alloy stone guards, so has never seen sun and would have been fairly deprived of oxygen I suppose - though obviously not completely. I'm guessing that colour would be a pretty fair representation of the original.

As to the pastel shades that were so popular in the 1930's, they are not to the modern taste in many cases for sure. So much so, that the colours chosen can affect value. In fact, I would go so far as to say that any Singer presented exactly as delivered from the factory would seem plain by the standards of many today. The engines, for example, were just sprayed black including all the alloy and copper piping. Nothing was polished, although the Le Mans rocker cover was unpainted and buffed up. These were cars sold as regular vehicles, built to a price, and produced as such after all. I hardly expect Mr Bullock and the rest of the Singer company expected enthusiasts to be preserving their products 80 years later...but we love them so we do and preserve our industrial heritage for future generations at the same time.
Your Friendly Canadian Pre-War Singer Specialist, Collector & Historian,
Editor & Pre-War Registrar & Canadian Contact -NASOC
Singer Enthusiast for over 40 Years.
'28 Senior, '33 & '34 Sports, '36 Le Mans SS & Bantam

casadecabra
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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby casadecabra » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:21 am

Hello David & Phillip

Thank you both for your contributions to this thread.

Every one will have their own view on to what extent a classic car (or a motor bike or whatever) should be restored, if at all. My own personal target for my car is to try to restore or re-create it using available resources such as original brochures, road tests etc., as an exemplar of how a typical 2 seat 9hp Le Mans would have looked (even under the bonnet) if it had just come out of a dealer’s showroom in the 1930s.

Clearly it is impossible to achieve 100% authenticity (that way madness lies); apart from the ravages of time, the original tyres, batteries and other components will degrade and cannot be exactly reproduced. My own car will certainly depart in many ways from when it was delivered from the factory. When I first stripped it down way back in the 1960s I discovered the chassis was severely damaged. I managed to find via the Exchange and Mart an exact replacement (apart from just two bolt holes) from a later 1934 Singer Sports but the chassis serial number (if you scrape off the paint) obviously differs from the original. This in itself bars me from the higher ranks of the purist and rivet counter brigades but to compound the issue I intend to repaint it as I am just not happy with its original green and ivory livery, hence my quest for more information on Singer light blue.

On the other hand to keep it roadworthy, legal and safe certain concessions must be made. I plan to keep the original number plate with its single rear light but make another, (quickly?) detachable one, with twin rear lights and brake lights for road use, and fit a rear view mirror on the left. Not sure about flashing indicators though.

Back to my original query. As David has explained very clearly it would be, in practice, impossible to reproduce with certainty the blue (or any other colour) originally used by the factory. And as John Horne, the venerable president of the Association of Singer Car Owners pointed out to me, a concours judge would have to be getting on a bit to be in a position to constructively criticise the colour. I think, subject to getting more precise colour information, I will obtain a small sample of the Ford Forel Blue, spray perhaps a door, and see if I am convinced by, and happy with the result.

Phillip, I was bemused by your statement that the engine, including the copper piping, was originally all sprayed black. Bob Dibben, the recently retired Le Mans registrar of the Singer Owners Club told me (albeit many years ago) that the engine and gearbox were originally finished in bottle green and consequently I have already painted my engine and gearbox an attractive (in my opinion) dark blue-green. Also, although B&W photos can be very deceptive, in the illustration of the engine in the factory handbook the main oil feed pipe looks unpainted, but this could have been a specially prepared engine.

I am very interested in your project relating to the original tool rolls as I am trying to assemble an ‘authentic’ tool kit. You may have seen the thread about the Le Mans tools and tool deck which I initiated on this forum in August 2015 and which produced an interesting and reasonably fruitful response. Are you planning to publish a summary of your research (possibly on this forum) when completed?


Finally, I am still hoping someone can supply me with some information about the blue upholstery and trim. My car has the remnants of the original green leather seat squab; surprisingly the colour of the hidden portion does not differ markedly from the (cleaned) exposed material. I suspect that the synthetic azo dyes which were probably used to stain the leather are much more resistant to light than the pigments used in the original paint (any thoughts David?). If anyone wants me to send them a small sample of the green leather I would be happy to do so.

David B.

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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby Danish » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:03 pm

Dug out an old door that stood in my garage and my father's garage for 40 years. Looks pretty close to the colour in the brochure.
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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby Phillip » Fri Mar 24, 2017 7:57 pm

Hello all!

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I have had to travel for work and just completed a very big marketing project. But I digress!

A few interesting points since we last spoke:

Had a chat with Bob Dibben, who is no longer a Registrar with the SOC, and he told me that, unfortunately, he has no recollection of saying that the engines and gearboxes were a ‘dark greeny colour’. That’s not to say that he didn’t, he just doesn’t recall it, or that they were that colour.

I pulled out my 1934 gearbox as it needs a new clutch pedal pivot and was surprised to note a ‘greeny-black’ coloured paint. No other paint has been on the box and it is very original. I had it checked by a painter who claims it was actually most likely a black pigment enamel originally and just ‘faded off’. So – who knows!

Here’s the page from the period magazine on ‘modern high efficiency engines’ typified by the Le Man Singer Nine 972cc motor. This looks very much like a regular ‘line engine’- not a show motor- and in the original photo you can see how somewhat crudely paint has been applied.

Singer_engine_Period Article_Photo_Painted.jpg
Singer_engine_Period Article_Photo_Painted.jpg (209.73 KiB) Viewed 84 times


You can see where the spray ends on the gearbox remote! It is all painted – including the alloy sump and front cover. Only the exhaust manifold, carbs and valve cover are ‘natural’. Looks like the alloy valve cover got a bit of a buff up.

This next photo is of my 1934 Nine Sports rear wing and interior panel, two spots hidden from daylight for over 80 years.

1934 Green and Apple Green.jpg
1934 Green and Apple Green.jpg (99.92 KiB) Viewed 84 times


. So here is a pretty good representation of the ‘green’ for upholstery and ‘apple green’ for the wings. Not too appealing to the modern palette perhaps but very ‘in’ for the early 1930’s.

Hope that is all of interest!

Still trying to sort out a way to analyse these paint remnants, including the light blue on the Le Mans!
Your Friendly Canadian Pre-War Singer Specialist, Collector & Historian,
Editor & Pre-War Registrar & Canadian Contact -NASOC
Singer Enthusiast for over 40 Years.
'28 Senior, '33 & '34 Sports, '36 Le Mans SS & Bantam

cdk84
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Re: Le Mans Light Blue

Postby cdk84 » Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:13 am

Hi Folks,

This is a most interesting thread, and potentially very productive for club members who are interested in historically considerate restoration.

Phillip, thanks so much for posting this photo of the green sample.

May I encourage any member who feels she or he has access to a protected patch of paint from their Singer to make a photograph of it, check the computer's accuracy of the photo and adjust the file to match as closely as possible before posting to this thread? One way to 'standardize' your photo, if you have one or can access one, is to include a Kodak [neutral] gray card or color chart as 30% of the photograph's area. (I did this when photographing art for a living in Manhattan: it gives publishers and printers a standard which they can match in the printing process, whether for publication or promotional materials.) This is the only way we can collect one very informative portion of the color data about our cars, before it is permanently gone.

Thank you Cascadabra, Danish and Phillip, for posting to this thread.

At the risk of repetition, I'd like to mention samples that have been protected from light have still, over the years, oxidized, even without exposure to ultraviolet light, the most common agent of fading and discoloration. While there are computer programs used in art conservation that can approximate a color's original appearance from a present-day pigment sample, they are 1) hard to access, 2) require specialized knowledge to operate 3) expensive, and 4) are geared to materials used in master paintings, namely hand ground pigments suspended in oil paint with other agents, like drying agents, emulsifiers and other era-dependent ingredients. While these [fine art] paints (with the exception of fresco paints and encaustic) were created for indoor use, automotive paint, by virtue of its expectation for continual exposure to outdoor elements, is formulated differently. This is relevant in that any algorithm for reconstructing the appearance of fine art paint would need to be 'tweaked' to allow for the ingredients in auto paint that are not present in fine art paint, namely the absence of oil as a carrier, the addition of thinning agents and solvents suitable to enamel formulae, hardeners that are not present in fine art paint, and the binders that hold pigment particles industrially generated at a fineness not seen in the historical, hand-ground pigments created by Renaissance and more modern color masters.

For the time being, until we can perform some preliminary tests, I suggest we preserve the samples we have in as stable an indoor environment as possible. When we've been able to do some research to determine a technique suitable for determining the best approximation of our color samples' original appearance, we could perform those tests on the samples we've been able to collect.

There is a lot of promise in this line of inquiry. I"m very excited that we have at least brought the topic to light, as it were. I hope we can take it further; I think it's potentially rewarding for us, and those who come to steward our cars after we pass them along.

Cheers


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