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York Security Safe Black Paint

dalmatiangirl61

Subscriber
Does anyone know what type of paint was used on old safes? The old black ones with gold pinstriping. I cannot find anything in modern paints that matches the look of the original paint, and searching google has been fruitless because all it gives me is environmentally "safe" paints. I have an old safe that interior is all original and nice, but some idiot painted exterior an awful muddy brown, I would like to re-paint the exterior.
 

J.B. Castagnos

Active member
Spray cans are available in semi gloss and semi flat, you'd think they are the same but one has more gloss than the other, you can try these to see if it's what your looking for.
 
I actually have a York safe. It is in a place where I cant get a good picture. It is all original inside and out. It is over 100 years old , black with gold pin striping. The finish is far from perfect. If I were to repaint it , the only decision is to make it high gloss or semi gloss , black is black. It is never going to look like old paint again. I think that they were high gloss back in the day. Add the pin striping and make it a show piece. Ron
 

dalmatiangirl61

Subscriber
You would think any old black would do, but I've tried many, and somehow they just do not look right, even though all are black:shrug:. Closest I can find to a match is the black oil based alkyd enamel I used on the workbenches 30 years ago, but it is not a perfect match. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I remember someone using old LP records and dissolving them with solvent to make a black paint. Holding an LP to the interior of safe and it looks like right color, but not sure if LP paint would work on metal, I seem to think original discussion was about using it on wood.

Just thought someone might have a better idea of what was used originally.
 

Jim Tremble

Subscriber
Does anyone know what type of paint was used on old safes? The old black ones with gold pinstriping. I cannot find anything in modern paints that matches the look of the original paint, and searching google has been fruitless because all it gives me is environmentally "safe" paints. I have an old safe that interior is all original and nice, but some idiot painted exterior an awful muddy brown, I would like to re-paint the exterior.
I wonder if it could be "JAPANING". Like what they used on old tools.If the finnish is hard and it will flake off, it could very well be JAPANING.

Jim
 
Old iron , motors , scientific instruments , and medical instruments were Japaned. Someone I believe on this site gave the method for making it. I don't remember anything about it. It is very hard smooth and shinny. I think that it will be hard to do on a large item. Ron
 

dalmatiangirl61

Subscriber
I believe the dissolved LP's was for japanning, I just can't seem to find that posting, I think it was on this site. Did a little studying on japanning, and found a few recipes, none included LP's, roofing tar and asphaltum seem to be the black pigment. Biggest obstacle for this job would be baking to set the paint, but some claim air drying works too, just takes much longer. Maybe the linseed oil paint is the ticket, seems appropriate for that time frame, I'll look into that.
 
...I remember someone using old LP records and dissolving them with solvent to make a black paint. Holding an LP to the interior of safe and it looks like right color, but not sure if LP paint would work on metal, I seem to think original discussion was about using it on wood.
I would guess that it was not LP's that were dissolved, but it was 78 rpm phonograph records. LP's are vinyl; 78's prior to the 1950's were a mixture of shellac, pigment, and clay-type fillers. Dissolving 78's in alcohol would give a shellac-base varnish.


Kirk
 

georgineer

Member
I would guess that it was not LP's that were dissolved, but it was 78 rpm phonograph records. LP's are vinyl; 78's prior to the 1950's were a mixture of shellac, pigment, and clay-type fillers. Dissolving 78's in alcohol would give a shellac-base varnish.
Kirk
I've read that the filler was slate dust. I dissolved bits of a broken 78 in alcohol (methylated spirit) some years ago - it took ages to dissolve - and it made a varnish with a dead matt black finish, not at all suitable for a safe. I don't know how durable the shellac would be after sixty-plus years as a record.

The Victorians used something called Brunswick Black for machinery, but I don't know much about it.

George
 

dalmatiangirl61

Subscriber
Went down the rabbit hole of paint history this week, pre 1921 the most common options for black paint would have been linseed oil based paint, and japanning. Japanning is what Ford used and explains the "any color as long as it is black". Nitrocellulose replaced japanning in the 20's, the benefits being faster drying and colors:D

Linseed oil based paints were phased out in the 40's and replaced by alkd oil based paints (alkd oil being derived from safflower and soybean oils), and the addition of petroleum based solvents for faster drying.

There may have been other options for paint back then.
 

cobbadog

Active member
Is it worth taking the LP to the paint store to see if he can match it? Here in Oz just with GMH cars there are a lot of black colours both matt, satin and gloss so have a look at some paint samples and see what turns up.
Also you mentioned that Henry used a black back in them days and maybe today it can be matched using new paints providing it is the colour your looking for.
 
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