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 Post subject: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Mon 15, 2011 4:23 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 6236
Location: Portland Oregon
The finishes on early sewing machines like Singer and White from the late 18 and early 1900s are what I am after for my Edison record cutter. It has some scratches and chips that need touching up. It is a paint of some sort, which is a very shiny black, and very thin yet it is hard as nails. I can’t picture what they would have used, it almost looks like it was dipped and it resembles the early enameled old coffee pots. Modern sprays that I have in lacquer and enamel are way softer than the original stuff I'm looking for.
Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Mon 15, 2011 4:53 am 
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Location: "Amish Country", PA
What you're looking for is a finish called japan(ning). Only one type is sold pre-manufactured (and there is only one source) and it is difficult to use, but not too expensive.

At the bare essentials, it is asphaltum suspended in a solvent or oil. Other varying ingredients are present to improve hardness, gloss, viscosity and curing time.

I highly recommend that you research japanning before you attempt it.

http://www.libertyonthehudson.com/pontypool.html

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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Mon 15, 2011 5:32 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Portland Oregon
Thanks Nick, I'll look in to it.
Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Mon 15, 2011 12:17 pm 
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Joined: Apr Sat 12, 2008 8:44 pm
Posts: 1017
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
The black japan most commonly used 100 yrs ago on sewing machines, phonographs, on floor perimeters around carpets, on iron bedsteads etc, was spirit based (alcohol), and was basically black shellac.
This link is to a PDF file of a book called "A Handbook On Japanning", first published in 1901 (this is the 2nd edition from 1913). It includes recipes for making the stuff yourself.

http://www.wkfinetools.com/tMaking/z_re ... own-ne.pdf

You can find various other recipes online, but many are turpentine based, and this isn't what was in general use during the Victorian/Edwardian period.
Many recipes are for making large volumes of japan, but you could reduce the amounts of ingredience used to keep the ratios accurate.
I made some myself to refinish an Edison phono horn, but used an old fashioned cheat I was once told about by an old lady, and believe it or not, it was actually an extremely good match to the black japan Edison used on his bedplates.
I gathered up a bunch of my chipped & cracked pre-1925 78rpm records, broke them into small pieces, and dissolved them in a container with metholated spirits (denatured alcohol). Once dissolved, I strained it through a stocking & used it like ordinary paint.
You have to use earlier discs, as later ones wont dissolve properly due to changes in ingredience for fillers etc, and paper used for laminated discs, and I also avoided using pieces of record that had label attached.
Over here you buy ready made japan, but it comes in pretty large amounts, so this was a cheap alternative when I only wanted enough at the time for a single item.
Im guessing that the turpentine based stuff you can make or buy will look just as authentic as the spirit based japan, but being turpentine based it will have a much longer drying time (like enamel paint) so there's more chance of dust etc settling in the finish.
The ready made japan I've seen here is also very thin, which is fine for brushing or spraying, but for a really authentic finish on phono bedplates, sewing machines etc, the mixture should be fairly thick, and the item should be dipped in the japan 2 or 3 times, allowing the japan to dry thoroughly between coats.

Another alternative, if you want it for an Edison, is to buy NIGROSENE from APSCO. This is a pigment powder that is dissolved in shellac, and is suitable for touching up or replacing damaged original finishes on Edison machines.

http://www.antiquephono.com/cabinet.htm

And the instructions on how it's used-

http://www.antiquephono.com/alcohol.htm

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Shane


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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Mon 15, 2011 1:21 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 6236
Location: Portland Oregon
I appreciate the info very much Shane. I think I have all the sundry ingredients with in arms reach so I’ll give it a go.
Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Mon 15, 2011 4:53 pm 
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Joined: Jun Wed 01, 2011 9:05 am
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Location: "Amish Country", PA
Got some rosin too? Its a common ingredient.

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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Tue 16, 2011 2:31 am 
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Joined: May Sat 05, 2007 9:16 am
Posts: 605
Location: San Diego, CA
I have used spray cans of epoxy based paint from Home Depot, etc. and it is VERY hard and tough.
Rick


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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Wed 17, 2011 1:51 am 
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Joined: Nov Sat 10, 2007 5:37 am
Posts: 160
Location: SoCal
An aquaintance of mine who collected telephones did a very fair approximation of Japanning. He would paint his metal telephone cases with (not semi gloss) aerosol paint. He would paint one light coat, bake it in the oven, buff it on his buffing wheel, and then repeat.

But yeah, I've never found a modern paint that looks the same as the Japanned finish on cylinder phonographs, antique typewriters, and similar things. It also seems that by the 1930s and 1940s a lot of sewing machines were painted with brown or green wrinkle paint. (Some sewing machine collectors call it the Godzilla finish!)

Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Wed 17, 2011 2:08 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 6236
Location: Portland Oregon
So typewriters were finished in Japanning also? I have several items that are turn of the century like a notary stamp press that seem to be the same shiny black and what about early cars seeing that they were mostly black too?
Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Sewing machine paint?
PostPosted: Aug Thu 18, 2011 6:24 am 
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Joined: Nov Sat 10, 2007 5:37 am
Posts: 160
Location: SoCal
Ed,
I don't know for certain, so this is just speculation. Nitrocellulose lacquer (Dupont Duco) came out in the early 1920s, it was used on the 1923 "True Blue" Oakland car. I know that my cylinder phonograph, my sewing machine, and my typewriter all have the same finish: a thin black paint, very shiny but a shallow shine under a coat of clear varnish. I suspect a lot of metal industries stayed with hand-rubbed Japanning and varnish until lacquer was perfected or until the cost of converting over was cheaper than the labor involved with Japanning.

And yes, cars up til the 1920s were painted by the same process. It took days...


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