Prior to Christmas, progress on this old truck really took off, and once Christmas and New Year were out of the way, activities on the Dodge picked up from where they had left off. January's updates will be split into two parts. This page, the first of this month's updates, covers the re-creation of all the original sponsor logos that adorned the sides of the truck's coachwork once upon a time. The second part will cover all the other work undertaken during January, some of which took place away from the vehicle, while the signwriting was being applied. A search online brought up the details of a local signwriter, Martyn King. He came over to assess what was required in October 2010, with the job itself starting on Thursday 6th January. The following words and pictures go some way in explaining how he re-created the original livery for me over the course of four days. My apologies if the page is slow to load, there are quite a few photographs!
Prior to Martyn's arrival, we laid out all the original panels, so that they could be used as a reference during the application of the new signwriting. The original painted panels aren't in particularly good condition, but they'll be preserved and, likely as not, mounted on the garage wall alongside the finished vehicle. Martyn confirmed something that we'd been told by another signwriter a little while ago, that the original signwriting wasn't particularly brilliant, from a technical point of view. The individual letters that make up each word aren't very consistent, in terms of both style and, to a lesser extent, size. However the plan was always to re-create the old lettering as closely as possible, regardless of their technical merit, and Martyn was happy to re-create the original signwriter's lettering, rather than improve on it.
One rear door had faded more than the other, as during its time sat outside prior to me stumbling across the old girl, the nearside door had fallen off, into the rear compartment, and been subjected to less light and weather than the offside panel.
A glance inside Martyn's paint box reveals the tools of a signwriter's trade. Once he's cleaned his brushes at the end of the day, they receive a dab of Vaseline to preserve them. This is then removed with white spirit prior to their next use.
The first job to be done was lining out the bodywork using a chalk pencil. These markings determine where the lettering would be applied. This photo shows Martyn marking out the position of the circular yellow panels on the rear doors, that feature the "S.U." logo. The smaller inset shot shows where the Ferodo sponsor details will be applied.
With the marking out completed, it was time to reach for the paint and make a start on the lettering. The yellow script at the top of the rear doors was attended to first, followed by other yellow lettering elsewhere around the truck. Each signwritten section was treated to either two or three coats over the four days, the yellow text applied to the dark green background received three to ensure good coverage.
The nearside front section of the lorry's bodywork features Ferodo Brake & Clutch Linings, again in yellow. One tricky aspect of re-doing the Dodge's livery is the regular occurrence of metal beadings that fall within the signwritten areas.
With the Ferodo lettering applied to the nearside, the offside was next to receive the attention of Martyn's brushes, seen here advertising Lodge spark plugs.
The final task for Day 1 was to apply more lettering to the rear doors, promoting SU Carburetters (American spelling as per original) and Fuel Pumps. The circular yellow discs would receive a couple more coats of yellow before the job was done.
Shown below is the initial application of signwriting for Ferodo, the shape of the "F" would be tweaked during the next coat of paint. The tatty original panels can just be seen laid out beneath the lorry.
Day 2 saw the turn of white lettering to be applied to the Dodge. Shown here is the logo for "R.D. Poore Motor Racing" in its early stages, the pegasus above the text had yet to be applied.
With the white lettering left to dry, it was the turn of the black paint pot to be pressed into service. The black lettering is shown being applied to perhaps the most complex of all the sponsor logos that feature on the truck, that for Notwen Motor Oils. The colour of the text varies, as do the shades used in the shadowing. The wide trim that runs fore and aft along the bodywork adds to the complications. The shiny silver bolt acting as a hinge pin won't be remaining!
A close-up look at the white Notwen lettering, being applied over the steel side trim. This calls for a very steady hand.
Switch to the offside now, and Dunlop gets the treatment. Unlike the Notwen advertising, the Dunlop tyres livery is plain black on a yellow background. Once again the undulations of the side trim add a little excitement to the signwriting process.
Sitting down now for the lower part of the Dunlop livery.
By the end of Day 2, much of the signwriting had been applied although there was still some way to go before it'd be complete. Second and third coats would need to be applied, the pegasus logos were still outstanding, and the Dunlop script that runs over the side trim had yet to be applied - that was left until Monday. The Notwen section was half-finished by this point, with further text and shadow to add in.
Another week, another round of signwriting to be applied. Monday morning saw the text overlapping the side trim added to the Dunlop section.
Time for a shade of grey to be mixed now, used for the word "OILS" on the Notwen sign. Curiously, the old Notwen oil jugs I have show the NOTWEN and OILS lettering in white, and in a slightly different font than that used on the truck's original panels. Perhaps the jugs are slightly newer or older than the truck, or else produced quite cheaply with fewer colours used. Anyway, the original style of lettering shown on the old panels was used.
Dennis Poore used the pegasus logo on the truck, the trailer, and the car. In the early post-war years, he and Ken Hutchison formed what would be known as the Hutchison Poore Organization Motor Racing - Poore in his Alfa 8C-35, Hutchison in a P3. The trailer at the very least was liveried in this form, although I think the Dodge may have come along slightly later and only featured Poore's name.
The Notwen sign is re-visited once more, and the first application of shadow goes on. Only the black shadow remains to be added now, and in addition the word "Regd." to the far right of the advert.
Martyn also attended to the number plates over the weekend. Rather than pick up the phone and order some new pressed aluminium plates, I sought some original Bluemels plates, onto which signwritten lettering could be applied. These new-old-stock plates were donated to the cause by a couple of friends of mine. With the plates repainted in black, they were ready for the registration to be applied. The Dodge was never road-registered when in use as a racing car transporter, so this age-related number is its first road registration. I'll probably look out for more appropriate original number for it sometime.
With the yellow paint now dry, the black outline to the Ferodo logo could be added in.
By the end of Tuesday, most of the extra coats of paint had been applied (a little more was added on Wednesday morning). This next photograph shows the offside of the truck, with its R.D. Poore Motor Racing logo, and those for Dunlop Tyres and Lodge Plugs.
And finally, the completed nearside and back end. The SU logos are now on both rear doors, and the black shadow had been added to the Notwen Oils sign. Quite a transformation in less than one week's work.
A clear coat of lacquer has yet to be applied at the time of these photographs, but I'm already amazed at the difference that four days of expert signwriting has made to this old truck. The clear coat will bring up a level of shine to the green paintwork, complementing the new signwriting. Martyn has done a great job in re-creating the old livery, and I think I may just have to get the trailer re-done once the Dodge is complete. If anyone else out there needs signwriting done on their old lorry, narrow boat or whatever, I'd recommend they give Martyn a call.
A few people suggested that I get the old signwriting re-created in stick-on vinyl lettering, but to be honest vinyl lettering, on an old truck, just doesn't look right at all. Fine for a modern van, but not on something 70+ years old. The original lettering was applied by hand in the 1940s, so the re-created lettering had to be done in the same way, several decades later.
Ref: Oldclassiccar.co.uk. ‘Restoring a 1940 Dodge VK racing car transporter’, Oldclassiccar.co.uk. On-line at: http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/dodge_rebuild/part36-signwriting.htm [accessed February 2011]