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I hope this question is appropriate to this section.

I am about to scumble the inside of the side doors of my boat, but when I opened my tin of "Ratcliffes Chrome Buff undercoat" the paint was solid and unusable. However, I have some "Craftmaster" cream undercoat. This seems to be a shade darker than the chrome buff but only marginally. My question is, can I use the Craftmaster undercoat as a base for Ratcliffe's light oak scumble? Any thoughts gratefully received.

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Why not try it and see how it looks.

 

Back in the day when I was working narrow boat pairs I had a couple of days tied at Braunston. I took advantage of this 'time off' by graining the back cabin of my motor, but all I had to hand was white gloss and brown undercoat. The result was more than satisfactory once varnished, although it must be said standards back then were nowhere near the perfection demanded today - hence when my current boat is ready for it then professional graining will take place.

 

Perhaps a regional thing but as you can tell I use the word graining rather than scumbling, but they both have the same meaning :captain:

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I would think it would work quite well. I grained / scumbled some interior wood with a home mixed very pale yellow emulsion and some sort of top coat, it was really nice and I have never been able to replicate it

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2 minutes ago, roland elsdon said:

Its a folk art surely and therefore down to personal interpretation , rather than professional standards.

in other words why not

My understand is that graining / scumbling predate its use on canal boats by hundreds of years, and along with marbling e.t.c. is very much part of an apprenticed decorator skillset. My next door neighbour has recently had a banister grained yet they know nothing about canal boats in this area. I also remember a fleet of lorries that used to come in to the factory where I worked near Bristol and they had gorgeously grained cabs and lettering - obviously I had an eye for this detail having just come off the boats, but I was not such a fan of their northern clogs which I had never seen before :captain:

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I bow to your knowledge

I have seen it in other areas other than boats but failed to make the connection.

 

maybe because when we and others were doing our boats 40 years ago no one could afford to have it done for them so we just gave it a go. Like we did with many things, painting, splicing and decoration.

 

The provenance of the graining was never questioned on any resale. How things change

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5 minutes ago, pete harrison said:

My understand is that graining / scumbling predate its use on canal boats by hundreds of years, and along with marbling e.t.c. is very much part of an apprenticed decorator skillset. My next door neighbour has recently had a banister grained yet they know nothing about canal boats in this area. I also remember a fleet of lorries that used to come in to the factory where I worked near Bristol and they had gorgeously grained cabs and lettering - obviously I had an eye for this detail having just come off the boats, but I was not such a fan of their northern clogs which I had never seen before :captain:

The fella that did mine use to do all the local pubs for Adnams , I was surprised how much of the woodwork in a pub use to be scumbled.

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The very worst scumbling I ever saw was on a Hull Trawler wheelhouse a couple of years ago, I think it might be a museum exhibit but it was closed when I saw it. Looked like it had been done in creosote on yellow gloss paint, felt seasick just looking at it. I think it may have been a tradition on Scottish fishing boat wheelhouses too.

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10 minutes ago, roland elsdon said:

I bow to your knowledge

I have seen it in other areas other than boats but failed to make the connection.

 

maybe because when we and others were doing our boats 40 years ago no one could afford to have it done for them so we just gave it a go. Like we did with many things, painting, splicing and decoration.

 

The provenance of the graining was never questioned on any resale. How things change

Quite, which is why I wrote what I did in post 2 of this thread.

 

You acquired your pair at the same time that I was running camping boats, and as you say we did most things ourselves back then. The one thing I always paid for was lettering, and I was fortunate to know a local time served signwriter who did several of the boats in Birmingham at that time :captain:

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Any oil based undercoat will serve under scumble oil. My preference is for a richer colour than the Radcliffe’s chrome buff, these days I favour a deep yellow, Albany amber U/C 10, supplied by Brewers, followed by a well thinned scumble protected when dry with Craftmaster varnish. This gives a rich tone, the impression being that the oil lamp is lit in the cabin before it is.

If water based scumble is being used, I’d go for a water based undercoat too.

i don’t have dates for the origins of this technique but my understanding is that it was intended to give the impression of expensive hardwood, such as oak or mahogany, actually using a much cheaper base timber such as pine. Widely used in Victorian times when humbler folk strove to emulate their wealthier masters.....or something like that.

A skilled grainer can produce a panel difficult to distinguish from the real timber. The majority of graining on today’s boats is decorative but rather less accomplished, the whole thing serving as a base for the brass, plates, lace etc to be found in the cabin.

89532CEE-D211-426F-A536-305373829BDE.jpeg

  • Greenie 3

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9 hours ago, Bee said:

The very worst scumbling I ever saw was on a Hull Trawler wheelhouse a couple of years ago, I think it might be a museum exhibit but it was closed when I saw it. Looked like it had been done in creosote on yellow gloss paint, felt seasick just looking at it. I think it may have been a tradition on Scottish fishing boat wheelhouses too.

 

If done badly it can look like a "dirty protest".

 

Sorry to bring down the tone of the conversation but it really does spring to mind.

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9 hours ago, Bee said:

The very worst scumbling I ever saw was on a Hull Trawler wheelhouse a couple of years ago, I think it might be a museum exhibit ...

I think they all are now, aren't they?  Hull was home to a mighty fishing fleet indeed back in the day.

 

Gotta love good scumbling and letter work though, eh, although I'm not sure I'd be looking for it on a Hull Trawler!  :D

 

On the other hand, that work displayed in the photo from @dave moore (one of his I'm assuming) is something to drool over.

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This is light oak scumble over Albany undercoat, the former being very well thinned. Do not use straight from the tin.

It shows, I think, the rich tone I mentioned earlier. My work on a CTS custom build last year at Norton Canes.

Edited by dave moore

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I wonder what the graining was like on the mass produced steel cabined ( with cheap interior) grand union boats.

i suspect it was a quick flashover. Possibly improved by the owners later if they could be bothered.

looking at pictures of the boats towards the end of their service life, and with the effect of war declining work and post war austerity, the modern practice of shiny shiny and perfect replication looks odd to me.

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On the L&LC, Lancashire boats could have scumble as part of their decoration, whilst Yorkshire boats traditionally had varnished wood. As scumble is used to hide poor wood and joinery, it was thought that those from Yorkshire liked to see exactly what they were paying for.

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1 minute ago, Pluto said:

On the L&LC, Lancashire boats could have scumble as part of their decoration, whilst Yorkshire boats traditionally had varnished wood. As scumble is used to hide poor wood and joinery, it was thought that those from Yorkshire liked to see exactly what they were paying for.

Some things never change eh?

 

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11 hours ago, roland elsdon said:

Looking at pictures of the boats towards the end of their service life, and with the effect of war declining work and post war austerity, the modern practice of shiny shiny and perfect replication looks odd to me.

The same could be said about steam loco's. Whilst in their heyday the Express Passenger Loco's were kept spick & span, pride was taken in the job and the appearance.

Alright goods loco's didn't get similar treatment but they tended not to represent "The Company" as much as express locos.

Turning to today, preserved loco's are kept in a condition which they never would have been during the decline of steam.

 

Also working boats were an advert for the company as well. Rhetorical question, would you use a house removal company who had vans of tatty appearance and look as if they would break down round the next corner?

 

If I owned and had spent x thousands of £'s restoring an ex working boat I certainly would not want the "rat" look.

 

I suppose it all boils down to "pride in appearance."

Edited by Ray T
  • Greenie 1

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Graining and marbelling were art forms on the more expensive houses, the marbelling mostly on internal columns. For a short time I worked with some painters & decorators with contracts to the South West London Health Authority, and whilst much of the work was in hospitals, one of the team, Jimmy McShane and Irishman by birth - an 'old boy', big flat cap and a heavy worcestered overcoat, he was top man. He showed me inside a large house in Isleworth which had been taken over by the Council as a college of sorts, and which was expensively panelled in Oak. He pointed to some Oak panelling beside a stairway and asked me to identify the wood. As it all looked like Oak to me that's what I said. No, says he, that's a softwood that I grained some years before. You could not tell the difference. He told me marbelling was another speciality that he used to do, but there was no call for it now. They used Ostrich feathers to do some of it, laying on and dragging it in a certain manner. Never seen it being done though.

 

Several fishing boats had panels of scumble on wheelhouses, and very good they looked too. But like everything, when done poorly - that is what it looks. If it looked like a creosted shed, maybe that was what they were copying! The crime series 'The Bay' has a few scenes with fishing boats in, and one of those is scumbled quite nicely - some largish flat areas of 'pine', bordered by same.

 

This is Rodger Hatchards work:

 

 

106 lights.JPG

038 Boats0010.JPG

037a General 228.jpg

Edited by Derek R.

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43 minutes ago, roland elsdon said:

I wonder what the graining was like on the mass produced steel cabined ( with cheap interior) grand union boats.

I seem to recall Laurence Hogg saying the GU boat cabin interiors were originally painted plain grey.

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17 hours ago, pete harrison said:

Why not try it and see how it looks.

 

Back in the day when I was working narrow boat pairs I had a couple of days tied at Braunston. I took advantage of this 'time off' by graining the back cabin of my motor, but all I had to hand was white gloss and brown undercoat. The result was more than satisfactory once varnished, although it must be said standards back then were nowhere near the perfection demanded today - hence when my current boat is ready for it then professional graining will take place.

 

Perhaps a regional thing but as you can tell I use the word graining rather than scumbling, but they both have the same meaning :captain:

When I was a kid, quite a few houses had their outside woodwork "grained", mine included. Fishing boat decorators skills.

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Thank you everyone who replied to my question. I suspected that I already knew the answer, but I wanted to check with people more knowledgeable than myself. Off to the boat now to apply some undercoat!

  • Greenie 1

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5 hours ago, dave moore said:

Any oil based undercoat will serve under scumble oil.

 

Dave, who make scumble oil nowadays? I'm pretty sure the last scumbling I did, the stuff in the Ratcliffes tin was water based. 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Dave, who make scumble oil nowadays? I'm pretty sure the last scumbling I did, the stuff in the Ratcliffes tin was water based. 

 

 

rat_scumble2.jpg

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8 minutes ago, carlt said:

rat_scumble2.jpg

 

Discontinued, I think...

 

 

 

And now replaced with this:

 

 

polyvine_scumble_clear_glaze_19.jpg

 

 

Or can you suggest who actually has stock of the Ratcliffes Linseed stuff please?

 

 

 

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