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BARGES: All about barges and barging - building, buying, maintaining, equipment, handling on the water, etc.
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TOPIC: Traditional Dutch motor barge colours

Traditional Dutch motor barge colours 18 May 2020 19:41 #116057

  • Balliol Fowden
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Barrie and Carole Grant wrote: When we found our derelict Dutch Tjalk it had been painted a dull gray. As we were sanding the hull and superstructure we counted 22 coats of paint, many of them orange, some pale green or white and a whole rainbow of colours. Some also were brown. We took photos because the variety was unbelievable. But then she was built in 1907 so that's a lot of time and coats of paint. Does the area of the Netherlands where they were built and plied their trade make a difference in the colours that were chosen? Ours came from the islands in the south of the country.


Hi Barrie, Carole,

David Evershed’s book “The Dutch Barge Book” makes the point that many metal Dutch ships were delivered new painted white all over, which I find a little surprising but a quick trawl through my old picture books suggests that white overall was indeed fairly common for Tjalk types at least, and I guess that white might have been regarded as the blank canvas for individual owners to build on.

David also suggests as you do that different regions did indeed develop differing colour schemes.

A further trawl does however suggest, subject to the interpretation of B&W photos, that most ships 100+ years ago were predominantly dark colours, black and brown. Every photo I have of early or new luxemotors and beurtmotorschepen suggest black hulls, totally black in many cases. This would have been pitch on all wetted areas and perhaps black gloss from the main rubbing band upwards to the gunwhales or bulwarks, the principal exceptions being an occasional flash of light colour on the bows and sterns.

Lijnolie (linseed oil) was very common on most vertical surfaces above the main rubbing band, presumably because it was cheap, and easy to slap on. The more modern version is a mix of lijnolie, Owatrol and Terabine dryers. Either result in a lovely mottled effect as if old corroded metal has been varnished, but the modern brew dries quicker than neat lijnolie. The disadvantages in these warmer days are heat absorption and the fact that modern steel never looks quite the same, so any more recent plating inserts stick out like a sore thumb.

Decks were very often black pitch, again heat absorbent and potentially sticky, but hard wearing. Perhaps that is why skippers all take their shoes off before entering their wheelhouses?

Bright flashes at the bow bulwarks and stern were I believe not solely for decoration but also to aid visibility, as I realised years ago when I almost completely failed to see a totally black luxe motor fore end approaching at the passing point in Ruyalcourt Tunnel. Our bow was all-black as well, and I don’t think the other fellow saw me either, so it got “brightened up “ shortly afterwards.

Dark brown was indeed a very popular colour on vertical deck structures, unfortunately sold until very recently (if not still) with the colour described as “n***r kop” (The latter word meaning “head.”)

The exception would seem to be the living cabins, which are most often white in the old photos I have. Perhaps a nod to the better heat reflection / lesser radiation characteristics of a light colour, Or perhaps it was a bit of a “hey, I’ve got a proper cabin” syndrome, since of course many earlier ships had all their accommodation stuffed down below decks.

I would be speculating too much if I went any further but I suggest that a visit to any good museum haven in NL will provide quite a good guide to which colours were likely to have been used 100 years ago. One’s own conclusions can be drawn in these places, another one being that the extremely common use of a light pale emerald green colour on cabin roofs must have some roots in tradition.

So far as our luxe motor was concerned, the vendor, whose family were the second owners and who had owned the ship since before the last war, pointed out proudly how they had kept the ship in traditional colours, basically black and dark brown.

Balliol.

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Traditional Dutch motor barge colours 17 May 2020 04:26 #115999

Pete, I am interested in the reply. Ours has Epiphanes 3101 wheelhouse ( the warmish yellow) . Why I don't know although the wife requests the same colour be used.
The inside of the raised bow bulwarks was red and I changed to a 'teak' colour which looks ok and reduces glare. I can't use that story with the wheelhouse yellow as I am inside and can't see it while underway.
Looking at traditional boats in the Netherlands many use off the shelf Epiphanes colours not so much custom mixes.
So, as you ask 'which came first, the traditional colour copied by Epiphanes or the Epiphanes colour range used by traditional boats?'

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Traditional Dutch motor barge colours 16 May 2020 17:47 #115987

  • Barrie and Carole Grant
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When we found our derelict Dutch Tjalk it had been painted a dull gray. As we were sanding the hull and superstructure we counted 22 coats of paint, many of them orange, some pale green or white and a whole rainbow of colours. Some also were brown. We took photos because the variety was unbelievable. But then she was built in 1907 so that's a lot of time and coats of paint. Does the area of the Netherlands where they were built and plied their trade make a difference in the colours that were chosen? Ours came from the islands in the south of the country.

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Traditional Dutch motor barge colours 16 May 2020 17:47 #115986

I think yellow is supposed to be the color that shows up best in fog?

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Traditional Dutch motor barge colours 16 May 2020 11:57 #115974

  • Pete Milne
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Thanks Richard, but I'm not looking for sources of paint - Epiphanes #1 is fine. I'm curious about the history and the reason why it was such a popular colour.

I suspect the answer could be simple. On a first visit to Norway I asked a friend why all the farmhouses were painted red. 'Because it was the cheapest', he said!

Pete

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Pete Milne, Quo Vadis , Gent.

Traditional Dutch motor barge colours 16 May 2020 10:34 #115970

A quick google for yellow ochre + boat masts suggests RAL 1024, this looks like the colour that HMS Victory etc has its masts painted. Probably possible to get it mixed at B&Q , car paint suppliers or any paint manufacturer, Black Country Paints (?) are a good place to start if you get stuck.

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Traditional Dutch motor barge colours 15 May 2020 20:25 #115963

  • Pete Milne
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Ex-sailing tjalks are definitely the 'brown fleet', by sail colour and the main paintwork. Both my old lady motor barges (1929 &1922) came to me with custard yellow paint. Does anyone know what original 1920s paint might have been? Or when custard became fashionable. I see custard is Epiphanes #1 paint, so I guess it has a long history.

Any information (rather than speculation)? I'm asking LVBHB, of course.

Pete

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Pete Milne, Quo Vadis , Gent.
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