antifouling colours

8th May 2007, 19:14
I am collecting data for my next model of 19. century puffer or coaster.
There but appeared a question about antifouling colour.
As I read, the basic colour should be a pink antifouling. When saw some "old models of puffers" at photos from Model Exposition 2007 in Paris(Model boat mayhem gallery), I did not found this colour there. I believe that pink colour is more proper than red lead oxide etc, which is question of the second half of the late 20.century.
A friend of mine (now in Australia) wrote , he was painting his steel boat wit such pink stuff (when in London in sixties).
Can you put some words about this matter?
In which colours were decks stacks and superstructures painted usually?
Thanks. Tom

Jim MacIntyre
10th May 2007, 22:07
Hello Tomarack
I'm surprised no-one has jumped in here to comment.
If you google 'clyde puffer' and look in any of the sites listed (skip the Wikipedia one) you will find a great deal of information as to preservation of these ships (sometimes called VIC's) numerous links to organizations involved and I'm sure plenty research material available if you take the time to dig for it or correspond with them.
I don't know if I'm being biased by Para Handy Tales but definitely the impression is these ships around the Clyde were run by 'canny Scots' (go easy guys - I was born there) and a penny saved was a penny earned.
Bottom painting was done at low tide and my bet is the paint used would be whatever was available at the right price regardless of colour.
For your model you could take the same approach - whatever is in your stock of paint and looks good on the model might work.
BTW did not get into discussions on your 'Ned Kelly' model thread - it was beginning to take on a lively tone vis-a-vis kit and scratch building, but looks like you did a great job. There are some great threads about the Australian paddle boats on the Murray River in the paddleducks website.
Good luck with the puffer project - steam power I presume ???
Jim Mac

13th May 2007, 20:34
Hi Jim, thanks for your reply.
I´m surprised somewhat too . I believe this my question
could be interesting for more modellers of these little ships and " old salt dogs " will add their opinions in this matter.But...
My model ( I have Clochlight drawings,A.G.Cousins´ reconstruction)is expected to be rather small one, due to my transporting troubles anyway, electric powered in this case.

13th May 2007, 23:26
hi tomarack,
some years ago Humbrol model paints brought out an "authentic" range of colours made specially for model ships. one colour was anti fouling pink and the number on the lid was MC10.

unfortunately in this country (UK) humbrol no longer trade, but I am led to believe they still trade on the continent and if so you may be able to get MC10 through your stockist.

Revelle also now do an equivelent colour range to superseed where humbrol left off.

otherwise a company in the U.K called Jotika who produce caldercraft kits do an authentic colour range for model ships and could possibly help you, should you want to colour in the anti fouling pink.

good luck, neil.

K urgess
13th May 2007, 23:46
My local newsagent/ card and model shop still stocks "Humbrol".
If you Google the name there are a lot of suppliers still about.

14th May 2007, 08:22
cheers kris. apparently Humbrol went into receivership some time ago, and were taken over by another modelling company ( can't remember who) but as unpaid bills still disallow humbrol to trade, there is a backlog of stuff awaiting distribution, and that is why most humbrol stockists are low on the older paints such as the metalic bronzes, steel and such. and why they are substituting with revelle colours. I bought this anti fouling pink MC10 a number of years ago ( still has a 50p price label on it ) but it must be still out there somewhere?

K urgess
14th May 2007, 09:44
Must admit to not having bought any for a while, Neil.
Thanks for the explanation.
I knew they'd gone belly-up 'cos there's a furore locally at the moment over the Hawker Hunter outside the Airfix factory in Hull that has been vandalised and the current site owners are being chased to either improve security or give it to the local museum at Paull.
Didn't seem to be a shortage yet though.

15th May 2007, 20:29
Many thanks for your infos.Pink antifouling seems to be very strange colour at present,reference to H - MC10 will help me with proper pink tone.
All the best,

15th May 2007, 21:00
I've a 1:48 scale model of the SERB built a long time ago but still in action. I used humbrol matt red for my underbody colour on all my models and it looks about right.

15th May 2007, 22:49
The puffers I remember were all a basically "red lead" shade on the lower hull. There were obviously variations between owners, but pink ? no. Have a look at and you'll get an idea of the colour
Best Wishes

16th May 2007, 08:55
Pink, Saxon...... Oh yes........ some of the Royal Navy fisheries Protection vessels of the Island CLASS (ONE OF WHICH WAS THE ALDERNEY P278) a model I built years ago as a review model for Radio Control Boat Modeller actually had a "pink" shade to them,as their anti fouling.
I actually wrote to the MOD to verify this, at the instigation of the commanding officer that showed me around the Alderney when berthed in Liverpool many years ago.He actually pointed out the unusual colour.
I did receive a reply from the MOD which was even more strange, saying that it was the correct colour.
Humbrol manufactured the "authentic" range of colours for such varients for modelling.
I'm not saying it was "Barby pink" but it was a lighter shade of red lead (probably had had white lead added to give the pink tinge ) and in a scaled version such as a 1:48 scale boat it actually looks pink!

K urgess
16th May 2007, 10:32
That's just brought an image of a pink submarine into my mind.
The movie was "Operation Petticoat" wasn't it. With Cary Grant and Tony Curtis plus a bevy of nurses.

16th May 2007, 11:52
I've just discovered that the link in my last post isn't working so as an alternative try googling Puffers Old Reekie which should get you there.
I don't doubt there were ships with pink boot topping - in fact Blue Funnel was a good example - but - I was referring to puffers only and generally the red lead shade was prevalent
Best Wishes

16th May 2007, 13:11
going off the link, marconi sahib. yes, the film was a gud'un. I watched a remake of it a few months ago, with different actors, and it was b****y c**p. all goes to show that the originals are always the best.

21st May 2007, 21:11
I have to agree with statement about red lead colour for Vics anyway,nevertheless pink antifouling I found in literature about more old puffers somewhere ,so I wanted to hear more opinions of it.
When I can compare colours I found , the pink antifouling is more pale colour, than this for pink submarine. Maybe red lead with some white lead filler?I am not sure ...

25th May 2007, 20:53
I browsed through Humbrol colour card and I found MC10 as a polish crimson blue,<ships nostalgia> colour,/lozenge WWI aircraft colour too/.Too dark.
A very odd colour indeed.I am not sure, if it is the right colour anyway, as I have nothing for comparison.
As a enclosure I put two photos of Inchcolm puffer,model by Richard Noakes, Perth,Au.Here the pink antifouling looks very pale.He wrote me saying the Incholm model has the proper hue of this pink antifouling colour.
The model was cardboard built,round 1 m long.

25th May 2007, 23:00

Just a quick comment: Depending on the scale of the model, you may want to "scale" the paint. Basically, it involves "lightening" the tone so that when you look at the model, your brain perceives the colour as if you were looking from a distance. This puts both the model and the paint into sync! I know that this sounds a little mad, but try using for example a bit of the real paint - it will probably look impossibly "loud" or bright. A panatone chart or even a commercial paint chart can be useful in matching the scale colour.

I have used this technique on several models with great results. I hope this helps!



Jan Hendrik
19th June 2007, 12:47
I do not know why previous models showed a pink Antifouling.
What I do know is that 99 percent of all Antifouling coated ocean vessels use a red or reddish Antifouling.

Some paint companies use a pink Antifouling as a first or intermediate coat and then red as the second or last coat.
The reason for this is to accentuate colour difference during application and a red or pinkish red Antifouling is still cheaper to produce than any other colour due to copper properties.
Another reason is that pink Antifouling (of the spc type) turns white when in contact with salt water, thus you will get white spots in the Antifouling area which means that polishing is doing its job.
Hence the spotted white/reddish paint you see on many vessels when trading.

There is also another reason for finding a pink colour i.e. most red or reddish Antifoulings will lighten off during trading and show a lighter (more pinkish) colour in the drydock, say after few years sailing. The colour simply changes a bit.
I can give you more technical b.s. but trust the above suffices?
Best regards,

Jim MacIntyre
19th June 2007, 15:54
Jan Hendrik
Interesting comments - Some time during the nineties (I think) while working for Stolt Nielsen, the shipowning group were doing serious research on bottom paints. The objective was to find a paint that would allow the ship to 'slip' through the water more easily thus conserving fuel. (the 'polishing' effect you refer to ??) As I recall the theory was that rather than create resistance the paint would succumb to the friction and gradually wear off. (sounds like thay may be in your 'technical b.s' reference). I do seem to recall some of the ships had what looked like a very pale green boot topping/bottom paint during the experiment.
I was on the marketing side of the company and I never really followed the information and at some point they went back to the more traditional reddish colour.
Jim MacIntyre

Jan Hendrik
20th July 2007, 02:18
HI Jim,

Only come accross your reply today.
The polishing effect at the same time provides a "smoothening" effect to create drag reduction and quite often it could be proved that the vessel picks up half to one knot as a reesult of using this particular Antifouling , compared to traditional Antifoulings.
I would think that 90 to 95 percent of all ocean vessels today use spc (self polishing copolymer) Antifoulings and mostly in red as that is proven to be the best and the cheapest.
Coloured Antifoulings are only produced for smallcraft and there will be some difference in colours to ease application at the yards.
Quite few ships are now changing to what is called a "Fouling Release" system which is not an Antifouling but a heavy duty and extremely expensive coating based on silicone technology.
The world's largest containerships (Emma Maersk....etc) have been protected with this system (grey colour in their case).
The advantage is that fouling does not attach to the slippery silicone but in case it does , then it drops off as soon the vessel moves.
Yet a big disadvantage is that it can only be used on ships which do certain speeds and have very little idle times.
Say in case the Emma Maersk would be laid up during a one month spell, then there would be fouling attached to the silicone and they probably have to do an underwater scrub to reactivate the system.
Drydockings with Fouling Release can also expand to 5 years and the first 10 year guarantee was recently issued by a "certain" paint company.

21st July 2007, 15:27
Although not knowledgeable on the matter of Puffers, I think I'll dare go along with Saxon here: I've visited a few Martitime museums on three continents, and watched quite a number of models, and seen pink only as boot-topping. (That though seems to have been quite common at one time). Red-brown must be the about the only choice if it is pre-war anti-fouling. Clyde puffer or something else of iron or steel. (I've read by the way that that the "whitestuff" shown on models and paintings of old wooden warships is mostly a bluff. The cheaper "blackstuff" was what really was most used. But if you make a coloured model today, wouldn't you still use white to accord with museum exhibits?) Here's a Clyde Puffer model: Here's a replica with a two part paint scheme: Another model: Another: A well restored real one: Regards, Stein.

6th August 2007, 21:29
Hi guys,
many thanks for your answers and opinions from all the world, as they are very interesting and helpfull for me.
Regards, Tom

9th October 2008, 20:37
Tom. From the horses mouth, or rather my late Dad who was a Mate on Puffers - I remember him cursing anti-fouling with red-lead when I was a boy.

Jan Hendrik
10th October 2008, 05:55
Hi Bob,

I am not sure what you mean with "cursing with red lead", but please note that Red Lead was not used below the waterline as it saponifies when in contact with salt water.
Red Lead therefore, with some exceptions on wooden vessels in the 1920's to 1950's, had never been used as an anticorrosive product for Antifouling.

Further lead or red lead has never been used as a component of Antifouling.

Todate red lead is no longer used in the marine industry due to other reasons.
Best regards,

10th October 2008, 10:35
The old Red Lead was a rust preventative undercoat rather than the "Finished" coat as I remember, although I cannot remember offhand as to whether it was used in this way as a pre-cursor on the lower hull before being sealed by a finished coating of another type of paint. On wooden vessel's the Armed Services used something possibly called "Silverene" before the final coat of red paint.

Jan Hendrik
10th October 2008, 13:08
Hi Geordie,
You are right, Red Lead is only and exclusively an undercoat.
It was used a a primer on wood prior to overcoating with Undercoat and gloss paint.

More recent it was used as a rustpreventing primer on steel, but mainly above the waterline and then also followed by undercoat and gloss.
mostly based on alkyd resins.
Today it is hardly used due to the substance of lead.
It is actually outlawed in most countries.

Below the waterline and thus prior to Antifouling then pre 1970 a cheap product called Anticorrosive was mostly used , some of which was based on tars or bitumen in oil.
After that mainly a silver colour as you say, sometimes with a bituminous binder and sometimes chlorinated rubber or vinyl based.
Paint companies called those e.g. : Silverprimocon or Platin Primer or Alu under water primer etc.

Today newer products prevail.
Best regards,

10th October 2008, 17:01
I think there is a bit of a mix up here. In West of Scotland " Rid Leed" also known as Red Lead is a orange coloured powder. It is sometimes mixed in paints but mostly mixed with linseed oil and putty to caulk wood seams and rivetted seams. It was also used as a jointing material between flanges etc.
It does not saponify in water, if it saponified and so contained alcohol we would drink it, not put it on the bottom of boats.
Red Paint which is lead based is a different beast, Red Lead Paint is a version usually used as a primer on bare steel.
The paint was mixed with Barytes which is non toxic and has extreme resistance to water to make the hull paints. (a similar paint is used to paint white lines on roads). We mined the barytes here so it was cheap. Used in drilling mud now. Some weird colours were mixed.

Silverene is a paint used in boiler rooms for high temperature work on steam ships.

"Rid Leed" was used to oil the private parts of new apprentices to the engineering trades on the Clyde. My "ghoollies" were done over fifty years ago.


Jan Hendrik
10th October 2008, 23:50
Hi Jimmy,
Thanks for your further explanation, I think we are going a bit off subject but always good to learn about such matters.
In the grey old days when ready made paint for ships did not exist as it does today, then indeed Red Lead powder was mixed with linseed oil and solvents (thinner) and as such a paint was created which was used on timber and later also on steel as a rustpreventive primer.

Later when linseed oil no longer was being used (phased out in the marine business mid 1960's), then of course red lead was mixed with the modern and still today's "alkyd oil" and whenever you buy a can of solvent based paint at a shop today for your normal daily usage at home then such paint is based on alkyd oil (pre 50's it was linseed oil).
The other purposes of "rid lead" as you describe it is not known to me -- thanks for the explanation, but in later years we used bitumen based caulking material.
Whenever you see timber planks on wooden boats these days then the seams are mainly black, indicating a bituminous oil based caulking material.

Red Lead based on alkyd oil (linseed oil NO MORE used at all) will saponify as a paint when used below the water line (not above) and I have seen this too often.
That was also the reason that marine paint companies struggled to get a proper alu pigmented paint for wooden ships below the water and it is still a problem today by obtaining the best possible first coat primer on bare wood (especially planked wood) prior to Antifouling.
Another problem with red lead primer is that you cannot (read: advise NOT) to spray it due to poisenous lead content, so it is totally OUT in the marine business.
Whenever you ask a boatbuilder of say 70 years plus old what he likes as a primer below the waterline for his wooden boats???, He'll tell you red lead primer.

Silverine could be a product name of a paint company, I do not know that particular name, for underwater there was silverflaked (aluminium) based paint prior to Antifouling as aluminium forms a great barrier against water prenetation.

Further, a silver based paint (one resistant to normal max 200 degr C and one up to 500 degr C) were used for other purposes including for the boilers in the engine room.
Each marine paint company marketed such paint of course and have all their own product name which could include Silverine.

During nearly 40 years I have been dealing with the above on a daily basis i.e. the production and marketing of marine paints, this does not make me an expert but do know a bit about it I guess.

And your final remark of course also demonstrates the versatility of a product. Great. (==D) Glad I missed an apprenticeship at your factory.....

Thanks and best regards, (Thumb)

11th October 2008, 19:18
Jan. I stand corrected with apologies to Tom. My memory of my father slapping on this red stuff to the hull of the 'Mary' at Rosneath around 1950 and him cursing (as I recall) 'read lead', but time may have readjusted my brain cells a wee bit. It is of course, perfectly possible that the 'rid leed' he cursed was a precursor to the final coat and in this aspect I am in error as to the final shade/colour.

11th October 2008, 21:14
silverene is boiler/steam plant paint I have ordered gallons of it in the past that is why it was stuck in my mind, however I have again checked on another source and it was also used to paint wooden hulls as a primer before the final coat and yes red lead did come in powder form it was in tins about the size of the old sweetie jars with a screw on lid.

11th October 2008, 22:18
silverene is boiler/steam plant paint I have ordered gallons of it in the past that is why it was stuck in my mind, however I have again checked on another source and it was also used to paint wooden hulls as a primer before the final coat and yes red lead did come in powder form it was in tins about the size of the old sweetie jars with a screw on lid.

something stirring the old grey cells, i seem to remember a camrex paint called silverenewith which we used to paint the holds

11th October 2008, 22:40
I can recall using red lead powder mixed with varnish to make a jointing compound for coating the packing used on steam pipe flange joints


Jan Hendrik
11th October 2008, 23:07
Geordie and Joe,
As I suspected the name Silverine is the product name of a paint company, in this case quite possible it was Camrex as they were relatively active in the marine business at the time. (no more today)
More or less the same paint was also used as a holdcoating indeed.
Some paint companies used exactly the same for both boilers and holdpaint, others had a minor difference between the two.
Alu holdpaint, Silvium, Silvertop, Silverine, etc just to mention few names.
Today the paint used on boilers is mainly an aluminium based on silicone and not on alkyd like Silverine.

Aluminium pigmented products below the waterline and prior to A/F have a different binder, based on bitumen or chlor rubber and the like.
These could be applied up to 40-50 microns whilst Silverine for boilers could only be applied in a very thin coat of approx 15 microns, quite often two coats were required.

That mixture is new to me, did not see that before, I guess they may have other techniques these days, but thanks for explaining.

Best regards to all,
Jan (Wave)