Brian Robertson has been signwriting in Dundee since the 1960s and continues to hand letter, especially classic vehicles. His interest in both traditional signwriting and vintage commercials are often combined. We work on a variety of precious commercial vehicles for dedicated owners.
Both of Harry Lawson’s 1960s Atkinson eight-wheel tanker and 1930s Albion were carefully restored. The vehicles were dismantled to the chassis before mechanical and electrical work was completed. Each were then built back together, using original panels where available. Then it was time for the facelift.
Throughout the stripping down process, interior and exterior panels were either refurbished or replaced. This helped avoid any hard to reach places when the vehicles were assembled again. Both the cabs and bodies were thoroughly prepared; filling, sanding and smoothing the chassis and cab. This initial process takes time and attention which benefits the end result.
Once the bodies and cabs were sanded and cleaned, any primer was brushed onto bare surfaces before a full undercoat. Sanding between coats is also necessary to achieve a smoother finish. Then, at least two coats of gloss were applied over three different colours: green, red and white.
All paints used are oil based and everything is brush applied by hand. This method is traditional coach painting which we still provide, mainly for vintage restorations.
The lettering and graphics had to be true to the authenticity of the vehicles and display their heritage correctly. Old photographs were examined and memories were stretched to determine the sizes, positions and typefaces used. Patterns were then drawn before being transferred to the panels.
The tanker’s bands of colour on the sides, as well as the front and rear domes were also primed, undercoated and glossed before lettering.
Most of the lettering on both of the lorries is 23k gold leaf. We still source the gold from a supplier specialising in signwriting materials since 1949. The gold leaf’s brilliance is exceptional and nothing compares to the real thing.
Once the gold leaf was gilded, shadowing and effects were hand lettered, as well as the traditional buckle graphic often seen on vintage commercial vehicles. The cabs and bodies were also pin striped, accentuating the curves and corners of the panels. This stage really brings the vehicles character to life.
Finally, at least two coats of high gloss varnish are brushed by hand, also sanded between coats. The varnish adds depth to the paintwork as well as protecting the lettering and graphics underneath. Due to the thorough preparation in the initial stages, the vehicles gleamed again at last.
Both the tanker and flat bed have won various awards at displays across the north east of Scotland.
For more information about signwriting in Dundee for commercial or personal projects, please get in touch.