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I want to paint my old machine and I want to match the original color. What color paint do I use? This is the age old question that keeps coming up on the discussion forum and unfortunately there seems to be about as many answers out there as there old machines.

If you want to match the original color of your machine, the first step is to try to find some original paint on your machine to work with.

Step one is a good cleaning of your machine. Soap and water works well to clean up an old machine but in some cases you might need some kind of heavy duty cleaning solvent to help cut through the years of sawdust and pitch. One often suggested product that works well for this is Castrol Super Clean.

If your machine has been re-painted in the past or all of the original paint is gone, you may have to dig a little deeper to find some original paint. Fortunately for us, when most people re-paint a machine they usually only paint the areas that are seen. Look on the inside of the machine cabinet or under some part of the machine that may have covered original paint. Many times, these old machines were painted before assembling at the factory but not taken apart for the re-painting. A little bit of dismantling may reveal some original color.

If you are lucky enough to find some old original paint, you can take that a sample of the paint to your local paint store for a match. These days, many professional paint stores have a computer device that will make a pretty near perfect match of just about anything you can supply them with.

It should also be noted that in many peoples opinion, a perfect match is not absolutely necessary in a machine restoration. Some people even like to paint their old machines colors that NO old machinery dealer would have used. We have seen pictures of candy apple red planers and purple band saws. What ever floats your boat.....

If you do want to get a close match and are not lucky enough to find a swatch of the original paint, here are some colors that have been matched by others on the discussion forum over the past few years. If you know of a machine or color that is not listed here, please drop us a line.

Here is a list of manufacturers that we have information from our members on matching paint:

The paint samples below are one manufacturer's 1951 interpretation of machine tool grays. Please keep in mind the colors may have changed in the printing process, in the decades the catalog has been stored, and at each step in the digital process (scanning, image to pdf, pdf to image, your screen's color adjustments).

Cook's Maintenance Painting Guide, 1951, pg. 81

Cook's Maintenance Painting Guide, 1951, pg. 81

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