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Names of paint colours...?

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M Harvey01/06/2021 12:19:43
21 forum posts
14 photos

Good morning,

I'm looking to paint the metal life boats on my cargo ship and can see that they are a clinker design.

I was wondering what colour these would have been painted in the 1950's?

References are showing me that they would have been white, but what colour would they have been on the inside...?

I was hoping to get a little bit of wood colour in there somewhere.

Many thanks,


Richard Simpson01/06/2021 12:26:13
649 forum posts
302 photos

I'm not sure when it became a requirement to paint the insides of lifeboats flourescent orange. If it was as far back as the 50s there's your answer but if it was later than that then you would be considering either a varnished bare wood or even a colour of the choice of the owner.

Someone might be able to enlighten us as regards when the regulations for the orange interior came into force.

Colin Bishop01/06/2021 12:54:14
4968 forum posts
6089 photos
410 articles

Do you mean your model lifeboats are made of metal? In full size, clinker built means constructed of wood. Lifeboats of this type were commonly painted white externally and frequently painted various shades of brown internally. They would not usually have been varnished as this would have required too much maintenance. Typical internal colours would have been dark brown or buff.


Paul T01/06/2021 13:49:57
7334 forum posts
1229 photos
2 articles


Can you tell us the name and country of origin of your cargo ship as this would be a great help in identifying the correct design and colours of the lifeboats.

As Colin said can you clarify the construction material of the lifeboats as you mention metal and clinker. Metal lifeboats of this era are usually riveted plate whereas wooden boats are built in the clinker method.

M Harvey01/06/2021 14:14:46
21 forum posts
14 photos

Unfortunately, no one has been able to identify it. I'm not even sure if it has been made to look like any existing ships out there. I do believe it has some scale issues too. That said I acquired it recently and managed to strip it down to the bare metal... I'm keen to repaint it and keep it true to what it might have represented. I'll post a close up of one of the life boats in a sec.


M Harvey01/06/2021 14:18:14
21 forum posts
14 photos

Colin, the life boats are indeed metal... I just feel they could do with a little more colour and detail...


Paul T01/06/2021 14:47:49
7334 forum posts
1229 photos
2 articles


I think there could be some confusion here between the full size and model lifeboats.

The lifeboats shown in the photo certainly show a clinker construction and therefore the assumption is that the originals that these are modelled on would have been wooden.

However reading the comments is it possible that the model lifeboats shown in the photo are actually made from pressed metal and made to look like wood.

Edited By Paul T on 01/06/2021 14:48:59

M Harvey01/06/2021 14:54:14
21 forum posts
14 photos


With that in mind, does anyone have any references for close up details of how I could treat them?



Richard Simpson01/06/2021 15:35:02
649 forum posts
302 photos

There wasn't any confusion here Paul, I assumed from the fact that we have seen this model before that they were metal representations of wooden boats!

My comments above remain that after SOLAS regulations required it all lifeboats were painted flourescent orange on their upper surfaces. What we need to determine is when the SOLAS regulations changed to this as i suspect it may well have been in the 50s. Certainly when I first went to sea all lifeboats were fibreglass construction and painted orange inside but that was mid 70s. However I was on some old ships that were certainly around in the 60s.

We need to know when the SOLAS regs changed.

Richard Simpson01/06/2021 16:37:18
649 forum posts
302 photos

Getting a little closer, I know that SOLAS was ratified in 1914 but did not come into effect until after the First World War. It was rewritten in 1929, 1948 and 1960 before a major change in the way it worked was brought in in the 70s when it came under the IMO. The trouble is that the 1960 version had amendments in most years after implementation in 1965 so lifeboat colours could be in any one of them or it could be in the 1948 version.

I cannot find any text of the actual documents as yet but I'll keep trying.

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