Custom pinstriping puts finishing touch on antique machinery
Doug Humble hand-lettered this 1920 20 hp Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. steam traction engine. "Not that many people do hand lettering anymore," he says. "You see a lot of vinyl these days. But lettering is not really any harder than pinstriping, if you use the right brush." The engine is owned by Kenton Sutton, Seward, Neb.
Doug paints raised lettering on a 1908 14-30 Vilter Corliss stationary steam engine. "Pinstriping takes concentration," he says, "but sometimes my mind wanders."
Sketch marks made by a Stabilo pencil are still visible on the engine surface. "You can paint over it or wash it off with water," Doug says. "It has really soft graphite. On humid days it almost melts."
Painting raised lettering on cast iron requires a precise paint consistency and a steady hand.
A handpress at Printers’ Hall on the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion grounds shows off Doug’s work. The press predates the Civil War.
A trio of gauges above perfectly painted raised lettering. Pinstriping on the Vilter Corliss is a faithful reproduction of the engine’s original appearance. Doug created cardboard templates to use in painting the ornamental flourishes.
Intricate detail on the Reeves company monogram.
Striping and scrollwork add a note of elegance to the 5,500-pound flywheel on the Vilter Corliss.
Pinstriping on the massive wheels of this Reeves 32-132 steam traction engine required a painter with a gymnast’s skills. "I about had to stand on my head to do some of it," Doug says.
Doug uses a pencil line as a guide when striping a flywheel. "It’s pretty helpful when you try to meet the line at the other end," he says. Long straight lines are the biggest challenge for a pinstriper. "You really have to concentrate, and move your body with the brush," he says. "Some guys specialize in straight-line striping."
Doug revived the logo on this 1915 20 hp Woods Brothers steam engine. "On the old farm equipment, they usually tell me exactly what they want, in terms of colors," he says, "or they’ll have old catalog illustrations for me to work from."