THE RIGHT COLOUR
Identifying and selecting the right colour will make all the difference to a successful restoration. You will need to decide what they are before you start. It will be too late once you have stripped off all the original paint.
Even mowers that are rusty usually have some original paint. This can often be found underneath chain covers or on the inside or inner faces of parts that are rusty on the outside.
These small patches of paint can be used to check the colour you will need later during the restoration.
250ml is normally enough to give a hand mower a couple of coats of paint with enough left over for touching-up chips and scratches. 500ml is often more than enough for motor mowers.
FINDING THE PAINT
Most paint manufacturers produce colour cards that illustrate their range of products. These have a limited choice of colours but if you are lucky you will find one that matches your mower.
In most cases, for a true match, you will need to get the paint mixed specially. many shops can mix paint to match items supplied by you. Take part of the mower with paint on to the shop and they will try and match it.
Another approach is to use paint manufacturers' colour cards to match the colour you need. These cards have a code number that suppliers use to produce the colour.
Specially mixed paint costs about the same as off-the-shelf or ready-mixed products but the big advantage is that you can always get very close to the correct colour.
NOTES ON OLD PAINT
Be aware that the paint used on many old machines deteriorates over time. The paint may oxidise through exposure to the air or become stained by oil or grease deposits. These effects can change the chemical composition of the paint. This means that it may be difficult to obtain an accurate match. However, experience shows that this is not a major problem and it often possible to match very closely to the correct original colour.
In the past, paint manufacturers were unable to produce consistent colours from batch to batch during the manufacturing process. Mower manufacturers were also less concerned about using exactly the same colour for all their products. This means that shade or colour of otherwise identical machines can vary.
Because of this, it can be argued, there is no such thing as "the correct colour" for any particular old mower. This is why the Old Lawnmower Club generally recommends matching colours for each machine, particularly older or less common models.
Modern chemicals and pigments ensure that today's paints are more durable than those from yesteryear. They are also more glossy. Older mowers often appear to have a semi gloss finish that can be replicated by modern "eggshell" type finishes. Some of this dullness may be caused by weathering of the original paint surface. Eggshell paints can give an attractive finish but are not as durable as paints specifically designed for exterior use.