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Humbrol Paint - Like treacle?


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I've recently had delivered various tins of Humbrol paint.
They are just a bit thinner than treacle, and once the lids been taken off to use, they seem to get thicker, certainly not smooth running.  I've tried using some white spirit - being of the old school of Humbrol thoughts, but that doesn't seem to work very well.
I opened a couple of (used) tins dated around 2012 (I mark my tins with the purchase date) and once stirred, nice and smooth to use, even in a bow pen, something I can't do with the new tins.  I did this a few weeks ago with some 1995 tins too, no problems.
What's happened?  Please.

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I have heard others state that they feel Humbrol have changed their formulation & is inferior to what it was.

 

If I am not paining rolling stock then I prefer to use Revell where possible. I find the finish is smoother when applied with a brush.

The drawbacks are that the range is slightly different & it is less widely available.

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I've been using Humbrol enamel paints since the early 1960s and I don't think they're the same now either, and coverage of lighter colours is very poor no matter how much stirring they get. Some colours such as 85 Satin Black seem to take ages to dry too, and if you rush it a second coat can lift off the first. Having had issues mixing paint and thinners from different manufacturers in recent times I would recommend using Humbrol thinners in Humbrol paint, Railmatch thinners in Railmatch paint etc wherever possible, as whart57 suggests. 

I miss the days when you could pick up Humbrol paint tins from Woolworth's and so many other places, and this included authentic railway colours, all with excellent coverage. However something went wrong in the 1980/90s and the final batch of BR blue bore little resemblance to the far more accurate 1970s product - it looked very like that washed-out blue Dapol used on their first 4mm Class 22s.

Regarding coverage, this seems to be a problem afflicting most if not all enamel paints, especially in lighter colours - until the end of the 1980s I used to spray the main body colours but hand-paint the yellow ends, using Railmatch or Phoenix Precision paint, as 2 or 3 coats would be sufficient. Now I find 7 coats (including or excluding white undercoat) is barely enough despite copious stirring, and layer build-up against masking tape then becomes a problem in itself. As a result I don't much enjoy painting these days.

Perhaps somebody could confirm whether recent and current safety regulations have affected the formulation of enamel paints?

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Having returned to model railways after many years away. I to got some new humberol paint and found it lacking to say the least. 

For brush painting i made a little stirrer like a drill press and keep it running while i paint. It seems to work better ish. 

Humberol used to be made in Hull many years ago like most things the factory gone and now gods knows where its made possibly china and like others have said to safer standards 

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I think the solvent used has changed to meet safety standards.  Once you open the lid the current Humbrol enamels turn to jelly in a few weeks.  This contrasts with Humbrol enamel tinlets that I still have from the late 1970s and which are still usable.

 

Cheers

 

Darius

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14 minutes ago, heavymetalwagons said:

Having returned to model railways after many years away. I to got some new humberol paint and found it lacking to say the least. 

For brush painting i made a little stirrer like a drill press and keep it running while i paint. It seems to work better ish. 

Humberol used to be made in Hull many years ago like most things the factory gone and now gods knows where its made possibly china and like others have said to safer standards 

 

I think Humbrol is one of the few things from Hornby that is made in the UK.

 

Quote

In 2012 Humbrol moved over 60% of its manufacturing back to the UK from China to improve supply, and ensure high quality standards continue to be met. 

 

Humbrol’s well-established and most popular range of enamel paint as well as their new acrylic sprays are now produced in London and Manchester. Humbrol produces over 460 different products and accessories and are sold in all major and independent craft and model retailers.

 

https://www.humbrol.com/uk-en/about-us#:~:text=Humbrol's well-established and most,independent craft and model retailers.

 

 

 

Jason

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Agreed, Enamels just aren't what they used to be. I have the same issue, tried various tricks but it is still not good. I also find that if even if you use thinners it still doesn't brush on well and matts tend to go a bit glossy. 

 

Oh well, big box of acrylics as a christmas present to myself ..... 

 

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Presumably the other enamel manufactures have the same safety codes to comply with, so why aren't their paints also so afflicted? I refer in particular to precision paints  and railmatch that I am using very happily.

I have to say though that these days I try to stick as much as I can to acrylics.

Ian

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I have found that the quality of Humbrol enamels has been all over the place during the past few years. 

 

Certainly when I was using them in the 70's it was consistently superb, when their great range of railway colours was available - sadly missed.

 

Then in the last few years I found them inconsistent.  Possibly due to change in manufacturing methods to comply with health and safety?  Or the fact they were made in China?  Who knows?

 

I see that the latest tinlets I have purchased are now made back here in the UK.  And they have all brushed on fine, though I have been adding a splash of thinners.

 

Can only suggest that it's best to check that what you buy is good fresh stock.

 

I will follow the thread with interest.

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24 minutes ago, cravensdmufan said:

Can only suggest that it's best to check that what you buy is good fresh stock.

It's the good fresh stock I'm having trouble with.
As mentioned a post or three ago, Matt often turns out to be somewhere between Satin and Gloss.

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3 minutes ago, Penlan said:

It's the good fresh stock I'm having trouble with.
As mentioned a post or three ago, Matt often turns out to be somewhere between Satin and Gloss.

That's curious - what matt numbers did you have problems with?

 

I have repainted a good few carriage roofs recently using fresh 32, 66, 67, 79 and 104  plus mixtures thereof to avoid uniformity.

 

All went on well and dried a good flat matt.  Strangely I have noticed that they do dry a lot quicker nowadays, usually to the touch in under an hour.  

 

I always stir them with a flat blade for about 5 minutes before use - the paint is always really thick at the bottom of the tin.

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On 28/09/2020 at 00:59, Darius43 said:

I think the solvent used has changed to meet safety standards.  Once you open the lid the current Humbrol enamels turn to jelly in a few weeks.  This contrasts with Humbrol enamel tinlets that I still have from the late 1970s and which are still usable.

 

I think there are issues with the tins now too. I did some painting a few weeks back and a couple of recent purchases which were re-opened had a skin on the top. I've not had this problem on older tins.

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1 hour ago, Penlan said:

As mentioned a post or three ago, Matt often turns out to be somewhere between Satin and Gloss.

Exactly my experience, relative newbie so went for what I thought was a common option for brush application, Humbrol Matt 106, 99, 110, 33, 100, 79 and 20, for starters.

 

Thought it was me and my painting technique but all nearer gloss than satin. Mitigated "slightly" by using Humbrol thinners, but not happy at all...

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I’ve found recent batches, 2019-20 to be pretty good, there seemed to be a phase a few years before that which definitely seemed dodgy! My worst was always Humbrol No.1 Grey - you’d get almost solid tins sometimes, and others that would be so liquidy they’d never cover anything!

 

It’s sometimes challenging to see the age of the paint whether it’s been on a shop shelf for a long time - either order new from Hornby or have a look at the Hornby address on the side as it changes from Margate to Sandwich and back to Margate again as a little pointer!

 

Sounding like a right moaner I miss the fully-painted tin lids, when stored in my trays I could much easier see the colours at a glance compared to now when you really have to look hard at the stickers now all the lids are unpainted metal!

 

Cheers,

James

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8 minutes ago, James Makin said:

I’ve found recent batches, 2019-20 to be pretty good, there seemed to be a phase a few years before that which definitely seemed dodgy! My worst was always Humbrol No.1 Grey - you’d get almost solid tins sometimes, and others that would be so liquidy they’d never cover anything!

 

It’s sometimes challenging to see the age of the paint whether it’s been on a shop shelf for a long time - either order new from Hornby or have a look at the Hornby address on the side as it changes from Margate to Sandwich and back to Margate again as a little pointer!

 

 

This sounds really helpful! I recently opened a tin of 33 matt black that had the plain metal lid with sticker and Sandwich address, stirred it very well with a battery powered stirrer, and it still dried gloss. 

 

On the question of "safety standards" though, I can't help but think that's a red herring.

 

Everyone complained at quality when Hornby moved Humbrol production to China, but then there still seem to be complaints since it came back to the UK, so the conclusion seems to be that the ingredients must have changed because of the fabled " 'elf and safety".

 

But the whole time Revell's enamels, which have to comply with the same regulations, seem to have been absolutely fine! 

 

J

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Humbrol paint was made in the UK, then moved to China and is now back in the UK.

I've got some going back to the days of Humber Oil, Hull and it is still usable.

It went from being non-toxic to IMHO very toxic and back again.

Some of the Hornby China stuff has some nasty sounding chemicals in it.

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17 minutes ago, James Makin said:

I’ve found recent batches, 2019-20 to be pretty good, there seemed to be a phase a few years before that which definitely seemed dodgy! My worst was always Humbrol No.1 Grey - you’d get almost solid tins sometimes, and others that would be so liquidy they’d never cover anything!

 

It’s sometimes challenging to see the age of the paint whether it’s been on a shop shelf for a long time - either order new from Hornby or have a look at the Hornby address on the side as it changes from Margate to Sandwich and back to Margate again as a little pointer!

 

Sounding like a right moaner I miss the fully-painted tin lids, when stored in my trays I could much easier see the colours at a glance compared to now when you really have to look hard at the stickers now all the lids are unpainted metal!

 

Cheers,

James

 

Maybe you've stumbled across something useful though.

Assuming the paint has actually changed, could they have changed it at the same time they changed the lids to plan metal with stickers? If they did, this would be a way to avoid the bad, old stock.

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2 minutes ago, justin1985 said:

 

This sounds really helpful! I recently opened a tin of 33 matt black that had the plain metal lid with sticker and Sandwich address, stirred it very well with a battery powered stirrer, and it still dried gloss. 

 

So much for my previous idea about the stickered lid stuff containing a newer, better formulation then. 

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11 minutes ago, Pete the Elaner said:

So much for my previous idea about the stickered lid stuff containing a newer, better formulation then. 


Sadly not as clear cut as that, it’s been a few years now they’ve been doing the plain metal lids, so definitely if buying from a slow-selling model shop it’d be easy to buy some old stock, and very pot luck!

 

In my case most of my frustration was around poor coverage of grey colours so I ended up buying similar shades from Phoenix Paints which seem better quality although more pricey!

 

I get through big quantities of Humbrols 32, 62, 113, 133, 186, 251 in my weathering projects and the latest batches of those from Hornby are top notch I must say, no complaints there!

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18 minutes ago, Pete the Elaner said:

So much for my previous idea about the stickered lid stuff containing a newer, better formulation then. 

I just checked the recently purchased tins I used for my roofs.  They all have stickered lids and side stickers with the Sandwich address along with "Made In The UK" complete with Union flag.

 

I was pleased with the flat matt finish from all five numbered tins.  Applied one coat with a wide brush.

 

That's my experience, anyway.   It's very strange.

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