Humbrol Paints - Your views?

Discussion in 'Painting Questions, Tutorials and Guidebooks' started by Airframes, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    As many of you probably know, I use Humbrol enamels, both for modelling and painting details in some of my pictures, and have done since around 1960. Over the past year, I have experienced a number of problems with the paints, ranging from variation in shade of the same colour, matt paints drying semi gloss or patchy, some paints not drying at all etc etc. There are also problems with the tins not sealing after being opened, and a consistant problem with paints going hard in the tin, after only a couple of weeks.
    What I would like to know is, what problems, if any, have you expereienced with Humbrol paints, how often, how recently, any particular colours and so on?
    The reason I want this information is because I feel that Hornby, the current owners of the Humbrol brand name, ought to be made aware of the problems concerning this well - known and long standing product line. This has been brought to a head tonight, when I spent two hours trying to clean my airbrush, after unsuccessfully attempting to spray Humbrol Gloss varnish onto my Boston model.
    Whichever ratio of thinner to varnish I used, the stuff would, at best, just spit, or flow very slowly, in a narrow, uneven jet, a sure sign that the medium is clogging the needle and or nozzle. This is often caused by the carrier and the varnish medium (what would be pigment if it was a paint) separating, forming sticky lumps or beads.
    When I eventually did achieve something vaguely approaching partial flow, the varnish settled in a patchy fashion, exhibiting 'bloom' as the nearest finish to gloss, whilst the rest was a patchy matt to semi matt finish. I eventually removed what little I had sprayed, and turned to the ubiquitous Johnson's Klear (Future) in order to apply a gloss coat.
    It is interesting that this is only the second time I have used this particular tin. The first occassion was when I sprayed the Beaufighter a few weeks ago, achieving a vwery nice gloss finish, and I am wondering if the air content has affected the varnish in the tin, something that never used to happen.
    Rather than just contact Hornby, and go on the attack with a 'your paint is sh**' approach, I would rather have some feedback, in order to explain, in a civil manner, what problems are being experienced by people, across the World. Afterall, as already mentioned, it may be that Hornby are totally unaware of any problems with this product line, even if they are wondering what's happened to sales of some Airfix products! If the problems continue, it is very possible that customers will turn to alternative products, which could eventually result in the Humbrol name disappearing completely.
    Just a little brief history of Humbrol, to give you some idea of the background to the original company, and when I believe these problems first started.
    Humbrol was a brand name, later the trading name, of the Humber Oil Company, formed, at Hull, UK, in 1919. In the early 1950's the company started to produce a vast range of paints designed specifically for the then new, but booming, plastic modelling market, and also produced dopes and other finishes for flying models, as well as glues and cements, the current polystyrene cement originally being known as 'Britfix'. By the late 1960's, they were the first company to introduce a range of specifically matched paints for modellers requiring authentic camouflage finishes for Luftwaffe, RAF, USAAF etc aircraft, known as 'Authentic Colours', and also had a range of paints for authentic railway colours, for the model railway enthusiast. All of these paints were specially formualted to be free-flowing, give good coverage without being so 'thick' as to clog detail, and have a quick drying time. They were packaged and sold in the familiar 14ml tinlet, with some colours also being available in larger tins, and aerosols (the current tinlets themselves also show a drop in quality of manufacture!).
    Over recent years, the company has had a few changes, being part of the Borden Group, acquiring Heller, before going into receivership and being taken over by an Irish holdings company. In 2006, the company again went into recievership, and the original factory (for the paints etc) at Marfleet, Hull, closed down. The company was bought by Hornby Products, who also took on the Airfix, Scalextric and other brands, Airfix of course, being part of the Humbrol package already.
    Up until approximately a year ago, there was no problem with Humbrol paints, and I suspect this was because there were still ample stocks of the original product and, probably, the original tinlets, which bore the Marfleet, Hull address. However, about a year ago, I first started to notice the problems of drying, separation and so on, even though the actual paint came in a tin with the Hull address, a location that had been closed, and derelict, for at least two years. (Some of you may remember my comments, after trying to paint a 1/48th Huey helicopter, as a gift for a friend!)
    Over the last few months, the paint has been sold in a 'cheaper' quality tinlet, and the address is shown as the Hornby address, in Ramsgate, Kent, UK. These paints have a different smell, in most cases have a deep 'layer' of oil carrier floating on top of a very thick, sluggish pigment, and take a long, long time to stir to anything resembling a usable 'consistency'. Also, many of the Matt paints have a gloss finish to the colour on the lid, some have totally different numbers to the original paint number, stamped on the lid, and many can show a distinct variation in shade within the same colour number. One paint in particular, Number11 Silver, bears absolutely no resemblance to the original Number 11, being more of a metallic light grey, instead of the bright, almost chrome silver it once was.
    So, that's it. If you've had problems, however small, any information would be welcomed, in order for me to write to Hornby, point out these shortcomings, and see what, if any, response is received.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this rather protracted post!
    Terry.
     
  2. 109ROAMING

    109ROAMING Active Member

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    To be honest ,I've never been able to get humbrol paints to flow smoothly in my airbrush Terry and don't think Il attempt too again

    I was a little hesitant when you supplied the humbrol colour numbers for my Lanc , I'm still deciding whether or not to buy them tomorrow ,I may well regret spending the money? esp when tamiya acrylic range is only $2 more a pop and is about double the size

    Do you think its safe to buy them? the ones you suggested for my lanc at least?

    I keep them for the odd brush job but for future use , I think Il use tamiya acrylics

    Sea blue , I quickly noticed had a gloss finish on the tin lid when trying to find correct colours for my RNZAF Corsair .Sh!t paint and Sh!t colour , didn't match the colour on the lid to my frustration
     
  3. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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    I have an extensive range of the Humbrol enamel paints Terry and with most I'm happy, though I must confess, hand brushing with me is an accident waiting to happen. The lighter colours like yellow and white always need three or more coats with the airbrush to give a good coat, that’s after I've diluted at least two/one but I also find them a chore to mix in the pigment, sometimes even on an unopened and well shaken tin it's rock solid at the bottom. This could be something to do with import and store time in a hot climate.

    As mentioned before I'm waiting for some Vallejo acrylic brushing paints to arrive which will be used on the HHGB and if satisfied, will slowly convert as the need arises.

    BTW, I've heard rumours that the EU are trying to ban the production and sale of enamel paints. Is this just a furphy wandering the paddocks of a former colony?
    :hotsun: :hotsun:
     
  4. 109ROAMING

    109ROAMING Active Member

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    What the bloody ell for?
     
  5. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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    Environmental hazard, toxic waste, hazardous waste, chemical, politics, Brussels…………just a few thoughts
    :hotsun: :hotsun:
     
  6. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    #6 Wurger, Nov 16, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2009
    I have been using these Humbrol oil enamels for years.I use them both for brushing and airbrushing.No problems with their applaing with these tools.I think the main problem with using of these colours is the incorrect preparing these paints for applying.I mean the lack of a primer and using of the incorrect diluting ratio. Comparing to these modern acrylic paints Humbrols enamels need a little bit higher air pressure from a compressor.And we should remember about it.
    Concerning these gloss enemels, most of us have forgotten that the Humbrol offers both matt and gloss variants of paints.The knowledge of their numbers and paying attention to markings on paint can caps will let us avoid a surprise.Also we can apply the matt dope to make a paint of matt.
     
  7. Heinz

    Heinz Active Member

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    Some good points Wojtek. I have used them all my time modelling which I'll admit is a drop in the ocean compared to some of you. All my work is hand brushed and humbrols have always been my choice. I've really only one run with the newer stuff so far, hopefully I can sort it. If they were to disappear for good it would certainly be a shame.

    Cheers.
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks guys.
    Daniel, I posted the Humbrol numbers so that you can cross reference if neccessary for other colours. Normally, I'd reccomend Humbrol, as it was possibly the best modelling paint bar none. Now, I would hesitate, as the new product is inconsistent. Having said that, I'm still buying and using it - for now.
    Having used the stuff for almost fifty years, until the very obviously different formula paint arrived, I have never had a problem, even with paint which has stood for years and settled. I still have some tins which are at least 30 years old, and work fine. Those new tins which cause the problems don't always work out well, and if they do, they take a lot of work to get right.
    I have to stress that this is only with the currently sold new tins, with the Hornby address. Original, Hull produced paints are fine.
    Vic, haven't heard of any proposed EU ban, but it wouldn't surprise me, as even farts will probably have to be regulated for pitch and duration by the EU in future!!!
     
  9. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    will see what my stock of Humbrol is like when i start my Ju 88 tomorow, i know my tin of matt black has already gone hard and i had a few problems with a tin of green can't remember what number when i painted my K-4 for the first group build
     
  10. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    My stash of Humbrol dates to 1997. I bought a large range of colors because at the time I'd heard that they were unavailable in the U.S. due to their high lead content. I have a tin of gunmetal that's more than 2 decades old and only now is becoming too dry to use. I've never tried to spray it because there's so little of it per tin, and more importantly I mostly use acrylics. I'm not sure if I'll ever even attempt to airbrush with enamels again. Last time I did that the smell (and other things) reminded me of why I converted to acrylics in the first place. Humbrols were always the hardest paints to mix, and without my handy-dandy battery driven mixing wand I'd be even less likely to use them. I've only been using them for hand painting, which I don't do much of (mostly only for aircraft interiors, and I've only recently returned to aircraft models). Still they're nice to have around if only because of the range of colors that I happen to have. I find it helps to bang the lid closed with the bottom of the screwdriver that I use to open them up.

    My advice - switch to acrylics!

    Okay, that was a long post that contributes very little here.
     
  11. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks Ed, everything is useful. I have a few acrylics, but I prefer enamels for the versatility of use overall, and the lack of clogging in the airbrush nozzle, the latter a minor issue. Acrylics are alright, but there are some techniques, with a paint brush, that aren't possible, or at least not as successful, compared to enamels or other oil-based paints. That said, I might have to make the switch, in which case it will be to Vallejo.
     
  12. RAF Liberators

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    I've been using them on and off for years. Most of my tins are 10-15 years old but still mix and apply well. I rarely hand paint with them but I airbrush with them a lot. I find it's just a case of knowing what ratio of thinners to use.
    Talking of which you haven't changed your thinners or something else daft have you Terry? That would be a bit of a laugh if that was all it was :D
     
  13. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    From what I know, acrylics are pretty much useless for drybrushing. On the other hand, I find oil paints to be even better than enamels for this task because they don't dry out. This is a problem in itself, seeing as oil paint can take a week to dry. As a result, I mix in a cobalt dryer, which makes it all a bit of a production. But then that's what all this is about in the end, isn't it? One big production!
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #14 Airframes, Nov 16, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2009
    No Gary, no change. As I've mentioned, the 'traditional' paints, that is, those over about a year old, are not a problem. But, the 'new' ones, in thinner tins, are totally different. They smell different, the carrier oil is totally different in appearance, the shades often don't match what they are supposed to be, and can vary tin to tin of the same colour. For example I have two tins of Number 29 Dark Earth, which are different shades, to the point that a friend, who is a painter and decorator, thought they were different colours!!
    The main problem is the inconsistancy - in as much as one tin might work fine, but another, of the same colour, will exhibit various problems, no matter what is tried. These problems are mainly to do with poor coverage and adhesion, the ability to mix-in when stirred, or should I say the lack of ability, the protracted drying time (Humbrol used to state 'one hour drying time' on the tins remember), and sometimes not drying fully at all, even after a week, and the blooming or patchy finish, between matt and gloss, with matt paints.
    Having used this brand in large volumes, over a continuous period for almost fifty years, both for modelling and painting pictures on canvas, I think it's safe to say that the problems being experienced are not of my making, and I think I have enough experience to be able to overcome minor problems or having to adapt techniques to change of products etc.
    there is a definite and noticeable change in quality, for the worse, in the paints that are now reaching the shops. Those who have products, even if recently purchased, which still have the Hull address on the tin, will (possibly) not experience any problems, but if the new stuff is bought, you possibly will have problems, or at least some hassle. Please note that this does NOT happen with all the paints - some colours work ok, even though of lower quality, whilst some work from one tin, but not from another tin.
    Ian mentioned he'd had some checked after having problems, and it was found to contain cellulose! He also had problems with black, and has found, as Karl has, that the paints, particularly black, white, and some greens (all matt) can go 'off', ie hard, in the tin after a very short period of time. The latter never happened with the traditional Humbrol as we know it - as I 've already metioned, I still have some which is at least 30 years old, which still stirs and works well, with brush or airbrush.
    I realise that it's a difficult question to ask, about problems, as the 'new' paints are only now reaching normal stocking levels in the UK, having come on stream from wherever they are made now, so countries other than the UK are possibly not receiving these tins yet. I do know for fact that the supply of the paints to shops/wholesalers was interupted about six or more months ago, as two retailers I deal with had to subsitute Revell paints for some colours, due to a lack of actual Humbrol paints. Those 'missing' colours are now available in the 'new' range, and my LHS told me that even now, supply is inconsistent. For example, Satin Black was the only thing available close to Matt Black, from the wholesalers, two weeks ago.
    So, I doubt very much if it's me, although I will freely admit if it turns out that way, and I really do believe there is a definite change in the product, and its quality - for the worse.
     
  15. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    This discussion raises an issue I've often wondered about - is there any paint that would work well with models that can be purchased in bulk? The tiny quantities provided by Humbrol, Tamyia and others are a bit of a rip-off, and I would just as soon mix my own shades from primary colors if I could obtain large quantities at a good price of stuff that's suitable for models. Perhaps this question should be a seperate thread.
     
  16. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I've actually used some basic colours, from ordinary household gloss paints, where I have thinned them and mixed as required. Somewhere here in the modelling threas, there is a post about a company supplying authentic camouflage colours in much larger sizes, at reasonable prices. can't remember the title, but it was posted roughly 3 to six months ago. Looks very interesting.
     
  17. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Humbrol is still my first choice, alhough I did like the Aeromaster authentic enamels when they were still available - old memories now :( (I brush paint, btw)

    As for the ban on enamels...maybe the Humbrol recipe was changed to try and fit in with new EU regulations?
    We can't get Tamiya sprays here in Central Europe for a similar reason - they don't list the contents on the can...
     
  18. jamierd

    jamierd Member

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    i only use enamels mostly Revell though the few humbrol ones i have are not as good in my opinion as the revell ones .i havent used my airbrush yet (on a model any way ) will be using it on my Hurricane one of the colours happens to be a humbrol 1 will let you know how i get on with that as an when i get round to it
     
  19. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Interesting you find Revell better than Humbrol Jamie, for me it's the reverse! :)

    Evan
     
  20. jamierd

    jamierd Member

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    perhaps you have the older humbroll ones i only started moddeling again a couple of months ago so i only have new paints
     
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