Harry Lawson’s Vintage Vehicles

Signwriting in Dundee since the 1960s, Brian Roberston continues to transform vintage commercial vehicles.

Tanker and flat bed
Both lorries were painted by hand before being signwritten


Hand lettering in Dundee
Metallic gold enamel hand painted on the Albion and the tanker

Harry Lawson’s 1960s Atkinson eight-wheel tanker and 1930s Albion were carefully restored over several years. The vehicles were dismantled to the chassis before mechanical and electrical work was completed. Each was built back together, using original panels where available. Then the painting began.

Throughout the stripping down process, interior and exterior panels were either refurbished or replaced. This helped avoid any hard to reach places when the vehicles were assembled again. Both the cabs and bodies were thoroughly prepared by filling, sanding and smoothing the chassis and cab.


Signwriting in Broughty Ferry
The painted buckle, synonymous with vintage haulage vehicles

Once the bodies and cabs were sanded and cleaned, primer was brushed onto bare surfaces before a full undercoat. Sanding between coats is also necessary to achieve a smoother finish. Then, at least two coats of gloss were applied over three different colours: green, red and white.

All paints used are oil based and everything is brush applied by hand. Traditional coach painting is sought after, mainly for vintage restoration.


Traditional hand painting in Dundee
The Atkinson tanker refurbishment has won several national awards

The lettering and graphics had to be authentic and display the lorries’ heritage. Old photographs were examined and memories were stretched to determine the sizes, positions and typefaces used. Patterns were then drawn before being transferred to the panels.

The tanker’s bands of colour on the sides, as well as the front and rear domes were also primed, undercoated and glossed before lettering.

lorry signwriting Dundee
23.5ct gold leaf was used for the lettering on both of the cabs

Most of the lettering on both of the lorries is 23.5ct gold leaf. We still source the gold from a supplier specialising in signwriting materials since 1949. The gold leaf’s brilliance is exceptional and nothing compares to the real thing.

Once the gold leaf was gilded, shadowing and effects were hand lettered, as well as the traditional buckle graphic often seen on vintage commercial vehicles. The cabs and bodies were also pin striped, accentuating the curves and corners of the panels. This stage really brings the vehicle’s character to life.

Finally, at least two coats of high gloss varnish are brushed by hand and also sanded between coats. The varnish adds depth to the paintwork as well as protecting the lettering and graphics underneath. Due to the thorough preparation in the initial stages, the vehicles gleamed again.

Traditional signwriting in Dundee
The lettering was closely matched to how it originally appeared on the lorries

Both lorries have won awards at commercial vehicle displays across the northeast of Scotland.

Get in touch for more information about signwriting in Dundee.