Gerald Whittaker Signs
In our preparation for the South Gloucestershire Show it was decided to present some of our vintage vehicles, so just like James (Thomas the Tank Engine stories by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry) when he got a new coat of paint, our little Karrier, a replica of the one Jimmy Berkely the founder of B&A used in the1970’s, and our brassy old Foden were extremely excited but a little worried about their appearance and asked for a bit of a polish and spruce up before attending the show. Dave Drew, our workshop manager, and his team soon got them truck shape and Bristol fashion!
A call went out near and far for a sign writer to complete the job. We hit the internet and when I found Gerald Whittaker. I knew this was the man for me. Gerald, a traditional sign writer uses long-established techniques to create new hand painted designs and restores existing decoration, specializing in coach lining and hand painted lettering on vintage and modern vehicles of all kinds.
Gerald, based in Hampshire, really liked the look of our special little Karrier, the Foden Gardiner 180 and our CAT D4, who by now also wished to join the party. Gerald generously rearranged his very busy schedule to complete our project. These old trucks have their own personality and idiosyncrasies, he says, ‘every job is unique which is what makes the work stimulating and interesting and working on vintage classics feels like we are giving history a helping hand.’
It is not just Gerald and Julia’s job but their passion, rescuing an 1890’s Traction Engine and restoring it over 12 years from a rusty relic to its gleaming former glory, Gerald did all the work himself. They regularly attend rallies traveling to and fro across the country under their own steam at 5mp, ‘causing the odd traffic jam’ says Gerald, with a slight smile.
Signwriting is a precise art, the hand and eye skill required takes years to master, Gerald completed his 6-year apprenticeship at Lintott Signs Guildford in 1977 and still loves his trade as much as he did on his first day. He told me he basically fell into it when a job became vacant when he was learning a trade in painting & decorating.
He says that being Dyslexic has not hindered him and over time has completely mastered the meticulous art of the sign writer, from snapping a chalk line, marking out where the letters go with a chinagraph pencil to applying the enamel sign writers paint with special chisel brushes. He explained certain colours for example white require a second coat to add depth & prevent the background colour showing through the letter. Just the man for our job with our traditional black and white logo.
It took Gerald supported by his lovely wife Julia 3 days to apply our logo and telephone number to the vehicles. We hit a slight hitch when peeling the vinyl logo off the CAT D4 removing some of the paintwork underneath, but for Gerald, this was not a problem. The paints were skillfully mixed to match the original and then the logo carefully applied. Gerald’s motto, ‘it’s the little pebbles that make the beach, but it’s the sand that gets between your toes’!
Our Karrier, Foden and Cat D4 were ready for the big day and there was much excitement when they took their place at the South Gloucestershire show.
Unlike the naughty James, our very well-behaved trucks stayed clean and tidy throughout and proved a great success with all those who visited us on our stand or the Foden and Cat D4 who took up residence in the vintage vehicles field.
They are now back home in their shed, but are very much looking forward to their next special trip out!!