the Glen Edwards diaries

The story of Cub Yellow

[This question came up from time to time on the Cub Builders email list, and got what seems to be its definitely answer from Magnus Lord, who noted that "the info comes, as usual, from Clyde Smith Jr and the Cub Clues Magazine." -- Daniel Ford

by Magnus Lord

Piper originally used nitrate dope for the J3. This is the darker, more orange shade that Piper called "Lock Haven Yellow". Some time after the [Second World War], when the supply of nitrate dope was dwindling, bids went out from Piper for a paint manufacturer to come up with a pigmented yellow butyrate dope that would as closely match the nitrate shade as possible.

None of the companies could match the Lock Haven Yellow exactly, but [Randolph Products Co. in Chicopee, Massachusetts] was the closest and thus was awarded the contract. This butyrate yellow was a little brighter and more a pure yellow and though Piper continued to refer to it as Lock Haven Yellow, Randolph dubbed it "Piper Cub J-3 Yellow". [Alas, I searched the Randolph website in vain for any trace of Cub Yellow. -- DF]

So, all J3s up until the change of dope during 1946 was painted with the darker shade which Randolph refers to as "Lock Haven Yellow" (#M-9521), while the butyrate doped J3s and ALL PA-11, 15, 17, 18 and PA-20/22 aircraft were finished with the light butyrate, Randolph's "Piper Cub J-3 Yellow" (#F-6285). [Similarly, when I searched for #M-9521 and #F-6285, the Randolph website replied: "Sorry, no content matched your criteria." -- DF]

A nice detail: After changing to butyrate dope, Piper couldn't use dope for the boot cowl. The boot cowl had to be painted with enamel, and that is why the butyrate doped J3s (especially from Ponca City, Oklahoma) had a shorter black lightning bolt, ending (starting) behind the boot cowl.

Best regards,


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