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Goodbye, old paint: A new coat for the Queen Mary

November 21, 2008 |  3:28 pm

Queen Mary gets a low-emission paint job

The Queen Mary’s signature black-and-orange smoke stacks, which can be seen from 20 miles away on a clear day, stood out a little brighter on today after receiving a fresh coat of ultra-low-emissions paint, and a commendation from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

At a news conference held on an upper deck near where a work crew was busily applying 123 gallons of the special water-based "Cunard red" paint to the three elliptical stacks, AQMD officials also unveiled a user-friendly website for painters featuring a list of super-compliant, low-emission paint products, links to manufacturers and helpful tips.

The website aims to reduce the estimated 23 tons of smog-forming volatile organic compounds — equal to the emissions of 1.7 million vehicles — released into the air each day from business and residential paint jobs in Southern California, air quality officials said.

At the news conference, Long Beach City Councilwoman and AQMD Governing Board member Tonia Reyes Uranga credited Hostmark Hospitality Group, which bought the floating hotel about a year ago, for "setting an example for other businesses" in selecting the paint for its "stack beautification project."

But the man of the hour was chemist Richard Hart, vice president of Chicago-based JFB Hart Coatings Inc. and inventor of the low-emissions paint. In an interview, he said the product was so durable "you could pour gasoline on it and light it with a match. You could dance on it without putting a mark on it."

Looking up at the painters who were using roller brushes attached to long poles to spiff up the stacks with a batch of the paint mixed to match a chip taken from another luxury liner built in the 1920s, Hart smiled and said, "I’m really proud of this job. After all, it’s the Queen Mary."

As a token of his appreciation, Hart gave Queen Mary General Manager Jay Primavera a gleaming framed portrait of the Queen Mary plying the high seas in its heyday. "My wife painted it," he said, "with my patented formula."

-- Louis Sahagun

Photo: The Queen Mary in Long Beach receives a coat of "Cunard red" on one of her iconic smokestacks. Credit: Carol Cochrane