About Palmer Primer

Palmer Primer was established in 1969 by Colin Palmer and his first wife Christine to offer a mobile timber priming service to local timber and joinery manufacturers who were still priming timber by the very slow labour intensive method of hand priming using a paint brush. Christine handled the administration and accounting sides of the business whilst Colin set to work to design and manufacture a simple-to-operate portable priming machine to satisfy these needs.

Having designed & built a mobile timber priming machine from scratch, he then went on to provide a fast & efficient timber priming service to local timber merchants and timber importers who wished to offer this priming service to their customers.

As the customer base for timber priming grew through the 1970's and early 1980's Colin realised that there was an growing demand for this painting service, so he decided to withdraw from offering a mobile priming service and to design, manufacture, and sell these timber painting & priming machines to timber merchants, joinery manufacturers & timber importers in the UK.

The name Palmer Primer rapidly spread through the industry as a means to increase & improve priming production & profit for minimal capital outlay.

The business continued to expand as timber merchants & importers realised the profits to be made by offering reliable & fast in-house timber priming & painting services to their own customers.

In the mid 1980's Colin realised a higher quality finish was demanded by many users than was currently achievable by using a Brush timber priming machine.

Colin remembered seeing a Vacuum Coater from his early days in ICI following a earlier site visit, so went over to the customer who was still using the unit. After spending time examining this Vacuum Coater unit he discovered a US phone number.

Calling the number he spoke to the original inventor of the Vacuum Coater as we know it today, a Mr Neal Camp.

After much correspondence & telephone calls to the US Colin decided to fly out to the United States with his wife & spent some time with Neal to discuss the workings of this unit. Being typical inventors they bounced ideas off each other and a strong working relationship developed.

Colin learned that in 1962 Neal had taken out a worldwide patent on this Vacuum Coating machine for a 17 year period, but had decided not to renew the patent when it came up for renewal due to the high costs and lack of international sales. Neal also confirmed to Colin that although a UK agent had been appointed in Wales in the UK to sell their machines who had imported one of his Vacuum Coaters, no further sales had been gained and contact had been lost. Neal was unaware that this agent had subsequently claimed a UK patent for his Vacuum Coater, and in so doing, claimed that this was of their own design.

The original patent records still exist for all to be seen in the USA and as we all know, you cannot claim patent rights on something that already exists in the public domain let alone claim a patent on it. Some might even consider this a fraudulent patent application which should be revoked. We still have the original patent should anyone else try to claim the rights!

Which leads us on to the rather sharp letter we received from said rival UK agent/manufacturer with fraudulent patent rights demanding that we cease production & send drawings of our Vacuum Coaters to them - for infringing of all things their patent rights, though strangely enough, when we drew their attention to the original worldwide patent they went very quiet indeed. We still have the letter posted to us.

Not wishing to steal any of Neal's ideas and designs, questions had to be asked as to whether Colin could produce a Vacuum Coater based around Neal's original designs, Neal gave Colin his blessing to design and manufacture Vacuum Coaters for use in the UK and abroad, though suggested he avoid competing in the USA, wel at least in his lifetime.

With much enthusiasm, information and knowledge, Colin flew back to the UK, ready to put pen to paper, and designed and built the first of many improved Vacuum Coaters based upon the conversations with Neal, the first of which was ready for delivery to its first customer J.O.Walker & Son Ltd in the mid 1980's.

The advantages of a Vacuum Coater over a Brush Coater are considerable. For starters there are no jets or brushes used in the coating process. The finish produced is similar to that found using conventional spraying equipment except that it is repeatable, and is far faster with the excess product being recirculated instead of being wasted in the water wash.

Another major improvement was that MDF Board can be coated using the Vacuum Coaters, providing a uniform smooth coating, with no streak marks to mar the appearance of the final coating.

The Vacuum Coater has been continually improved since the earlier designs to allow easier use by the operators, whilst still retaining the basic strengths of the first unit.

Improvements have been made to the basic design such as easier cleaning down, and increased structural strength combined with increasing efficiency and power outputs.

Stainless steel is used for the manufacture of the main tank assembly, eliminating rusting problems, whilst providing an excellent surface for cleaning down with no fear of damaging any fancy coatings on the inside or the outside of the unit.

The latest improvement came about when one of his first customers (J.O.Walker & Son Ltd) who had purchased several machines from the very first brush coaters through to the latest Vacuum Coaters asked Colin to design and manufacture a vacuum Coating unit that would not only paint the timber section, but would also dry the paint film sufficiently to allow for handling whilst dry and provide the ability to stack straight off the back of the unit without the problem of strip marks caused by wet paint.

After extensive research into the drying methods available it was decided that electric Infra-red was the most suitable method.

Gas infra-red was researched, although the initial purchase costs are lower, gas is a dirty medium to use which affects the long term reliability, and the actual running costs are substantially higher than electric, this coupled with the by-product of water vapour which causes more problems with grain-lifting.

Ultra-violet coatings were also looked at, the problem with these types of products is the brittle nature of the paint film, not something that you want on your architrave and skirting board with all the day to day knocks they incur. The same problem was anticipated for window board which has a wide temperature range to cope with. It might look nice but would its adhesive properties stand up to the continual contraction and expansion of such a medium.

The other major problem was the lack of opacity, and also its glass like finish which is an absolute nightmare for the painters on site who have to rub the surface down to make the subsequent paint coats stick. This defeats the whole idea of pre-priming the section to reduce the painters time, when he is now wasting time with sand paper instead of undercoating and glossing.

Electric infra-red was chosen, due to its clean nature, and relatively inexpensive maintenance costs, combined with environmentally friendly water based paints, stains and lacquers.

After much development the first combined Vacuum and Drying system was designed and built in the early 1990's.

The first customer took delivery, and shortly afterwards ordered a even more advanced unit to compliment the first machine due to the considerable saving in labour costs, production time, and the dramatic improvements in finish.

Since the early days of the combined Vacuum Drying system considerable strides have been made to improve the efficiency of the unit.

Feed speeds continue to increase, together with improved operator controls. Ease of use was, and still is, the keyword to the operation of this unit.

Our painting & priming machines have been designed to be used by the timber & joinery trade, to coat a variety of timber & MDF mouldings ranging in size from small 13mm beading sections up to 250mm wide window-board.

All machines apart from the Vacuum Drying system can coat timber and MDF board using both water based and white spirit based paints, stains and lacquers.

Palmer Primer

Palmer Primer, we continue to strive to improve the design & manufacture of the Brush Coating and Vacuum Coating machines for our customers - we currently produce three standard coating machines for this task:

Brush Coater BC3

A semi-mobile electric motor driven coating machine which deluges water and white-spirit based paint, stains or lacquers, onto all faces of timber mouldings up to 250mm wide, using brushes to brush off the excess paint, before being removed and placed into a tree rack or into strip.

Vacuum Coater VC4

The Standard Vacuum Coater uses our advanced vacuum process to apply and remove water and white-spirit based paint, stain or lacquers, from all sides of timber or MDF mouldings in one pass, this unit will coat mouldings up to 250mm wide and at speeds of up to 40 metres per minute.

Vacuum Drying system DS4

This combined Vacuum and Drying systems can apply and dry a wide variety of water based paints, stains and lacquers onto all four sides of timber and MDF mouldings in one pass, this unit utilises the advanced Vacuum application system in combination with forced drying, to both apply and dry the coating in a single pass, at speeds of up to 35 metres per minute.

Please select one of our painting & priming machines from below:


If you would like to discuss details on any of the priming & painting machines that we manufacture, please feel free to contact us by phone, fax or email.