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 Post subject: Re: Open House - Southern Railway No. 1200
PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:20 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2552
As a historical artifact, the color should be as close to the original as possible. Reading the replies from folks in the know, they have painted the car in a manner that allows it to represent the color correctly in the setting in which it will be displayed. I feel that is a perfectly reasonable approach.

One thing to consider the next time you're arguing about what exact shade your favorite railroad color is/was, try this experiment. Observe a passing train with many cars of the same color. Container trains work well for this (observe the car, not the cans) or grain cars since you can often find a lot of cars with the same paint scheme.

Now compare the color variation. Which one is "correct"? Freshly painted? Faded? Dirty? Clean? In between?

In the steam era you also had the dirt and grime from the locos to make things worse. I recall working on the Freedom Train in 1976 and having somebody ask me "Why are you painting the engine (2101) blue? I like it in black!" Well, I wasn't painting it, I was scrubbing it and getting it back to the same blue it had been the previous day before we went through a few tunnels. But at the moment, it was indeed black.

Oh, and consider this. The type and location, if any, of the "Colored" and "Whites" signs would be an important factor in this restoration (which is why they're taking care to get it exactly right.) The shade of green on the car being off by 2 pantone shades? Not so much...

Last edited by Bobharbison on Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Re: Open House - Southern Railway No. 1200
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:59 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:40 am
Posts: 320
Location: UT
Professionally, I am an Optometrist and have to smile (inwardly, of course) with all this discussion of the 'right' green. Mr. Mitchell and RR_GraphixGuy have already brought up the variations that occur due to monitor rendering and the digital 'Auto white balancing' that has to be considered. To some degree I think that there is another facet to consider...the potential for varied perception of color due to variations between individuals (RR_GraphixGuy hinted at this in his posting above).

Some basics. If you think back to that high school health class when you talked about the eye, you learned about the retina being made up of rods and cones. Rods are primarily for light detection and motion detectors. Cones are responsible for color perception and sharpness of vision. Vision researchers further classify/sub-divide cones by the area of the spectrum to which they respond; being namely Red, Green, and Blue. It is the ratio of 'excitement'/triggering of these three receptors to one another that permit our perception/recognition of the visible portion of the light spectrum (all of the other colors). There is no guarantee/warranty that came with our birth that assures that a given 'color' is perceived exactly the same by two individuals.

(EDIT: In fact, some individuals are significantly short of one receptor or another at birth and are termed "color blind' or "color deficient"}

Sure, if you have an absolutely pristine, made at the time of the original car painting, never subjected to the bleaching effect of light, or breakdown of pigment over time or chemicals in the substrate, drift card...those two individuals would perceive the painted car to be a match to the card...but as has already been stated in this thread, the car represents it's condition WHEN IN it was exposed to the effects of the environs as pointed out by Bobharbison in the posting above.

My sister and brother-in-law live in a home that belonged to his grandparents. The property (home, barns, and out buildings) is recognized as a historic homestead of the State of Utah. The original home consisted of two log cabins from the late 1800s being pushed together in the early 1900s to make a home for the family. Over the years it has had additions and siding applied. Some thirty years ago, my sister and her husband decided to paint the exterior. As relatives came to visit following the painting, the following commentary ensued

"Is that green paint?" (it was a very, very light, just off-white, mint green)
"But grandma's house has ALLLLWAYS been white!"
To which my sister would respond "I figer them who buys the paint, picks the color"

Folks, appreciate the fact that this car was available and donated, together with the research efforts of the Smithsonian to display this car in the lighting and way that it can appreciated by visitors for what it was and save the nit-picking for when you buy the paint.

Still smiling (inwardly) yet respectfully,

sc 'doc' lewis

Last edited by sc 'doc' lewis on Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Re: Open House - Southern Railway No. 1200
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:02 pm 

Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 10:40 am
Posts: 119
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
1401 is in the best possible place for preservation.

That is strictly your opinion and I happen to think you are 100 percent wrong.

 Post subject: Re: Open House - Southern Railway No. 1200
PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:09 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 2:02 am
Posts: 620
Location: Albany, Georgia
And now, back to the 1200.

I am not going to dispute the validity of the green shade used on this car since it is going to be 60 feet below ground level and will only have artificial light illuminating it. We'll just have to wait for it to be installed and to see the first flash photographs made...then the issues of correct and incorrect color will raise its ugly head again.

John, if you have access and can provide it here as a more-or-less permanent record, could you give us the specific references used for arriving at how the car was painted? Perhaps a new topic titled something like "Southern Railway Passenger Car Painting - the Smithsonian and SR 1200". We know the photograph defined lettering placement, but the B&W photograph couldn't help much with how to paint everything on the car. There must have been other resources. Were any "judgement calls" made, or were decisions made on anecdotal references, or was everything determined through historic, time-correlated documentation?

I'll describe what I went through in 2001-2004 while researching the restoration of Southern baggage car No. 518 here in Albany. We couldn't afford to rebuild the doors with wood and multi-pane windows, nor would that have been practical since the car is used for displays. In over a year of research and requests for information, the only pertinent documentation I received was a transcribed copy of a letter from the SR Office of Assistant to the President describing how passenger equipment was painted c.March,1946. The letter indicates the following:

Passenger Equipment
Underframe, black.
Air brakes and pipes, black.
Platforms, boxes and projections below outside sheathing and trucks, green.
Sides and roof, Pullman green.
Lettering, gold.

Office of Assistant to the President
Southern Railway System,
Prepared for John Page, Associate Editor,
The Model Railroader
Milwaukee 3, Wisconsin.
By H.C. Yancey, March 8, 1946

Now, lacking any other concrete information, this documentation and a builder's photo of SR 524 (p.651 of 1940 Car Builders Cyclopedia) became the basis for decisions I had to make regarding how to paint the car. There was a good bit of discussion about roof color: silver, gray, black? Or, was it the same as the body color as indicated in the above letter? I had one person tell me he/she was 99% certain the roof was black when delivered in 1939. Part of the reasoning was that scans of color photographs from the "late 40's and early 50's supported black roofs." Maybe, but that wasn't necessarily how the cars were painted in the period 1939-1946. The above letter indicated the roof was the body color, so that's what I did.

According to information I had received back in 2001, Southern had changed from using metallic gold paint to "Duluxe Gold", a yellow color, sometime in the mid-1930's. After a first failed attempt to paint the car using yellow paint for the lettering, I opted for using a gold paint in the final rendition. I mixed and test sprayed 4 different shades or tones of "gold" before settling on the one used. There was a discussion about this subject in January 2004, and a lot of good information was presented:

"Imitation Gold...What Color Is This"

This was about the time we were getting ready to repaint the baggage car and I wanted some more direct and knowledgeable input on what would be as correct as possible. I was advised that the reference to "gold" lettering in the above letter actually meant imitation gold, not gold paint. Ultimately, I decided to go with gold paint to give the car an appearance more consistent with what I'll call "public perception" stemming from the excursion era. Thus, I know with 100% certainty that the lettering color on 518 is not correct for the car c. WWII era. In retrospect, I think the One Shot Imitation Gold vinyl lettering color would have looked excellent, and perhaps would have been more "correct", but I still think it looks dang good the way it is!

Next on the list of restoration questions was the color of the trucks. Were they originally black, or were they the same body color, or rather, were they Southern's version of Pullman Green? Search RYPN and you'll find lots of discussion about "Pullman Green". Based on the March 1946 correspondence, I opted for truck side frames being painted the body color.

In 2001, I could not find, nor could anyone in SRHA provide in a timely manner the lettering guides I needed. Being a member of the Central of Georgia Railway Historical Society, I went to our resources and came up with acceptable numerals for the car. Not perfect, but close enough. The "Railroad Roman" lettering came from multiple sources for the basic design but were hand-tweaked, and stencils for each individual letter were cut out. Again, not perfectly correct, but close enough.

Were I doing the car today, all the lettering and numbering resources are readily available on-line, but they weren't in 2001-2004 when the car was being painted, repainted, and lettered.

Finally, relating to the correctness or not of SR 1200's body color, there would be only one way to be correct. You would have to have an unadulterated color drift control card from the era with documentation that that was the color used by that railroad during the time period for which the car is being painted. Other than that, the best you can do is an educated guess, no matter what anyone says. We know it is virtually impossible to cross old paint codes to new formulations. That's a topic that has also been discussed at length here.

I'm sure mine is but one of many hundreds of similar stories that have or could be documented here. Anyone who has gone through a restoration plan has a similar story to tell. So what was my decision on the body color: well, I happened to have a fresh color drift control card to match against. It was for the railroad's Pullman Green used on passenger cars c. March 1954, so it was a littler later than my WWII target, but at least it was an "official" railroad Pullman Green. Only one was Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Pullman Green Enamel. Oh, well, we can't be perfect all the time!

I forgot this link to a great photo of 518 by Tim Huemmer in late November 2004, soon after the final repainting:

I'll note that in full afternoon sun the car looks entirely different.

(I'd end with one of those smiley face emoticons but I don't have any, so, :>)

Stephen S. Syfrett
Albany, GA

 Post subject: Re: Open House - Southern Railway No. 1200
PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:49 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2004 1:41 pm
Posts: 828
Location: Bowling Green, KY
That is an interesting specification for the trucks...."green". It would be possible to sand through layers of paint to discover the actual color, get a chip and have it matched. But wow what a vague specification.
As you said, Southern equipment did in fact have the roof painted in the same colour as the body and the DuPont paint code is available online. Another reference I would like to see developed is that of mixing up some of the can of Pullman Green pigment unearthed in savannah. But, with the paint codes available from several different manufacturers I suppose there is likely no reason to go through all the trouble.

Cheers, Jason

 Post subject: Re: Open House - Southern Railway No. 1200
PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:54 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 2:02 am
Posts: 620
Location: Albany, Georgia
jasonsobczynski wrote:
That is an interesting specification for the trucks...."green".
Cheers, Jason

Jason, I think in this case it was a safe bet to go with the same "green" as the body color.

As far as I know, in the 20th Century, with exception of the Crescent Limited equipment, Southern used a single shade of green on the exterior of a standard HW car. The roof may have been green, black, silver, gray or whatever, but there was only a single shade of green used on the body sides when it was painted. Perhaps I'm wrong, and if so I hope someone will correct me, but in the case of a single shade of "Pullman Green" being used on a car, it seems reasonable to think any other part of the car specified as being "green" would mean "Pullman Green". That said, however, the lack of specificity in the March, 1946 letter regarding what "green" was intended just adds to the uncertainty. It would almost have been better had it said "black"!

I sincerely hope John will have the time to document the research done by the Smithsonian to come up with a black roof and trucks on a car representing an appearance c. mid-1940s. I won't say it is wrong; just that my research concluded otherwise.

Another example of the pitfalls of restoration. I know I looked at a dozen shades of red before deciding on the shade used on the exterior of the Southern bay window caboose that was turned into a "stand-in" for Georgia Northern's ex-SR caboose X-153. That was only part of the story. We painted the trucks black, since color photos of Southern bay window cabooses showed black side frames. It seemed to be a safe assumption that the GN Ry's ex Southern caboose, which was probably repainted in one of Southern's shops before delivery to the GN, was probably painted the same.

Well, about 4 or 5 years later the Central of Georgia Railway Historical Society was given a collection of CofGa and Georgia Northern artifacts, mostly papers and photographs. Included was a c.1958 color photo of the X-153 showing that the truck side frames were in fact the body color, not black. That discrepancy will be fixed (maybe, but I doubt it) when the museum repaints the caboose in the future.

Here is the caboose after 11 years of exposure. The paint contractor failed to properly prep the color coat, so the clear coat is releasing. This was the same reason (along with some others) why the baggage car was repainted. ... U+X401.jpg

Stephen S. Syfrett
Albany, GA

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