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 Post subject: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:48 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2244
Taking a riff off the #1309 thread for a stand alone rant...

Friends, peers, princes and rag'n'bone men,

Please hear me out. If one is conducting an historic restoration, paint (and other details) matter.

A person should not be mocked for their interest in the eventual appearance of an item undergoing historic restoration. If you are rebuilding something for the heck of it, then do what you like, but if a project is billed as an historic rehab, well that raises the expectations of the donor AND it raises the bar for the restorationist (I think that last part is what causes the gruff blowback).

I know with the project I am on that the second most-asked question by donors is "what appearance will she have?" (In this case, there are three major options). I have never told a donor to stop being a silly railfan and just send money. That would be insane. I want to bring people into the fold, not send them running.

I remember a time a certain GP-7 was restored. Not repainted, mind you, but according to the museum that owned it, it was a full historic restoration and they were proud of getting things just-so. But, for one reason or another, the wrong horn was put in the wrong location for what they were trying to achieve.

When this was pointed out to the museum chief, he blew a gasket. Not at the oversight of course, but at the guy who pointed it out. "Isn't it enough that the paint is right?" "Can't you be happy it just runs?" "People like you take all the fun out of it."

Well, I guess I side with the Fun Police.

Can you imagine what your local auto museum would think if they had a 3rd party that restored a Mack and put the bulldog on the roof instead of the hood?

Such a goof would be no different than what was done with this Geep. And I would imagine it would be fixed. Why should we care any less about trains than other artifacts? Why devalue the subjects of our own passion?

My point is - and this is a divide that splits conversations on RYPN all the time - some projects are rebuilds or rehabs where there's no need/interest/desire in making things "just so" and there are other efforts that are historic restorations.

Both are totally legit. It's important to know what type of project one is looking at before offering a critique.

I think that's the central question to the #1309 dust-up. Were donors led to believe this was an effort to get a really cool locomotive running on a really beautiful line? Or did they think they were funding the historic restoration of a C&O locomotive?

If the answer is the latter, then some discontent over the WM paint is understandable.

To simply cast-off the idea of historic accuracy as something only imbeciles and buffoons care about is nothing short of saying "history doesn't matter."

To some of us, it does. A lot.

Rob


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:32 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:30 pm
Posts: 121
In the interest of advancing this discussion I posit that what we do today will become very significant in the future. If we misrepresent a historic appearance or detail, in time, if left unchanged, it will become fact. The closer the misrepresented detail is to being accurate the greater the likelihood will be that it is eventually assumed to be historically precise. The longer it goes uncorrected the higher the probability it will be accepted as fact. As preservationist we should strive for accuracy.

CCdW


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:56 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 899
Well, let's consider this scenario. During World War II, several power-short railroads acquired Y-3 2-8-8-2 engines from the Norfolk & Western, and as far as I know, they applied their own numbers and class designations to these engines. If one had survived into the preservation era, how should it have been depicted? Similarly, a number of Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives were sold to various other railroads. In preservation, should they have been painted and lettered a la PRR or their final owners?

The Southern Railway sold two surplus 2-8-0's, nos. 630 and 722, to the East Tennessee & West North Carolina Railroad, which renumbered them 207 and 208 and used them for many years. The the Southern traded two RS-3 diesels to the ET&WNC for the two steam locomotives. Should the Southern have left them lettered and numbered ET&WNC?

Now, let's just consider C&O 1309. Just suppose it had been sold in, let's say, 1951, to the WM. How should it be depicted today?

The very fact that this particular locomotive is being returned to service by a tourist railroad and not a railroad museum means to me that the owners get to paint it and letter it any way they want. I will be thrilled to see it and ride behind it, and I may even take a photograph or two. Mostly, I will be glad to know that it runs and makes all the right noises.


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I am sure this has been said before, but it is good to repeat. The name painted on the train and loco is valuable advertising. All those photos and news stories shared on Facebook, whatever are spreading the name of the business. It is really in the economic interest of the railway to have their equipment painted with the correct name that when Googled will bring up their website.

Name recognition is important. Nobody wants, cough cough, an attractive tourist railway to shut down because they can't maintain the cash flow and ridership for next year. These operations are small margins or negative margins most of the time. They need all the help they can get.

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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:40 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:30 pm
Posts: 121
Regarding which of several schemes to reproduce: I believe it makes small matter so long as you aren't inventing a new scheme that reflects some railfans idea of cool. We should represent a railroad motif not a foamers dream scenario.

CCdW


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:45 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
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G.W. and Steven,

Your points are well taken.

I was addressing two slightly different issues: (1) expectations of historic restoration vs. do whatever you want and (2) the common refrain that those who care about historical appearance are buffoons.

Rob


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:45 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5062
Location: southeastern USA
Those who care about historic appearance at the expense of the bigger picture in an inappropriate setting are a bit buffoonish....... I hold the Smithsonian to a higher standard of historic accuracy than the Durango and Silverton, for example. Many of our operations fall somewhere in the middle - we want to be historic, but lack the expertise and resources to sweat the details so we do what we can with what we have as best we can at the time. An honest effort is commendable for most of us, assuming we call ourselves "museums."

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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:11 pm 
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Location: Henderson Nevada
The important issue in these cases is to document your decisions in a preservation plan... It should include a history of the object, document changes made to it, the various ways it was painted over its life, its condition, then from that the decisions made.

That document should be held in the groups archives, and if the public has question they should be allowed to review it. Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City has sold copies of some of these in their gift shop.

If honestly done, you could choose to paint something in a different railroad's paint but the knowledge and options would be preserved.

I have seen finish options and documentation presented at several house museums.

I would also note that railroad preservation has a broad spectrum of organizations, from museum (of which some are railroad focused, while some have railroad equipment in the collection) to tourist railroad, to private collectors, and even just railroads, so, many or even most are not museums, and are not attempting to follow museum practices.

Randy

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Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada
http://museums.nevadaculture.org/nsrmbc
http://www.nevadasouthern.com/
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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:14 am
Posts: 165
This is a topic I have dealt with many times over the last half decade. The operation I am with is not a museum, but a tourist railroad. We maintain and advertise a 1950's vintage equipment roster and experience. Our cars are older, but were used in the 50's. As caretaker of our motive power, I get many people that will comment on the fact that I removed the original spark arrestors, or changed the horn (the original was stolen) or installed a snow plow pilot, etc. Only a few people have been, how shall I say, rude. Most just say "you should ......" or "why did you......" or such. I just kindly explain that our goal is to have functional, safe, reliable equipment using the volunteer force and funds available. Everything I do has a reason behind it, not just because I want to do it. Most people accept it and thank us for the work we do. Some still are upset and can't accept the fact that we have altered something. Seems to be mostly the locomotives that create these strong feelings. Oh well.


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:11 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:35 pm
Posts: 56
More specifically a better question might be, what kind of restoration? Restore is a broad term. Restore to operation? Restore to appearance? Restore to factory spec.? Restore to a given year?

Many of us have seen rivet-counters-gone-wild. Unfortunately the numbers of qualified and concerned individuals are not what they once were and more equipment becomes antiquated and historical every day. If you or your group have the money, that's great. Most groups focus more (if only slightly) on quantity than quality.

I am personally familiar with a museum group (no names) who has been plugging along diligently on a wooden caboose. They have a long way to go but they insist that the correct wood(s) be used in the right places, many of which may never be seen. The paint must be exact. The nails have to be blacksmith made just like the originals. The trouble is, while the group bickers about the flux to be used in the metal to make the nails and the number of teeth on the sawmill that cuts the wood, the actual equipment from the company and area who's goal it is for the museum to interpret languishes in the rain and snow. Meanwhile, the group toils over a caboose that never belonged to the company or visited the area. For what it's worth the caboose won't be able to fit out the shop door once they put the cupola back on.

In the case above I would ask you does the paint really matter? The reason people that bring up horn placement, paint, and hex-head bolts are often ridiculed or belittled is because to the people who have spent countless hours (often unpaid) bringing back something from the dead, hearing "that's not the right shade of blue" is an insult to the work that they have done. It's almost as if people would rather the thing be completely lost to time rather than incorrect in some capacity. There will always be critics of any preservation project. If the people who complain are willing or unable to contribute then you can't let them get to you.


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:58 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 877
Location: Youngstown, OH
hotbox wrote:
In the case above I would ask you does the paint really matter? The reason people that bring up horn placement, paint, and hex-head bolts are often ridiculed or belittled is because to the people who have spent countless hours (often unpaid) bringing back something from the dead, hearing "that's not the right shade of blue" is an insult to the work that they have done. It's almost as if people would rather the thing be completely lost to time rather than incorrect in some capacity.


This was my original complaint with the now former RYPN member on the other thread. His statement was that he would no longer support the 1309 project only because they will put "Western Maryland" on the tender instead of "Chesapeake and Ohio". So my question was if the locomotive itself is meaningless and having no historical value, because he would rather see it rot away than to wear the "wrong" lettering.

Its just paint. It comes in a can and in a few hours can be changed to something else. It degrades and has to be renewed every so many years. Paint is a coating. It is not the artifact. Vinyl lettering is made every day. It can be applied and removed easily.

I have seen railfans on the internet literally in tears and questioning their very existence because a certain 20 gallons of hardened paint has not passed by their camera lens yet. All I can do is shake my head.

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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:20 pm
Posts: 96
I would much rather see an operating locomotive with WM lettering than a dead one with C&O lettering. In fact, I think the 1309 will look quite handsome in a vintage WM paint scheme.


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3488
Location: Maine
I too, am on the side of the "Fun Police". I think accurate restoration is essential, otherwise changes risk being interpreted as truth. I caught heck when I noted a particular RS3 was repainted, which it needed, in stock Rustoleum gray, rather than the darker scheme it wore in life. The locomotive is not operable at present, but remains in preservation.

In the case of the 1309, let's be honest, whether she wears WM or C&O schemes is a matter of paint or magnetic logos. We expect to restore Maine Central 470 with the "speed" logo, worn only in her last decade of service, yet we also expect to back-date the tender lettering at some point as well. It's paint.

I personally would rather see Grand Canyon's 4960 as a CB&Q mikado, but look, she runs, albeit on french fry oil, but she runs. I'll take it.

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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 1737
Regarding paint, the late Al Savage, VP of Maintenance for Capital Transit/DC Transit, noted that the paint colors for "electric blue" and the other trim colors in the Capital Transit era varied by supplier. Al noted that over the years the "blue" became more green, the yellowish cream "V" became more pale, and the body strip varied in shades of red from maroon to a reddish brown. All of which is to say we could go by the exact paint spec and someone would still complain because the paint was not "THE" color.

Al also told a story about the "correct" color of paint for trucks. After several attempts to maintain a fleet color, Al gave up and created a color called "dirt" that matched the aftermath of the fleet color following regular service in the street.

The trucks on DCTS 1101 wear the paint scheme from DCTS 1512, the Silver Sightseer. This decision is documented in the files.

Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: When paint matters (and other grievances)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:15 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 11:06 am
Posts: 7
This is kind of like refusing to acknowledge Reggie Jackson's HOF career because he went into Cooperstown as a Yankee instead of his original team, the Royals.


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