Re: : Weathering freight cars

Richard Hendrickson

On Jun 12, 2013, at 5:59 PM, Jack Burgess <> wrote:

Richard mentioned
<There is abundant photographic evidence that (1) steam era freight cars
<were dirty and weathered roughly proportional to how long it had been
<since they were repainted, (2) repainting was infrequent - seldom more
<than every ten years or so and often much longer than that, and (3) cars
<that had not been repainted for a long time were seriously faded and
<filthy owing not only to weathering but to the grime continually
<deposited on them from steam locomotive stacks and the mills and
<factories adjacent to rail lines and freight yards. I think only those
<who experienced it first hand can imagine how dirty railroads were in
<the '30s-'40s-early '50s. Heavy weathering on at least some cars is far
<from "a grievous error," as Armand claims; in fact it's an essential
<element of realism. Sorry, but this fact is so well documented that it
<simply is not open to discussion.
<Richard Hendrickson

I seem to recall that you previously stated the same general idea during a
clinic I attended but qualified it to the demands on the railroad industry
by WWII which makes sense. But I model 1939 and the few color photos that I
have of mixed trains (circa 1943) don't show heavy weathering. It is
important to note that foreign freight cars on the YV tended to be western
roads...SP, ATSF, GN, NP, etc. So, was this heavy weathering a more
pronounced with eastern roads (likely in my mind) and also more pronounced
as the war dragged on for a couple more years?
Yes, and yes. Weathering and dirt on freight cars were subject to numerous variables I didn't take the time to discuss in detail, but location and era were certainly among them. Western RR cars that were confined mostly to the western states (e.g. stock cars) tended to be more faded by sun and cleaning chemicals and less grimy. The opposite was true of eastern RR cars that stayed mostly in the east (e.g., coal hoppers). It's also worth noting that, in general, the stack exhaust from the oil burning steam locomotives used out west was relatively less dirty than was the case with coal burners. And, of course, deferred maintenance during World War II left the North American freight car fleet much dirtier in the late '40s than it had been in the prewar period. As always in prototype modeling, one has to focus on the conditions at the location being modeled and at the exact point in time one's modeling represents.

Richard Hendrickson

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