Re: Impression from the Albrecht photos

Tony Thompson

Ed Bommer wrote:

Paint was usually mixed and made on site at the railroad car shops and applied by brush. Quality and color could and did vary from shop to shop. The use of sprayers to apply paint also faced an up-hill battle on a number of railroads holding to older ways, preferring the brush and their own home-made paints. Spraying paint was looked upon as wasteful. 

         I think this summary folds several things together, possibly confusing the issue. The first ready-mixed paint, in a newly-invented resealable metal can, debuted in 1880. By 1910 many railroads were changing from mix-on-the-spot to ready-mix paint. This is evident in a series of articles in the 1905-1914 period in Railway Age and associated journals, in which there was an active disputation about the best way to paint the new-fangled steel cars and get the paint to stick, including evaluation of ready-mix paints. Certainly it is the case that several railroad paint chip sets from the 1920s refer to paint brands, not to mixing formulas.
          Spraying was not common before World War II, as I understand it, but became commonplace after the war. I have that impression from, again, Railway Age, but if anyone can put more specific dates to this, I would be interested to see them.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
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