Re: Date of Change in NYC Painting Practice (was Intermountain kits)

Richard Hendrickson

John, with regard to your interesting observations and speculations on
paint, the development of synthetic enamels was, indeed, a major
breakthrough. Prior to that, railroad paint shops mixed their own paint
from bulk linseed oil, pigment, and mineral spirits, and the resulting
products took a long time to dry and didn't last long under the onslaught
of weather, dirt, corrosion, etc. to which railway equipment was exposed.
Synthetic enamel also made it practical to apply paint with spray guns, and
the car builders and major railroad shops begain to do so on a large scale
in the 1920s.

With few exceptions, however, the railroads continued in the
1920s-'30s-'40s to use paints with organic pigments such as carbon black,
iron oxide, and copper oxide (which produced the olive green colors used on
passenger cars), presumably because they were more durable. Apparently WW
II and its aftermath stimulated some improvements in paint technology which
then made long-lasting paints in a variety of bright colors economically
feasible, accounting for the more colorful paint schemes of the 1950s and

Richard H. Hendrickson
Ashland, Oregon 97520

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