Re: [EXT] [RealSTMFC] caboose colors

Bruce Smith


Red lead was extremely common in RR shops. But as noted, it was generally a primer and had an oxide red color. 

Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL

From: <> on behalf of Charles Peck <lnnrr152@...>
Sent: Sunday, July 4, 2021 8:39 AM
To: <>
Subject: Re: [EXT] [RealSTMFC] caboose colors
Out of not knowing, I am wondering about the uses of lead oxides.  Grandfather, an L&N RR 
boilermaker, had mason jars of red lead and white lead that he had brought home from the shops.
I seem to recall the red lead being used as a primer coat. Were these common in RR shops? 
What other uses would these have had? 
Chuck Peck

On Sun, Jul 4, 2021 at 9:15 AM Bruce Smith <smithbf@...> wrote:

Red pigments are one of the earliest color pigments that human used. Red pigments occur naturally in the form of iron oxides, hence the name "oxide red" as a common paint color for that boxcar red sort of color. Of course, these colors have brown and orange overtones, so they are not the "pure" reds that one associates with the color "caboose red". One of the first uses that I am aware of for a "red" is the PRR's red background for keystones on passenger engines and signs. This color was called "toluidine red" and its use began in the late 1920. The paint was expensive and therefore unlikely to be used for the exterior of cars. Widespread use of truly red car paint seems to coincide with the introduction of synthetic paints and pigments following WWII.

Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL

From: <> on behalf of Ray Hutchison <rayhutchison2@...>
Sent: Sunday, July 4, 2021 6:35 AM
To: <>
Subject: [EXT] [RealSTMFC] caboose colors
CAUTION: Email Originated Outside of Auburn.
I know that the answer for individual railroads will differ, but I am wondering when the "caboose red" started to be used?  Color photographs (there are not many) of older cabeese show a boxcar red or similar color, but at some point rialroads began to paint their cars in colors that carried through to modern period.  My particular interest is Great Northern, contemporary models (including brass) show the early wood boxcars in caboose red... but before this, what color would they have been painted?

Ray Hutchison
Green Bay WI

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