Sorting through Freight car colors

Greg Martin

Bob Kutella writes in part...

"As much as we would like there to one color for any particular railroad or scheme, the evidence points to the opposite. There are several similar reefers at IRM that were assigned to MILW - which most assume were deep and very orange. But as you peel off the differing layers of paint it gets lighter to a definite yellow-orange, and then back to a darker more pure orange. At each repaint, things changed ever so slightly. Maybe that is more typical of a car leasing outfit vs. a railroad who might be trying to maintain their corporate identity, but we have seen such changes in many cars as we go through the steps to restore them."

Denny S. Anspach, MD replies in part...

"Bob is correct in presenting his evidence that the leasing companies to the greatest extent would not be likely to be greatly concerned with painting their cars to accommodate the lessee's corporate liveries. {snip}


And I think this is a true with the class 1 railroads of the era as well.

Without fail the subject of the correctness of freight car color (PRR in particular) raises it's head on a regular basis. Finding that one color that "matches" this drift card or that photo or painting is inasmuch as searching for the "Holy Grail". Reducing that color to scale can make the search even much more diffecult... I like Richard Hendrickson's approach as he often "mixes his to taste..." Perhaps just the right concept. I do the same with the PRR FCC shift for cars/cabins painted in the mid-50's.

In the case of the PRR folks it is hard enough just to keep the color names correct as the PRR FCC is often called "Tuscan"... YIKES! I think the best you can hope for is one somewhat universally accepted color and add weathering to suite... We all have our favorites.

I think the during this era in history the railroads were likely far less concerned with the issue than we as modelers are today trying to recapture what they took for granted. Wasn't it just Freight Car Color? Wasn't it just reefer yellow?

Greg Martin

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