Re: Jack Delano color photos

Richard Hendrickson

On Jan 30, 2008, at 8:32 AM, wrote:

If you model the steam era, esp pre 1950, carbon soot could
accumulate on a parked rail car quite rapidly. Add a little rain
and sunshine, and you can get a really filthy car quite rapidly.
I've seen steam era color photos of cars just 2 or 3 years old
that were incredibly filthy. I think the percentage of truly filthy
cars declined somewhat in the 1950's as large numbers of
new cars were added, old junkers were scrapped, many older
cars got new paint jobs, and the amount of air pollution
declined ever so slightly (especially around rail yards). By the
late 1950's railroads cut back on repainting so weathering took
on more of a faded and/or rusty nature, rather than sooty.

Even more rarely modeled than filthy cars, are brand new
SHINY cars! Most model railroads could use some examples
of both.
Tim is entirely correct on almost all counts. The amount of soot and
grime that came out of the stacks of coal burning steam locos, though
well documented in both color and B/W photos, seems difficult for most
modelers to imagine unless they're old enough to have been there. Oil
burners weren't quite as bad - until the firemen sanded the flues, but
then they were, if anything, worse. Whether in trains or yards,
freight trains were constantly bombarded with that stuff. Adding to
that, when cars were idle they often spent a lot of time in heavily
polluted industrial areas (Pittsburgh or South Bend in the 1940s? The
mind boggles.) As Tim says, the retirement of steam locos made a big
difference after the mid-1950s. I'll take one mild exception to Tim's
remarks, however. White it's true that model railroads need some brand
new or recently repainted cars, truly shiny is not what you want.
Sure, fresh paint was somewhat shiny, as the photos show us. But it
didn't stay that way for more than a couple of weeks after the car
entered revenue service. Also, shine doesn't scale down. A model as
shiny as a freshly painted prototype looks wrong. More realistic is an
eggshell finish, mostly flat but with just a bit of shine to it (e.g.,
2/3 Dullcote and 1/3 glosscote).

Richard Hendrickson

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