Re: That Boxcar Red Color, the PRR Version


That early text about PRR paint was interesting.? I have a 1920 Simmons Boardman book on railway car painting, and that verbose, dryly written text also suggests in many words?that consistency of quality was the goal, with no mention of color consistency.? It discusses the powdered pigments used to achieve various colors, and the "vehicle" in which to suspend the powder for the desired finish and wearability?-- linseed oil, turpentine and other vehicles would leave a different surface after evaporating. Bronzing powder and aluminum powder, zinc chromate and other pigments were some that were mentioned.

But after reading Walt's definition, did anyone else grin at the logic of applying rust to metal to prevent rust?

Mike Del Vecchio

-----Original Message-----
From: Anthony Thompson <>
Sent: Tue, 13 May 2008 7:29 pm
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: That Boxcar Red Color, the PRR Version

Walt Lankenau wrote:
It specifies the pigment as sesquioxide of iron, which according to
Google, "contains not less than 98.0% of iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3)". I
would think that 98 per cent iron oxide would vary only slightly in
color, and that since this is the only pigment, that paint made using
it would be pretty consistent in color. No?
The Google definition may not have been the definition of 100
or more years ago. More importantly, in many minerals, TRACE amounts of
impurities can control color, particularly in transition metal
compounds like iron oxide.
No doubt the PRR wanted a reasonably consistent color, but I'd
guess consistent paint QUALITY was a far more important goal.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail,
Publishers of books on railroad history

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