Re: unpainted box car roofs


Many still believe that "overspray" was the actual roof color.There are also those who believe that only the first group of Rutland PS-1s received the painted roof while subsequent cars only had "overspray"...... and the beat goes on..Armand Premo

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ed Hawkins" <hawk0621@...>
To: <STMFC@...>
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 8:04 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] unpainted box car roofs

On Feb 17, 2009, at 2:22 PM, ed_mines wrote:

Anyone have a list of unpainted box car roofs?

This would make a good article for Ed Hawkins RPC series of books or
magazines. (Which is it Ed?)

Isn't this information usually on some document from the manufacturer
We call them books, but we don't care what they are called as long as
people buy them. <g>

You are correct that he information would be some document from the
manufacturer. The challenge is to find these documents. While a list of
cars having unpainted galvanized roofs would be a nice resource to
have, it would be extremely difficult to compile since it requires
either (1) a good overhead view of a new car to verify it wasn't
painted or (2) documentation from the builder's paint specification.
There is precious little of both of these resources.

I can recall arguments when Kadee brought out their first Rutland PS-1
box car. Photos tend to show evidence that the roofs were unpainted,
however the "definitive" photo wasn't found. After the model came out,
Kadee received "feedback" on how they made an error because the roof
was supposed to be yellow according to people who remembered walking on
top of the cars. I still support Kadee's decision on how they painted
the roof to represent an unpainted galvanized roof. Model manufacturers
tend to paint unpainted galvanized roofs silver, which is too bright,
but that's another issue. Modelers have ways to make the roof appear
more realistic, and this has been discussed before on the STMFC.

For cars built by American Car & Foundry Co. from 1931 to 1952, the
data could be generated from the bills of materials that are available
for review at the St. Louis Mercantile Library. I have researched all
of the box cars built by AC&F from the early 1930s through 1960 and
have documented paint specs on many of these cars either in RP CYC or
in my RMJ articles over the years. Paint data on AC&F cars built from
1953-1960 is sketchy at best since bills of materials ceased being
used. There were some cars built in the early to mid-1950s that had
unpainted roofs except their seam caps were coated with black car
cement and then either left black or painted with the same color used
on the sides. The result was a roof of striped appearance when new.

The paint specs of many builders have long ago been discarded or they
are in the hands of current companies who won't spend their time
answering requests on such matters. I've been told by more than one
reliable source that General American has a repository of technical
data for cars they built. However, all of my multiple attempts trying
to gain access to such a collection have gone unanswered or lead to a
dead end. Other car builders just vanished such as Pressed Steel Car
Co. and their subsidiary Mount Vernon Car Co. in 1954. I've gone to
Mount Vernon, Illinois on two occasions in an effort to track down
anything left of the company (drawings, builders photos, etc.). I spoke
with a lot of different people but came home empty.

Bills of materials for cars built by Greenville Steel Car Co. were
moved when Trinity Industries closed the plant. It's my understanding
the technical documentation was moved to the Butler, Pa. plant that
Trinity also owns. When the Greenville plant was still open I received
a few copies of box car paint specs of cars, including orders for NYC
and PRR 40' box cars. Neither had unpainted galvanized roofs. The PRR
X43 cars had black car cement applied to their roofs.

When the Pullman-Standard plant at Bessemer, Alabama closed circa 2002,
I made a trip there and salvaged bills of material documents for cars
built there from 1929 to mid-1947. I couldn't locate any documents for
cars after this date through 1960. There were some bills of materials
for box cars built at the Butler and Michigan City plants, but these
were few in number. I can say that the list of Pullman-built box cars
having unpainted galvanized roofs during the 1929-1947 period was a
short list.

During the 1950s when unpainted galvanized roofs became more common
than before, many box cars were built by railroads. I've looked for
MoPac's paint specs for home-built box cars and have only found just
one diagram that specifies the roof color (Eagle Merchandise Service
cars). Such are the challenges involved with compiling a list of box
cars with unpainted roofs.
Ed Hawkins


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