Paint Failure on Outside Metal Roofs


Walter M. Clark
 

List,

There is ample evidence that paint didn't stick too well to house car
roofs circa 1920 - 1930 (SP Freight Cars, Vol. 4 Box Cars, page 223,
photo of B-50-15 and discussion in Pacific Fruit Express, 1st edition,
page 96), but I haven't been able to find anything about the early
20th century (Harriman through USRA) and 1937 AAR house car roofs.
Did these also have the same problem?

Thanks,

Time stopped in November 1941
Walter M. Clark
Pullman, Washington, USA


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Walter M. Clark wrote:
I haven't been able to find anything about the early 20th century (Harriman through USRA) and 1937 AAR house car roofs. Did these also have the same problem?
Certainly the early 20th century galvanized roofs did; there were repeated articles in Railway Age about it. By 1937, you'd think paint methods were better, but of course for those later cars we have photo evidence, and no, those roofs didn't hold paint too great either.

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


Walter M. Clark
 

--- In STMFC@..., Anthony Thompson <thompson@...> wrote:

Walter M. Clark wrote:
I haven't been able to find anything about the early 20th century
(Harriman through USRA) and 1937 AAR house car roofs. Did these also
have the same problem?
Certainly the early 20th century galvanized roofs did; there
were repeated articles in Railway Age about it. By 1937, you'd think
paint methods were better, but of course for those later cars we have
photo evidence, and no, those roofs didn't hold paint too great either.

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

A follow-up: regarding the 1937 AAR house cars, about how long, on
average (I'm only asking for a reasonably close guess here <g>) did it
take for the paint to begin failing? I'm (eventually) building
several Red Caboose 1937 AAR box cars, both corner types, and am
modeling November 1941. I know an almost new car would still have
good paint on the roof. How long would it take before signs of
failure would have appeared?

Time stopped in November 1941
Walter M. Clark
Pullman, Washington, USA


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Walter M. Clark wrote:
A follow-up: regarding the 1937 AAR house cars, about how long, on average (I'm only asking for a reasonably close guess here <g>) did it take for the paint to begin failing? I'm (eventually) building several Red Caboose 1937 AAR box cars, both corner types, and am modeling November 1941.
Gosh, Walter, it must have varied <g>. But I'd guess that few 1937-design cars were showing much paint failure by 1941 (and remember that not all 1937 designs were BUILT in that year).

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


Denny Anspach <danspach@...>
 

Getting ordinary paint to stick on galvanized metal is a common problem that has never completely solved, as far as I know. The most common means of minimizing paint failure has been to apply on the clean galvanized surface a preliminary first coat of a weak acid, most commonly ordinary household vinegar. Whether or not the car builders routinely did that, i.e. cleaned the surface AND applied vinegar, I know not (but probably someone does).

Denny

Denny S. Anspach MD
Sacramento


Tim O'Connor
 

You all never heard of "acid rain"? The eastern U.S. was
a harsh environment for paint. I grew up in NJ in the 60's
and I can tell you that paint on autos deteriorated very
rapidly compared to places like California or Cuba... so I
am certain that rates of deterioration varied a lot around
the US.

There's a great photo inside the front cover of "West From
Omaha" of a 1-1/2 door CofG 1937 box car that shows peeled
paint on the roof, rusty seams and doors and faded paint -
a real case study in grime deposits and weathering.

Tim O'Connor

Walter M. Clark wrote:
A follow-up: regarding the 1937 AAR house cars, about how long, on
average (I'm only asking for a reasonably close guess here <g>) did it
take for the paint to begin failing? I'm (eventually) building
several Red Caboose 1937 AAR box cars, both corner types, and am
modeling November 1941.
Gosh, Walter, it must have varied <g>. But I'd guess that few
1937-design cars were showing much paint failure by 1941 (and remember
that not all 1937 designs were BUILT in that year).

Tony Thompson


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Tim O'Connor wrote:
You all never heard of "acid rain"? The eastern U.S. was a harsh environment for paint. I grew up in NJ in the 60's
and I can tell you that paint on autos deteriorated very rapidly compared to places like California or Cuba...
Sure. But autos weren't galvanized in those days. Please recall the original question. I do agree that there were regional variations in weather type and intensity--duh--but free-running cars like box cars tended to sample the entire range in their travels.

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


Tim O'Connor
 

Tony, I've seen plenty of photos of box car roofs and they show
anything but uniformity. The paint could be removed from a roof
from sitting for a few weeks next to sulfurous steel mills in the
rain. Box cars roamed freely but not identically. So any two cars
from the same order could weather differently. And paint can
deteriorate in much less time than what you suggested.

Sure. But autos weren't galvanized in those days. Please recall
the original question. I do agree that there were regional variations
in weather type and intensity--duh--but free-running cars like box cars
tended to sample the entire range in their travels.

Tony Thompson


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Tim O'Connor wrote:
Tony, I've seen plenty of photos of box car roofs and they show anything but uniformity.
No one, not me or anyone, has said that every car was the same, or every part of a roof was the same.

And paint can deteriorate in much less time than what you suggested.
I tried to give an average. Of course it could be less; it could also be much more. What's your point?

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


Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton <smokeandsteam@...>
 

<< But I'd guess that few
1937-design cars were showing much paint failure by 1941 (and remember
that not all 1937 designs were BUILT in that year).>>

I'm reluctant to pick nits with someone who knows as much as Tony
does, but 30-something years ago I helped paint a number of galvanised
house roofs.

Then experienced roof painters believed that a new tin roof needed a
year or two in the weather before the paint went on, otherwise
residues from the galvanising process would cause the paint to flake
and peel very quickly - possibly within a few months. We did one job
for a joker who thought he knew better and despite our best efforts
with brushes and soapy water the paint was coming off in some areas
within a couple of years.

As far as I know this need for weathering is still accepted wisdom
with conventional paint and while there are some fancy processes that
overcome these problems I don't think they were terribly common in the
steam age.

So, unless galvanised car roofs were aged before they were installed
or treated in some other way before the cars were painted, I can't
imagine that the flaking and peeling woudl be limited to a small
number of cars, but could be pretty widespread, especially as cars
will tend to experince movement and flexing which you wouldn't get in
a building.

That said, the effects of the flaking paint might not be terribly
visible if the roof had the usual coating of soot and cinders

Aidrian


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton wrote:
As far as I know this need for weathering is still accepted wisdom with conventional paint and while there are some fancy processes that overcome these problems I don't think they were terribly common in the steam age.
As it happens, Adrian, those "fancy processes" (or their predecessors) were established before WW I, and in the first 20 years of the last century you will find many, many articles in _Railway Age_ discussing how best to manage the painting of galvanized roof sheets. I too occasionally suffer from the delusion that only in the last few years has technology really been sophisticated, but despite that, I would dispute your apparent assumption that in the steam era, no one had any idea how to paint a galvanized surface.

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


water.kresse@...
 

Do we know what type of galvanizing process we are talking about? I assume some type of hot dipped line with a lesser coating thickness and spangle than the typical bucket and garbage can material? US Steel's Gray Works had an old building next to their newer Hot Dip line that they referred to as the bucket line.

Early automotive materials of the late-60s/early-70s were either paint-on (visible) or hot-dipped galvanized (hidden) sheet steel. The body shop would then use a phosphate wash and rise before electro-coating primming the steel before painting the fabricated bodies. It was a pain to spot weld.

There would be a minimum weight (ounces) of zinc per square yard specified.

Al Kresse

-------------- Original message --------------
From: Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...>

You all never heard of "acid rain"? The eastern U.S. was
a harsh environment for paint. I grew up in NJ in the 60's
and I can tell you that paint on autos deteriorated very
rapidly compared to places like California or Cuba... so I
am certain that rates of deterioration varied a lot around
the US.

There's a great photo inside the front cover of "West From
Omaha" of a 1-1/2 door CofG 1937 box car that shows peeled
paint on the roof, rusty seams and doors and faded paint -
a real case study in grime deposits and weathering.

Tim O'Connor

Walter M. Clark wrote:
A follow-up: regarding the 1937 AAR house cars, about how long, on
average (I'm only asking for a reasonably close guess here <g>) did it
take for the paint to begin failing? I'm (eventually) building
several Red Caboose 1937 AAR box cars, both corner types, and am
modeling November 1941.
Gosh, Walter, it must have varied <g>. But I'd guess that few
1937-design cars were showing much paint failure by 1941 (and remember
that not all 1937 designs were BUILT in that year).

Tony Thompson


Gatwood, Elden J SAD
 

Denny and all;



Faced with a large number of projects for which I had few answers, I have
been staring at in-service photos for months now trying to get up the courage
to finish some of these horrible weathering jobs off. I've done a few. A
number of them are really daunting.



Roofs are a big part of it. I have a lot of PRR cars to finish, and I think
I have some of their way of dealing with this issue partly figured out.



When the PRR was using plain-steel sheet for their lap-seamed roofs, they
seemed to have less paint flaking problems than when they went to galvanized
roofing (immediate post-war). This is not to say they did not have problem
with those roofs, they just laid on coats of asphaltum, if it leaked, but
otherwise, out of the shop, it was painted. The paint seems to have
gradually failed by erosion of its thickness and rust forming around seams
and rivet heads, again both of which could be temporarily cured by another
coat of asphaltum.



When they went to outside vendor galvanized roofing, with their big rebuild
campaigns, they created a whole different paint problem. The paint flaked
off the roofing, sometimes pretty quickly. The seam caps stayed painted
longer and gradually rusted up like the earlier sheeting. This created that
neat grey/silver sheeting and red/rust seam capping you see on so many cars,
not just PRR (I have photos of WAB, NKP, ATSF, NYC and others in front of
me). There are many subtleties in all this, when you look at a lot of
photos. The rivet heads along the side/roof juncture went to rust very
quickly, and are very visible on many of my photos as small brown dots.



This is also added to by the variations you seen in paint failure seen in
color shifting and rust bleed through. Earlier paints on the PRR seem to
have shifted toward orange and/or pinker versions of Freight Car Color, as
opposed to later versions, which shifted toward a bluish tan-brown or some
mess I haven't completely figured out.



Lastly, are these jobs where the paint has almost worn off. One X26 has me
in awe. The paint has almost completely worn off wood and steel
framing/ends/doors. It is a fascinating patina of gunmetal blue with rust
blotches on the steel, and a suite of pinks, tans, browns and hints of
original red, on the wood. The lettering is almost gone. I do not currently
have the courage to finish that job!



It takes an artist to see how some of this should be created. I wish I had
taken more art classes!



Elden Gatwood



________________________________

From: STMFC@... [mailto:STMFC@...] On Behalf Of Denny
Anspach
Sent: Saturday, October 11, 2008 12:50 PM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Paint Failure on Outside Metal Roofs



Getting ordinary paint to stick on galvanized metal is a common
problem that has never completely solved, as far as I know. The most
common means of minimizing paint failure has been to apply on the
clean galvanized surface a preliminary first coat of a weak acid, most
commonly ordinary household vinegar. Whether or not the car builders
routinely did that, i.e. cleaned the surface AND applied vinegar, I
know not (but probably someone does).

Denny

Denny S. Anspach MD
Sacramento


Bob McCarthy
 

Eldon,
 
     Having read your note on the heavily weathered PRR boxcar.  Having an art back- ground is nice, but not a requirement.  I have recently completed a Central of Georgia Boxcar. 
 
     First the boxcar was lettered.  Next, it was heavily weathered using washes of the basic car color.  That instantly ages the white lettering as if the white paint had washed off and/or faded.  That was followed by lightly sanding the car with 800 grit autobody sandpaper.  This wears lettering on high spots (rivet lines) providing further visual aging.  At this point a light coating of Dull Coat was added.  Then using Bragdon Enterprises (www.bragdonem.com) powdered colors, you can create many of the tones you discribed. 
 
     Tonight, I will photograph the car and send that image to you.  Hope this helps.
 
Bob McCarthy

--- On Tue, 10/14/08, Gatwood, Elden J SAD <elden.j.gatwood@...> wrote:

From: Gatwood, Elden J SAD <elden.j.gatwood@...>
Subject: RE: [STMFC] Re: Paint Failure on Outside Metal Roofs
To: STMFC@...
Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2008, 12:55 PM






Denny and all;

Faced with a large number of projects for which I had few answers, I have
been staring at in-service photos for months now trying to get up the courage
to finish some of these horrible weathering jobs off. I've done a few. A
number of them are really daunting.

Roofs are a big part of it. I have a lot of PRR cars to finish, and I think
I have some of their way of dealing with this issue partly figured out.

When the PRR was using plain-steel sheet for their lap-seamed roofs, they
seemed to have less paint flaking problems than when they went to galvanized
roofing (immediate post-war). This is not to say they did not have problem
with those roofs, they just laid on coats of asphaltum, if it leaked, but
otherwise, out of the shop, it was painted. The paint seems to have
gradually failed by erosion of its thickness and rust forming around seams
and rivet heads, again both of which could be temporarily cured by another
coat of asphaltum.

When they went to outside vendor galvanized roofing, with their big rebuild
campaigns, they created a whole different paint problem. The paint flaked
off the roofing, sometimes pretty quickly. The seam caps stayed painted
longer and gradually rusted up like the earlier sheeting. This created that
neat grey/silver sheeting and red/rust seam capping you see on so many cars,
not just PRR (I have photos of WAB, NKP, ATSF, NYC and others in front of
me). There are many subtleties in all this, when you look at a lot of
photos. The rivet heads along the side/roof juncture went to rust very
quickly, and are very visible on many of my photos as small brown dots.

This is also added to by the variations you seen in paint failure seen in
color shifting and rust bleed through. Earlier paints on the PRR seem to
have shifted toward orange and/or pinker versions of Freight Car Color, as
opposed to later versions, which shifted toward a bluish tan-brown or some
mess I haven't completely figured out.

Lastly, are these jobs where the paint has almost worn off. One X26 has me
in awe. The paint has almost completely worn off wood and steel
framing/ends/ doors. It is a fascinating patina of gunmetal blue with rust
blotches on the steel, and a suite of pinks, tans, browns and hints of
original red, on the wood. The lettering is almost gone. I do not currently
have the courage to finish that job!

It takes an artist to see how some of this should be created. I wish I had
taken more art classes!

Elden Gatwood

____________ _________ _________ __

From: STMFC@yahoogroups. com [mailto:STMFC@yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of Denny
Anspach
Sent: Saturday, October 11, 2008 12:50 PM
To: STMFC@yahoogroups. com
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Paint Failure on Outside Metal Roofs

Getting ordinary paint to stick on galvanized metal is a common
problem that has never completely solved, as far as I know. The most
common means of minimizing paint failure has been to apply on the
clean galvanized surface a preliminary first coat of a weak acid, most
commonly ordinary household vinegar. Whether or not the car builders
routinely did that, i.e. cleaned the surface AND applied vinegar, I
know not (but probably someone does).

Denny

Denny S. Anspach MD
Sacramento

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


















[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Charlie Duckworth <trduck@...>
 

I've been finishing up many of my builds with oil paints on the roof
for weathering. I'll mix up a medium grey from black & white and paint
an irregular line by the roof caps to denote where paint flaked off -
not unlike how the military modelers do with WWII wings where the
panels were chipped or walked on. Since it's oil and dries slowly you
can then blend different parts so you get a variation in grays. On the
cars with wooden roofs I'll spray rail brown as an undercoat and then
spray the final color over it. When dry take an Exacto No 11 and
scrape off the top color where the brown shows through on individual
boards. I just did a B&O M15e last night I went over the roof and car
sides and it really helped age the car.

Charlie


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Gatwood, Elden wrote:
When the PRR was using plain-steel sheet for their lap-seamed roofs, they seemed to have less paint flaking problems than when they went to galvanized roofing (immediate post-war).
Do you mean the PRR did not used galvanized roofing until World War II?? It is evident from Railway Age that many roads were using galvanized steel back in the days of inside and outside metal roofing. That dates back to around 1905.

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