Prototype paint question

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by sumpter250, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Running boards/roof walks, and tack boards, were they ever painted a different color than the surface they were mounted on?, or were they the same color as their background?
    This came up in a recent PM exchange, and I can't remember seeing too many color shots of steam era equipment to go to and verify what's what.

    "At the moment you're convinced that you know everything, some one comes along and asks a question" - anonymous
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You are right there is very little color photographs of the steam era. The first use of color in movies was Wizard of Oz. I think that movie was made about 1939 or so, but I'm not a movie buff so don't hold me to it. I don't think color film became common for the general public until after WW2. I also remember from my parents early color pictures from the early 1950's that the color faded and shifted relatively soon so that any color shots taken during the steam era would have probably shifted by now. For what it is worth, I don't think that box cars operated in the 1950's had contrasting roof walks if I remember correctly. I doubt that cars in the steam era would have contrasting roof walks if later model cars in the 1950's didn't have them. Of course if we are talking about the Norfolk and Western, the steam era didn't end until the early 1960's. I have noticed that none of the prepainted kits or r-t-r freight cars from the steam era have any sort of contrasting color for the roof walks. I would think that some manufacturer out there would have done a different color roof walk if it were prototypical. Intermountain, Kaddee, and Red Caboose go to great lengths to get their models as close to prototype as they can; and none of their models that I know of have contrasting color roof walks.
  3. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I am old enough to remember steam on the Long Island RR. Unfortunately, age has given me a memory upgrade........most of it is "write only" now, and access has become sequential, vice random.
    Logic would have me believe that roofwalks, would be the same color as the roof, and tackboards would be the same color as the car sides. The question is asked, to see if there were exceptions to that logic.
    Any color photos that would support the exceptions, would be greatly appreciated.
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I just thought to check the Yahoo group for So Cal Citrus Modelers. In the photo section,there are prototype pics of PFE & SFRD ice reefer cars in black and white and color. In every case the roof walks and hatches are the same color as the roof. In the case of PFE, the tack boards match the body color. In the case of SFRD, sometimes they match body color, sometimes the tack boards are black against the orange body color, and on some of the newer cars with the large circle/cross Santa Fe herald, the tack boards are mounted in the bottom of the cross and are black like the cross. There was also a collection of Photos from the Western Prototype Modelers on the site and all of the roof walks matched the roofs. I especially looked at a number of models made by Ed Martin. I think Ed Martin has been known to model scale, prototype, ice bunkers inside his refrigeration cars even though the bunker can not be seen. I'm sure he would model the car as painted and have a photograph to prove it. This is only a sampling of one type of car from 2 or 3 railroads, so it may not mean that none of the other railroads in the country did it any differently.
  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I only worry about 19th century practices - and of course, there's even less photographic evidence, and it's all black and white.

    From a practical point of view, roof walks and other walking surfaces made of wood would not have a normal paint job - when wet, way too slippery. the surfaces would either be left bare or sand or other anti-skid material added to the paint. This was even more important when roof walks were used regularly.
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    One place where there might be a difference is if the roofs were unpainted galvanized steel, and the roofwalks were painted with some other anti-slip and/or anti-rust paint during regular maintenance... But whether this actually occurred is another thing entirely...! ;)

  7. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I'm not sure this was a 19th century practice. Casualties to braklemen from falling off freight` cars were so common as to make me think they just took their chances, possibly with "hobnailed" work boots for traction.

    When weathering freight cars, however, the roofwalks are going to be slightly different in color from the additional wear they receive.
  8. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I think wooden roofwalks were left unpainted, because painted wet wood is very slick :)

  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I don't know what they used for paint or what sort of non-skid material they put in it, but the photographic evidence from the citrus modelers Yahoo group photo gallery shows that they definitely painted the roof walks. In the black & white prototype pics of men icing cars the gray of the roof walks matches the gray of the hatches and the roof. An unpainted walk would be a different shade of gray. I think most of the black & white pictures are from various historical archives and were made in the late 1930's or early 1940's. The prototype color pictures show the roof walks matching the hatches and roofs. Those pics were taken in the 1950's and early 1960s with the exception of the one old ice reefer that was off it's trucks looking like it was decaying. I'm not sure when that one was taken, but it was well after the ice bunker cars were discontinued.

    In addition, leaving a wooden roof walk unpainted would result in rapid weathering and cracking which could result in a man either being tripped by a large crack or falling because part of the roof walk broke away when he stepped on it.

    This has nothing to do with railroads, but when I was in the Coast Guard, every boat or ship had sand mixed into any top coat of paint used on any deck. I would imagine that the Navy had the same practice.
  10. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    In the 1930s, and possibly even earlier, car roofs and ends were sometimes coated with a product called roofing cement or waterproofing cement. I've been looking through magazines, as I know that I've read about this, but so far, all I could find were three references to black roofs. One was on a particular order of cars for the Great Northern, with both the roof and the running board painted black, while the other two were for Santa Fe rebuilt boxcars, where the roof and ends were black, but the running boards were boxcar red, like the carbody.

  11. ecenur

    ecenur New Member

    Yes, I agree with wayne, a lot of times they were coated with roofing cement. Now a days, people are actually buying them in certain colors or painting them certain color's however, I think that painting wet roofs would be hard.

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