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Paint color for Norfolk Southern

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  • Member since
    March 2007
  • 32 posts
Paint color for Norfolk Southern
Posted by johnnyrails on Thursday, June 3, 2021 9:30 AM

Hello all,

I'm going to paint and decal a NS MP15DC 

I kinda know it's black, but was wondering if a rattle can flat black would do the trick...


  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Maricopa, AZ
  • 212 posts
Posted by DanRaitz on Thursday, June 3, 2021 9:57 AM

I would go with a gloss black, makes it easier to apply decals (for which you need a glossy surface).

I would not reccommend a spray can from any big-box store (paint pigments to large), what you need is a spray designed for models. Tamiya is one brand that I use.

If women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy .... Red Green
  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 12,036 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, June 3, 2021 11:14 AM

I agree with Dan:  the gloss paint will be a lot better for decal application, and I've seen a lot more shiny NS diesels than I have flat-black ones.
If you want a less than pristine model, suitable weathering over a gloss finish will give your locomotive a more realistic appearance than will flat black.


  • Member since
    March 2007
  • 32 posts
Posted by johnnyrails on Friday, June 4, 2021 5:19 AM

Thanks for the information, 

Tamiya gloss black it is...


  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,371 posts
Posted by wjstix on Friday, June 4, 2021 9:39 AM

I would use Tamiya flat black and then later spray it with Tamiya gloss, then decal the engine and seal the decals in with flat spray before weathering. I like to use Solvaset to 'snuggle down' the decals, and I'm always a bit concerned that the Solvaset (or similar product) might affect the paint.

But that's just the way I do it - partly because of the paint concern, but also I use flat black for things like freight car underbodies, car and structure roofs, etc. so pretty much always have some handy.


  • Member since
    February 2021
  • 68 posts
Posted by KitbashOn30 on Sunday, June 6, 2021 8:03 AM

As has been said, gloss paint gives the right surface for good decal adhesion; and why add layers of paint you don't have to by going the flat-gloss-decal route.

Besides, NS paints the real deal gloss.

Has been since the 1990s that I've done any NS models.

Anyway, even after being out working in the weather there is often still a hint of gloss in the paint under the oxidation and dust and grime,


--> using both gloss and flat paints can create an effect like the difference in hood side doors and the hatches above them like on this one,

To do that one I'd paint hood & cab sides deep gloss black then walkways, cab roof, top of hood, with a flat black tweaked to be almost but not quite pure black.


 Something else which could be done is paint the wheels a grime color that's more brown than blackish grey,


  • Member since
    February 2015
  • 649 posts
Posted by NHTX on Sunday, June 6, 2021 1:18 PM

     I totally agree with painting the locomotive with a gloss.  Painting it 100% jet black, is not what I would suggest.  Our indoor lighting at its best, still does not match the brilliance of natural light.  Objects painted dead black become simply shapes, as the paint seems to darken and suck in the light, obscuring all the detail we work so hard, and pay so much for.  I use a 90-95% black, depending on the age of the paint I'm representing on the model.

     The black I use is a mix of the black paint with 8-3% white and the balance boxcar red or rust.  Notice the locomotives in the photos linked by KitbashOn30, are still glossy under the natural accumulation of road grime, which lightens them and enhances their detail, even under less than ideal daylight.  Good examples of scale, indoor "black" can be found on the steamers as modeled by Dr. Wayne. 

     At one time a company known as Pactra made a very dark primer in rattle cans for model automobiles that was ideal for painting "black" trains.  Are they still around or, like so many of the better things we had, alles kaput?

  • Member since
    November 2006
  • From: NW Pa Snow-belt.
  • 1,948 posts
Posted by ricktrains4824 on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 6:54 PM

Gloss Black.

Once thoroughly cured - Decal - Seal with Gloss once completed.

THEN use whatever finish (Dead Flat, Semi-Gloss, Matte, etc..) you desire.

(Why Gloss after Decals? Decal film shows up way too much on black, but another Gloss coat hides it extremely well, better in my experience than flat. {Your Experience May Vary.} Once the gloss has cured, any finish will work.)

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

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