box car paint scheme

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box car paint scheme
Posted by kenny dorham on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 12:13 PM

I realize that there ARE Many Different colors used on cars, but.....it seems that the Brown/Red, Rusty/Brown color was used by many different railroads for many years.

How did that, kind of, become the default box car paint scheme.?

Thank You

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 5:49 PM

Just guessing, but I suspect that the reason a lot of boxcars were painted red, or a variation thereof, was for the same reason barns were painted red.

Red paint was easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and durable.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 7:30 PM
Pb3O4, "red lead" was a cheap, easy to make protective pigment.
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 7:55 PM

     I'd say it was for the same reason that I see all the dark red BNSF grain hoppers. The rust doesn't show.

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 9:47 PM

Firelock76
Red paint was easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and durable.

Curiously, one of the legends of why fire trucks are red involved the fact that it was expensive, and early fire companies who painted their rigs red were showing off.

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 10:15 PM

tree68
 
Firelock76
Red paint was easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and durable. 

Curiously, one of the legends of why fire trucks are red involved the fact that it was expensive, and early fire companies who painted their rigs red were showing off.

Big difference between box car red and fire engine red.  On starts dull and stays that way with age - the other is kept polished so the firemen can see themselves in the paint.

         

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Posted by David1005 on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 12:12 AM

Railroad cars were traditionally painted the color of the contamination that would get on them. Oil and coal cars were painted black, cement hoppers were painted gray, and boxcars were painted to match the rust that would develope with age. 

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Posted by DSchmitt on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 3:40 AM

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 10:34 AM

DSchmitt

Red lead (not iron oxide), as well as white lead, pigment was widely used for years because it was a good preservative.  It is a dull red.  Look at barns and many railroad buildings besides boxcars and hoppers.

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, December 14, 2017 4:56 PM

I'd add that before 1859, all paint was based on natural materials like plants, minerals, or animal products. This meant the price was determined by how common or rare the ingredients were. Blue and purple were expensive to make (using ink or something from a sea creature IIRC) so were "royal" colors, since only they would afford it.

Iron is pretty common, like in red clay, and could be used to make a cheap, strong brownish-red paint, so became common for any wooden outdoor structure - barns, boxcars etc. When artificial colors came in, people continued painting their barns red, but when they asked for 'red paint' at the hardware store, they were given red paint that was actually red, rather than brownish-red.

BTW in the 1870's -1880's there were a lot of freight and passenger cars painted straw yellow.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, December 14, 2017 5:38 PM

Everyone may find this interesting, it's an 1835 recipe for farm paint.

To Make Farm Paint

Skimmed milk, four pounds or one half-gallon

Lime, six ounces

Linseed oil or neatsfoot, four ounces

Color, one and a half pounds

And for outside painting, add two ounces of slacked lime, oil, and turpentine.

Red oxide was preferred for the color, red clay was also used.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Thursday, December 14, 2017 9:52 PM

Firelock76

Everyone may find this interesting, it's an 1835 recipe for farm paint.

To Make Farm Paint

Skimmed milk, four pounds or one half-gallon

Lime, six ounces

Linseed oil or neatsfoot, four ounces

Color, one and a half pounds

And for outside painting, add two ounces of slacked lime, oil, and turpentine.

Red oxide was preferred for the color, red clay was also used.

 

So Right ! That concoction home brewed to paint barns seemed to last longer than the actual structures....And then you get down to the itenerant sign painters. Those were the guys who traveled, mostly in the South, finding the exact structures that they could paint and provide signage for the makers of 'Mail Pouch Tobacco', and of course, [See] 'Rock City'!   My guess is that the 'Burma Shave' signs were pained in a shop, and sent out with individuals who were paid to plant them alongside highways?  Whistling

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Thursday, December 14, 2017 10:57 PM

samfp1943
So Right ! That concoction home brewed to paint barns seemed to last longer than the actual structures....And then you get down to the itenerant sign painters. Those were the guys who traveled, mostly in the South, finding the exact structures that they could paint and provide signage for the makers of 'Mail Pouch Tobacco', and of course, [See] 'Rock City'!

   Remember the silo-sized Schlitz beer cans?

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, December 14, 2017 11:13 PM

Remains of a sign painted on the moutainside facing B&O's Harpers Ferry station pictured in 1937.

 

         

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, December 15, 2017 7:20 AM

wjstix

BTW in the 1870's -1880's there were a lot of freight and passenger cars painted straw yellow.

 

How could you tell? Every photo I've seen of those was black and white? Whistling

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, December 15, 2017 7:41 AM

Murphy Siding
How could you tell? Every photo I've seen of those was black and white?

Well, there were colorized (tinted) photos...

It is a curious problem, though.  We rarely think of how colorful things were "back in the day."

I've found evidence that my house was once painted peach, or something close, with brown trim.  Actually sounds rather attractive.

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, December 15, 2017 7:59 AM

samfp1943

 

 
Firelock76

Everyone may find this interesting, it's an 1835 recipe for farm paint.

To Make Farm Paint

Skimmed milk, four pounds or one half-gallon

Lime, six ounces

Linseed oil or neatsfoot, four ounces

Color, one and a half pounds

And for outside painting, add two ounces of slacked lime, oil, and turpentine.

Red oxide was preferred for the color, red clay was also used.

 

 

 

So Right ! That concoction home brewed to paint barns seemed to last longer than the actual structures....And then you get down to the itenerant sign painters. Those were the guys who traveled, mostly in the South, finding the exact structures that they could paint and provide signage for the makers of 'Mail Pouch Tobacco', and of course, [See] 'Rock City'!   My guess is that the 'Burma Shave' signs were pained in a shop, and sent out with individuals who were paid to plant them alongside highways?  Whistling

 

 

"See Rock City"--a barn was not a barn without a Rock City sign.

Even though I visited Chattanooga many times when I was in college, I never went to Rock City--I was a poor student, and did not feel that I could afford the admission.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, December 15, 2017 10:05 AM

If it didn't have a "See Rock City" ad, it definitely had this ad: "Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco, treat yourself to the best."

As an aside, I've seen birdhouses shaped like barns with a "See Rock City" ad on the roof.  I think that you can find them at Cracker Barrel restaurants.

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Posted by kenny dorham on Friday, December 15, 2017 8:45 PM

Per usual.....very interesting Info/Responses.

Thank You *:) happy

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, December 15, 2017 9:32 PM

     Didn't the red paint of old contain a lot of lead as a main ingredient to help prevent rust? When I was a kid (long ago and far away...) in the late 60's I lived in Alaska. In the fall, prison inmate work crews would go around and paint all the metal highway bridges. Everyone reffered to the paint used by them as red lead paint. It turned the bridges bright, dark red but they would fade to rusty brown by mid-summer.

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:09 AM

David1005
Railroad cars were traditionally painted the color of the contamination that would get on them. Oil and coal cars were painted black, cement hoppers were painted gray, and boxcars were painted to match the rust that would develope with age.

Interesting theory, except that railroads started painting boxcars reddish brown when they were made of wood and wood doesn't rust.  Actually on the wooden cars the metal parts were painted black.

Really the iron oxides were really cheap pigments and since they were already oxidized they didn't change color.  The popular early colors were oxide red, yellow/cream, white, black and green.  Red/brown, yellow, white and black were natural colors.  Cream was white and yellow, green was yellow and black.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:29 AM

dehusman
 
David1005
Railroad cars were traditionally painted the color of the contamination that would get on them. Oil and coal cars were painted black, cement hoppers were painted gray, and boxcars were painted to match the rust that would develope with age.

 

Interesting theory, except that railroads started painting boxcars reddish brown when they were made of wood and wood doesn't rust.  Actually on the wooden cars the metal parts were painted black.

Really the iron oxides were really cheap pigments and since they were already oxidized they didn't change color.  The popular early colors were oxide red, yellow/cream, white, black and green.  Red/brown, yellow, white and black were natural colors.  Cream was white and yellow, green was yellow and black.

 

Just a slight disagreement- I don't think yellow and black together would make green.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, December 16, 2017 10:06 AM

For those who might be interested I got the "Recipe For Farm Paint" from a book called "Eric Sloane's America,"  and if you're interested in Americana (I suspect most of the folks on this Forum are)  Eric Sloane is a man you should get to know, he's one of my favorite writers on the subject.  If you see any of his books on the subject anywhere grab them, you won't be disappointed!

He was quite the artist as well, here's two sites about him...

www.ericsloane.com

www.ericsloane.org

Well worth looking into.

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Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, December 16, 2017 10:28 AM

If you wish to learn how to make your own paint, here is a very informative video. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZgl2BfCsBg 

 

 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:03 AM

Uhhhh, I think I'll go to Ace Hardware instead.

There's a great story Groucho Marx told about W.C. Fields.  Groucho was visiting Fields' house and W.C. said "Hey Grouch, I've got something I've gotta show ya!"  They went down to Field's basement. W.C. pushed a button, and a wall panel opened revealing a HUGE secret room stocked with all kinds of liquor.

"What's all this for Bill?"  Groucho asked.

"It's here because of Prohibition!"  W.C. replied.

"Prohibition? Prohibition ended ten years ago!"

"Yeah, I know, but it might come back!"

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Posted by Jim611 on Saturday, December 16, 2017 9:11 PM

On a slightly different subject, why are most railroad bridges in the west painted silver, while most railroad bridges in the east painted black?

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, December 16, 2017 9:20 PM

A fair number are painted silver here - at least last time they were painted.  Many are simply rust red...

Seems like I recall reading of a major bridge over the Ohio River that finally got painted silver...

 

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Posted by CShaveRR on Saturday, December 16, 2017 10:57 PM

We have both silver and black bridges (as well as the "undecorated", or "too-long-ago-decorated" type) here at the Crossroads.  

The newest big bridge involving railroads is blue.  It stands out, for sure!  

We are due to get a couple of new bridges (expanded, really, but involving plenty of new steel) on our main line when they add a third track for the portions of the line that have only two.  Or perhaps the new girders will be pre-stressed concrete.  We should know in a year or so.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:19 PM

Jim611
On a slightly different subject, why are most railroad bridges in the west painted silver, while most railroad bridges in the east painted black?

Same reason a lot of western roads painted their undercarraiges silver, while eastern roads used black?

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, December 17, 2017 11:22 AM

From what I know, silver paint is very dense and provides excellent rust protection, the drawback is it's more expensive than black paint.

So, it's basically end users choice, if you've got the money you go silver, if not, you go black.

Here in the Richmond area CSX and NS don't seem to do either, there's railroad bridges here that haven't been painted in decades. 

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