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Locomotive Painting

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Locomotive Painting
Posted by PJS1 on Thursday, April 23, 2020 10:34 PM

How often does a major carrier, i.e. UP, BNSF, NS, CSX repaint their locomotives?

Are the repaints usually done in-house or are they outsourced?

What type of paint is used?

 

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, April 24, 2020 10:09 AM

The most common paint used is Du Pont Imron.  I'm sure that there are other brands for that purpose.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, April 24, 2020 10:53 AM

PJS1
What type of paint is used?

There is a detailed technical discussion of this currently going on on RyPN (the name of the thread referencing Imron) that you should probably read for background and context.

In the 'old days' painting was done differently by some roads -- the fun painting of PRR P5a electric frames being something Staufer went into in some detail.  The days of dip black are probably long over at any current Class I, and perhaps at many of the Class II and smaller as well.

Something that has come out of this is the increasing incidence of cheap 'patching' to put a locomotive with still-serviceable paint into service.  I don't know if the "C&NW" locomotives are still being actively kept out of the paint shop, but they certainly seem to have had some organized support; up until very recently (and quite possibly, still) you'll see 'executive scheme' (aka 'Grinstein green') paint on locomotives on unit coal trains here ... think about how many years that paint will have survived without expensive recoat.

From what I have read,at least several of the Class Is do their painting in-house, at a limited number of shops that presumably have the careful respiration, overspray recovery, and very important training that goes with spraying a catalyzed polyester or urethane multipart paint.  I believe Jenks in North Little Rock is one such facility.

What leasing companies use is probably outsourced, although I have no real idea who the contractors would be, or what the selection criteria would be.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, April 24, 2020 11:39 AM

Locally, CSX only seems to repaint when a locomotive goes in for a major overhaul, they never seem to be in a rush to repaint otherwise.  I've seen CSX locomotives ranging from a "showroom new" appearance to something resembling a self-propelled slum. 

I'm sure other 'roads have their own criterion.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, April 24, 2020 6:28 PM

My understanding that the cost of painting a locomotive is somewhere between $20K abd $40K.  Paint isn't cheap and the time and manpower necessary to get the locomotive 'in shape' to be painted is not inconsequential.

Earl Sheib never opened a paint shop for locomotives for $99.95.

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, April 25, 2020 9:57 AM

Of course, if Earl Scheib did the paint job, it would probably look pretty ratty within a couple of months.

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Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, April 26, 2020 9:37 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
  Of course, if Earl Scheib did the paint job, it would probably look pretty ratty within a couple of months. 

Most of my train watching is along the UP and/or BNSF in central and south Texas.  In addition to the UP and BNSF locomotives, I frequently see Ferromex, KCS, and NS locomotives.  

The color schemes on the UP, Ferromex, and KCS locomotives are appealing.  But the color scheme on the BNSF not so much. 

I am not sure what to call the color on the BNSF locomotives.  Is it orange or a derivative thereof?  I get the black.  Who came up with it? 

I wonder if Earl had some paint that he could not fob off on anyone else and sold it to BNSF at a deep discount.  Or maybe just gave it to them.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, April 26, 2020 11:01 AM

Those BNSF "pumpkin" paint schemes don't look all that bad in my opinion, I guess that post-merger they wanted to come up with something that reflected neither predecessor 'road.

If it was up to me I would have gone with the Santa Fe's historic and dramatic "Warbonnet" scheme and applied it to everything (Not overnight of course, but as repainting came due.) but they didn't ask my opinion.  

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 26, 2020 12:46 PM

Remember that ATSF came late to the BNSF party, as something of a supplicant.  And their part of the 'pumpkin' scheme is the stylized cross on the nose.

Anyone who doesn't see where the orange came from must be assuming the NORTHERN in the name means 'Northern Pacific' only.  Otherwise he'd be naive ... or perhaps blind.  (Of course this begs the question of whether 'pumpkin' orange actually properly evokes GN Big Orange... but there are other places 'tribute' schemes can get the colors a bit wonky or worse...)

I'll take pumpkins over that awful green and black BN scheme any day.  For some reason that was always instantly depressing to me, even when brand new out of the paint shop.  The same thing in orange or yellow was delightful (e.g.on Milwaukee) but all it ever reminded me of was sullen, cold, perpetual Northwest Coast rain, and mold forming and moss growing.  We had some of the last of the engines painted that way at a couple of the ex-Frisco facilities around Memphis, but I rejoiced inside whenever one went to the paint shop or was swapped out for another in pumpkin.

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Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, April 26, 2020 2:10 PM
Pumpkin is it?  Well, what do you know?  I learn something new every day.  Of course, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  For what it is worth, which admittedly is not much, I would have opted for a green and yellow scheme or something with purple in it.  Anything but pumpkin! 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 26, 2020 3:14 PM

PJS1
For what it is worth, which admittedly is not much, I would have opted for a green and yellow scheme or something with purple in it.  Anything but pumpkin! 

Remind me who had purple in the companies that were joined in BN.  The immediate thing that comes to mind is ACL.  (And I'll immediately confirm that as a CSX livery choice!)

I did think for some reason that the early 'pumpkin' heritage schemes were using dark green as the color to go with the orange (for NP and GN together? Like that 'Pull' for me and 'man' for you anecdote?), and to be honest it's warmer if not as elegant as Executive Scheme.

Now of course where is the Burlington part of the BNSF scheme?  Scarlet and silver and red need to be in there somewhere!

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, April 26, 2020 7:35 PM

Overmod
 
PJS1
For what it is worth, which admittedly is not much, I would have opted for a green and yellow scheme or something with purple in it.  Anything but pumpkin!  

Remind me who had purple in the companies that were joined in BN.  The immediate thing that comes to mind is ACL.  (And I'll immediately confirm that as a CSX livery choice!)

...

The ACL purple looked regal when fresh - looked like a faded dish rag when weathered, which happened in a realatively short period of time after painting - especially under the Florida Sun.

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Posted by JPS1 on Sunday, April 26, 2020 10:27 PM

Overmod
 Remind me who had purple in the companies that were joined in BN.  

Why go with anything from the predecessor companies? Why not build a new image?
 
I worked for a Fortune 225 Corporation that was formed from three predecessor operating companies.  We did not adopt any of their logos or color schemes for our new logo, color schemes, or advertising footprint.
 
I have a problem with corporate types that want to hang onto the way it was when doing so is probably marginal at best. 
 
I was at my favorite BNSF watching spot this afternoon.  The latest BNSF scheme does not have the Santa Fe emblem on the front of the locomotive. 
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Posted by Miningman on Monday, April 27, 2020 1:33 AM

Yes BNSF seems to give a nod to everyone except Burlington. Was thinking the same thing as Overmod. Suppose the consolation prize is the B to start things off. 

Now JPS1 says the Sante Fe cross is starting to disappear too. 

I agree 100% , they should have gone for something new and fresh. 

BNSF is a terrible name, so is CSX. What the heck. Been around a while now, bet they are scared to change and very costly at this point. 

Bet we could come up with some great ideas though! We have a lot of smart people here who actually give a fig! 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 27, 2020 5:54 AM

JPS1
Why go with anything from the predecessor companies? Why not build a new image?

This is often a fun topic in marketing discussions.  A large part of it is usually considerations involving aspects of 'brand loyalty' -- your renamed firm has to maintain perception of things like trust and competence while appealing to the 'new'.  Sometimes this is brilliant; sometimes it backfires.

I purposely leave out what happens when a 'brand' loses its historical trust -- perhaps as utterly as the post-Enron-scandal Andersen -- and has to rebadge before it can really pick a good image, logo, name etc.  Thus we get the sort of thing like Accenture, where nobody can quite figure out who programmed the naming computer.  And the new company presumably muddled through on internal merit and luck until it has its 'new' reputation built to comparable standing to the old.  When Standard of NJ decided to lose that ol' hidebound Standard Oil history, they fired up their naming computer (and it's probably a good thing they got Loews to make the result memorable).  I will grant you I'd believe an Exxon typesetter more than an Esso one.

Then there are the mass abandonment cases, of which I always thought Nissan abandoning 'Datsun' was one.  Railroads that want to have people forget the 'past' are in this, but there are peculiarly few of these that did it completely.  Family Lines and later CSX are a couple that 'hang on' to the legacy while getting rid of much of the individual historical stuff; Chessie System certainly was for the B&O as I think ICG was for GM&O.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, April 27, 2020 7:23 AM

Personally, when I see companies renaming themselves, my initial throughts are what major F ups and failure are they trying to hide and put behind them.

 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, April 27, 2020 8:00 AM

The original BNSF paint schematic was definitely orange and dark green.

They swapped out the green for black on their later derivatives.

When the green got grimy it looked almost black.

https://www.railpictures.net/photo/53875/

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Posted by caldreamer on Monday, April 27, 2020 8:19 AM

Too get back on the subject of locomotive painting.  I checked and a quart of the Dupont paint costs $86.  How much paint does it take ot paint a locomotive.  With cost of the paint and accelerator and thinner, it is very expensive even without th labor costs.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 27, 2020 11:25 AM

caldreamer
I checked and a quart of the Dupont paint costs $86.  How much paint does it take to paint a locomotive. 

It differs somewhat with the size of the locomotive, area to be painted that particular color, and complexity of surfaces to be painted.  It also depends on the type of equipment that applies the paint.

By far your best bet is to ask this on RyPN in the existing "Imron" thread -- and while you are there PM "Pat" (who is in the specific paint business for locomotives) and ask him detailed questions as they occur to you during discussion.  You will likely learn many times more there than in discussions with general railfans or part-time preservationists... 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, April 27, 2020 6:37 PM
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Posted by NittanyLion on Monday, May 18, 2020 9:41 AM

caldreamer

Too get back on the subject of locomotive painting.  I checked and a quart of the Dupont paint costs $86.  How much paint does it take ot paint a locomotive.  With cost of the paint and accelerator and thinner, it is very expensive even without th labor costs.

 

Just yesterday, I bought a little 8oz can of flat black Rustoleum latex.  It was $5.  I could buy 2 of them, for a whopping 16oz, the same price as the 32oz can.

And same here.  A gallon of Imron is about $115.  Four quarts is $344, at $86 a quart.

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Posted by NDG on Monday, May 18, 2020 12:42 PM

 

CP 6538.
 
The Word is this locomotive was NEVER repainted.
 
1980
 
 
Retired  July 1985. Photo August 1985.
 
 

Thank You.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, May 18, 2020 1:02 PM

NDG
The Word is this locomotive was NEVER repainted.

To give some idea how paints have improved since then, that locomotive was built (and presumably painted) in 1955, so when it was retired it was 30 years.  There were locomotives painted in the BNSF 'executive' scheme still in service relatively recently, with relatively good unweathered paint; those have to be comparable in longevity...

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, May 18, 2020 2:28 PM

NDG
 
CP 6538.
 
The Word is this locomotive was NEVER repainted.
 
1980
 
 
Retired  July 1985. Photo August 1985.
 

Thank You.

It never had to withstand the Florida Sun.  The Florida Sun and the Florida enviornment do wonders to shorten paint's longevity.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, May 18, 2020 4:27 PM

But it did endure the harsh Canadian winter, and the rapid, dramatic temperature changes we can experience.  Expansions and contractions are not easy on metal and paint. 

CN's locomotives built during the early to mid-1990s (late Dash-8's, early Dash-9's and SD70/75's) have experienced a lot more rapid fading and peeling paint than older units.  This must have been due to a change in the paint formula, CN's colours and logo have remained constant since 1961. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, May 18, 2020 5:58 PM

SD70Dude
But it did endure the harsh Canadian winter, and the rapid, dramatic temperature changes we can experience.  Expansions and contractions are not easy on metal and paint. 

CN's locomotives built during the early to mid-1990s (late Dash-8's, early Dash-9's and SD70/75's) have experienced a lot more rapid fading and peeling paint than older units.  This must have been due to a change in the paint formula, CN's colours and logo have remained constant since 1961. 

Personal observation based on automotive paints.  Starting in the late 70's and early 80's the manufacturers began using form of paint 'clear coat'.  The color coat goes on and is then followed by a clear coat.  When the paint job is new it has a great shine and luster - as the paint ages, so does the clear coat to one extent or another - in many cases the UV light from sunlight appears to 'sunburn' the clear coat.  Like many cases of sunburn in humans, the sun burnt clear coat does its own imitation by blistering and peeling.

I believe that the EPA enacted various regulations that eliminated the use of various solvents and other chemicals that were part of 'old time' paints since many of them had cancer causing properties for the workers involved in the painting process.  It has taken the paint industry a number of years to improve their products to give them longer lives with the revised formulations.

While railroad locomotive and car painting is not done to the finish standards expected in the automotive world - the paint vendors have to service both markets.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 10:08 AM

One observation I've noted in both applications: some red paints tend to fade badly, more so than other colors.

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Posted by BLS53 on Sunday, June 7, 2020 3:44 AM

Flintlock76

Those BNSF "pumpkin" paint schemes don't look all that bad in my opinion, I guess that post-merger they wanted to come up with something that reflected neither predecessor 'road.

If it was up to me I would have gone with the Santa Fe's historic and dramatic "Warbonnet" scheme and applied it to everything (Not overnight of course, but as repainting came due.) but they didn't ask my opinion.  

 

The orange has always looked to me, as a descendant of the GN livery of the 1960's. As if BNSF acknowledges that GN is the dominant road. Just as the UP, C&O, and NW, are apparent with the UP, CSX, and NS. 

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