Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

DM&IR Yellowstone paint colors

5394 views
32 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2018
  • 6 posts
DM&IR Yellowstone paint colors
Posted by Lewis A. Clark on Friday, December 28, 2018 9:51 PM

I am lookling to rework an AHM Big Boy I have recently acquired into a DM&IR Yellowstone. What paints would work best to duplicate the "Russian Iron" gray boiler jacket seen in color photographs. I prefer Scalecoat II, but if another brand in more accurate then so be it. Any suggestions would be welcomed.Image result for dm&ir yellowstone paint scheme

The American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.  

Will Rogers

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 7,897 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 2:15 PM

Welcome.  I guess eveyone missed your post!  Lots of steam guys on here, someone will see this and help you out.

Russian iron, I had to search and check it out.  Starts out as a smooth shiny black finish that doesn't chip or crack when it's bent.

Seems like it was a big favorite here in the US for steam engine boilers.

Looks like the locomotive in your picture might just be a bit faded.

See if this link works, it's a discussion about russian iron from 2007

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/107697.aspx

If not, maybe copy and paste.

Mike.

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 12,513 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:30 PM

Hello, Mr. Clark Welcome

I had been following threads by member Antonio FP45 here and on other forums regarding his techniques with a product called Alclad 2.

I took the plunge about a year ago as I had some HO passenger cars that I wanted to apply as close to a stainless steel finish as possible.

If you have basic airbrushing skills you can use Alclad and get good results. My first trial with the process resulted in a too dark finish for my taste, but this would probably have been perfect for your Russian metal.

 Kato_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

 

I used too dark of an undercoat (Scalecoat NYC Dark Gray) and I used "Stainless Steel" Alclad but should have used chrome. I stripped it and re-shot it with a lighter base coat and the chrome Alclad.

The Alclad must be sealed with their clear coat. In my case I was applying decals and I wanted a clean passenger car look but you might want to use a slightly flatter clear coat.

 IMG_9808_fix2 by Edmund, on Flickr

 IMG_9927_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

The pigments used in the Alclad are very fine and produce an excellent metallic finish.

http://alclad2.com/

 Here's a Kadee PS-1 that I'm painting to represent one of ten aluminum express cars the Nickel Plate Road had:

 NKP_Express2 by Edmund, on Flickr

This is the Scalecoat 2 NYC light gray base coat.

And after the Alclad 2:

 NKP_Express4 by Edmund, on Flickr

Good Luck, Ed

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Huntsville, AR
  • 1,222 posts
Posted by oldline1 on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 9:21 PM

I believe the DM&IR merely painted the boiler jackets gray on the Yellowstones and some other engines. I'm pretty certain they weren't Russia Iron.

oldline1

  • Member since
    January 2015
  • From: Duluth, MN
  • 409 posts
Posted by OT Dean on Thursday, January 17, 2019 1:16 AM

oldline1

I believe the DM&IR merely painted the boiler jackets gray on the Yellowstones and some other engines. I'm pretty certain they weren't Russia Iron.

oldline1

 

I think you're right.  I've visited the one they have in the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and it does seem to be paint.  Actual Russia Iron boiler jackets ranged anywhere from a bluish silver, as on the B&O's locos, Back When, to a rich, deep blue as seen in my Paul Detlefsen print of a gaudy 4-4-0 coming round the mountain's shoulder (if you look it up on the internet, you'll see what I mean; what a beauty!)  Now all he needs is for someone in the know to name the paint for him.  Have fun!

Deano

Re-edit: I'm watching the annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction from Scottsdale, AZ, and was just reminded of a reply from a model railroading guru regarding a color match for Russia Iron for boiler jackets.  As I said above, apparently, the color varied, depending on the process used, from a silvery color to a beautiful blue, and this expert replied to the query in MR, way back when.  According to him, a readily available (back then!) auto color, VW "Polar Silver Blue," was a dead match for the most common silvery Russia Iron.  I didn't mention this when I wrote this reply, since there's been so much water under the bridges over the Mittelland Canal at Wolfsburg, Germany, since that time.  A Porsche 911 just went across the block in "Polar Silver" paint, and I can see how much it resembles the boiler jackets of the B&O locos of the 1890-1910 era!  Due to the Volkswagen/Porsche connections, this is probably the same color.  Just thought I'd toss that out there for whatever it's worth.  OTD

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,212 posts
Posted by wjstix on Friday, January 18, 2019 2:53 PM

Ya, Russian/Prussian Iron boilers were more a 19th century thing. The DMIR engines just had paint. I don't know I've ever seen a recommendation on the specific color paint to use, it's basically just a light/medium gray. I seem to recall years back in the Missabe Historical Society's "Ore Extra" someone recommending what they called "warm gray", which IIRC was gray with a few drops of red mixed in. In service, the engines weathered with coal smoke (and a little iron ore dust) so the original color was kinda hidden.

Stix
  • Member since
    March 2017
  • 5,665 posts
Posted by Track fiddler on Friday, January 18, 2019 5:14 PM

I was in Duluth last June.  These are the pictures from the depot. The Yellowstone is packed in there pretty tight at the Museum so it's hard to get good pictures but I do remember seeing Gray. 

Especially this one you can see the gray.

That's all I got for now.      Track Fiddler

  • Member since
    December 2014
  • 418 posts
Posted by Wolf359 on Saturday, January 19, 2019 2:33 PM

Looking at the photos on here and from a Bing search of DM&IR Yellowstones, I'd be inclined to call it either a slategray or battleship gray. I don't know what Scalecoat ll offers in the way of those colors, but I believe ModelMaster has a color they call "Gunship Gray" that would probably be a close match.

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 7,897 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, January 19, 2019 3:08 PM

The OP started the thread on 12-28-18, it was unread until I bumped it on the 1-15.  Wonder if he's still out there?

Mike.

  • Member since
    December 2018
  • 6 posts
Posted by Lewis A. Clark on Saturday, January 19, 2019 7:08 PM

Still here. Saw no activity for quite some time, so I thought the post had been sent to the scrapper. Am inclined to agree with several of the posts that state it's probably not Russian Iron. My source at my local trainshop agrees that Russian Iron has a bluish cast to it right along the lines of gunmetal blue and color images do not seem to support that.

All the color photos I have seen show either a light gray or something a tad darker. I used to be a World War II ship modeler and I am thinking either Light or Dark Sea Gray or maybe German Gray. Looking at promo shots of MTH's DM&IR Yellowstone, its looks like Dark Sea Gray to me. In any case, I think I may err towards a lighter shade so I can highlight the smoke/fire box areas in graphite.

Thanks for all that revived the thread from its obscurity. I'll post photos when it's done.

The American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.  

Will Rogers

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,212 posts
Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 11:16 AM

Since the boiler jacketing covered the smokebox too, it would all be the same color.

http://www.steamlocomotive.com/whyte/2-8-8-4/USA/photos/dmir221-gallagher.jpg

If anything, I've seen some photos of Missabe engines where the smokebox area appears darker than the gray boiler, but I suspect that was just because of weathering from the coal smoke.

 

Stix
  • Member since
    March 2017
  • 5,665 posts
Posted by Track fiddler on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 12:51 PM

On my lunch break so I thought I'd see what's kicking on the Forum. 

I talked to Josh Miller the manager of the Duluth Depot.  I left a message with him and he returned my call yesterday morning. He said the color match was taken from the color Russian iron as was mentioned here. He said he didn't know what their original color was called but said he would ask some of the other guys when he sees them throughout this week.  That's all I got.

TF

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,274 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 1:14 PM

http://rgusrail.com/mndmir225.html

This big web page--about half way across--specifically states the DM&IR Yellowstones were delivered with dark green boiler and smokebox jacketing--not grey, which apparently became common later.

This was during the 1940's, and color photos from the war years in particular are rare, but is in line with paint practices on other large articulateds constructed during the late 1930's for Rio Grande, Western Pacific, and others.  Some of those were black, and some were dark green.

Respectfully submitted--

John

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,212 posts
Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 1:37 PM

MTH's HO scale DMIR Yellowstone has a gray boiler that has a slightly greenish tinge.

https://www.trains.com/mrr/news-reviews/reviews/staff-reviews/mth-ho-scale-dmir-2-8-8-4-yellowstone/

Before that model came out a few years ago, I had never seen anyone reference any DMIR (or D&IR / DM&N) engines having green boiler color. On the other hand, many DMIR engines have been referenced to as having gray boiler paint, while some were black.

Stix
  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,274 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 3:40 PM

MTH advertised the new, 2021 (final) run of 2-8-8-4's very clearly as having a very green, or even blue-green, boiler jacket, in the MTH catalog.  (Actually very similar to Rio Grande articulateds.)

I have two of these new 2021 engines.  They are definitely much more green than grey, which I believe to be correct for "as delivered" at least under fluorescent indoor light.  (Outside in bright sunlight, they do appear to be closer to grey.)  The difference is noticeable particularly next to any UP diesel; they are not grey.

I am not disputing the late 1950's color of the steamers being a grey, but it is very likely that was not always the case.

Even in the case of Rio Grande steam power, color photos of actual green articulateds are relatively rare, but during the exhaustive research of many brass models, it was concluded that the actual color was in fact a dark green on many of them, at least for a time, before succombing to black.

John

  • Member since
    February 2021
  • 55 posts
Posted by KitbashOn30 on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 10:16 PM

Lewis A. Clark
My source at my local trainshop agrees that Russian Iron has a bluish cast to it right

Okay, it is some time after the post ...

I would ask the question, does Russia Iron have a bluish cast, or ...

is it reflecting the blue sky like the shiny black MILW 4-8-4 here,
https://www.railpictures.net/photo/675271/

and N&W 611 here,
https://www.railpictures.net/photo/573423/

and ATSF 3751 here, 
https://www.railpictures.net/photo/322818/

There used to be an Early Rail Yahoo group which is now on Groups IO, and as might be deduced there has been much discussion of Russia Iron there; including people who have museum access to material fragments and samples.


The material is also discussed in a book by John H. White, Jr, a prior curator at the Smithsonian, American Locomotives: An Engineering History, 1830-1880.

Russia Iron is normally Not as blue as depicted in art.

And usually nowhere near as blue.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,619 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, May 6, 2021 7:13 AM

I think we have several past threads on this material.

There are two 'Russia Irons': the original semi-trade-secret, and an American re-creation of the process.  They both amount to contact carbiding of the surface, the attractiveness for boilers being a noncorroding sheet capable of enduring high spot heating.  They are different in color range, the original being a kind of mottled greenish-gray, the American process apparently being more grayish.

I thought the most recent picture posted in this thread was reasonably close to a correct color for the material.  There is no "blue" in the product, let alone a blued appearance (like gun or watch bluing) as in an interference oxide layer (the straw to purple to blue of heat oxidation) -- the discussions I have read have favored the 'sky reflection' as to how a blue appearance comes about.

I thought for many years that "Russian iron" was blued sheet, the same color range and appearance as gun or watch-part blue, and even designed accordingly.  I did think it was unusual that such a product was fully rustproof in general service, but accepted it as historical -- I shouldn't have.

 

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,274 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, May 6, 2021 10:08 AM

However, by the 1930's, the actual use of Russian Iron for steam locomotive boilers was phased out in the US, and railroads began using paints to achieve the "look" that they thought was appropriate.  So at that point the various railroads had different interpretations of the color that they wanted their boilers to be painted.  The actual colors used varied from a lighter green on the Texas & Pacific to very dark greens on GN, D&RGW, NP, SP&S and others.  SP is famous for painting switchers in everything from dark blue to dark green and also grey.  There are books that discuss SP boiler paint colors in great detail, including a rather lengthy "Russian Iron" paint discussion.

All the paint colors used oxidized and weathered, and color photos from that time period are rare.  As I said previously there are a handful of Rio Grande articulated photos in Morning Sun book(s) that do reflect the weathered green boilers.

Presumably the DM&IR engines faced some extreme weather conditions, and it is clear from the photos in the Morning Sun book that they were repainted quite often--but most likely not in the as-delivered color.  There are photos of DM&IR steam engines being freshly painted (in the grey, during the late 1950's) and ready to go for the beginning of the spring ore season.

Again, "Russian Iron" paint color should not be confused with the actual color of Russian Iron metal.

Respectfully submitted--

John Mock

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,274 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, May 6, 2021 10:12 AM

Santa Fe had most boilers fully jacketed--and painted BLACK.

The grey color on the front of the smokebox of ATSF 3751 is a color that Santa Fe called "Tarpon Grey".

Santa Fe did NOT use Russian Iron boilers or paint color, at least not after the early years of the 20th Century.

All Santa Fe steamers, except the Blue Goose, and the Cyrus K. Holiday, and perhaps one other early steam survivor, were painted black.

John

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,212 posts
Posted by wjstix on Thursday, May 6, 2021 10:38 AM

PRR8259
The actual colors used varied from a lighter green on the Texas & Pacific to very dark greens on GN, D&RGW, NP, SP&S and others.

Great Northern's "Glacier Park" steam locomotive scheme has often been described as "gray-green", not really all that dark.

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSoBsGIc_KEoO2uHxfTjZghzKCxeRCiZwY3-u3T52lNjBrMZbguT6IhiTZwEVkTX0yL1co&usqp=CAU

PRR8259
Presumably the DM&IR engines faced some extreme weather conditions, and it is clear from the photos in the Morning Sun book that they were repainted quite often--but most likely not in the as-delivered color.

Since ore shipping shut down during the winter, the Missabe's repair crews had all winter to work on equipment, so I wouldn't be surprised if their engines were repainted each winter. There's a lot of photos of DMIR engines in regular service looking clean with white lined tires and such.

IIRC some DMIR Yellowstones were leased to the D&RGW and worked there before coming to Minnesota for the iron ore season. It could be at that time they had a slightly greenish boiler color that was soon changed to light gray. Maybe a picture from that time is what MTH used?

Personally, as an iron ore modeller and long-time DMIR fan I would much rather see a DMIR steam engine model be produced with the "normal" gray boiler, not in the colors it may or may not have worn for a brief time early in it's career.

Stix
  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Maricopa, AZ
  • 205 posts
Posted by DanRaitz on Friday, May 7, 2021 9:34 AM

wjstix
IIRC some DMIR Yellowstones were leased to the D&RGW and worked there before coming to Minnesota for the iron ore season. It could be at that time they had a slightly greenish boiler color that was soon changed to light gray. Maybe a picture from that time is what MTH used?

 

During WW2 the DMIR Yellowstones spent the summers hauling iron ore in Minnesota and the winters on the DRGW.

 

If women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy .... Red Green
  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,274 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, May 7, 2021 11:26 AM

Someone found and posted a link to a definitely green DM&IR yellowstone color photo.  See my next post below.

John

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,274 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, May 7, 2021 11:43 AM
  • Member since
    March 2017
  • 5,665 posts
Posted by Track fiddler on Friday, May 7, 2021 12:17 PM

I'd pull a tooth out of the left side of my head for an N scale model like thatLaugh  I have only seen one DMIR Yellowstone N scale model at Hub Hobby in Richfield.  That was many years ago before I was back in the hobby again.  I didn't forget the price I saw either, $1100.00  Yikes!  It had to be brass at that price as that was 15-20 years ago.

 

 

 

TF

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,212 posts
Posted by wjstix on Monday, May 10, 2021 12:15 PM

PRR8259

 
That same photo is also in David C. Schauer's book "Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railway In Color" (page 42), and in the book it looks gray, not green. Note that pic was taken in 1961 on a fantrip, about a year after the Yellowstone's last hauled an ore train. There a number of other pics in the book of DMIR steam, and they appear to all have gray boilers not green.
 
Interestingly, Frank A. King is his book "Locomotives of the Duluth Missabe and Iron Range" describes as a teenager seeing the first Yellowstone when it was delivered in May 1941 as having "Russian-iron finish". The next month he took a cabride on an ore train with his father, who, like Frank King, spent his career as a Missabe official. He later in the chapter on Yellowstones refers to their "gray boiler".
 
I just think one reference to a green boiler, one picture that may show a green boiler (or a shiny gray boiler reflecting the grass around it) and one model from a company known to be a bit inconsistent with prototype fidelity doesn't mean it's green. I just can't believe that, as a member of the Missabe Railroad Historical Society since about 1985, that everyone involved with the society, all the former employees, the entire staff at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum etc. etc. are all wrong when they refer to these engines having gray boilers. If 99% of the evidence says gray and 1% says green, I'd go with gray.
Stix
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,619 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, May 10, 2021 2:44 PM

Stix, can you get the actual paint codes used originally and 'later' for the jacket paint?  This will address 'as-painted' color definitively, and give the paint experts a leg up on how the paint type and color might weather.

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,274 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Monday, May 10, 2021 3:07 PM

Stix--

I would like to point out that there is a WEBSITE saying they were delivered in dark green, so it's NOT like MTH is the only "source".  I didn't just dream this up out of thin air.

Once again, here is the link to the (larger than once screen size) page.  It is stated about half way across the entire page:

http://rgusrail.com/mndmir225.html

Respectfully submitted--

John

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,212 posts
Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 11:22 AM

PRR8259
I would like to point out that there is a WEBSITE saying they were delivered in dark green, so it's NOT like MTH is the only "source".

Which is why I mentioned three things: the reference to a green boiler (the website you linked to), one picture that may show a green boiler (that was linked to in an earlier post in this thread) and one model (MTH).

I'm just saying I put more stock in people who were there, particularly people who worked for the railroad, who never referenced the engines having green boiler sheathing. Although the person who posted the information that you linked to referenced Frank King's book, King never mentions a green boiler.

Keep in mind there is a WEBSITE that says the recent Mars lander has taken pictures of alien spacecraft, and one that says it's found a lake of liquid water. Just because someone posts something on the web doesn't ensure it's true. Wink

Stix
  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,212 posts
Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 1:11 PM

Overmod

Stix, can you get the actual paint codes used originally and 'later' for the jacket paint?  This will address 'as-painted' color definitively, and give the paint experts a leg up on how the paint type and color might weather.

 
I'm wondering now if the boiler jacketing was ever painted. If Frank King is correct that they were "Russian Iron" they may just have been gray steel.
Stix
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 16,619 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 3:40 PM

I'm pretty sure Frank King meant 'Russian Iron' as a color.  Sheets of Russia iron of the size required would be difficult and expensive to make, and I don't think they would take paint readily in after years -- it seems pretty clear to me that the  boilers were repainted, and the color weathered (to gray) after they were.

Either there's a paint code for the boiler, or more likely a mixing code with other stock colors.  The colors added to gray to get 'Russia iron' as someone remembered it might not involve actual "green" at all.

It should be possible also to find the paint code for the original 'green' D&RGW boilers -- perhaps a stock color also.  Then find other applications using that color to see how it weathered in different environments and service.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!