Thursday, May 19, 2005

SP 1897 Colors

Attached is a transcription of a letter form 1897 in what I believe is H. J. Small's letter press book from the shops.  It seems to assign numbers to standard colors that are at variance with numbers assigned in other documents.  

Also note the red and white called out for switch targets.  

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

My work address is:
My personal address is:  

SP Standard Colors – 1897

Letter dated April 7, 1897 for H. J. Small to R. P. Schwerin
CSRM Coll, letter press book from Oriental Warehouse

Standard MofW Colors, Mof W Department
No. 1 Ticket Office Color
2 Inside Waiting Room Color
3 Outside body Color
4 Outside Trim Color
5 Metallic Color
6 Backs of Signs & Whistle Posts Color (lamp black)
7 Pumping Machinery Color
8 White, for switch targets
9 Red, for switch targets

Shop Colors
No. 1 Sash Color
2 Freight Car Color
3 Caboose Outside Color
4 Floor Color
5 Truck Color
6 Pullman Color
7 Caboose Inside Color
8 Drab Color
9 Buff Color


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kevin"

Now if we only had the drift cards to go with these numeric IDs ... could the simple 2-exterior colors for depots refer to what John Snyder and I have come to think of as "Huntington Drab," meaning the near slate gray-green overall body color trimmed (sashes) in warm white? And I really wonder what that caboose exterior color was. —KVB

5/20/2005 12:02 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

I'm with Kevin – my eyes thirst for the color in the CP's "paint by number" world. We could just put the numbers on the appropriate places of our models!

CP cabooses were being painted "metalic red" about 1885, so that would be a guess for caboose exterior. While I wish that was a bright "fire engine" red, I suspect it was merely an iron oxide.


5/20/2005 12:03 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

In a message dated 5/18/2005, DSnoddy writes:

Sherwin Williams has "standard railroad paint" books which breakdown with large color chips railroad paint colors available from them. The archivist at Sherwin Williams can provide copies that were ordered by a particular railroad, or at least they could.

UP had a standard paint book in 1887 that was listed in the bibliography of the research section of the notes for Union Pacific (Paramount 1939). I was unable to locate a copy during my time at UP. The UP Museum collection has two different copies of paint books from Sherwin Williams, neither of which are dated but from the colors included they are about 10 years apart, either side of 1900.

5/20/2005 12:06 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

I got a xerox of an 1885 (or so) UP paint booklet from Sherwin Williams back in the mid 1990s. The challenge with SP, I think, is that they were still grinding their own paint.

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

My work address is:
My personal address is:

5/20/2005 12:07 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I think I can identify a source for the MofW paint chips listed by HJ Small. At the Oregon Historical Society in Portland is a collection of blueprints dating from 1895-1905 and collectively labeled “Southern Pacific Engineering Drawings.” Among the several hundred blueprints, I believe there is a one containing (with original paint chips attached) that matches the Small listing. The format is similar to that reproduced by Bruce Petty in one of his Common Standards Plans Vol. 5, but is distinguished by the slate gray color for station exteriors. At least, that is my recollection. Possibly a good color scan would capture this information for posterity.

These same sheets also give the mixing formulas for these colors, indicating that this was done within the Company.

I do not have an immediate plans to be in Portland. Kevin, is this within your range of operations? The plan was stuck to the back of another blueprint and when I separated the two (several years ago) there was some tearing on one or more of the paint chips. Find the blueprint with the paint chip tears, and we may have it!


5/20/2005 9:56 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

One very pointless point is the apparent absence of any locomotive colors from that list. "Shop colors" must refer to cars shops and not the locomotive department. W.

5/20/2005 9:57 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

... I will make a point of heading down to OHS ASAP and see what that blueprint might contain; I know I'll recognize the depot drab color if I see it, being one of the few living mortals who's ever seen it on standing CP/SP 19th century depots in CA and NV.

I don't suppose you have an OHS file or item catalogue number to give me an additional leg up once I cross the river and go up the hill? It would help a lot; otherwise I'll just get some archivist's assistance. ...


5/22/2005 6:53 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I am glad you ... and are going to explore the source.  The item is in OHS special collections/manuscripts section.  I do not know the box number, but we are talking about a large brown cardboard box bearing the title: “Southern Pacific Engineering Drawings.”  This box about the size of a computer paper case and corrugated box-brown in color.  Within the box is an unclassified, unsorted collection of at least 200 engineering blueprints from 1895-1905, with an occasional manuscript thrown in.  One just has to patiently plough through this heap of material looking for the sheet with the color patches.

I do have incomplete lists of the boxes content made across several years of visits, but since the order changes every time I see the box, this will not be of much help. ...


5/22/2005 6:57 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"

Regarding engine colors: the good news is that Don Snoddy reported to the Lexington group that the engine color cards were donated to the Stanford Special Collections by the UP. The bad news is that this information refers only with Baldwin engines.


5/22/2005 6:59 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kevin"

... architect Bob Nicol ... bought [the] info from me ... [about] historic CP or SP paint on ... the San Leandro [and] Livermore depots... [from] my physical paint analyses work performed on both buildings more than a dozen years ago. —Kevin wrote:In a message dated 5/20/2005 10:07:04 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, Cgheimer writes:
Kyle mentioned the SPH&T Society's book on common standards (volume 5) which has paint standards dating to 1897. However, it appears that those paint colors really did not become standard for several years. If Bob Nicol is correct, the San Leandro depot received the gray color in 1898.

C. G. Heimerdinger, Jr.

Just a note - the book with paint samples was not published by SPH&TS, but was by some folks I believe are associated with John Signor in Dunsmuir. I believe someone mentioned Bruce Petty.

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

My work address is:
My personal address is:

5/24/2005 1:56 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Subject: UP paint specs, and others

On lettering somewhat after 1890, I discovered a style of immitating gold leaf with aluminum leaf. Aluminum leaf (or perhaps later aluminum paint) was applied and then covered with a thick layer of intentionally yellowed varnish. The aluminum supplied the metalic "texture" (in a neutral color), while the varnish supplied the gold leaf-like color.

I found this on two locations (representing two railroads).

1. The cab from a Southern Pacific class E-23 4-4-0 (class built by Schenectady and Cooke, 1898-1900). The cab was applied second hand to Virginia & Truckee 4-6-0 #27 about 1940. I found the style on traces of the earlier SP cab numbering dating at least to the 1920s, and perhaps earlier. Note this was not the V&T lettering.

2. The tender of V&T #27. Interestingly, the 1913 Baldwin lettering was in aluminum NOT overcoated with yellowed varnish (rather with normal nominally clear varnish, actually slightly yellow but not giving the gold leaf appearance). But the next three or so layers (I forget off hand exactly how many) of V&T lettering WAS with fresh aluminum layers overcoated with the intentionally yellowed varnish. V&T repainted and relettered their locomotives every few years at the time. The final couple of layers (say roughly 1940 to end of service) was in aluminum paint not overcoated with the yellowed varnish.

I think it would be very difficult to distinguish this application in printed color specs for locomotives (I suspect the tinted varnish would just be called out as "varnish", perhaps with some standard number), but the physical evidence was VERY clear on the cab and tender I researched.

—Kyle Wyatt

In a message dated 2/11/2006 11:33:34 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Here are details of the Union Pacific paint specifications for locomotives, as written in January, 1890. I listed the types of paint used according to the UP's standard numbers, and summarized below how they were used. I hope this is helpful for anyone wanting to get this color scheme accurate.

This answers a key question - what color was the lettering and numbering?

According to the specs, letters and numbers were imitation gold for passenger engines, and a dark yellow for freight engines. The UP also supplied pounce patterns - the equivalent of stencils - for numbers and lettering to its vendors, to ensure consistency and standardization. This also explains why narrow gauge engines had large numbers on their small tender side; designed for larger, standard gauge tenders.

The cab sashes were grained to look like "light mahogany or bey wood" and the cab seats were grained to look like "dark walnut." Graining is the visual trick of imitating a fancy wood surface using paint, along with combs scraped along the paint to create "grain." The interiors were "green," but so specific shade is given beyond standard number 34 green.

It also establishes that mineral paint was used for running boards, cab and tender floorboards, etc., rather than red lead. This is the "mineral brown" color I mentioned before. However note that the tender top and inside of fuel space is now black, and not mineral paint. (Red lead was used on UP engines, but mixed with other materials to serve as an undercoat for the iron work and so on. There is also metallic paint, and magnetic paint.)

The only real change from the 1885 practice is the shift from "drop black" as specified for UP engines ordered from Baldwin in 1886, to "Ivory black" by 1890. This is probably an economy gesture, as the extra cost of blue pigments may have been seen as unnecessary.

Ivory black thinned with turpentine was used on the frame and stack, while a better mix of ivory black and white lead was used for wheels, domes, cab, rods, cowcatcher, cylinders, tender, and other more visible work. It shows they realized that a high quality finish was not necessary for parts of the engine that would get dirty rapidly.

Despite the economy, the UP specs indicate that the engines would be well finished, and details like imitation dark walnut cab seats show an extra touch of style.

I hope this helps, and the data is below.

—Jim Wilke

UP paint specs for locomotives, from January 1890, under George Cushing, Sup't., M.P. & Machinery

6 - passenger tender numbers, imitation gold

8 - freight engine lettering and numbers - yellow?

29 - ivory black

30 - white lead

32 - color mixed with white lead to get gold for passenger engine lettering (engine only)

34 - green, for cab interior

65 - Eddie's lamp-black

77 - English red lead

95 - Johnson's magnetic paint

97 - Prince's metallic

98 - mineral paint

Summary -

Engines Ivory black, mineral paint trim on running boards and cab and tender decking, green cab interiors with imitation dark walnut seats and light mahogany sashes, imitation gold lettering (passenger) or dark yellow (freight)

Mineral paint 98 used for "floor of tender and cab, and top and bottom of running boards, to have two coats of standard color No. 98"

Tops of tenders not mineral paint, but black

Sashes grained "light mahogany or bey wood" outside and "natural wood" inside

Rods in Ivory black

Engine frame and stack, chains, etc., Ivory black thinned with turpentine

Pounce patterns for numbers, letters furnished to builders to ensure size and form

2/16/2006 7:47 PM  

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