Sunday, February 2, 2014

C&S Refrigerator Cars - Part Three | 6 Comments - Click Here :

The seemingly unmarked car sitting in front of the Central City Depot in this 1913 Snowy scene.  The contrast in this view would certainly contribute to a darker tone for even a yellow car but if that were the case here one would expect the even darker red cars to be almost black.

    Derrell Poole - Let’s face it; Color isn’t really one of the “charms” of narrow gauge freight cars – weathering might be, but not color. Most narrow gauge freight cars are some kind of earth tone red. This gets monotonous so we try to spice it up with faded red, grimy red, worn away red and bare weathered wood red and whatever other flavor of red we can concoct. But it’s still red and, as nice as red is, too much of it is, well, monotonous.

    There are a few cars that offer a bit of color other than red. Tank cars, for instance, are typically black or silver… or sometimes red. Ugh! One type of car does add a different color. The refrigerators are usually not red. They can be white or yellow, or, sometimes orange. Rarely they could be red, or so the theory suggests. If we modeled standard gauge freight cars we could count on a few blue or perhaps green cars as well. But, well… we model narrow gauge so at most we might go out on a limb and paint our Tiffany Reefers “Mint Green” – oh, it is tempting!

    The point is if you want a little color – other than endless shades of red - you need a few reefers. Perhaps this is the subconscious reason I obsess over reefers so much. It couldn’t be because they are cool!
    Having finished 5 of my 10 OMI Sn3 C&Sng SUF reefers it is time to paint them. In the past I’ve painted the cars the ubiquitous Reefer Yellow (Floquil or Polly S). This is a rich yellow that is probably just as correct as any other cadmium yellow variety. But I have a bad habit of over thinking what I see in old b&w photos when the various gray tones one would expect to see don’t make sense. Too often, in these early views and even later, C&Sng reefers show up nearly as dark as the boxcars. To add to the puzzle the lettering usually seems non-existent. It isn’t really non-existent. It is black. And black didn’t seem to contrast well with whatever color the side of the car was painted.

    What’s going on? Any number of explanations, including the angle of the light source, the weather conditions, the emulsion of the film, exposure of the film, darkroom influences, etc. could be reason enough. But there are several photos taken in different conditions that simply defy these explanations! One must then consider that the very color of the car could have an influence. The header photo in Part 2 is one of those photos. Another would be the header photo here. There is a rebuilt Tiffany Reefer in Blackhawk that truly defies any decent brightness of yellow. It is so dark I’ve speculated that this car was orange. Yet there is plenty of onus that compels us to defend that the cars were indeed some kind of yellow. Contemporary practices as well as photos that leave little question the cars were yellow (even if nothing else can be determined from such photos) are a couple of those reasons.

    Perhaps they were a deeper yellow than we expect. We assume our rich Reefer Yellow was likely correct but what if the early C&S refrigerator color was deeper than that? If this color was almost an orange it could look yellow at times or just defy a light color at all.

These are my three colors; on the left is a Scale Coat II custom C&S Freight car red. It has a slight Tuscan violet tinge to it but it is more red than Tuscan. The Middle color is my Antiqu-ee C&S Reefer Yellow. On the right is Humbrol Matt Black 85. Humbrol is absolutely the finest Enamels in the world.
    The St Charles Car Company painted the 1898 Reefers “Canary Yellow” and the builder’s photo along with a few views of the cars on the road support the expected light tone in b&w. The Tiffany cars were rebuilt in 1902 – 03. They were already a yellow color (or at least we assume so); what if the railroad purposely adopted a noticeably different yellow just to emphasize the newly outfitted cars?

    Well anyway, that’s the theory I’m going with here. I mused that a darker yellow could act like a red pigment with some film types and with some lighting conditions. I also though a new darker mix might add to the antiqui-ee ambiance of these early cars. So you will see that I’ve not used the clean, rich, cadmium color would be Floquil’s Reefer Yellow. My color is a mix of Polly S Reefer Yellow and D&RGW Orange. Since this is purely theory I can’t justifiably share a precise formula but roughly I mixed 5 parts yellow to 1 part orange; just be very careful with the orange.

First I painted the entire car my early C&S Yellow acrylic custom mix. This was to help create a barrier between the styrene and the enamels I use on the various parts of the model.

Let that paint dry a while – even over night – and then mask off the sides. I use auto masking paper and Tamiya tape but you can use what ever you wish as long as the tape isn’t aggressive with finishes and the paper is relatively lent free.

    The early refrigerators are perhaps the most complex paint schemes of any of the common carrier narrow gauge freight cars. Reefers were expensive to build, costly to maintain and, well, a lot of effort to use – railroads in general tended to be proud of them when they owned them (most of them didn’t). If they needed such cars (a lot of ng roads didn’t) they had to spring for them since Exchanges didn’t bother with the little cars. You can imagine, then, that in the “Post Victorian Era” where pageantry was still in vogue, railroads might get a bit elaborate with their “special” cars. The C&S scheme called for a lot of black on yellow and red. Fun. And colorful. And tedious. So when you get all the other colors down and the lettering in place you are gonna have to get out the good quality detail brushes and a bottle of slow drying enamel, drink a few beers (just a few!) and then, in a relaxed sitting position, dab the doo-dads and hanger-ons with black paint.

Then I painted the under frame enamel black. Humbrol Matt Black No. 85 was used but any black will do.

The third color is another custom mix. I found the original C&S Freight Car red intact on the underside of the bench lids of 1006. This mix is my attempt to match that color from the photo I took.

    Knowing this, I sorta thought I’d be clever and use an Acrylic base color to try and take advantage of the differences in the paint binders. I hoped the black enamel would easily scrape off of the yellow acrylic. Ehhh…. marginally successful. The reverse – that is acrylic black on enamel yellow – would probably work a lot better but even the best acrylics dry way too fast for this kind of fine detail work! A little of the yellow paint was used to touch up the spastic-induced boo-boos and all was well. Well… so – so. I think with the last five cars I’ll be looking for enamel colors for the yellow. This project has reconfirmed my distinct dislike for acrylic!

I didn’t mask off the black under-frame to paint the red because a skilled airbrush can angle the gun to avoid a lot of over spray. Besides it is under the car where no one will see it. Once the red is dry (overnight) remove the masking and you are ready for lettering.

    Finally you will need to paint the tops of the running boards as bare wood. Painted wooden surfaces that become wet in the weather are SLICK. Imagine trying to walk a moving train on a rainy night! Today our bureaucratic heavy government would not let that happens but 104 years ago the Bureaucracy was in its infancy! Railroads were in the habit of leaving walks of wooden cars bare to try to reduce this hazardous condition.

Painting the trucks; first washed the Delrin in a solution of water and dish detergent (I used an Ultrasonic cleaner for about an hour). Then rinse in hot water.  With the wheels removed paint the trucks with the Humbrol Black. Hopefully the high quality paint and good cleaning will pay off with fewer paint chips. I dipped the wheel sets in PBL NeoLube. I also paint NeoLube onto the couplers.

I’ll go over how to decal and letter these cars in Part 4.
Keep the Faith – Model Sn3!
Derrell Poole
6 Comments - Click Here :
  1. Nice job Derrell and Darel. I'd expect nothing less!

  2. Thanks Doug. It's been nice working on my stuff for a change. What is so great is doing without the pressure. These were fun to build.


  3. Re interpreting color and lettering in old photos, remember that old film (and glass plates) was not panchromatic--it did not render some colors accurately or in some cases, at all. One of Kodak's great later advances was panchromatic film ("Verichrome Pan") that showed all the colors with better rendition. This is one of the big issues in interpreting old photos.


  4. The emulsion bases of the 19th and earlier 20th century films certainly played a major factor in the problem - but it isn't the only factor. The orthochromatic films did not see pure red, rather interpreting it as black - this is, in fact, a big part of my reasoning for a "deeper" yellow... but I wasn't going to get that technical in the explanation. The other variables I mentioned were also some of the many factors that make interpreting old b&w photos to color difficult.

    IIRC panchromatic films started showing up in general use in the early 1930s. But I could be wrong as it has been over 20 years since I talked to Kodak about that - and that was just Kodak. Other film manufacturers may have had similar products earlier than that - even in other countries.

    BTW the 4 part series in the Sept/Oct 91 thru March/ April 1992 N.G.&S.L. Gazette would be a good reference for those who are interested in South Park / C&S reefers. There is also an article in the Vol.5 No.2 (April 1995) issue of Outdoor Railroader (an article in the Oct. 2012 "Bogies and the Loop" basically copied information from that article but never credited the Outdoor Railroader piece! NOT COOL!!). And finally an update to the Tiffany Reefers in the 1st Quarter 2008 "Colorado Narrow Gauge Quarterly" if you can find any of these. Guess I shoulda listed this information a long time ago but again this started out as an informal "discussion" so, well,... it is what it is.

    Thanks Larry


  5. Is this Leadville, the same one that is the highest elevation of rail and roads in Colorado? At present mainly visited by Gray nomads? If so I was there 3 years ago and was impressed.

    1. Yup! THE Leadville.
      Always an impressive place to visit.