MaineOn2 FAQ – Tin Roofs extract from Equipment file
Last Updates 13-12-2012; 09-02-2013; published 28-05-2014
This post will present the information that was previously published on the web based FAQ’s, with some updates as noted. This extract has been prepared quickly to support a thread on the Yahoo! group, and may have “quirks”………..let us know if you find any problems.
Roof Coverings – Generic questions
Application of tin to roof
Modeling Tin Roof
What is Red lead?
Modeling Red Lead
Tin Sheet material
The metal panels were probably not pure tin, but “terne” which is tin-plated steel. When the tin plating wore off, the underlying steel would rust. See recent photos of the Strong creamery for a good example of this phenomenon. Note that the roof on that building is 97 years old and has been painted a few times. Wesley Ewell December 2012.
There are three possible candidates for the tin sheet material in a historical context, tin coated steel, zinc coated steel and terne plate. Terne plate was sheet steel coated with a lead/tin mix. Modern research has shown that the lead/tin ratio varied widely, and that contemporary accounts at the time of initial building of the Maine Two Footers and their rolling stock did not distinguish between tin coated steel, zinc coated steel and terne plate.
Based on a report from Gary Kohler that the underside of a piece of boxcar roof in his collection “is as bright as the day it was made” suggests that it was made from what we would now classify as tin coated steel, as both zinc coated steel and terne plate would go dull as they aged. Terry Smith 09 February 2013.
Bob Troup has mentioned 30 and 32 gauge in a posting he made about tin roofs that he has seen while refurbishing cars at the SR&RL Museum. Depending upon the material and the exact gauge scale referred to (unspecified in the posts) the actual thickness of the tin sheet material could range from around .008 inches to around .013 inches. These seem low/thin to me, but an actual measurement would be valuable. Terry Smith, posted to MaineOn2 group 15 December 2012. Added to FAQ’s 09 February 2013.
Tin sheet comments:
The common tin size was 14″ x 20″ with 5/16″ seams bent over, interlocked with the adjoining sheets, and soldered (flat seam soldered). As each sheet was applied it was either tacked through the seam (Laconia), or a tin strip hooked into the seam which was in turn tacked to the roof (Portland Co.). Roof edges were tacked to the trim or weather board every inch. On passenger cars this is not visible because a drip strip was soldered over these tacks (actually formed to a mini gutter over the platforms). Yes, all tin roofs were on a steel substrate, 30 gauge – perhaps 32. Forming compound curves on passenger car corners is a bear particularly if the steel has too much temper. You can roll the sheets to form a compound curve, then at the very corners bend a “hospital corner” just as you would on a bed sheet and hammer it until it lays down the way you want it – tack in place and solder to hide.
But, SRRL Box 155 had a mix of 14×20 and 20×28 sheets with a manufacturer’s stamp that dates to its original build date. Portland Co. ran out of one size of tin perhaps???
Laconia coaches were, and are, definitely tin. The Lower portion of roof is 14 x 20 5/8 sheets while top of clerestory is the conventional 14×20.
Historically, tin roofing was sold by the basebox = 118 sheets of 14×20 tin. For roofing tin, the plating was 4 – 5 lbs per basebox. They still talk about the plating in terms of lbs/basebox even though it is only sold on rolls now. Now it is all electroplated to about 0.25 lb/basebox which is not even close to adequate for roofing. The original process was a dipped plating and the practical dip tank held a 14×20 sheet. Galvanized material took over for roofing, but is not solderable once the zinc oxide layer forms.
All of the tin comments are based on my experiences re-roofing boxcar 155 (completed) and SRRR Coach 5 (in process), including careful measurements before I started.
Bob Troup, Secretary, SR&RL RR
Presented here is a lengthy discussion about the application of tin roof material used and what color it was painted. There is a misconception that it was canvas or tarpaper. With only a few exceptions, all equipment freight, passenger, and locomotives were roofed with tin sheeting. For this reason I have included much of the discussion for your background information.
SR&RL used 18”x27” panels
B&SR used 18”x18” panels
Though some Maine Two-Foot cars had smaller panels as well. It depends on the car and even the era modeled for any one car. Jeff Bissonnette
By the end of operations, the tin roofs on Maine two-foot freight cars were a dark brown rust color because... their red lead paint jobs were not maintained and the tin rusted! This is abundantly evident in the Bridgton & Harrison DVD available from Gary. Chris McChesney
Roof walk boards were left unpainted. Painted wood and rain lead to slippery conditions. Wet, raw wood weathered with raised grain is much safer for a brakeman to walk on... especially when a train is in motion. Chris McChesney A later posting indicated this is not always true.
SR&RL 6/KC 4/WW&F 9 with a repair-applied canvas roof painted black
At least one passenger car was rebuilt using canvas — note rebuilt. Although the MEC RPO 6 may have been built with a canvas roof. It would still be red. G Kohler HOn30 response
The following are edited discussions that occurred on the various two foot lists.
Application of tin roof
Don't run for the hills... the point is that the vast majority of Maine two-foot equipment had tin roofs. Some have tried to argue/"speculate"/justify whatever... that equipment had "tarpaper" or some other treatment. The bottom line is that all of the surviving equipment (that wasn't Edavillized or covered with asphalt roofing material at Phillips) still have their original tin roofs. This is a testament to both the longevity of the material and the reason why it was chosen over other roofing materials in the first place. Chris McChesney
My own observations (Bridgton boxcars) are that the “central” or longitudinal seam appears to be much more obvious than the crossways seams. I don’t know if this is because of different seam constructions or simply a trick of the light. Panels appear to be square, and sized 18″ x 18″. Terry Smith
My archive indicates that the SR&RL MEC built boxcars had 18″ x 27″ panels. Three rows per roof side with a narrow cap strip on the roof peak. Jeff Bissonnette
Photo supplied by Jeff Bissonnette
WW&FR Boxcar Tin roofs
An off-board discussion has led me to look into the question of how boxcar tin roofs were laid, and what the pattern of seams seen should be. The revised edition of Jones and Register’s “Two Feet to Tidewater” shows a picture on page 217 of the Whitefield wreck, taken from the top of boxcar 509. The picture in revised edition not as clear as in original copy, but shows two longitudinal seams on one roof panel (ie half the total car width) and it appears that the transverse seams are quite close together on either side of the longitudinal seams, (ie not staggered by half the panel length as is suggested by the B&SR practise). On page 368 there is a bill of materials for an order of 10 boxcars, which turn out to be 30 foot cars numbered in the series 65 to 74 built by the Portland Company. The bill shows “Tin to cover 2200 sq ft of roofing. 133 sheets to one car. 112 sheets in box” Order shows 12 boxes Tin 14″ x 20″.” Doing some figuring equating the area of each sheet with the total area specified shows that the seams used 5/8″ material from each of the four sides of the piece of tin, making the laid panel clear size 12 ¾ ” x 18 ¾” separated by 5/8″ seams if single lapped. The evidence from the picture of the Whitefield wreck suggests that this car (if it used the same size tin sheet) had the sheets laid with the long dimension of the sheet laid lengthways along the car, and that the transverse seams were only a couple of inches out of line across the car. In contrast, a picture of car 502 on its side on page 45 of Kohler and McChesney “Narrow Gauge in the Sheepscot Valley” volume IV appears to show only one longitudinal seam along the lower roof half, and the individual panels appear narrower along the length of the car compared to the width (making due allowances for the relative angles), and the transverse seams appear to staggered by half a width in the two rows. This pattern could occur if the sheets are laid with the long dimension of the sheet across the car roof with the shorter dimension along the car roof. The half panel staggering is also seen in the lower picture on page 48 of the same book. Some of the pictures could be interpreted differently, and often the detail is lost in highlights etc. If anybody has other (and better) pictures and/or alternative interpretations then please post a reply. Looks like any Wiscasset modeller who wants to model tin roofs is going to have fun!
Do you know how were the sheets fixed at the "eaves", were they simply nailed to the edge of the roof boards or were they "secret nailed" by hanging the tin sheet down, nailing and then folding the sheet up and over the nails (forming a drip edge)?
And were the roof walk supports nailed over and through the tin sheet? Terry Smith
Answer so far, I'm sorry but I can't help much with this. The cars I've seen were nailed on the edges with about a 1" over the eave, but it could have been repairs and not original. I never got a good look at the roof walk supports.
The pieces have a lip on one side and the top. They are nailed at the edges. The next piece is applied over the nails and then the lip of the first piece is bent over the seam, covering the nails. Finally a bead of solder is run into the seam. The porch roofs on my 1932 house are done the same way and the seams are still as tight as the seams in a tin can. Jim Pasquill
Observation Tin roofs hold up better on a building then on a car. The car begins to flex during movement as it loosens with age. This cracks the solder seals. The result is bad roof leaks — a problem we are fighting currently at the wide-gauge East Broad Top. Lee Rainey
If the size ordered was 18"x27", was the final panel size smaller by an inch in each direction when the roof was installed and the seams overlapped? Or was the 18"x27" the final dimension? Jim Providenza
Answer – still waiting
Simulating tin roofs on models
Gary Kohler came up with a good way to do this, and I modified it some to make it a little more convenient (IMO) for modeling. Gary suggested Mylar, but I switched to Evergreen 0.005" thick styrene sheet. What to do is simple.
I laid out the 18" and 27" divisions on the styrene using a soft pencil. Then place the sheet of styrene over a sheet of basswood. Using some sort of ball ended scriber (ball point pen, or a rounded off scriber), "draw" the panels into the styrene using light pressure. The basswood sheet underneath supports the material, but still allows the scriber to force a fine line into the styrene. The last step is to heavily scribe the roof peak into the sheet so that the "tin roof" can be bent to match the pitch of the car roof. Use ACC or epoxy to glue to the car roof, and once dry, trim off the excess. This technique works well for HOn2/n30, but looks especially good for Sn2 cars. If you're not crazy about using styrene, craft stores carry small rolls of 0.002" thick copper sheets that would work just as well, maybe better. The problem with aluminum foil is that it is so thin and is easily torn or distorted. Another method is to scribe the panel pattern onto an existing resin or styrene car roof, then apply aluminum tape (used for duct work) over the entire surface. Burnish with a soft stick or "Q"-tip and it gives a really nice effect. You can even carefully trim the material so it can be bent over the edges, just like the prototype cars. A recent communication from a museum (think it was Sandy River) had a report that the superintendent had ordered tin sheets 18" x 27" to re-roof something. Yes, M2FM had an article years ago that said that they were roughly 18" x 27" panels. Though some Maine Two-Foot cars had smaller panels as well. It depends on the car and even the era modeled for any one car. Jeff Bissonnette
In 2006, there was a flurry of postings which reported what various modellers were doing or suggestions to use for representing metal seamed roofs;-
Bill Kerr: I do not use foil. I build in styrene, so I use .010” x .020” styrene strips to simulate the seams. After gluing down, I sand the strips down to almost nothing. Elliott Thomas suggests: Try the silver tape used in ductwork (not duct tape!) It is thin, and goes on easily. It will take paint and is available at many larger hardware stores.
Doug Rowe adds: I have read that some folks use the aluminium tape that air conditioning & furnace repairmen use to seal ducts- not “Duct Tape.” This stuff is like aluminium foil with a sticky back, and comes in rolls.
Keith Gutshall: I use the foil disposable cookware from the supermarket. The foil is thicker than the rolls and tools very good. The cookie sheet yields the most flat stuff to work with. Goo or a similar contact glue would work best, because a flexible glue seems to work best with the metal and the wood.
Terry Smith: I use two methods, either a styrene roof panel and then add chart tape for seams, and use paint applied by brush to soften the hard edge and as extra “glue” or I have used the same panel as a master, adding the roof walk supports, and then casting urethane complete roof sections using an RTV silicone rubber mould. I have heard of using paint or varnish as a fixative for metal foils in plastic kit building.
In June 2007 Trevor Marshall referenced the use of “embossing foils”, which he then cut into individual pieces and glued to the sub-roof to produce overlapping seams.
Terry Smith then started using the same materials, (ArtEmboss by Amaco, in particular #50068T; light aluminium) to produce an embossed half roof panel which he then copied in urethane resin using RTV Silicone Rubber moulds for his own B&SR boxcars.
Then in 2010/2012 John Rogers wrote: I use stained glass copper foil with an adhesive backing in the 3/8” width size, cut to length. It works great. Apply it to wood that has been sealed with two coats of clear brushing lacquer and it will adhere very well. After it is on, I put a coat of brushing lacquer over the copper to help keep it from peeling up at the edges. Terry Smith 9 Feb 2013
What is red lead?
A number of correspondents (including Wes Ewell and Robert Schlechter) have confirmed that standard practice was to coat the tin seamed roof with a preparation referred to as “red lead”, and indicated that this preparation was more than likely to have been mixed up on site from a paint base (boiled linseed oil?), binders and pigment (the red lead itself). Red lead is the common name for the mixed oxide of lead (Pb3O4) which in its pure state is a bright almost virulent orange colour. When mixed as a paint locally, the correspondents have indicated that colour can appear as anything from orange through to brown, and it has been described as “fugitive” ie rapidly changing. Terry Smith 9 Feb 2013
By the end of operations, the tin roofs on Maine two-foot freight cars were a dark brown rust color because... their red paint jobs were not maintained and the tin rusted! This is abundantly evident in the Bridgton & Harrison DVD available from Gary Kohler. There are a couple of shots taken from the roofs of boxcars that will provide perfect color tone and weathering information. Chris McChesney
Question – what color for red lead?
I am a scenic painter in the theater and majored in historic paint formulas of the early period of electric light. Red lead is a color that is all over the board. It ranges from flame oranges to brown. The color was made by a couple of different methods each resulting in a vast array of hues. Add to this variation that red lead-minium was harshly affected by acrid coal smoke it is almost impossible to speculate on a correct red. UV rays seriously affected the color as it aged and a painted piece could have many variations of the same pot color. Add again the fact that lead and tin may have been mismatched as finish coat and substrate a wide variety of colors could appear.
What am I really saying? Red lead was not a set formula but a purpose made color which changed from pot to pot and from day to day in use. Variations in modeling will present the railroad in everyday use. Unless we all agree to model a specific moment in time we can all have red roofs that are "correct".
If some one has a sample, a very close color match could be calculated and we could discuss it using a Munsell number, giving us all access to viewing a matched sample then choosing our own shade of red. Brian Goodman
Answer As far as "What is true "Red Lead?" that's like asking to correctly identify/match "Barn red." The best you can do is compare what few color photos we have to black and white images and try to draw some logical conclusions. Gary and I have been collecting samples and analyzing Maine 2-foot colors (and trying to match them in our models) for years. If you really want to see and judge colors for yourself, buy one of Gary's color CD's. My favorite is the "Bridgton & Harrison Ry. Video and Photos from 1939-1941." In a previous post, someone erroneously used the word "colorized" to describe the images. Make no mistake, the color in this DVD not colorized like a painted postcard. The color is from real color slides taken by a railfan in the early '40s. Gary purchased (at significant expense) the original slides from the friend of the deceased photographer. The B&H slides are the best color Maine two-foot images we have ever seen. Period. There is no "shifting" or contrast that occurs with copy slides. These aren't copy slides and Gary hasn't run them through Photoshop or anything goofy like that (the naysayers need to give it a rest). So, If you want to see the wide range of reds you described (and excellent examples of weathering)... heck if you want to see the best real 2-foot color period, get a copy. No one will have to speculate about UV, coal acridity, chemical reactions with the tin substrate etc. etc. anymore. Chris McChesney
Answer If you review your Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes RR Museum newsletters you will find a series of articles about the stripping of the Sandy River/SR&RL Laconia passenger car in preparation for restoration. In the article it states that the ORIGINAL color of the paint applied to the TIN roof of the coach was found! It survived because it was in a protected location. The article states that this color is best matched to "Red Lead." Red Lead is similar to the SR&RL "Freight Car Red" but is absolutely flat. This red is not like Floquil's "Boxcar Red". Floquil's boxcar red is way too brown and is a match for D&RGW's boxcar red. I use Floquil's "Oxide Red" (sometimes cut with white for older cars) for roofs. Also in the Sandy River Railroad Museum article they found an area of the coach that had ORIGINAL green paint on it. The area is the wood found directly behind the brass bell cord sleeves found at the end of the cars above the doors. This color was the color applied at the Laconia car works. The brass bell cord sleeve was applied later. The article states that the original color is indeed best matched to Floquil's "Brunswick Green." Chris McChesney
Answer Two-foot coaches, in general, were maintained better and the Red Lead is visible in many SR&RL and B&H coach shots even immediately after abandonment (including the earliest Kodachrome postcards series of the Edaville fleet). If you own one of these postcards of the Rangeley, you will notice that the car sides have been restored and repainted but the Red Lead on the tin roof was left alone. There are dents and areas of bare metal seen in many places on this ORIGINAL roof. Later, this roof was painted by Edaville in I believe black. Chris McChesney
Modeling Red Oxide
Red Lead is similar to the SR&RL "Freight Car Red" but is absolutely flat. This red is not like Floquil's "Boxcar Red". Floquil's boxcar red is way too brown and is a match for D&RGW's boxcar red. I use Floquil's "Oxide Red" (sometimes cut with white for older cars) for roofs. Chris McChesney
Boxcar color - Freight
The SR&RL requisition sheets state, Freight Car Red. Nothing is more accurate than the real thing and since I’ve found a good piece of existing paint, un-weathered, I have been able to come up with a formula that I feel, as well as others who have seen it, is 98% accurate.
You will need the following paints: Floquil Polly S Metal Primer, Floquil Polly S Roof Red and Model Masters (Acrylic Enamel) Desert Sand. The formula is as follows: Three parts Metal Primer, two parts (heavy) Roof Red and a touch of Desert Sand. This will get you an almost perfect colour match. For a slightly weathered colour, add a touch of Model Masters Flat White.
SR&RL freight cars were lettered with White Lead. excerpt from Brian Carters page information provided by Gary Kohler, take link for more details
The closest out of the bottle color I have found is ATSF Mineral Brown. G Kohler 12/12/12 MaineOn2
Cream/Dairy car information – Freight
SRRR #19 was lettered CREAM CAR. The only photos I have (or have seen) of #21 show it numbered only #21 on each side of door. No cream car, no dairy car, no milk car, no dairy/milk ice cream car.
Numbers 19 and 21 had full length door stops to allow running with doors open. It is not clear if 19 had an end door, but many early cars did. Number 21 became SR&RL 59 and still exists today. Number 21 had ladders on sides — for some reason. HOWEVER, it did retain this feature on the SR&RL (as number 59) until the early 1920s. This was later changes to conform to standard SR&RL practice.
What is unique about 21/59 is that it had ladders androof platforms on both ends of the car sides. However, the later photos showing thiscar 21 numbered as 59 indicate that the extra ladders and roofplatforms were removed at some point so it looks like any otherboxcar. Jim red_gate_rover
SR&RL #145 was lettered DAIRY PRODUCTS centered top/bottom, left/right to the right of the door. Number 145 did not have an end door. All cars had standard boxcar doors, no ice hatches, roof ventilators, chimneys, etc. Gary Kohler response on HOn30 group
Roof Covering- Freight
A note on the roof coverings. All the documentation on equipment I have, or have seen, mentions tin roofs. This includes, loco, passenger and freight cars, etc., etc. The exception is the rail autos/buses. G Kohler HOn30 response
SR&RL used tin for boxcar roof covering. There is an excellent article by Mark Hall on “Building Metal (Tin) Boxcar Roofs” in M2FQ Vol 3-1, 1997, and another by Gary Kohler on rusted tin roofs in M2FQ Vol 47 1995.
B&SR tank car color. - Freight
The B&SR tank cars were NEVER painted black! The earliest known photo (1905) clearly shows gray or silver tank on a standard flat car (the B&SR used Princes Brown (Red Oxide my guess)). All later photos, including about a half a dozen color images clearly show silver/gray tanks with the SOCONY in black. The Moody photo in question that has caused everyone to jump on the “black” band wagon was taken in shadow and appears black due to all the rust! Color photos taken the same year show silver/gray tanks. Gary Kohler
This article is being discounted as erroneous about the black tank color? Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette Sept/Oct 1979 Peter Barney did an article on Painting Two-Foot Gauge Cars. One interesting point Barney says B&H tank Cars were “Tank” Flat car box red with natural wood decking. Tank “At first painted black with white lettering, and white ends with black lettering. Later tanks were off-white to gray with black lettering. By the end of the railroad the tanks had no lettering.” Walter Orloff
It is as with most things, publish, and new information will come to light contradicting your research. The listing is not meant as negative reflection on the great work Peter has done for the Maine Two Footers.
WW&F #6 Baggage/Mail/Smoker painting
Question: Anyone have the best color to paint this car circa 1915? The best I can find is coach green (any idea on that color) to freight car red. Also what color is chrome yellow? Thanks, Paul Buhrke
This is an interesting question and I’ve thought about the answer for some time, too… But seriously: Unfortunately, I haven’t yet seen a photo of this car from that era. Apparently the noted 2-ft.-authorities also don’t have one either. The following notes come right out of memory as my 2-ft.-stuff is already packed for an upcoming move.
What I have is a contact print from the original glass plate taken at the J&S plant. On this one, the car seems to be very dark. I believe this color was called pullman green. I think somebody (Gary K.?) once described it as a mix between dark green and black. Of course the fancy original lettering was there.
After Carson Peck bought the WW&F in 1906 it has been written that the passenger cars received a fresh coat of green paint. Once again, I haven’t seen any photos of the combine from that time, but there is one of matching coach “Vassalboro” (originally #5), showing it lettered as “WW&F _RY_” and numbered as “12”, thus dating the photo post-1906/7.
On this photo, the coach body is painted in a lighter color. This can’t be a negative or print deterioration, as the image also shows an engine tank, and this one is clearly painted in a very dark (probably black) color. The roof color can’t be determined easily, but is very light. Contrary to the original appearance (where the clerestory window area was painted dark), roof and clerestory window area are painted the same color (!). It seems to be much lighter than the roof red found on the coach at the WW&F Museum (although I don’t know how close this is towards the original color). Therefore, I seriously believe the roof area might have been painted silver or aluminum… I think the photos showing the Peck inspection train (taken around 1907?) support this.
The described photo (I think it has at least been published in Peter Barney’s WW&F volume) may also fit in your timeframe because the eastern (riverside) stall of the Wiscasset engine house had already received its rear doors (they weren’t in place when the building was built around 1906).
The statements of this car being painted (some sort of) yellow or freight car red belong IMO to later eras: When a group of railfans visited Albion around 1930 (photos are in the Sirman collection), #6 was painted in a noticeable lighter color than following passenger/RPO-combine 7. It seems to be a bit too light for being freight car red. This leads me to the conclusion that at that time #6 was just primed and put back into service. Compared to primer colors here in Germany, this could explain the yellow.
Towards the end of operations, #6 seems to have received a fresh coat of freight car red paint. There is a color slide of the overturned car bodies in Wiscasset’s upper yard showing this clearly. Of course, I’m always interested in discussing other opinions. Wolf-Jobst Siedler
SR&RL 17 & 18 ex SRRR 5 & 6
Sandy River Railroad Museum article they found an area of the coach that had ORIGINAL green paint on it. The area is the wood found directly behind the brass bell cord sleeves found at the end of the cars above the doors. This color was the color applied at the Laconia car works. The brass bell cord sleeve was applied later. The article states that the original color is indeed best matched to Floquil's "Brunswick Green." Chris McChesney
Caboose - Non-revenue equipment
- · Cabooses had tin roofs.
The SR&RL, as well as all Maine 2-foot roads, used tin for roof coverings. Caboose 556 (Phillips, ME) still has its original tin roof. The roofs were all painted red lead. Tarpaper would not stand up in the severe Maine winters. Gary Kohler
Cabooses had red trucks
Underbodies WERE NOT painted. Metal parts may have been, but I have not found proof. It appears that trucks were painted red when new. Gary Kohler
Internal green color
A very good approximation of the light green used inside engine cabs and cabooses on the Maine two-footers is Polly Scale No. 505254 Br. Sky (Type S). Wesley J. Ewell