Locomotive painting

Locomotive Painting – a collection of notes about colour schemes and methods that various modellers use.

These two loco’s were detailed and painted by Jerry Kitts. KC #4 has the green cab and tender, whereas SR&RL #6 is black.

These notes have been copied from the original FAQ’s, and have been lightly edited for presentation on this blog. They are presented as a guide as to what colours and application methods other modellers have done, and are not intended to be a complete guide to painting model locomotives. The original HTML version of these FAQ’s had numerous links to other pages and sites, one that is relevant to this posting is Brian Carter’s very useful website about the Maine Two Footers at;-

Most, if not all, early locomotives had what we know as Russia Iron boiler jackets (this maybe an erroneous statement). Locomotives were typically painted gloss black, while cab interiors, roofs and window sashes would be painted in different colours. A typical locomotive would have the Russia Iron boiler jacket, perhaps a black cab, Red Lead cab roof and gold or silver lettering. Information on early locomotives is sketchy, but the specs for KC #1 specified green cab and tank. Specs for P&R #3 stated Olive Green with Aluminium Leaf lettering. excerpt from Brian Carter’s page information provided by Gary Kohler, take link for more details

I have found no evidence of Russian Iron on Maine 2-foot locos, however, it is obvious that there is a sharp coloration difference between the boiler jacket and the rest of the loco. Depending on the process, (there were several), colour could be anything from the bluish colour of Russian Iron to a silver colour. Gary Kohler response on HOn30 group.

A typical SR&RL locomotive of the late teens would be painted gloss black, red window sash, Red Lead cab roof, Sea Mist Green cab interior, dark flat gray smokebox and trim.  excerpt from Brian Carter’s page information provided by Gary Kohler, take link for more details

Cab roofs were red lead as they were tin. Later, some may have something else applied, like SR&RL 6/KC 4/WW&F 9, which had canvas applied at some point. Gary Kohler response on HOn30 group.

Cab green colour  –  Locomotive Painting

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

Lettering  –  Locomotive Painting

Specs for P&R #3 stated Olive Green with Aluminium Leaf lettering. excerpt from Brian Carter’s page information provided by Gary Kohler, take link for more details.

A typical SR&RL locomotive of the late teens would be  Gold Leaf lettering. The only change to this scheme that I can find is that the Gold Leaf was later replaced by Indian Yellow Lacquer with an over coat of clear lacquer. excerpt from Brian Carter’s page information provided by Gary Kohler, take link for more details.

Russian Iron  –  Locomotive Painting

Remarkable for its smooth, glossy surface, which is metallic gray, and not bluish gray, like that of common sheet-iron.  small excerpt from Brian Carter’s page, description provided by Jerry Kitts, document is full description of how Russian iron was made.

Two more sites posting  more information that Jerry Kitts was able to out about Russian Iron history color

Colors of 19th Century Baldwins – Boone Morrison NGSL Jul/Aug 2004

Examined and actual samples of Russia Iron. Taken outside on a clear day, the samples present slightly different metallic silver gray color, and reflected the blue of the clear sky as a “slight bluish cast”.  However inside, near the light of a window, (with no sky to reflect), the colorization was far less blue – even ranging to a warm, metallic gray.  Among the samples, there was significant variation in the shade of gray, ranging from rather dark to somewhat silvery.

Boone uses Testors Model Master Buffing Metalizer paint “Burnt Iron”, with small amount (15 drops a bottle) of Floquil Blue.  Amount of metallic sheen can be controlled by how much you buff it after it has cured.

There is a photograph with the article showing Boone’s results with this color combination.

Painting tip – Model Master Dark Anodonic Gray Buffing Metalizer brush painted.   Jim red_gate_rover posted on MaineOn2 group

Painting tip I like the color of your Russian iron boilers. What brand and color of paint did you use? Jim

I have been on a quest for a Russian Iron color for a while.  The paint I used I picked up at Super Walmart about a year ago.  It is from a company called Dupli-Color, a division of Sherwin Williams that makes auto paint.  The color I used for this was “DS GM 302 Light Blue Metalic.”

I was a little worried about a car paint sticking, and eating the plastic, so I primed first with Model Flex Primer Gray.  I let the primer dry for couple of hours and then applied the auto paint.  I let that dry overnight and it set up nice, one coat was enough for the 4-4-0, the RDA received two.

FAQ author’s note, after reading the Jerry Kitts document, I am not sure Light Blue Metallic is an accurate depiction of Russian Iron

source – Robb usn1861 – lost record which group this tip came from

More suggestions for Russian Iron from MyLargeScale (Mason Bogie project)

Testor’s Buffable Paints – the Jim Wilke Method.

Russia iron is incredibly easy – no mixing complicated paints, no muss, no fuss. I found a solution which is 100% accurate to actual samples of Russia iron I’ve seen. I’ve used it myself, I love it and here it is:

Testor’s “Gunmetal” Metallizer buffable paint. It’s marketed to aircraft modellers who need polished metal surfaces on their plastic kits. You airbrush it (or use the spray can version) and buff when dry to a genuine metallic finish. Then use Testor’s Non Buffing Metallizer Sealer to prevent tarnishing. That’s it.

Three steps – paint, buff, seal. Period. I’ve seen TONS of genuine Russia iron. This the best.

The Humbrol Paints – The Peter Bunce Method.

For those members who cannot buy the Testor’s paint (it is not available in the UK), could I suggest the ‘Metalcote’ paint from Humbrol – they have a ‘Metallic Grey’ colour (ref 27004). Editors note dated 02/12/2013: the actual colour according to the Humbrol Colour Chart (available at  http://www.humbrol.com/humbrol-wallchart/ ) is Gunmetal.

It is very thin, dries in 30 minutes and covers well (on white it could do with a couple of coats, and the surface needs to be smooth), looks very dull black in colour till polished with a smooth cloth — then a transformation takes place: it takes on a satiny sheen, and turns dark grey (and lives up to its name!), the beat way of describing could be like a ‘B’ grade drawing pencil. I used a brush (as a trial of it), but a ‘sprayed on version’ would be best I think.

Painting a Wrapper or Jacket – The Vance Bass Method.

I needed a temporary boiler jacket on my Accucraft Ruby to run before I had time to make a proper blackened brass wrapper. I knocked one out of tinplate and painted it with a black metallic paint I got at Wal-Mart, sold under the brand “House Beautiful Decorator Metallics”. It is a little too sparkly compared to the blackened brass, but much more credible than the usual metallic baby blue most companies use for “Russia Iron”. This may be the easiest paint for most people to find, given that there’s a Wal-Mart on every corner now. (Vance Bass).


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