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1890's loco paint

Known as the "Silver Queen of the shortlines", The Virginia & Truckee Railroad operated their own narrow gauge subsidiary: the Carson and Colorado. Additionally the railroad and its officers would be an influence to many narrow gauge and shortline railroads throughout Nevada and California.

1890's loco paint

Postby Randy Hees » Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:35 pm

I have been trying to pin down the time line for the Baldwin 4-4-0 locomotives... I believe that in the 1890's they were all black (with Russia or planished iron jackets and brass) with yellow lettering, and link and pin couplers...
I have one if the intermedate PFM locos, and I think with a few minor changes it may match. I am currently making a working link and pin draw bar for the pilot.

I have the Inyo/Dayton restoration study...

1) Any thoughts?
2) does anyone make simple yellow (aka Dulux) gold lettering appropriate for these...?

Randy Hees

Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City
Railway Preservation News
Chasing old trains where ever I may find them...
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Re: 1890's loco paint

Postby Andrew Brandon » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:54 pm


It was my understanding that the Baldwins don't go black until 1902 and that they were brown with red wheels until that point. Jim Wilke and I exchanged emails about this in the past and he stated that the Inyo was one of the last locomotives to have red drivers.

I did a little digging and here is the text of his email:

"Not yet, black happens in 1901-02.

In fact, in 1900 they still had had red wheels, the last railroad in the US
known to have done so. There is a Joslyn article in Locomotive Engineering from
1900 (or 1901, I forget which) where he describes this.

The V&T is astonishing in this regard. What were they thinking?

The Central Pacific used red wheels up to 1888, during the AJ Stevens era.
Stevens knew what worked and red wheels were part of CP style long into the
1880s, including the magnificent late monkey motion engines built in 1887-88.
After Stevens' death, his replacement, Small, eliminated any Stevens style
brillience left in the Sac shops, and made horrible boring black engines.

The Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore was reported in Januaay 1890 to have a
number of engines with red wheels, which was thought to be quaint, nolstalgic
and by implication, fast dissappearing from the American landscape.

A few months later, older engines on the Central Vermont are reported to still
sport red wheels and capstacks, while the remainder of the engines are black.
This is a helpful corralary to the V&T engines, for it shows that older enignes
were sometimes maintained in the styles of their own era, rather than shoehorned
into the styles of the new. On the Central Vermont, new engines were all black,
without red wheels.

The whole thing with the brown is that it is copied from Stevens, from the 1870s
era livery of CP engines. Stevens favored black lower works with brown
upperworks, and red wheels between 1873-1884 or so, and Columbus and Dayton were
delivered this livery.

The V&T seems to have copied the color from the CP during the 1880s, at the same
time Stevens shifted his own livery to black with red wheels and side rods, in
around 1884. And of course, when Stevens dies, Small replaces him, and the last
large western railroad system to have red wheels goes down the tubes.

This means that the brown livery, adopted by the V&T, is almost immediately old
fashioned, and the 1890s version, lithout lining, vastly strange. Colors of
this type look better with striping, but somehow the guys at the V&T shops think
that in order to modernize they should dump the stripes, rather than the funny
colors. Every other railroad system in the country has understood that blacks,
or dark greens, and so on, look great and very modern with elegant striping, but
NOOOOOO, not the V&T, and so its "opposite day" at the Carson City shops and the
striper goes home while the red wheel painter stays at work.

I cant imagine what people thought of this in the late 1890s. The engines must
have looked like incarnations, even then, of ancient times. The management is
conservative, but retaining expensive gaudy features is not a traditional
approach - more Miss Haversham than Hetty Green. I sometimes wonder if there
was a emotional desire to retain elements that recalled the heyday of the
Comstock, instead of its polite decline all to much in evidence by the 1890.

So Andrew, in 1900 you can have all the brown and red and brass you want, but
imagine that it was only a year away from catching up with the rest of the world
and going black."

Andrew Brandon - PacificNG Webmaster
An End To Red Domes In Our Lifetime!
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Andrew Brandon
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Re: 1890's loco paint

Postby Randy Hees » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:58 pm

I was talking to Jim about it last night... His thinking may have changed based on Glenbrook work.

I picked up a nice PFM Reno, with a coal stack, link and pin pilot, small air compressor, in black with a nice Russian iron jacket with brass bands... I am hoping for a black V&T engine with link and pin couplers...

Randy Hees

Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City
Railway Preservation News
Chasing old trains where ever I may find them...
Randy Hees
Posts: 461
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:07 pm

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