C&S locomotive smokebox colours

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C&S locomotive smokebox colours

Gavin Hince
A distinctive feature of C&S locomotives, is the colouring of the smokebox sheathing. This seems to weather/oxidize to a greyish colour, with minimal sheen.

I've tried several commercial options - gunmetal seems to be rather dark and overly shiny. Matt silver is better, but even when cut with a grey colour, doesn't appear "quite right". I've haven't used 'rub and buff' options, but figure these would again, be too shiny.

What concoctions are used by the group? Would welcome some ideas on blending commercial paints for a convincing effect.

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Re: C&S locomotive smokebox colours

skip
I will be very intrested in responses.
I use Vallejo Aluminum as a white/silver representing a newly shopped locomotive.
Graphite/oil and Aluminum/oil coating starts almost white and will change and darken as it ages, so I'll bet that a wide variety of shades will count as prototypical. Inspiration for my choice is from photos like the one of the newly shopped #76 on page 209 of Colemon's Vol VI Narrow Gauge Pictorial, and F. Hall Wagner's statements about paint and colors in The Colorado Road. The color choice has no technical basis. It just looks about right to me.
I claim that my choice of freshly shopped engines reflects my fantasy of a C&S that is just a bit more profitable with a corporate management that is just a bit more appreciative of feeder lines giving traffic to their standard gauge empires so engines lasted just a bit longer and were shopped just a bit more...
But I suspect that the real reason is a complete and utter incompetence at weathering. Please don't tell anyone.
Skip
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Re: C&S locomotive smokebox colours

Mike Trent
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Skip, you've nailed it pretty close. There is a lot of latitude here, and when you say that you do what feels right, I'd go with that.

Remember that the smoke boxes and fireboxes in those days were not painted. Instead, the mix of graphite and oil was just that, and would result in subtle variation from one locomotive to the next, and also on the same locomotive from time to another. I have used several paints in an attempt to capture this, and every time I think I've always done it by what looked right and felt right.

One of the things I remember so well from growing up on Boulder and spending time along the C&S in the last days of steam was how well most of those engines looked.

Looking at pictures of the old narrow gauge seems to show that the locomotives didn't really look neglected.

To my eye, the aspect of how the locomotives differ most from one to another is the coloring of the paint on the boilers and frames cabs and tenders. Engines which have been out on the line longer have more of a faded, grayish look, with variations of soot and color ranging from flat sooty black to variations of dark to lighter even dusty gray. Engines more recently shopped appear more black, flat to more glossy even.

But the smoke box colors generally look "unweathered", unlike photos of D&RGW engines from the 50's as they got closer to the end.

My favorite color is a mix of Scalecoat Graphite & Oil, with a bit of Engine black to tone it down. Remember when using a silver based paint that a flat finish goes a long way toward getting a color you will like. Don't be discouraged if it looks too bright or shiny. I use Testors Model Master "Lusterless" flat finish.

Whatever you do, you can always change the look with a bit of soot if you want.

But overall, even if you have an engine with a lot of miles on it and fading paint, it still looks like the C&S cared for how it looked. Because they did.
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