Friday, February 8, 2013

Modeling SP structure colors, Part 2

Last fall I posted some comments about modeling the standard colors of SP structures (Colonial Yellow, Light Brown, and Moss Green). You can view it at: . Here I add to that discussion, along a couple of lines.
     First, I mentioned in the prior post that Tru-Color Paint was planning to issue versions of SP Common Standard Colors. They did not at that time have a color standard but hoped to obtain one. I loaned them my Bowles drift panels (described in the prior post) for all three structure colors, and they have now returned my panels, along with bottles of paint for each color. They look excellent.
     These colors are announced for release in September 2013 (see: ). Their Tru-Color numbers will be TCP-153, “Southern Pacific Colonial Yellow – Depot Color,” TCP-154, “Southern Pacific Moss Green – Depot Color,” and TCP-163, “Southern Pacific Depot Trim Brown.” (Why they have not chosen to use SP’s own name for the brown, Light Brown, I can’t say.) Here is the set of colors sent to me:

     Second, I have had communications from a couple of modelers about color matches to these standard colors. One of them is Peter Hall, an SP modeler in the Chicago area, who experimented with both standard paint colors and modifications to them, using Polly Scale in all cases. Shown below are some of his white styrene samples. The coding is explained below.

Reefer Yellow (RY) was modified with additions to try and get it toward the Colonial Yellow color, in each case 5 cubic centimeters (cc) with added drops of Rust from a standard medicine dropper. Also shown are several paint dabs on a single piece of styrene: yellows for Santa Fe (SF), Chicago North Western (CNW), Canadian Pacific (CP), Erie Lackawanna (EL), Seaboard Coast Line (SCL), Trailer Train (TTX), and Union Pacific (UP). All these paints were from fresh bottles newly purchased at Des Plaines Hobbies, the renowned Chicago-area shop.
     At the lower right in the photo above is my own sprayed sample of Colonial Yellow from Star Brand Paint, compared to Peter’s CNW Yellow sample. I would judge them to be pretty close though not exact. Obviously, if a structure is to be weathered or faded, the CNW Yellow would be an entirely acceptable color.
     Here are the CNW Yellow and the nearest modified color, Reefer Yellow with 25 drops of Rust, atop the Bowles drift panel for Colonial Yellow. I think the CNW is again the closest.

     The other person is Gary Ray, who helped with the restoration of an SP depot in Paradise. CA. The restored depot now serves as a museum; if you’re interested, you can find out more about it by visiting the museum’s web site at: . Here is Gary’s photo of the finished depot:

He sent me samples of the Colonial Yellow and Light Brown versions used on this structure. These paints were made by having samples from the old structure duplicated at Home Depot with their computer scanning process. To my eye, these colors look lighter than the standards. To compare them, I photographed Gary’s samples (at left) alongside the Bowles panels (at right) in midday sunlight. To me, the Bowles panels do look darker than Gary’s samples, and for modeling purposes, that might be an advantage, because indoor light is much less intense than sunlight. For the Paradise depot, though, the darker colors of the standard might have been better.

     These tests of various paints to match the SP standard structure colors are interesting and yield some potentially useful information. But with the forthcoming Tru-Color Paint versions, this kind of matching should not be necessary for modelers.
Tony Thompson


  1. Thanks, Tony for working on this important subject. And thanks Gary for providing some examples of your experiments. I would've never guessed that CNW yellow would be close to Colonial Yellow.

    The TC colors look very good, but sce colors seen on a computer screen are often WAY off from "reality", I'm going to have to check them out in-person.

    I have my own photos and memory of quite a few SoCal SP structures from the 70s-90s. I wish I had taken samples. I recall the SLO freight house being more a mustard-y yellow circa 1990 while other locations were usually less saturated / more faded.

    Have you seen the King City depot that has been moved to the County Park? If so, what is your opinion of the colors?

    Robert Simpson

  2. You're welcome, Rob. It was Pete Hall, not Gary Ray, who did the CNW Yellow experiment.

    I deliberately did not show a "test panel" for the new Tru-Color Paint items, because I was sent preliminary samples to evaluate. Until there are final, production versions of each color, I would rather not make a comparison.

    It is hard to judge the King City depot via photos because so much depends on lighting conditions. The yellow does look pale in these photos, but I will have to stop off there and look for myself, drift panels in hand. When I do, I will report back.
    Tony Thompson

  3. What is the best acrylic colour to use for the yellow, I live in AU

    1. The color is called Colonial Yellow. TruColor is a very accurate match. I am not sure what other acrylic paints might be close.
      Tony Thompson