Thursday, November 20, 2014

Would the real CN Red #11 Please Stand Up?

All five of the Canadian National boxcars visible in this photo are the same color - CN Red #11 - aren't they? 
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the percentages by road name of the boxcars running through White River Junction in 1954. (You can find that post here). 
The one thing that survey revealed was the overwhelming majority of boxcars running through town, and therefore along the line I'm modeling, were Canadian National. I do have a fair number of CN boxcars, but figured I could always add more to the mix. I'll do a separate post at some point on the specific makeup of my CN boxcar fleet, but that's not the point of this post. 
A number of years ago some knowledgeable CN experts, notably Stafford Swain, researched the colors of paint used as "standards" on the CN system. The result of this study indicated "CN Red #11" is the "standard color." You can get it from several model paint manufacturers (for the record, my preferred brand for this color is Scalecoat, but TruColor and Badger both market "CN Freight Car Red" paints.)
But having the "standard" color is nothing but a starting point - a benchmark. 
Note the photo above - all of these boxcars (every one of them) was painted at some point a variation of "CN Red #11."
See how they all look alike?

7 comments:

  1. Marty, The CN 40' boxcar is my favorite. When I lived in Black Rock ( Buffalo) NY. we had an industry that made asphalt siding and coated the siding with colored stone phosphate packed in bags which arrived almost exclusively in these cars. . The book CV in color by Melvin, page 22 has a nice shot. JOHN

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  2. At least you have color photos to check. No such luck on the USMRR Aquia line.

    The second car from the left sure looks like Polly Scale Mineral Red to me. :)

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    1. Ironically it's the oldest car in this string but has the newest (freshest) paint scheme and it's color is closest to "out of the jar" CN Red #11.

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  3. Hi Marty:

    This is a good example of why I think people are being unnecessarily panicked about the disappearance of certain brands of paint - including those lines with railroad-specific colors.

    Unless one is modeling a brand new car, still off-gassing solvent, the car is going to be subject to sun, rain, snow, dirt, dust, sand, oil/diesel smoke, coal smoke, and so on - and the colour is going to shift. What that means is that as hobbyists, we can get away quite nicely with finding a "close" color. There are dozens of red and brown colors in military modeling paint lines - Vallejo, for example - and I'm sure one of them will be close enough to any railway's "boxcar red".

    Great post!

    - Trevor

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  4. Marty, you will also recall the same issue with Mineral Brown on the D&RGW from your Chili Line days. I just add a different amount of white or grey to the mix every time I paint a car.

    Keith Hayes
    Leadville in Sn3

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