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Well, at this October's York, someone asked Ryan point blank about the major issues that have been plaguing our engines, rolling stock, and other such things(I suppose) that have had major issues of the color not being right, not being close, and being just way off the mark. Ryan had told the person(who did post on one of the topics not sure where) that they would indeed be getting a sample run of what the piece in question is supposed to look like before going to full production.

I had thought about this today a bit and didn't even consider it when I was at York to look at what was right before my eyes. Now, I am not saying that this has been implemented on the V1 of the 2021 catalog, because I have no clue if it was or if it was something that was partially done. However, here are a few things to consider that it may be and may not be.

First up is the New York Central Pacemaker Mohawk. First the catalog art, and then the picture I took at York.

Pacemaker Mohawk

My Pic of Mohawk

My Pic of Mohawk 2

I thought at first when I looked at my pictures that the smoke box was off because I had thought it was supposed to be graphite like the prototypes have been but the catalog art is that white silver we have grown to despise, but that is what it is supposed to be(I hope the other Mohawks art graphite).

Next up is the Santa Fe 3001 2-10-10-2 from the catalog art, then my pictures.

Santa Fe 3001 Catalog ArtSanta Fe 3001 My PicSanta Fe 3001 My Pic Front

Well, I don't know, sort of looks like that is the white silver on the smoke box, and not like what the catalog art is showing. I think that this means that everything in the V1 may not fall under the new sampling before going to production. What do you think?

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Images (6)
  • Pacemaker Mohawk
  • My Pic of Mohawk
  • My Pic of Mohawk 2
  • Santa Fe 3001 Catalog Art
  • Santa Fe 3001 My Pic
  • Santa Fe 3001 My Pic Front
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I think is is good they are aware of and are fixing the problem.  The color on the postwar remake of the Santa Fe F3 set that came out recently is way off - they should supply new shells as they did in the past - and the color on the First Responders SD60e running on the display layout in the orange layout is also way off.  There are more examples of course but these are two I saw when there and both times even my 10 year old asked why the colors were so off.

Dave, thanks for the pictures and commentary. As someone who has been frustrated by the endless color gaffes, here are a few random thoughts on them:

Firstly, the “fix” does not feel like a eureka moment - getting samples ahead of time seems intuitively obvious and could have saved a lot of frustration had such a process been utilized years ago when the problems were first reported. I hope this practice is not going to be limited to locomotives - the color problems are just as prevalent in passenger cars and freight cars.

The Pacemaker set is a good example of something I believe to be true on the subject of color “correctness”: consumers are more interested in fidelity to previous models than fidelity to prototypes. So, while it’s true a Pacemaker Mohawk prototype doesn’t exist, Lionel has released lots and lots of rolling stock in Pacemaker red and buyers of this locomotive assume it will be the same red when their order shows up. If they show up maroon or pinkish (like the First Responders SD60s), buyers will be rightfully upset and the answer can’t be “well, there is no prototype.” For example, in my view, the Tuscan S1 can be fairly criticized as “incorrect” because it resembles no previous Tuscan release of anything going all the way back to postwar GG1s (admittedly the S1s are sharp and I realize many like them - my only point is they are not Tuscan under any previous use of the color).

Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of the battleship gray/auto primer smoke boxes. That’s a fix that’s long overdue and should not have taken years to figure out. The 3001 in your picture does not appear to have such a color, but maybe it’s the lighting.

Last edited by Rider Sandman

I think the person that had commented about the statement from Ryan had said something about the graphite smoke box on particular, that being the main issue for a bunch of locomotives falling off to the wayside. I think it was said that the factory thought they had the colors right, which I don't see how. As I recall from looking over the artwork for Mr. Muffin's custom run Hudson, I was extremely excited as I thought there was no way this would wind up the white silver we had seen. I think that that, combined with dealers saying what the heck is going on with the colors, pretty much forced them to do something.

Thing is though, that this has been something that has plagued them for some time. I can remember Bryant(forum member I met at York) being very hot about the Polar Express cars being horrendously wrong in color. That was and should have been the real wake up call for samples to be sent as that Lionel had to make proper shells for every order that people responded about it being wrong.

Like I said up top, I don't know if the colors on the Santa Fe's smoke box is the wrong color. This is also because on another post featuring the Pacemaker, my camera shows it a lighter shade of red even though it isn't. It was explained to me by another on the forum, that digital cameras whether they are phones or cameras for some reason see the colors differently based on their resolution or such. I for the life of me can't recall really taking a front eyed view with my own eyes of the Santa Fe, but hope the 3009 is as it is supposed to be. Also that the Mohawk's have the graphite smoke box. If these aren't, I guess the V2 engines(and hopefully rolling stock) will be under the microscope so nothing like clown engines get through.


Like I said up top, I don't know if the colors on the Santa Fe's smoke box is the wrong color.

The official color for the Santa Fe's smokebox is a color called "Tarpan Gray," which is more gray than graphite (Available from Tru-Color Paints, TCP-333) but is not a "battleship" gray.

However, like everything else in prototype photo's, its color varies depending on conditions.

Rusty

I understand the colors are sometimes off, however in my opinion it would be better to miss darker on a high end legacy model. Some of those great northern steamers have come out as pale light green. Also, color chip samples can sometimes be deceiving based on lighting and substrate. I believe the coach cars, baggage, and e8 from my B&M set were all made in different factories hence the different shades of red. Coordination among the factories wouldn't be a bad thing. Just my thoughts. I’m sure manufacturing a high end model train from halfway around the world during a global pandemic is quite a challenge. I am grateful for Lionel's hard work and I hope they can resolve the color issues.

The official color for the Santa Fe's smokebox is a color called "Tarpan Gray," which is more gray than graphite (Available from Tru-Color Paints, TCP-333) but is not a "battleship" gray.

However, like everything else in prototype photo's, its color varies depending on conditions.

Rusty

Yeah, the catalog art is always deceptive when it is not an actual model. It looks so dark like a very dark graphite color. I know that it is a solid color, but since my camera was making things lighter, hard to actually tell how dark it is.

Thanks again Rusty for the history lesson. At least I'm not calling it a boiler front anymore. Smoke box or smoke box door(if referring to the front of the engine where the door is).



Firstly, the “fix” does not feel like a eureka moment - getting samples ahead of time seems intuitively obvious and could have saved a lot of frustration had such a process been utilized years ago when the problems were first reported. I hope this practice is not going to be limited to locomotives - the color problems are just as prevalent in passenger cars and freight cars.

Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  We have a winner!  Rider Sandman is correct;  this should not be rocket science.

And in the past, forum members have even provided Lionel with correct color chips and they still managed to get it wrong.

Focus, people.  Focus.  In many cases it costs the same (or less) to do the job right as it does to do it wrong.

George

Bravo to Lionel for getting real paint samples to approve prior to production.  HOWEVER, that is only half of the battle.  The person reviewing the samples needs to know what the colors should be.  To be properly reviewed, the inspector should be an expert in the specific railroad.  I can tell whether PRR Freight Car Color or Dark Green Locomotive Enamel colors are reasonably correct or way off (such as the recent pumpkin orange freight cars and Army green locomotives).  However I don't know Mopac blue from B&O blue.  Dear Lionel, to do it right PLEASE involve people who know what they're looking at.

The official color for the Santa Fe's smokebox is a color called "Tarpan Gray," which is more gray than graphite (Available from Tru-Color Paints, TCP-333) but is not a "battleship" gray.

However, like everything else in prototype photo's, its color varies depending on conditions.

Rusty

I've got color pictures of in service ATSF steam and the smoke box color varies depending on lighting, when it was applied, and the angle of the camera. Silver is too light in any case, but when I paint my ATSF steam locomotives I use a gray graphite color that is probably a little too dark, but looks good to my eye.

Last edited by Lou1985
@BillYo414 posted:

I'm trying to remember back to when I was a kid. Did they use real models all the time in the catalog? I feel like the products in the new catalogs are a lot more spritzed up than I remember in the past.

There have been a few catalogs here and there that have used the actual model, or even an earlier one. Most of this has often happened before built to order, though some have. A couple of times the catalogs have had some items that of course didn't, or don't sell as well as they thought they would have, so they have been in the following catalog(sometimes). Often times there is quite a lot of spritzing in most of the catalogs that come out now.

@Bob posted:

Bravo to Lionel for getting real paint samples to approve prior to production.  HOWEVER, that is only half of the battle.  The person reviewing the samples needs to know what the colors should be.  To be properly reviewed, the inspector should be an expert in the specific railroad.  I can tell whether PRR Freight Car Color or Dark Green Locomotive Enamel colors are reasonably correct or way off (such as the recent pumpkin orange freight cars and Army green locomotives).  However I don't know Mopac blue from B&O blue.  Dear Lionel, to do it right PLEASE involve people who know what they're looking at.

Yeah, I think there have been several issues with rolling stock in the past few years that have been extremely off. I believe one was some NYC freight car, the PRR car being pumpkin like you stated, and who could forget the Texas & Pacific 10 Wheeler.

@Conrail6358 Hey Ryan, could you please clarify my topic to help us better understand exactly what samples, that is I mean is it going to be a shell fully painted, whether it be an engine, rolling stock, passenger cars, or what have you. I know that I did not ask you about this, but someone else had posted that at York they asked you about the paint issues, and they said you responded about there will be samples before the item in question moves to full production. I for the life of me cannot find that particular post, but I figured if I can't find it, I might as well go to the source.

So please Ryan, could you elaborate on this more?

………. someone else had posted that at York they asked you about the paint issues, and they said you responded about there will be samples before the item in question moves to full production. I for the life of me cannot find that particular post, but I figured if I can't find it, I might as well go to the source.

So please Ryan, could you elaborate on this more?

Missing post.

Here's a couple of pics I took of the pacemaker and 2-10-10-2 without flash.   The red is a bit darker and the santa fe is a med graphite.   I was pleased with the colors and thought the pacemaker red pretty good.  Take a look.20211021_15542920211021_15543720211021_15542920211021_155435

I was just looking back at the 2010 offering for the VL Santa Fe 2-10-10-2 and the smoke box colors for that one and this one look to be about the same. Hard to tell with the variations of how light plays with color, but looks about right.

All in all, I really do hope this issue is solved and we don't run into those other issues of misspells on things that should be so obvious as well. No one wants a ew Yor Ctral engine, or a Sant F. See what comes down the rails soon enough. Maybe we'll get some reviews on YouTube with how spot on the colors are this time around. We can only hope.

Good thread.  I really hope Lionel solves the issue and takes this seriously.  They have lost a few pre-orders from me because I couldn't guarantee I'd be happy with what arrived.  So far I saved myself the disappointment and hassle twice after getting burned 3 times. To Lionel's and my dealer's credit, one they took back after offering a solution I wasn't satisfied with, the second I did nothing with, and the third they replaced with a new shell.

I understand the difficulties of working with a factory thousands of miles away but this has been happening way too often.  I really appreciate Ryan addressing this issue and look forward to pre-order again without worrying.

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