Sorry if this topic has already been covered and discussed in depth.  I have had several customers question me about the prototypical accuracy regarding some of Lionel's scale detailed Pennsylvania freight cars that have a distinct "orange" appearance rather than the traditional tuscan red or brown color that we are all used too and used on many prior Lionel, MTH and Atlas O PRR models.  Specifically asking about the freight cars that are included in the 6-84953 Lionel Coal Hauler Set and the tender decks of the Lionel  6-84944 Atlantic steam locomotive and the H10 steam locomotives.  There may be other models with this "orange" color too.  I am asking those that are highly knowledgeable of Pennsylvania Railroad technical facts.  Personally I am much more knowledgeable of New York Central and the NYO&W railroad colors.  Is this "orange" in fact prototypical?  I'd just like to know.  Thank you in advance.

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PRR NEVER painted freight equipment of any kind "tuscan red".    Also they never painted tender decks or cab roofs Tuscan red.      Only Lionel and MTH and some others have done that.

PRR had a designated freight car color.    It was basically a boxcar red but redder than the brown some roads used.    The other point is that the paint became darker through the years, mostly I was told as better artificial pigments came available.    So early in the 20 century, freight car color was light and more orangish.    Then as you get into the late 40s and 50s it becomes darker and more brown, but not tuscan which a maroon color.    I don't have the documentation or article on this at hand.     Now as to the Lionel Orange on the recent freight cars - I hate it - but I can't say it is wrong.    One of my buddies thinks it is not that bad for early PRR Freight car color.   I think it too orange.      Can anyone say for sure - looking at photos does not help - one there was not color early on, and too color photos and slide fade and older paints weathered badly.

As for loco cab roofs and decks, there is some stuff on that.     They were actually painted different colors.    The tender deck I think was Freight car color and the cab roof was more brown (or vice-versa).    There is an article in the PRRT&HS journal describing this and all the paint details on stearmers.    I will post it if I find it.   

I am attaching a detailed writeup from the Journal on cabins (cabooses), and a summary.   

Summary painting guide


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Would the reddish brown color of this Lionel Postwar PRR boxcar be an approximately prototypical color?


I'm only asking about the reddish brown color, not the black door.

Reasin I ask is I really like that reddish brown color. Arnold

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.


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As I mentioned above, who knows for sure.    It looks OK for mid 20th century to me.     The logo is all wrong however.    it should be all white with the part around the lettering clear/see-thru for pre-about 1955.    they started teh shadow keystone scheme around that time.    I think for a shadow keystone scheme it should get a little more brown.

As mentioned, paint fades and is affected by the weather and where it serves.     So each car may not look like every other one once they are in service in my opinion.   

And keep in mind older paint schemes work in more modern settings - not been shopped  yet,  but newer paint schemes do not work well in older eras.    You don't want shadow keystones on a layout representing anything prior to about 1955.     so most steam operations are going to be circle keystone schemes.   the Circle Keystone scheme came in around 1930 and was used for about 25 years.

Don Ball's Pennsylvania Railroad in Color has a photo of freshly shopped PRR freight cars coming from Altoona's Samuel Rea car shop.  They're definitely redder than boxcar brown, but not the shade seen in the catalog shot above.  I'd share the picture... but Alan says I'd get in trouble... so if you're really interested, get Ian S. Fischer's PRR Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment.


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