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I have a Williams PRR E7 that needs some paint as the front was cracked when it was shipped.  I ordered Scale coat's Tuscan but it was too red.  The Williams model is more brown.  Did PRR paint their E7s boxcar red? That is a lot closer than what it appears Tuscan would be.  Any help would be appreciated.

Attached is a pic of Scale coat's color chart.



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To my knowledge, PRR diesels to be used in passenger service (in later years) were all painted Tuscan red.  Your problem seems to stem from the fact that the model manufacturer's version of Tuscan red doesn't match the paint vendor's version.  So, you can either re-paint and re-letter the entire engine to match the paint vendor's version or you can buy a version that approximates what the model manufacturer used.

A long time ago, the PRR Technical & Historical Society put out some "drift cards" (basically, paint color samples), but I don't remember if Tuscan was included.  I do remember that the issuance caused quite a stir because some of the old-timers thought the colors on the cards were off.

Beauty, and correct paint tint, are always in the eye of the beholder!


I called the manufacturer of my dad's fifth-wheel and told them I bought my dad a new truck and wanted to paint it to match his trailer. Their advertising department gave me the paint codes (body and 3 trim colors) and brand of paint to order.

Is the paint code a big secret with railroads? I read more complaints about color than almost any other when it comes to models.

Last edited by GVDobler

the Paint codes are not a secret, the company no longer exists.    The PRR disappeared in 1966 I believe.    Therefore all we have is pieces of records that were salvaged.    The PRRT&HS has saved whatever they can and what is donated, but a lot was lost.   

But with Railroad paint, there are more issues.    The equipment is in a harsh environment.    All sorts of weather conditions and continuous use affect it.   Harsh sunlight, dirty environment etc cause fading.    Then paints 50  years ago and more were not as good as today - they faded more easily from abuse.     and the farther back you go, the less stable they were.  

So when people look at a paint chip and say that is not the color they remember - you have to consider the situation.    The paint chip is the color as ordered from the mfg.     the color that someone remembers what a unit in service, perhaps years of service, that came by or into the station.    the paint on the unit would be dirty, faded and worn.  

Another issue that applies to Pennsy freight cars is taht the "boxcar red" (freight car color) they  used got darker and more brown over the years into the 50s.    The reason given was better pigments and movement from natural pigments to artificial pigments in the paint.

So as mentioned above, every one has their own opinion of what the color should be.

As for your model, try the boxcar red on the inside or someplace and see if it matches.    If not try mixing a maybe 5 drops of tuscan with a drop of black and try that.    Experiment until you get a match  you like.   Since you are working with a small area, you don't need much, so you can experiment with a few drops here and there and see what happens.    Keep good notes on what you do and remember when the paint dries it changes shades slightly.

You should try arguing paint colors with military modelers. What color is olive drab? Which formulary? Fresh from the factory before deployment? After a 3 months of battle, sun, rain and abuse? Covered with dust and mud? And then lets talk about the losers, German aircraft and armor. The Germans provided paints as a paste to be mixed in the field by tank crews. It mixed with gas, oil, kerosene, water. Was brushed on, mopped on, sprayed on? Oh and when was the paste made? Under what set of instructions? I think 4 major and some minor.

And forget any film based on chemicals. The original chemicals used, changes to the chemical makeup over time due to heat, humidity, etc. render original photos suspect on original color. There is a well known photo of I think Mustangs taken in the air on a bright, clear day and there is still no agreement as to whether the vanity markings on the upper fuselage is a blue or a green.

Chasing a true color from 50 or more years ago is a recipe for disappointment. What I do is decide what looks good and use it. Until I decide something seems better.

Happy Painting.


@ftauss posted:

And forget any film based on chemicals.


Ya can't trust digital photo's, either.  Color can vary depending on the screen.  Photo's on my desktop monitor will look slight different than photos on my laptops.  And it will vary between the two laptops, also.

Plus, colors will look different under different lighting conditions...

Here's an interesting tidbit:  According to Chicago, Burlington and Quincy painting diagrams, their F-units were painted "aluminum."

The model companies in the 50' through the 70's took that to be a silver paint.  Wrong...   It's more of a grayish-white and depending on the lighting, it can almost take on a beige hue.


To answer your original question I believe they would have painted in Tuscan Red. not a box car red. They also painted engines in Brunswick Green and DGLE.

I worked with Dupont on trying to get the REAL color charts from there achieves when they supplied to "Dulux" to the PRR. The paint formula's have changed over the years as the Government outlawed paint types. I tried to recreate DGLE with Dupont who used there original formulas to recreate the same using today paints. You would be amazed on how hard it was to do.  DGLE was supposed to have a touch of Green in it. I do have a shade of green on my Loco #9339 but it is really hard to see, even in bright sunlight. The Strasburg unit #9331 was done in Brunswick Green, not the right color but looks better. We are currently repainting it and will remain Brunswick Green. Our coaches are being transitioned to a Tuscan Red. We try to get close to the Drift cards as we can, but after a year they fad or get stained.

Last edited by CSX FAN

I thought DGLE was what modelers call "Brunswick Green".

As far as I know, Pennsy locos were never painted freight car red.    It was either DGLE or Tuscan.

And to the point that different batches may be different from the same company, remember this is an industrial operation, not an art show.     What I mean is that the paint was to keep the equipment from rusting, because that is good business, not to look pretty.     Some guy in accounting ordered the paint and had it shipped to the various paint shops.    The shops probably got it in 55 gallon drums.    They opened it and  used it.    The most likely did not bother with comparing it a paint chip or anything else.    Whatever was in the drum, they used.    Think of it like that safety yellow and industrial green we saw so much of the plants we worked in and around.   Lots varying shaes, but it covered the stuff it was supposed to cover.

@RoyBoy posted:

Were you surprised that light yellow things were actually white?

That and I apparently had also been thinking some things that were purple were blue or seeing greens that were actually brown.

I have a number of B&M engines and pieces of rolling stock in my collection and I was literally shocked at how blue they are.  And since this thread is supposed to be about PRR colors, don’t even get me started on Brunswick green versus black...🤷


I read that PRR Freight car color became darker and browner over the  years.    It was more orange in the early years, sort of in the family of red oxide primer but not quite.   At least that is what I have been told.     Floquil pollyscale made a color called "special oxide red" that some old timers swear was great for early PRR freight car color.    I still have a couple of bottles that I  am using.    It was blamed on the paint manufacturing moving from natural pigments to synthetic pigments.       That could have been the case with other RRs also.

And as mentioned above, PRR freight cars, including cabooses (cabins),  were never painted tuscan.    They were always painted "freight car red"   

Too add to the fun, PRR's Tuscan Red did drift in color depending on what year it was painted.  Like any color, it is up the modelers eye to determine what they like.

Diesel passenger locomotives all started getting Tuscan Red in starting in 1952 along with 12 GG1 electrics (10 in 5 stripe and later 2 in single stripe).  Freight diesels and steam locomotives were DGLE.  This lasted until the end of the PRR in 1967.  Passenger cars had Tuscan Red starting in the early 20th century.  While freight cars were painted in browner tone that went by many colors "freight car red, oxide red, oxide brown etc", depending on era, some cabins received a dark red color up until the 40's similar to the toluidine red on the number plates.

Personally, I like Tru-Color paints for accurate matches.  I find Scalecoat Tuscan Red to be a bit too red, Floquil is a bit too brown.

Off course the later you get in the era of PRR starting in the 50's the color was just normally referred to as "dirt".  It was said that the R50b reefer traveled every mile of track in the US with the exception of the wash track.

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