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Steam & Excursion > The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified!


Date: 03/26/20 01:52
The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified!
Author: LoggerHogger

It only takes a second to spot as Southern Pacific steam locomotive when looking at the front of the engine.  The distinctive silver paint on it's smokebox front gives it away instantly as we see here with SP #4459 and #2484 parked side by side at Lathrop, California in September, 1956.

SP developed this silver smokebox seem in the mid-1940's in order to make their locomotives more visible as they approached railroad crossings.  SP ran through quite a bit of farm land, especially in California, and there were many unmarked grade crossings in these farms.  SP needed to find a way to make their approaching trains as visible as possible in all kinds of weather at these grade crossings, and the silver painted smokeboxes was settled on as the best option.  Even the cab-forwards were given a silver band on their front in keeping with this company-wide practice.

In the process of simply coming up with a safety oriented paint scheme, the SP at the same time developed a signature look that makes photos of her locomotives instantly recognizable today.

Martin



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 03/26/20 02:07 by LoggerHogger.




Date: 03/26/20 09:52
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: UP3806

That is a wonderful family portrait!

Thanks for posting.

Tom



Date: 03/26/20 11:59
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: Kimball

Why do I see a bond wire on the nearest rail joint?



Date: 03/26/20 12:12
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: tomstp

For either signals or crossing lights.



Date: 03/26/20 12:58
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: agentatascadero

Lathrop is, of course, where the Sacramento Daylight is, as shown here westbound, is removed for the short trip to Sacramento in a switching move done, I believe, by the mainline power.  Process was reversed eastbound.

As a young one I was aboard for  a number of these moves, which always fascinated me.

AA

Stanford White
Carmel Valley, CA



Date: 03/26/20 16:22
Re: Lathrop
Author: timz

> Why do I see a bond wire on
> the nearest rail joint?

Train 51 is presumably on the main, so...



Date: 03/26/20 23:12
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: BCHellman

LoggerHogger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> SP developed this silver smokebox seem in the
> mid-1940's in order to make their locomotives more
> visible as they approached railroad crossings. 

The aluminum paint smokebox (it's actually aluminum, not silver) was first introduced in 1937 on the Daylight, and all subsequent GS locomotives from Lima were delivered in the aluminum smoke box. When the Mt class was getting the streamline casting applied at Sacramento before the War, they too had aluminum smoke box. Finally, in 1946 the company decided to make aluminum smoke box standard, including the front of all ACs and AMs.

But the first use of aluminum paint on the SP wasn't on locomotives, but on signals. In 1931 the SP Signal Department decided to paint all wayside signals aluminum instead of black and white, which had been standard. According to the Chief Signal Engineer, aluminum paint was more desirable because the temperature inside the instrument case was cooler, this being important in desert territory, and the signals were more visible to maintenance of way and signal personnel. I always wondered if the Motive Power Department didn't take notice of this fact?



Date: 03/27/20 04:58
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: LoggerHogger

I would have to think that the use of aliminum paint on the face of the Daylight locomotives that started arriving in the late 1930's had to have had an influence on the aluminum paint being added to all SP steam power in the mid-1940's.

Martin




Date: 03/27/20 06:33
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: monaddave

Pass the cheesecake.
Dave



Date: 03/27/20 23:19
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: BCHellman

LoggerHogger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I would have to think that the use of aluminum
> paint on the face of the Daylight locomotives that
> started arriving in the late 1930's had to have
> had an influence on the aluminum paint being added
> to all SP steam power in the mid-1940's.

After aluminum became standard in 1946, the rapidity at which it was applied was astounding. I have yet to find a picture of an SP steam locomotive not in the aluminum paint from 1947 onward, so less than a year.  About the only locomotive that didn't get the treatment were the AC-9s, since their face was covered by air pumps. Thank goodness the SP didn't applied aluminum on these beauties. 

The same was true with signals. Started in 1931, by 1933 or 1934 they were all (Pacific Lines) aluminum. That's quite a feat, particularly since it occured during the Depression when capital spending was cut to the bone.



Date: 03/28/20 02:36
Re: The Faces Of This Railroad's Steam Power Is Easily Identified
Author: LoggerHogger

Actually, the AC-9's did in fact receive the aluminum paint on their fronts as well. 

While the pumps prevented the aluminum paint from being applied to the front of their smokeboxes, they did get the same aluminum paint on their pilots as did the Daylight 4-8-4's and they got the aluminum paint applied to the face of the support beams under the pilot deck as we see here.

Martin




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