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Model Railroading > GN color conundrum

Date: 10/15/20 10:16
GN color conundrum
Author: rapidotrains

Hi guys,

We could use some help from GN modelers, and please feel free to share this with other GN-oriented lists.

We developed our GN colors back in 2006 with the help of the late Duane Buck and the GNRHS. They are noticeably darker than a lot of other manufacturers' models. Duane was adamant that we got it right and he was very happy with the colors. But we've had mixed reviews - some people love them and some people hate them.

Our new GN SW1200 will soon be going to the paint shop. We need to get a feel from the GN community... Do we keep the colors we developed with Duane? Do we go brighter, like Walthers bright? Or do we go somewhere in the middle?

The challenge if we make a major change is that the hundreds of people who have our GN FAs and passenger cars may not be keen on having SW1200s that are so different.

We're open to input from GN modelers everywhere.

Thanks in advance,



Date: 10/15/20 14:17
Re: GN color conundrum
Author: grahamline

Colors pulled from real-life company paint chips that have been properly preserved will always look darker on scale models, at least those smaller than garden scale, because models are generally viewed indoors and often under less-than-ideal lighting and different viewing distances.
Company paint chips that have been kept in their envelopes and not exposed to sun or fluorescent light won't show the effect of real-world fading, either.
 People in Union Pacific modeling circles went round on this decades ago when Evergreen Roundhouse and Life-Like went to great pains to secure paint samples for the boxcars (Evergreen) and the GP series engines (P2K) that were released. People thought the colors were too intense for anything other than equipment fresh from  the painter.
 Personally, I have always found it easier to lighten or moderate fresh, saturated colors than to "brighten up" a dull, faded finish.
 There is no perfect solution to your problem. There is certainly no decision that will make all modelers happy.

Date: 10/15/20 15:04
Re: GN color conundrum
Author: gnguy

It has been my experience in 34 years modeling the GN to always follow Duane Buck's lead.  He was in a class by himself and is sorely missed.

Also, for pure GN input you should put your question to the GN group at GNGoat@groups.io

Lastly, probably the only time the SW1200 would be attached to empire builder colored passenger equipment is banging cars around a large passenger terminal.  And it would undoubtably be heavily weathered in comparison to the passenger equipment.

Mike Stewart Oakley, CA


Date: 10/15/20 18:35
Re: GN color conundrum
Author: rapidotrains

Thanks for your input, guys. I appreciate it. And the most true thing is that whatever we do will not satisfy everyone.


Date: 10/16/20 03:36
Re: GN color conundrum
Author: brfriedm

Found this picture off your website Jason. I think it looks good. I am sure you know that Tru Color offers the GN colors. Have you ever compared their colors to yours? Just curious.

Finally, since we are talking paint, there has been discussion from you that the future of your paint line is up in the air.  Any updates?  I have been trying to get the Haze for a long time with no success. Thanks Bruce

Date: 10/16/20 08:09
Re: GN color conundrum
Author: aehouse

I don't envy you. The color problem is always, well, a problem. 

Some years ago the C&O Historical Society had Scalecoat create three colors of gray for use as C&O structure colors.  The paints were produced from original C&O color drift cards. However, of the three colors, two of them (the medium and light grays) looked horribly green on C&O models, so much so that many of us had to blend the two grays with varying amounts of Scalecoat white to even approximate the colors appearing in hundreds of photos of C&O structures.  The Society subsequently had the same colors mixed to use on its full-scale replica buildings at its Clifton Forge Va., headquarters, and they too have looked terribly green and inaccurate from the day they were painted.

One knowledgeable color analyst suggested that the original C&O structure colors immediately faded to the hues we're used to seeing in photos, but that the newer paints contained different attributes and stabilizers that eliminated the fading. Anyway, as a result,  the modern paints--even though produced from the color drift cards--were and remain a great disappointment to C&O fans and modelers.  So, given the effects of sunlight and weather, you can't really even trust original official drift cards as a source for what equipment and structures actually looked like in service.

Art House

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/20/20 09:07 by aehouse.

Date: 10/16/20 13:08
Re: GN color conundrum
Author: Kemacprr

Using color drift cards can be a problem when using them in a paint scanner. Years ago the PRRT&HS did a set of color drift cards for PRR equipment and building colors. I took my Dark Green Locomotive Enamel card to a Home Depot to get a quart made for the fascia on my Railroad. When I opened it up it was a very dark green/brown !!  I went back and they ran it again with the same result. Later I called a friend who had worked at DuPont in their paint division. He informed me that almost all color drift cards are produced with inks not paints. Also the fact that the paint scanners used today will not accurately reproduce any ink color drift card. So the use of a real color drift card is not the answer in trying to duplicate paint colors .  I've always like Scalecoat 2 DGLE so I made my own drift card and had that reproduced with great results. Producing model colors in my opinion should be as they came out of the paint booth that way you have a common start line with any weathering/age one wants to apply. ----  Ken 

Date: 10/16/20 15:19
Re: GN color conundrum
Author: AVR3001

Comparing the B unit photo with color photos of GN locomotives, it sure looks like you got it right the first time.  There is also the benefit to being consist for those of us who appreciate Rapido products.

Date: 10/17/20 17:11
Re: GN color conundrum
Author: rapidotrains

Thanks everyone for the feedback. Another big headache we've had is VIA yellow.

For the recent run of dining cars, I sent the factory a sample of our best VIA yellow (in my opinion) and told them to match it. They did, and showed photos and videos comparing production models and the sample. When the models arrived and I inspected them in my layout room, the yellow looked too dark. So I then took the dining cars outside, and lo and behold the yellow matched perfectly to our best VIA yellow in natural light.

At that point I gave up on ever having VIA yellow consistent through all my models. Thankfully VIA yellow was different from car to car on the prototype too!


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