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Winchester Paston & Portsmouth » Blog Archive » Evolution of a Paint Scheme

Evolution of a Paint Scheme

Posted on May 19th, 2011, by Mike

I have had a lot of fun tinkering with my road’s paint scheme, coming up with a number of iterations. Rather than try to narrow it down to one, however, I invented a history that explains the development of the schemes over time. The Norfolk & Western, as spartan as it was, also went through a series of schemes, with passenger equipment painted distinctly from the freight. So why not the WP&P?

I don’t model steam, but since all my schemes must trace a common lineage, I figured it would be good to consider what a WP&P steam engine would look like. As was common for the time, I developed a circular herald, one which could be applied to all kinds of things (even a webpage!). If I were to develop a steam roster, it would feature a lot of Vanderbilt tenders, which means not a lot of room for a long spelled-out name. Instead, the herald goes on the coal bunker, with a road number centered under the cab windows. To dress it up and make it unique, though, a yellow stripe adorns the bottom of the tender (the sill).

Basic Steam Scheme

I’m still going back and forth as to whether the running board edge should also be yellow. Send me your comments!

When the first diesels showed up on the roster, in the early ’40s, initially no reason was seen to deviate from this scheme, and so they were treated similarly. This is much how went with the N&W, as they kept the same font and gold lettering on their first black engines. The same herald is used, though located on the long hood right behind the cab (which is where it would have been on the tender). I’m sure you can see the resemblance.

However, it wasn’t long before it was clear that something more colorful was called for. Scheme F2 introduced a bright red to the cowling of the F-units that were purchased next. The herald went onto the nose, and now that some billboard space was available to spell things out a bit, the initials “WP&P” were applied to the sides. Having no precedent up until then, a futuristic font was chosen (see Scheme P1 below for an example), and this was applied right behind the cab again. The red paint, though, was more costly than black, so the cab roof (above the grilles) was kept black. Here are examples of the scheme on both cab and hood units.

WP&P scheme F2 cab unit

WP&P scheme F2 hood unit

The F-units (both FA-1’s and F-3’s were tried out) were purchased at the same time as the E-units, and AlCo PA’s followed soon thereafter. Over time, WP&P would become an ALCo road, but at least initially there were some EMD’s mixed in. The passenger equipment, however, had for a long time been painted in a two-tone blue scheme, one which evidenced its B&O leanings. When WP&P first began, it was largely dependent on B&O, only gradually going over to the N&W camp. With named passenger trains wearing sky and royal blue, the E’s and PA’s were painted to match, although they used the same lettering style as F2.

Passenger scheme P1

In addition, the name of the assigned train was applied in gold to the E7’s. This proved to be a mistake, as it prohibited flexible assignments of motive power, and so when the PA’s were later ordered, the name was done away with. Instead, the grillwork was highlighted in silver, resulting in Scheme P2, the most elegant of all the WP&P schemes. It was a scheme made for the PA, and as it turned out, only PA’s wore it.

WPP PA-1 in Scheme P2

For the freight units, though, the solid red with white initials, and black below the sill as well as on the roof, left a little to be desired. Additionally, management soon grew tired of the futuristic font. What emerged was a scheme that borrowed the Pennsy’s notion of pinstripes, and brought the roof black down a bit onto the sides, to make a feature out of the color separation. Instead of the funky font, a simple Helvetica was chosen. However, the designers liked the way the ampersand towered over adjacent letters in the old font, and so they made the unconventional decision to use lower case lettering. In the rendering of Scheme P2, above, you can see that I used the later Helvetica lower case for the lettering, which I now consider to be anachronistic. When I get some real models painted in P2, they’ll use the futuristic font.

In Scheme F3, the three black stripes sit behind the white lettering sort of like the bars of a musical measure, and the way that the lower case “p” characters hang down add to this music note association. One can envision the ampersand as if it were a treble clef, even! This is a scheme that has come a long way since the steam days, but in an evolutionary way.

Freight Scheme F3

I first came up with this scheme when I decided to honor my alma mater, the University of Cincinnati. This is a Bearcat scheme… yet with the music note analogy going, one can also say that it honors my mother, who taught music all her life.

The last scheme on the WP&P was F4, which adapted the placement of elements in F3 but applied a whole new color palette. It was a response to a kind of “bail-out by N&W” scenario in which a controlling interest was gained by N&W as WP&P’s share price bottomed out in the early ’60s. This interest would grow into the eventual merger of 1967, bringing an end to the WP&P. As new engines were not being purchased by the struggling road during this time frame, F4 was applied only to those engines that ended up in the shop and were deemed to be needful of fresh paint. Thus, I have an RS-1 painted in Scheme F4, as well as RS-11’s and RSD-15’s. In this scheme, the maroon and gold colors are evocative of N&W’s passenger equipment. Additionally, the broad gold stripe replaces the triple pinstripe, and somewhat recalls the sill striping of the steam years. The lettering now is blue, to harken back to Schemes P1 and P2.

WP&P scheme F4

Scheme F4 was short-lived, though, and inconsistently applied, as once the merger was realized in 1967, any unit repaints were done into N&W livery. Thus, most of what N&W inherited were red-bodied “music note” engines. And true to character, N&W held off on repainting these as long as it could. But in 1971, N&W would introduce a new image for itself, in the black and white “NW” scheme, and at that point any remaining WP&P colors quickly vanished.

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