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  • SP Passenger Train Paint Schemes

    Often the shop crews did not follow the "common standard" designs they got from the front office. This is how the herald looked on SP 10262, a "Shasta Daylight" Articulated Coffee Shop car when she was retired. The wing panels have been painted silver-grey and the 1947 "Daylight" script has been replaced by the older style. - Jim Gerstley photo.

    The "Shasta Daylight's Timberline Tavern," SP 10316, provides and excellent example of the later version of the "Daylight" scheme with the car type stenciled on the end of the letterboards, "Southern Pacific" in slightly larger lettering, modified herald, and silver grey trim. - This is a Pullman Company photo from the collection of Jim Gerstley.
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    1. The Daylight

    by Dave Blanchard

       In this series of articles we intend to cover each of the lightweight SP passenger train color schemes, providing you with sufficient information on each to correctly paint, letter and number cars for your models of SP streamliners.

       Southern Pacific became well known over the years for their fine fleet of streamliners, "serving more of the West", as their ads used to read, with these brightly clad trains. Indeed, part of the attractiveness and popularity of their trains might well be attributed to the various multi-colored paint schemes they wore. These eye catchers became a trade mark of SP passenger operations from the appearance of their first streamliner in the mid-thirties on up until 1958, when declining passenger revenues and rising labor costs made it uneconomical to maintain them.

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       Probably the most distinctive of all the color schemes used on SP varnish was the combination of red, orange, black, and silver that earned the Coast Daylight the honor of being considered by many to be the "Most Beautiful Train in the World." Conceived in 1936, while the new Daylight cars were under construction at the Pullman plant, it was the result of Southern Pacific's efforts to formulate an attractive yet practical color scheme to paint the new train in. Many combinations were considered and the final choice was made. The main body was red with the window strip orange; the roof, trucks, underbody, and skirts were black. The colors were separated by 3/4" wide aluminum bronze stripes. "Southern Pacific Lines" was proudly emblazoned on the letterboards in 4 1/2" aluminum-bronze extended Railroad Roman letters and the now-famous ball-and-wing herald was painted on a large plate affixed to the lower sides of each car. The car serial number was centered just below the insignia in 3 1/2" numerals. All lettering was edged in black. The car ends were red with the end doors on non-vestibule ends painted to match the interior color scheme of each particular car. The chair-baggage cars were the exception having the orange band and two aluminum-bronze stripes contained all the way around the forward end and across the door there.

       The red and orange came to be synonymous with the word Daylight which, in turn, was associated with most of the first-class daytime trains across the system. The Texas and New Orleans' Sunbeam blossomed forth later in 1937 wearing Daylight livery. The scheme was also used on the Noon, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Shasta Daylights. The Cotton Belt used a variation of the Daylight colors with a silver roof instead of black on ten semistreamlined coaches. And, although the Starlight was to have been repainted two-tone gray, it remained in Daylight colors (it was actually the old Noon Daylight consist) except for a few cars. The Sunbeam and the San Joaquin Daylight even had their own variations of the ball and wing herald though the San Joaguin's was replaced by the Daylight herald in 1946.

       Changes were made over the years in the Daylight scheme. The first one came in 1937 when the car serial numbers were changed from 3 1/2" to 2 1/2" characters. Then in 1946, the word "Lines" was dropped from the letterboards and lettering size for the road name became 5". During 1947, the changeover from aluminum-bronze to silver gray trim and lettering was begun. Also a slightly varied herald was issued that was intended to be easier to apply. Some of the shop crews liked the old one better, however, and continued to use it at least through 1955 when the Sacramento shop forces painted it on the new Dome Lounges. In 1948, car types were applied to the ends of most cars in 2 1/2" Roman letters. This made the cars easier for passengers to identify from the outside. They were not applied to strictly head-end cars, the articulated chairs and diners nor the rear ends of observation cars.

    Showing off its brand new "Daylight" paint scheme is Articulated Chair Car SP 2402-2403. Note small (compared to characters used in later years) "Southern Pacific Lines" in aluminum-bronze edged in black. - Pullman Company photo from the collection of Jim Gerstley.

    Heavyweight Baggage-RPO SP 5070 was painted in "Daylight" colors in 1941 for service on the "San Joaquin Daylight. "Since it was the first car in the consist, its forward (RPO) end had the orange band and silver stripes as on the Chair-Baggage cars on the "Coast Daylight" and the "Sunbeam's" baggage cars, San Francisco, 1953. - Darek Mortlock photo.

    MHP 79-C-1 "Daylight" chair car was painted with Floquil paints and lettered with Champ decals to represent SP 2440 as it appeared after 1946. - Model by Jeff Cauthen; photo by Dave Blanchard.
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       In 1949, the new Shasta Daylight was inaugurated and the Daylight scheme was adapted with a wider orange band to accomodate the extra-high picture windows featured on this train. The two Parlor Observations that were reassigned to the Shasta Daylight were also repainted to match the high-window cars.

       By 1955, labor costs were reaching high levels and SP began to economize. The requirement for black edging was dropped for all lettering except the insignia. As was mentioned earlier, the Daylight scheme was officially cancelled late in 1958. Cars were to have been re-painted in the new standard scheme as they came in for shopping after that date. This cancellation date was totally effective only on paper, however, as many cars were not shopped for many years after this and a few were actually repainted in the Daylight scheme by the shop crews subsequent to 1958. The result was that a few cars, notably the Chair-Baggages and Parlor Observations on the Coast Daylight, wore Daylight colors well into the'60s. (It is thought that, generally, cars were repainted when they lost their corrugated sides as part of a rebuilding program to extend the lives of the cars. Some were repainted without being rebuilt but none were painted Daylight colors after rebuilding.)

     (October 5, 1955)
    Car Number Assignment
    2352-2357 Coast Daylight
    2358-2361 Shasta Daylight
    2381-2398 Shasta Daylight
    2402-2423* Coast Daylight
    2439-2440 Daylights
    2441-2484* Daylights
    2485-2488 Daylights
    2492-2493 Daylights
    2951 Relief
    2952-2953 Coast Daylight
    2954-2955 Shasta Daylight**
    3001 Daylights  
    3002-3003 Daylights
    3300-3301 San Joaquin Daylight
    3302-3303 Coast Daylight
    3600 San Joaquin Daylight
    3604 San Joaquin Daylight
    3605-3606 Shasta Daylight
    5000-5002 Shasta Daylight, Cascade
    5011-5012 Shasta Daylight, Cascade
    10200-10201 Relief  
    10250-10252 San Joaquin Daylight
    10253-10255 San Joaquin Daylight
    10256-10258 Coast Daylight
    10259-10261 Coast Daylight
    10262-10264 Shasta Daylight
    10265-10267 Shasta Daylight
    10313 Relief
    10314-10315 San Joaquin Daylight
    10316-10317 Coast Daylight Starlight
    10400-10401 Starlight
    5070 Senator, Relief, Shasta Daylight
    5217-5218 San Joaquin Daylight
    5219 Relief
    6085 Starlight
    6029, 6204,6448  
    Cars shown assigned to the Daylights were pool cars used as needed on any of the Daylight or Starlighttrains.

    * Articulated in pairs.

    ** These were corrugated-side cars that were repainted with wider orange stripes to match the other Shasta Daylight equipment.

    The "Sunbeam" paint scheme was identical to the "Daylight's" except for the herald. Note also that the insignia board is smaller. This is T&NO 950, a Diner-Lounge-Observation. - Pullman Company photo from the collection of Jim Gerstley.
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    Painting the Daylight

       Many modelers are somewhat hesitant to attempt painting the Daylight scheme because of its many colors and stripes but it is easier than it looks to get a very sat isfactory finish if a little care is taken. Here are a few tips we would like to pass on.

    STEP 1

       Clean the car thoroughly. If it is a metal car use laquer thinner. If it is plastic, soak it in warm water and a mild detergent. Any dirt or oil (including your fingerprints) left on the surface may cause the paint to chip off later.

    STEP 2

       Prime the car or, if the car is plastic, use a barrier.

    STEP 3

       Paint the interior first (if you choose to paint it) then, after it is dry, put a strip of masking tape on the inside of the windows. It is easier to touch up the interior if the tape pulls some of this paint up than to have to repaint the exterior.

    STEP 4

       Paint the first color. I find it easier to start with the red, then to apply the orange, then the black, and finally the stripes. Let the car dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding.

    STEP 5

       Use a medium-stickiness masking tape to mask the red (see fig. 1). Pull the tape taught but do not stretch it. Lay the edge down. When you get it just where you want it, press it down firmly. See that there is no place for the paint to leak under the tape; grabirons and other details are likely culprits. Be sure to mask the ends of the car too in case you get a little sloppy with the overspray. Spray the orange and let it dry. Repeat Step 4 for the black.

    STEP 6

       Lay out two pieces of tape where each of the stripes is to go (you may want to do them one at a time) leaving a small, straight gap between them. The stripes scale out to be about 1/64" wide (in HO) but making them a bit oversize won't detract much from the appearance of the model. Paint the stripes. Peel the tape back at a sharp angle immediately after painting to keep the paint from bleeding under the tape. BE CAREFUL - there's nothing more discouraging than pulling off a chip of red paint just after putting the last stripe on!

    STEP 7

       After the paint has dried completely, spray the entire car with a glossy finish.

       Apply decals. To represent the scheme as it appeared from 1937 to 1946, Micro Scale's RH-34 is about the closest among decal sets currently on the market. Their RH-107 has the correct color lettering for the post-1947 scheme but the characters are way too small for this. Spray the car again with gloss. In addition to daily washings, Daylight cars were waxed every two weeks and the trucks were repainted every ten days so a glossy weathering is appropriate. A note of thanks goes to Jeff Cauthen for the prototype drawings and data he supplied for the preparation of this article.

    This is the "San Joaquin Daylight" herald that was applied to all coaches built in 1941 for the "San Joaquin Daylight" as well as the heavyweight head-end, dining, and lounge cars refurbished for that assignment. - Pullman Company photo from the collection of Jim Gerstley.
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    Article Details

    • Original Author Dave Blanchard
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date April 1978

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