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GWR Light and Dark Stone Paint

Discussion in 'Railwayana' started by Pannier Tank, Feb 17, 2018.

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  1. Bob 92220

    Bob 92220 New Member

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    Hi Matt.

    If you still want GWR Stone No 1 and Stone No 3 (Light & Dark) Phoenix Paints can supply the exact colours. Up until 2004 I was the paint chemist and owner of Phoenix Paints and our colours were matched to actual GWR paint sample panels, though the Stone No 1 and Stone No3 were matched to the Didcot water tower when it was being repainted back in the 1970s. As Martin says above though, railway colours in those days were often matched on site and, depending on if the mixer was colour blind to any degree, and 1 in 5 men are, the resultant colour could be quite a way off sample panel. However, with the GWR it was a bit different. They were very particular and their paints were factory made, at Swindon Works, so were very consistent within the tolerances of natural pigments. Synthetics didn't come in until after WW2.

    Bob
     
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  2. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    That is interesting to know Bob, do you know when this started, and if any other railways did this?
     
  3. Bob 92220

    Bob 92220 New Member

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    Hi.

    From my past researches, most railways were fairly particular about their loco and coach colours but not about wagon and building colours. The main problem with colour matching in pre WW2 days was that all pigments were natural, and varied in shade. This made colour matching very time consuming and accurate colour matching extremely difficult. The other problem was that locos and coaches all had varnish coats over the colour coat, because glass finish paints were non existent until synthetics came along. And because the varnishes were all natural, they were a dark brown shade so this effected the appearance of the paint coat. Locos also had 3 or 4 coats and it is the varnish in paint that discolours with heat. Thus loco paint was a different, darker, shade after about a week after application! You will see on the Phoenix catalogue that there are 4 different shades of GWR Loco Green listed. Actually there was only 1 shade between 1881 and 1945, and one shade prior to this, on the 1875 livery panel (1875 shade discontinued by Phoenix though).

    When I colour matched them I had the original GWR livery panels from Swindon Works, to work with - 1875, 1881, 1906, 1928 and 1945 dated full livery panels, complete with lining. Where the varnish coats had chipped off, the actual colour of the Loco Green was the same from 1881 right up to the 1945 panel. On the backs of all the panels were instructions for the number of coats of paint and varnish to be applied. As the panels got newer, so the number of varnish coats reduced from 5 coats on the 1875 panel to none on the 1945 panel. During WW2, the way of making synthetic paints, varnishes and pigments was discovered, and the last GWR panel - 1945 (must have been produced late in the year, after the war ended!) was full gloss synthetic paint and was not varnished. This showed the true colour of GWR Locomotive Green, and it matched, exactly, all the other panels, from 1881, where the varnish coats had been chipped off.

    As another 'aside', many refer to GWR Locomotive Green as Middle Chrome Green. This is not actually correct. Middle Chrome Green was the pigment colour used to make the GWR Locomotive Green, which is what it was called on the backs of all the panels. Also, many think that GWR loco buffer beams were painted China Red, or Chinese Red. The only panel that named the buffer beams as being China Red, was the 1875 panel. All the others had it listed as Signal Red. The China Red on the 1875 panel was a pinky red where the Signal Red was a much deeper Red. The 1875 Loco Green was different to all the other panels It was quite a bit darker, and a bit browner too. Another colour that causes controversy is the GWR Indian Red. Many believe it was a colour similar to Red Oxide. This is a misconception that was caused by British Railways when they repainted City of Truro for preservation. They didn't use the GWR shade they used the then standard BR Wagon Oxide. GWR Indian Red was a much darker colour, and actually the BS381c colour chart list Indian Red, and it was an exact match for the GWR shade - one of the very few railway colours that match any British Standard shade. Even British Railways paint colours were mainly special colours and matched no Standard but their own. City of Truro now has the correct shade of Indian Red on the frames. Hope that gives a bit of an insight into the complexities of old railway colours.

    Bob
     
  4. Nick Gough

    Nick Gough Member

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    Aren't they black at the moment?
     
  5. Mr Valentine

    Mr Valentine Member

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    I've heard of these mythical panels, but having never seen them in person I've long had a question, which I wonder if you can answer. Did each panel clearly date from a different time, or were they produced all together as a job lot, as an official reference to show how things had been done? Not that it would discredit it, but it would be interesting to know.

    From my own research, and having spoken to Bob Meanley, I would agree that buffer beam red was quite dark.
     
  6. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Chinese Red is similar to signal red, but is deeper in colour and has a more crimson tinge. I have always understood China red to be a different colour, more akin to pinkish shade of red oxide .

    The post-war GWR loco painting specification made a distinction between areas painted China Red (Inside Frames) and Chinese Red (Buffer Beams)

    When we painted City of Truro at the SVR in 1985 great care was taken to match the correct colours. I went down through the layers of paint on the outside frames until I found the original Indian Red. I managed to detatch a usable flake of paint and had this matched by our paint supplier. Approximate dates for the paint layers could be determined by comparing those on the frame strengthening plates (which were later additions) and those on the original framing.

    I also went down through the layers of green paint in various areas on the loco, and as mentioned earlier, all were of a similar colour except for the earliest couple of layers which were of a much darker 'Holly Green'. This was again matched by our paint supplier and these colours were the ones applied to the loco.

    Andy
     
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  7. toplight

    toplight Member

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    If you look in this book about the GWR C and W works there is some pictures of the inside of the paint mill where the GWR paint was made and some details about it. The guy who wrote the book I know vaguely and he worked at the works in a senior position for a long time.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Carriage-Wagon-Works-GWR-Swindon/dp/0750964197
     
  8. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    Flatting back through the original layers of paint can be quite revealing. Do you remember when we were prepping KGV at Hereford in the early 80s we flatted a small area of the cab sides back through the BR paint through to the GWR paint. This revealed 7 layers of BR green of which only two matched each other and two layers of BR blue which were a perfect match for Charles Newtons research.
     
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  9. 5944

    5944 Well-Known Member

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    Just what shade of black is BR black? ;)
     
  10. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    As an apprentice i worked on a scuttle (window) in Nelsons day cabin on HMS Victory. Cutting back the paint layers of time, could almost touch Horatio through the pigment.
     
  11. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Yes Gary, I also remember uncovering a bit of the LNWR Northern division green on 'Cornwall' when it was at the SVR.
     
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