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Paint fading - model weathering

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Something I was discussing with the IRM boyos yesterday prompted me to ramble on about paint and how it weathers.

It's been said here before and elsewhere that painting a small model in high gloss never looks right. Correct. Dulled down and matt colours look more realistic. But if we look at this a bit more, there's a bit more to it.

Just as a model has size scaled down, so must colour! And, colour isn't always what it seems.

In IRM Towers, there's a model of a BR genny van sitting on a shelf, heavily (and very accurately) weathered. Adjacent to it are several Mk 2s or 3s, bright pristine orange. Technically, they should be the same colour, but they're not. And this is prototypical. If two carriages are painted the same day, and one is rarely washed, while the other is well kept, they'll look the same shade - they are the same shade - but one is filthy while the other is clean. But if one is repainted recently, while the other hasn't seen a paintbrush in seven years, and has been poorly kept since, a difference in shade will be evident, unless you put a bit of T-cut on the tatty one.

This type of thing gave rise in the past to numerous urban rumours to the effect that "ah, sure they just went to Woodies DIY and got whatever the nearest shade was". This was not so. Such a theory has been applied to CIE greens, GNR blue and CIE tan / orange.

There were indeed variations in CIE greens and tans, but these were specific, not accidental. As most will know, there was the tan that 071s came in; this was an erroneous colour matching by GM in America, and "corrected" at first repaint in Inchicore. There was a marginally browner tan used from 1962 onwards, until the 1980s when a slightly more orange version appeared, and finally an even more orange one when , I think, 2-pack painting came in. The green era was the same. There were two varieties of green, with short-lived experimental one somewhere in between about 1952.

In the 1950s, secondary stock wasn't well kept, so the green faded a lot on some stock. This gave a flatter, almost bluish-tinted hue after time.

The key is in pigments. More lead was used in older paints, so if left long enough and allowed to fade, they'd fade differently to the same colour today, produced by today's different pigments, chemicals and compounds.

Hence - for painting models - the shiny CIE dark green seen on well-kept coaches in the railway scenes in the "Quiet Man" film, and on preserved CIE buses, would on secondary wooden coaches in the 1960s appear less "green" and much duller. Equally, tans on later CIE liveries - scrub down a preserved vehicle and what you see as possible six different shades of tan is more accurately six shades of weathering and fading; if a time machine allowed you to see each repaint as new, they'd be the same.

The GNR, however, always had the same blue...they carefully mixed their own formulas in their workshop at Dundalk, meticulously watched over by the manager, the late Marcus Bailie-Gage!

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To me the shade of orange used on the MM 203 and 220 are that faded pink shade. 201 and 210 are in the vivid new painted orange shade as that is what they had while they wore the full yellow face. Only thing is that makes 203 and 220 to be weathered out of the box to look right while 201 and 210 look good as in ex works condition.

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5 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

Yes, I remember the old 101s in “pink” in the sound barrier!

There was an old “tin van” in Heuston about 25 years ago which was going the same way. Pity it was scrapped - it was the last of them....

Interestingly the "golden brown" on the B101s on the sound barrier that had received a repaint in Supertrain livery faded more than the locos that remained in black and tan.

By the late 70s was quite a variation in fading between loco on the sound bank, with the all black and black & tan Sulzers in the best cosmetic condition. 

It was surprising that the majority of the B101s were re-painted into the Supertrain colours, they were pretty much restricted to goods, p.w. work and the weed killer following the re-powering of the Metrovicks by the early 1970s. CIE appears to have considered re-powering the B101s with GM power units, but this was rejected in favour of purchasing the 071s.  Apparently body corrosion and the need to re-bogie the locos to a Co Co arrangement (probably to provide similar power output to a remotored A Class) seem to have been deciding factors not to re-power the class.

Although B106 appears to have received an overhaul, its possible CIE carried out the minimum work necessary (incl a low spec reapaint) to keep the Class in operation through a short term loco shortage following a work to rule at Inchacore Works in the early 70s.  At least two B101s were laid up following fire damage/mechanical problems in the late 1960s.

CIE overhauled one of the Inchacore Sulzers and its remaining BUT railcar set around the same time, but they never re-entered service



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Yes, I always wondered why they bothered repainting them in "supertrain" livery, yet the E class which remained in traffic for another 7/8 years remained in 1960s all-black. Far from being hitched onto any "super" train, to my knowledge no 101 pulled ANY passenger train even in the 1970s. As you say, PW only latterly.

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8 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

Yes, I always wondered why they bothered repainting them in "supertrain" livery, yet the E class which remained in traffic for another 7/8 years remained in 1960s all-black.

The re-painting of the servicable B101 Class locos may have been carried out to control/limit water damage to the electrical and control equipment as body corrosion appears to have become a significant problem with the class by the mid 1970s. The class no doubt got the Supertrain treatment as they were classed as main line locos rather than shunting locomotives. The most striking thing was the great variety in the shade of orange between individual locos on the sound bank, some had faded to something like a hot pink, while very little fading was noticable on locos that were placed late on the bank like 103 & 106 the last of the Irish BRCW Sulzers in service

B106 worked a Sulzer Farewell special from Connolly to Bray and back in February 1978, the loco was withdrawn from service shortly afterwards when it failed as a result of a minor electrical fault while making up a transfer goods at the North Wall.



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1 hour ago, Broithe said:

Some organisations go through phases where, if something ends up in desperate need of some paint, it gets painted with whatever paint is in general use in the vicinity at the time.

True, but in the case of the railways they tended to match it. That said, differing qualities of paint were another matter; you could paint two things the exact same colour at the same time, but if the paints used were of different qualities or compositions, one would fade differently to others.

Especially in the 1950s, with wooden sided coaches, this gave rise to the urban myth that no two greens were the same. On the day they were painted they were all the same - one of the two shades used pre- and post-1955. But as they wore and weathered and faded, they did it differently, thus ending up all sorts of shades. On wooden bodied coaches, the older variety of green darkened, while the post-1955 colour became just very washed-out looking. If you look at Downpatrick's TPO and G611, you'll see this clearly. They were painted the correct shade when first restored, but they're not now! For once, its not due to preservationists getting the colour wrong (although G61X class were never green!) - it's just due to weathering.

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3 hours ago, Mayner said:


B106 worked a Sulzer Farewell special from Connolly to Bray and back in February 1978, the loco was withdrawn from service shortly afterwards when it failed as a result of a minor electrical fault while making up a transfer goods at the North Wall.



I remember that - only time I travelled behind one, and only time I ever got a footplate run in one! It was an IRRS trip.

Might get one for the layout..................

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