Author Topic: Railway colours and Federal Standard colour number  (Read 434 times)

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Big Train

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Railway colours and Federal Standard colour number
« on: March 06, 2014, 08:24:14 AM »
Once and a while, I build 1/72 scale model aircraft kits....just to "cleanse the palate" and get new perspectives on techniques and modelling skills that I can transfer for my trains.

The big thing when discussing aircraft and camouflage colour is the Federal Standard colour number. And I've always wondered why these aren't used when discussing or recommending colours for locomotives, rolling stock or structures in model railroading/

For example, if someones says you can use SP Scarlet for a particular application, how close is that to SP Daylight Red? Or, CP Rail Bright Red? Is it "close-enough-to-make-no-never-mind?".  FS colour numbers can identify how close colours might be: identical or different. Or, is UP Dark Grey similar or different than D&H Grey?

But if FS colour codes are used, a more accurate recommendation can be made.

I often see new modellers asking what colours they need to paint a specific road name and I believe using FS colour number would put this person in a better position to select a more accurate colour than "You can use SP Scarlet" for that. Unless you are in possession of an actual paint chip, the manufacturers colour sample charts or worse yet, available on the internet won't give you an accurate idea. 

As a result of working in the defence industry I was able to find out the exact colour I needed for an armour model I was building and needed FS34094 - Green.

If you go here...

...and scroll down to FS34094, you will see a family of colours from FS34052 to FS 34102 that are almost close. That's how close the resolution is for distinguishing shades of apparently similar shades of camouflage Green under the FS schene

Now more than ever as there are fewer choices in model railway paint and we have to source similar colours from non-model railway paint manufacturers (Tamiya and Vallejo spring to mind), FS might make things easier to convert.

I know that prototype colours are subject to all kinds of variables (supplier availability, application, the effects of sunlight and weathering to list a few) and nothing can be considered 100% accurate.

If you want to drive model aircraft guys nuts ask them what is the FS for Luftwaffe Schwartzgrun. Or RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Foliage Green. Then watch the fireworks.


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Re: Railway colours and Federal Standard colour number
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 06:06:04 PM »
Thats all well and good, but what about the "scale effect" school of thought where colors get lighter depemding on the scale of the model?  Whole bunch of modelers do that.  Then there  are many examples of faded paint on the real railroads.   So ATSF ref on one car is not identical to the colro of another older car painted with the same paint.

Then of course is the painful dilemma of different manufacturers or finished models using different color formulas for their color versions. Kato UP Armour yellow and gray do not match ones made by Atlas. Sometimes even different runs from the same manufacturer have different tint! Even if you had a color chard and paint perfectly matched to the 1:1 scale car, that might not match the model painted by some manufacturers.

I agree that it would be easier if we had some sort of standard, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
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