Since its completion, I always felt that my 2700 hp Model F Demonstrator 103 was too olive. The picture above accentuates this probably in the extreme. Under normal lighting conditions, that would be in my train room, it looks darker and less olive. The model was painted Polly Scale Empire Builder Green and the stripes are from the Microscale set (#87-613).
For my new 5400 hp EMC 103/103A, I have been paying closer attention to the colors. My main reference, aside from one period color photo in Classic Trains Spring 2015 (this photo shows quite a dark green although the sky is overcast), is an Andy Sperandeo “Paint Shop” article in the November 1989 issue of Model Railroader. In the section where he discusses Demonstrator colors, he gives his thanks to a Mr Al Kamm Jr of EMD who supplied the actual Duco Dulux paint numbers used: #254-4458 “Pullman Green” and #254-54292 “Imitation Gold”. This on its own is interesting history for those who find such things interesting, but it isn’t much of a help to the modeller. After all, what really is Pullman Green?
However, the article goes on to say that the Dulux Pullman Green was the same color adopted by the Great Northern for their “Empire Builder” scheme. This we can compare. Color photos of GN locomotives painted that way are plenty. The Dulux Imitation Gold was a common less-expensive substitute for “Gold Leaf” for lettering and striping passenger cars. The article also provides paint mixes for each color using Accu-paint, Floquil, Polly Scale, & Scalecoat. Some of these paint lines are no longer available, or at least, not available to me. Besides, I like using acrylics.
Using the info above, I decided to make some sample chips and then hopefully decide on something that appeals to me. In truth this is how it is as there is no way to find out precisely what the colours must be. And then there is my layout lighting conditions. In my opinion, it is best not to fret over these things too much, but try to find the best option that suits one’s eye.
The above photo shows my sample chips (this illustrates the problem very well: a photo isn’t really going to show the true shades either). I am sure that there are other paint options that I did not try out that may or may not have provided acceptable results. All chips, except the upper one, were first sprayed with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer “L”. The car bodies will be sprayed with this first and doing the same on the chips will give a truer result especially when the Imitation gold is applied (I intend to apply the gold first, then the green after masking the stripes). GM logos are decals, but I will paint these on too. Electro-Motive lettering is a custom decal.
Top Chip: I made this chip a long time ago. Polly Scale Empire Builder Green (what I used before). Polly Scale UP Armour Yellow. The Seaboard area above was a similar experiment for an SAL EMD E4 in “Citrus Scheme”.
Middle Left: 6 parts Polly Scale Empire Builder Green & 1 part Engine Black. UP Armour Yellow.
Middle right: Tamiya XF-74 JGSDF Green. UP Armour Yellow.
Bottom Left: Badger Model Flex 16-65 GN Green. 2 parts Polly Scale Reefer Yellow & 1 part Earth – two coats (this Imitation Gold color mix is suggested in the Paint Shop article).
Bottom Right: Badger Model Flex 16-17 Pullman Green. 2 parts Polly Scale Reefer Yellow & 1 part Earth – two coats.
I haven’t made up my mind entirely, but I do favour the Badger GN Green/Polly Scale gold mixture. The GN green is darker and less olive than the Polly Scale Empire Builder paint. The Imitation Gold as a mixture looks ok too. I could go with the Badger Pullman Green as well (an even darker olive green shade).
I have much time to mull this over; there’s plenty to do before I need to spray the Imitation Gold.
FT Tidbit: GM really knew how to sell style in those days! Pre-war Model F/FT’s had a chrome trim ring around the headlight, stainless steel kick plates below the entry doors, and detail striping, even with spear tips – a truly unique time in railroading. By June of 1944 a wartime austerity had already long set in and when NYC 1600/2400 (Class DFA-1a & DFB-1a) was delivered, all the trimmings were gone. Tuxedo black and looking fine (those nose stripes were painted on), this is a model that I once built but later sold. I do hope the new owner is enjoying this as-delivered FT locomotive.