Blue liveries on locos & rolling stock - Caledonian onwards

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70014IronDuke

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Excuse me starting a new thread - this is an extension of the discussion on the "Blue King" thread - but I fear it will not attract much readership under that title, and it has quickly broadened into a more general thread on blue liveries and railway use, which I think deserves the chance of a larger audience.

Thanks for clearing that up. I wonder how the Caledonian railway coped with its locomotives which were painted blue.

That's a very good question. I presume the CR only painted its premier locos blue, but they still had to retain it and look good. Needs a CR historian buff - anyone out there?

Blue never really seems to have taken off for steam locomotive livery, has it? The only continental company that I know of that tried it was the Czechoslovaks - their flagship 3 cylinder 4-8-2s were a deep blue - at least, one is that way in preservation, IIRC.

My guess is that solving the difficulties in finding a stable blue for loco or rolling stock use more or less coincided with the need for a 'new image' in the BR modernisation era.

Since blue had been so little used, it was the obvious choice for the new 25 kV electrics, the DMU pullmans and then corporate BR post 1965.

Having said that, the all plain BR blue suburban livery looked pretty drab once it had lost its sheen, so perhaps they never really solved the longetivity problem vis-a-vis maroon or green.
 
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pdeaves

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Blue never really seems to have taken off for steam locomotive livery, has it?

For what it's worth, UK blue steam also includes the Great Eastern Railway, various industrial outfits, the Longmoor Military Railway, and the Vale of Rheidol locos in BR blue.

Maybe in days gone by, when labour was cheap, the likes of the Caledonian had more cleaners, or even more painters to keep refreshing the paint (I don't know, just speculating).
 

70014IronDuke

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For what it's worth, UK blue steam also includes the Great Eastern Railway, various industrial outfits, the Longmoor Military Railway, and the Vale of Rheidol locos in BR blue.

Maybe in days gone by, when labour was cheap, the likes of the Caledonian had more cleaners, or even more painters to keep refreshing the paint (I don't know, just speculating).

I'd forgotten the GE. I assume it was only their passenger locos that were blue? (apart from the BR J69 ? pilot at Liverpool Str).

The LMR and S&D hardly count as serious railways in the grand scheme of things, and only help to prove the point that blue was a tough colour to use (much as I, like many, found the S&D charming in the extreme).

As for the Caledonian having more cleaners - that doesn't really tell the story, since the original point being made was that Blue faded very, very quickly when it was introduced as the livery for top-link express passenger locos in 1948. Cleaning the locos would have only shown up this weakness all the more :)
 

dubscottie

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Other than the problem with blues not being colour fast, the pigments were very expensive.

Also at the time blues could only be painted by hand or by air spaying which gave a matt finish so stuff needed to be varnished to get a gloss finish, further adding cost. (Gloss attracting less dirt than matt).

Cleaning techniques and chemicals used also caused "chalking" which seemed to show more on blues.

Phthalocyanine pigments and airless spraying made blue paint easier to use in the late 50's/early 60's.

Mid/light blues were more common as a dark gloss blue shows every imperfection on a surface (a problem GNER eventually overcame using 85% gloss).
 

Deepgreen

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Other than the problem with blues not being colour fast, the pigments were very expensive.

Also at the time blues could only be painted by hand or by air spaying which gave a matt finish so stuff needed to be varnished to get a gloss finish, further adding cost. (Gloss attracting less dirt than matt).

Cleaning techniques and chemicals used also caused "chalking" which seemed to show more on blues.

Phthalocyanine pigments and airless spraying made blue paint easier to use in the late 50's/early 60's.

Mid/light blues were more common as a dark gloss blue shows every imperfection on a surface (a problem GNER eventually overcame using 85% gloss).

I remember any rail blue stock sitting in the open for years turned a very pale shade!
 

hurricanemk1c

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NIR used a blue for their locos (still do for 111-113) that hasn't faded overly well, but don't think that's as much to do with the paint but lack of care in the case of 111-113 (208/209 were only painted as such for 2 years or so)
 

edwin_m

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Did LNER Garter Blue suffer from the fading problem too? Probably during the pre-war years the trains that carried it received enough TLC that they would have been repainted at the first sign of shabbiness.
 

Harbornite

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Did LNER Garter Blue suffer from the fading problem too? Probably during the pre-war years the trains that carried it received enough TLC that they would have been repainted at the first sign of shabbiness.

Completely forgot about that livery! :oops:
 

dubscottie

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Did LNER Garter Blue suffer from the fading problem too? Probably during the pre-war years the trains that carried it received enough TLC that they would have been repainted at the first sign of shabbiness.

No.. They got 4-5 coats of varnish. (i will provide a link when I find it again!)

Blue paint and pigments is a science.. Nitrocellulose based if I remember.

Highly flammable. Or was that the interiors..

I remember the MK4's going to Rosyth Dockyard to get the GNER blue. It was the only place that could get it right.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
NIR used a blue for their locos (still do for 111-113) that hasn't faded overly well, but don't think that's as much to do with the paint but lack of care in the case of 111-113 (208/209 were only painted as such for 2 years or so)

Living in Ireland now I have seen the original light blue NIR livery. Always had white streaks from the washers.

On the model railway forum I am a member of, there was lots of discussion about the NSE blue.

The Caledionian Railway gave an engine to a crew. That crew would keep it in tip top condition. The Thistles on the buffers was an example.

I am painting in the study so will come across books..
 

dubscottie

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I think you're thinking of the lacquer they used to use as a varnish for carriage interiors?

Yup I am.. Found accident the reports. Scary stuff when you think about it.

Madness that it was OK back then to coat interior surfaces and fabric with varnish that has roughly the same flashpoint as Jet A1 (aviation fuel) now!!
 

Peter Mugridge

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Yes - very scary stuff. It is no great surprise that they stopped using it.

( Then again... if you think Jet A1 is scary enough, try looking up the older fuel JP4... )
 
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