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Union Pacific Passenger Car Paint and Lettering

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This page was last updated on February 19, 2013.

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(incomplete; research continues... )

Two Tone Gray

Union Pacific adopted its two-tone gray (TTG) paint scheme in 1946 for its secondary passenger trains. The two-tone gray scheme was applied to heavyweight cars; 25 of the 50 Pacific-series sleepers delivered in 1950 were delivered wearing two-tone gray, and were the only lightweight cars to receive TTG.

In 1952, Union Pacific adopted its yellow and gray Streamliner paint scheme for all of its passenger cars. Of the heavyweight cars painted in two-tone gray, some ran into retirement in the early 1950s still wearing TTG. Union Pacific kept its passenger equipment in good condition, with cars receiving scheduled inspection and maintenance. Most cars were repainted to yellow and gray during their scheduled visits to the railroad's shops.

For the Pullman-owned sleeper cars, after the two-tone gray scheme was adopted in 1946, Pullman began a program to repaint the cars assigned to Union Pacific trains. When the change to yellow and gray was made in 1952, Pullman continued to keep its cars painted in the colors that matched the trains the cars were assigned to. In at least three cases, cars were repainted from coach green to two-tone gray, then to yellow and gray, then back to TTG when a car's assignment changed. These three cars were Plan 3585 10 section, 1 drawing room, 2 compartment sleepers, Lake Hazen, Lake Dickey, Lake Waccamaw. (More information about these three Pullman cars)

Gary Binder wrote on the Union Pacific YahooGroup on December 24, 2007:

There would have been a number of TTG cars/trains through Ogden, etc. The only "City" train in TTG was the "City Of St. Louis" which was originated with mixed heavyweight and lightweight equipment, but some other non-Streamliner trains carried TTG.

Passenger steam locomotives were painted to match the trains, including all the 4-8-4s, many 4-8-2s, and a number of 4-6-2s. As steam gave way to diesel, early passenger power showed up, FM "Eire- builts", E6, E7, ALCo PAs, and so on. The UP bought their first small batch of E8s in 1950, so these may have pulled some TTG equipment but were usually used on the Streamliners.  By the time the E9s came (1954) there were few TTG cars active.

Dick Harley wrote on the Union Pacific Modelers YahooGroup on January 31, 2007:

Of the 50 "Pacific" series sleepers bought by the UP, the first 25 (alphabetically) were painted UP Streamliner colors (Armour Yellow & Harbor Mist Gray). The second 25 (alphabetically) were painted UP 2-stripe Two-Tone Gray, when new.

Streamliner Yellow and Gray

In March 1952, UP announced that all passenger cars would be painted yellow and gray regardless of train assignment. The announcement spelled the end of not only the green (officially Dark Olive) paint scheme but also the attractive two-tone gray scheme as well. Since passenger cars were painted every two or three years, green cars would be quite rare after about 1955. Since many of the green cars were painted two-tone gray beginning in 1946, photos or individual car records would be needed to determine what paint scheme was used on any specific car during the period 1946 thru 1955. (Q&A 335, The Streamliner, Volume 15, Number 3, Summer 2001, page 39)

The Budd UP Chair cars (UP 5508-5527, delivered in 1960) were painted UP Streamliner colors. The Budd UP Postal Mail - Storage (RPO) cars (UP 5903-5911, delivered in 1963) were the only UP passenger cars to have a major portion of the car left in bare Stainless Steel - even in MOW service. Ranks & Kratville probably talk about that in their book. (Dick Harley, email to Union Pacific Modelers YahooGroup on January 31, 2007)

Aluminum Paint on Passenger Car Trucks

On June 18, 1958, D. S. Neuhart issued instructions that "whenever passenger equipment is shopped or trucks are removed from cars for any other purpose, present paint should be completely removed and trucks repainted with one coat of Chromate Primer CS-22 No. 38 followed by two coats of aluminum paint CS-22 No. 28."

While PL&N drawings have not yet been located, we have found builder's photos of the Pullman-built Dome Chair cars (UP 7011-7015) delivered in November 1958 with gray trucks. Photos of the 5007-5016 Lunch Counter Cafe Lounge cars delivered in April 1959 show aluminum (not silver) trucks. We would like to hear from anyone with PL&N drawings that show dates for this change. Note that this is quite a while after locomotives were changed to aluminum trucks, beginning in 1953 with Turbine No. 57. (Q&A 303, The Streamliner, Volume 13, Number 3, page 37, and Volume 13, Number 4, page 38)

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