Modeler's Note Book

Painting and Lettering

Santa Fe's trademark warbonnet paint scheme first appeared in June 1937 on E1 locomotive set 2 and 2A. For over thrity years the red and yellow warbonnet changed very little.

The warbonnets worn by passenger FT locomotives and the F3's were products of EMD's styling designers and the Santa Fe's passenger and advertising departments. Both the eleven FT locomotive sets used in passenger service and the first six (16-21) E3's utilized a warbonnet scheme that was adapted from the E-units then in service. This "long" warbonnet was deemed out of proportion to the fifty-foot long locomotives and the shorter version was made standard with delivery of the next batch of F3's in 1948.

Since there were no stainless steel panels on the FT's liberal use of Dupont Dulux Aluminum paint was required to turn the freight paint job into the image of a streamliner.

All of the passenger FT's had vertical yellow nose stripe with a thin black stripe separating it from the red background. There were two thin black stripes down the center of the stripe starting just below the cab windows and stopping at the top of the headlight housing. They began again for a few inches just below the large cigar band nose herald. Microsale's set 87-101 has parts to make a correct decal of this design. The nose number boards on the FT's had a yellow background with reflective numbers. "Santa Fe" appeared in five-inch letters on the cab units centered under the right end sand filler hatch, just below the junction of the first and second side panels. Booster units were sparsely lettered with only the number at the end. One photograph has surfaced of a booster receiving the indian head medallion (168A) and this photo was made in 1951.

The F3's paint styling is reflected on the styling diagram for the first units. The yellow nose stripe did not have a black stripe separating it from the red background. Only one early photograph of number 20 (made in 1947 prior to loosing its "chicken wire" and middle port hole) shows a black stripe and it does not appear on the same engine in a 1954 shot.

The 6-foot long indian head medallion was applied to all passenger booster units. It was painted on the side panels rather than applied as a badge like its brethren on the PA's and the E1's. Note the interesting colors called for on the styling diagram. No decal set currently available reflects these colors accurately. The medallion was relocated to 10" left of the center line in March 1954 when the five - inch "Santa Fe" letters were added to the booster units.

A survey of Santa Fe modelers revealed little agreement in the proper model paint to match the Santa Fe Red warbonnet. The most often claimed color was Scalecoat Santa Fe Red. Other choices included Floquil's Santa Fe Red and Caboose Red also received several nominations.

The "proper" color for yellow would be Dupont's Duco Chrome Yellow. This color remains the one constant on all styling diagrams donated to the SFMO by EMD (from the E-units to the FP-45). Most modelers suggest Reefer Yellow from Floquil or Scalecoat. A relatively new paint from SMP Industries is under evaluation and a report will be forthcoming in a future issue.

As previously mentioned, accurate color depends to a great extent on the color of the light under which the model is intended to be viewed and the personal preferences of the model builder.

Another area of decorating interest is the simulation of stainless steel side panels. Testors Metalizer Stainless finish materials were suggested for the stainless steel and everything from Floquil Old Silver to Amtrak Platinum Mist was suggested for the prototype imitation stainless steel for the roof and side panels.

The Highliner B-unit kit is available in either plated or un-plated versions thereby eliminating the problem-at least on boosters. One enterprising Dallas modeler even nickle plates his brass units before painting!

The black, red and yellow striping extended around the side about five inches on the end (like the freight units). In the latter days, parts of this striping was applied to the units with a pressure- sensitive decal rather than a spray gun!

Generally speaking, the Santa Fe was very careful about housekeeping when it came to the locomotives pulling its prized varnish. Stories abound about men coming out to swab aluminum paint on trucks and pilots at terminals when the Super Chief stopped in route. Locomotive washers were active all along the line and, when the Chief was still chief, there was very little "weathering" of the warbonnet. Toward the end, however, it was another matter.

Jay Miller, Charlie Slater, Andy Sperandeo, Steve Dunham, Lee Berglund, Frank Goodwin, John McCall, Steve Priest and Steve Boswell contributed with their suggestions. Much appreciation is also due to Floquil Poly-S Corporation, SMP industries, Microscale Decals and Bobbye Hall"s Hobby House for their assistance.


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