Many Shades of Boxcar Red

This weekend I’ve been busy painting freight cars. I have put four cars through the paint shop (that will be a future post). As part of it, I realized I have a lot of jars of Boxcar Red, Oxide Red, Freight Car Brown, etc that I don’t actually know what all of them look like. So I decided to make a paint spread card/chip reference for them. Sadly, some of these are colours that I won’t be able to replace as the are no longer manufactured (Testors Modelmaster, Polyscale), but while I have enough to do a couple of cars, I decided a quick and easy tool to compare colours was a good idea.

To make it, I took a strip of scrap 0.060″ thick styrene from my scraps supply, and laid out a grid of ten 1″ squares. I labelled where I wanted to put the paint first, then put on some primer to give a consistent base using my current primer of choice from Vallejo. After that, while doing other painting today, I ran through all the reds. It already proved its worth as for one of the cars I was painting, the red I used to have a redder colour wasn’t the one I was planning on using.

Making a quick reference card of all the various boxcar reds/browns oxide red colours I have while painting this weekend.

This will be handy for me, as there are different shades. I am not super worried about the “it must be 100% the absolute shade that railway XYZ used” people, but I do want to be in the right ballpark for weathering/etc. Different railways used different shades. Some were redder, some were browner. Having this gives me a tool that I can use to compare against other models on the layout, and pictures to see if I have a tone I like, or if I need to do some experimenting with mixing to create something else. I did some mixing (which is on the card) for a car. I’ve painted the car, but I am not 100% certain the more I look at it on the car compared to photos that I am happy with the colour, but it is a distinct shade from everything else on the layout, and I may be able to live with that, but that’s another post.

2 thoughts on “Many Shades of Boxcar Red

  1. Good tip! (Except that if I understand what you did correctly, you had to clean your airbrush 10 times before it was finished! Yikes.

    • Yes, but you don’t need to do it in a single day. I only did because I had been putting it off and had a bunch of colours I’ve never used and wanted to compare. Ordinarily you would make one of these over time as you go. I also sprayed about 15 different colours yesterday between actual painting and the colour card.


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