I’m just a little confused….

I’ve been looking again to try and pin down Leigh Valley Cornell Red.  I started with two preserved locomotives – no fading colour here I hope….

a1   a2

Well, no consistency here…..  So I went to my albums.  Here are 2 (of many) switchers illustrated in a Morning Sun PDF album (“Lehigh Valley – Best of Bob Wilt, Volume 1, The 1960s).  Hope I’m forgiven copyright for fair usage here?

loco1   loco2

Two more possibilities?  So to this old General Motors advert.  One hopes the printers were in the right ballpark – but it’s a different one from everyone else!


I retired to my digital copies of Model Railroader (an excellent buy on DVD).  An article on the Alco PA’s came up with this excellent, but very dark print.  It does have some colour mix suggestions, much as found on the Lehigh Valley modeller’s web-site.


A second reference had a question on Lehigh Valley Cornell Red.  An edited version of the answer is as below….

A paint Shop feature on the Lehigh Valley’s Alco PA-I passenger diesels contained the following paints and paint mixes (as above)…..

However. Lehigh Valley’s Cornell Red is subject to debate because the 35mm slide references vary widely in their renditions of the color. I attended a clinic that included nearly 200 excellent slides of LV diesels, but I doubt that any two were exactly the same hue!

Railroads typically buy paint from many suppliers. Most small railroads can’t afford special paint so a color is chosen from the vendor’s sample chips and that becomes the railroad’s current version of “Cornell Red” or whatever other name they use. This results in a lot of similar colors. but the exact hues may be slightly lighter or darker than previous batches. These variable hues carry over into our model paints.

Judging from the LV slides I’ve seen, these other maroons are also in the ball park during different time periods:

  • Accu-paint no. 36 Fulgine Maroon.
  • Floquil Tuscan Red, Wisconsin Central Maroon and Boston & Maine Red and Oxide Red.
  • Polly Scale Wisconsin Central Maroon, Erie-Lackawanna Maroon and Rock Island Red.
  • Scalecoat Caboose Red, Erie-lackawanna Maroon and Caboose Red.
  • Testors Maroon, Tuscan Oxide Red, Pennsylvania Maroon, Milwaukee Maroon, Erie-Lackawanna Maroon, and Wisconsin Central Maroon.

Personally. I’d choose a commercial paint color that looks right under my layout’s lighting.

The above list, I think, does include the later, brighter reds, and the Tuscan paint used when linked closely with the PRR.  As a final insult, all the commercial colours for Cornell Red seem to be, if anything, darker that any of the above.

Well, I know that red fades on old colour film and slides.  I know that dirt and undercoat and light also affect appearance.  And that ‘N’ gauge shades need to be lighter than, say, ‘O’ gauge ones. I know that the Lehigh Valley definitely mixed up its own paint shades in its various depots and works, so there could be some variation of red.

But the moral of the story would seem to be, just buy a colour you are happy with!  I fancy Wisconsin Central Maroon….  And in case you UK enthusiasts are gloating over my rambles, what does Stroudley Engine Green – or for that matter BR Corporate Blue – actually look like?

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Layout design, Prototype and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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