Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Coming up with a Paint Scheme for my Freelance Model Railroad

Now that I've kind of come up with a name for my future freelance model railroad (Michigan Consolidated), I've been working on some ideas for the paint scheme I would like the locomotives to have. I'd like to get to the point where I can do the painting and detail work myself, but that will take time so I may end up outsourcing some of the work at first. We'll see though, this is going to be a very long term project, so who knows when I will even be at the point where I can think about painting locomotives. All I can do for now is come up with ideas of what I might want.

To do this I started by searching for drawings of locomotives that I could use as template files. That led me to an excellent resource in Trainiax.net, where there are hundreds of great drawings to choose from. Once I had one I liked, I imported it into my vector graphics program, Inkscape, and started putting some ideas down.

I decided to start with a GP50 since I happen to have one I could use as a test subject for trying out some painting and decals. To get some inspiration, I got onto RailPicutres.net and found as many photos of the prototype as possible with all types of paint schemes. I wanted to make sure I didn't design something that could not be easily painted onto an actual locomotive, more specifically a model locomotive, so I can bring it to life someday. 

After a lot of searching I decided to go for something that was very inspired by the paint scheme that Detroit & Mackinac used on their four Alco century series locomotives. Click here for an example. I didn't want to copy it completely, so I changed a few things up and created a hybrid design that looked good as a first draft. Here it is:

My first concept paint scheme for my Michigan Consolidated project
If you are familiar at all with the D&M scheme I was referring to, then you can really see the resemblance. I kept the same striping on the front and rear ends because I liked the way it stood out from the rest. Other than that the biggest similarity is the stripe running down the center, although here it runs all the way past the cab and onto the short hood.

I've got a couple more of these in the works for Michigan Consolidated including a Dash 9-44 CW and an SD40-2. Right now they are basically the same thing as the GP50 just so I could get an idea of how it would look on multiple types of locomotives. The next step though will be getting my GP50 model ready for some paint and decal trials to see if I can come up with something even close to this on my own.


  1. Paul,

    I recommend Fred Fogelsinger out of Bay City, MI for locomotive / railcar painting. I have been working with him for 10+ years and he has done over 20+ engines and 30+ cars in my Michigan Interstate scheme.

    Rail Graphics out of Elgin, IL could set you up with custome decal sets at a reasonable price.

    1. Thanks for the tip Greg. If I ever get to the point where I'm ready to have some locomotive painted up professionally, I'll definitely keep this in mind. From what I've seen it's some pretty good looking stuff.