Color and The Chicago and North Western Bicentennial Hopper!
In our High School, our class schedule was organized by what was called "A" and "B" days. For those of you not familiar with this kind of schedule, it is a method for having more classes than what may be allocated in one school day. One schedule of classes occurs on A days, and a schedule of different classes occurs on B days, and then the two schedules alternate.
On one morning, I walked into my 8:00 a.m., A-day class. But rather than being received by the sober gaze of fellow math enthusiasts, I was met by a different set of faces, and my first thought was "What the hell are you people doing in my class!?"
Perhaps my first thoughts should have been 'it must actually be B-day, and I am probably confused."
The point is this: sometimes, notions that are preconceived influence our thought process. And, this is true for how we deal with color.
In 2009, ExactRail made the first release of the Penn Central Greenville 7100 Auto Parts Boxcar. For the color on this car, we missed the mark—no doubt about it. However, what I remember of the experience is that the person who chose the original color pointed to the new ExactRail model and decried adamantly, “I remember these cars, and they did not look like this!” His perception of color influenced his thought process to such an extent that, when the accurate color was shown to him, he felt the accurate color was no more right for the car either.
(The picture below compares the color of the original release with the color of our recent releases that have been certified by the Penn Central Historical Society.)
The lesson: You have to be careful.
When I started the bicentennial project with the CNWHS, I was surprised by the color. The red and blue colors of the CNW bicentennial hopper are not the typical shades of red and blue. The red color has hues of candy-apple/magenta, and the blue is quasi-powered in color. And, these particular shades of red and blue are good candidates for being altered by our subjective precepts. With a bicentennial car, maybe we would expect to see a blue more toward the navy spectrum and a red that is more crimson? As I was mixing paint to get the right color match, I was surprised by how far away the colors deviated from standard red and blue.The photograph below is the builder’s photograph as it was provided by the Chicago & North Western Historical Society (CNWHS). With the age of the photo, the colors had shifted, and so I am also sharing my attempt to restore the color to how it most likely looked.
As indicated above, our perceptions of color are not irrefutable, and, as also indicated above, images themselves are not irrefutable either. Identifying the correct color for equipment may be a complex process that requires the comparison of many different media so to tease out our subjective precepts and what may be lost to poor photo processing and age. Yet, color is such an important part of the model railroading experience. We are proud to work very hard to get it right.
Our Chicago & North Western Bicentennial Hoppers have been met with outstanding praise from the CNWHS. The Chicago & North Western Bicentennial Hopper is available only through the Chicago & North Western Historical Society by clicking here.
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