Colors of FT, F3, F7 Freight Locomotives : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

I am modeling the Southern FT's, F3's, and F7's. Were the freight units black? This is my preferred color. I also have some photos from a very serious wreck that happened in Woodstock, AL in 1953 where the L&N was diverting trains over the Southern and somehow a switch did or did not get thrown to the right position and two passenger trains put Woodstock on the map. Thanks. Gary

-- Gary Elam (, January 08, 1999


Gary, Southern FT's were delivered to the Southern in Black as well as some, if not all, of the F3's. To the best of my knowledge the F7's were delivered in green. However a good many F3's and F7's lasted into the 1960's and 70's. IN 1958 Southern began painting all locomotives black starting with the SD24. I believe that all FT's were retired by then.

-- Mike Smith (, January 18, 1999.

When trying to determine the color of old Southern F-units from black & white photos, be careful.At the time these photos were made the most prevalent film available was Verichrome Ortho. The problem is that orthochromatic film was blind to the color green and red which meant that these colors recorded as black (or near black). I'm not sure of the introduction date of Verichrome Pan but I know that there was a substantial overlap of the films availability. Most amateur photographers went to the Pan film but the Ortho film was around for quite a while.

I found out the hard way that B&W film was not the only one given to this problem. I duplicated a large number of Kodachrome I originals on Kodak 5071 Slide Duplicating Film and to my horror the green F units recorded as black.Whether this was due to the Dupe film or a problem with the original Kodachrome's light transmission I don't know.

Jim McGhee

-- Jim McGhee (, January 21, 1999.

Jim and others--actually its pretty easy to tell the black from the green locos even with B&W. The pre-1949 scheme had the unit numbers in front of the cab door. The post 1949 green scheme moved them to just behind the door. The post 1958 black scheme had the large 12" numerals.

-- Larry Puckett (, January 21, 1999.

I used to live on the Southern Main out of Washington DC (Burke Va) and can tell you that in the 70's F units on the Piedmont were black. The only green units I ever saw on passenger operations were the green E's on the Crescent. Later on in the 70's green F's were used on excersions with steam or solo. Well, maybe this helps. But I sure miss those days of watching those black bull dogs moving north and south a couple times aday. I really can't remember seeing any F's on the point of freight runs, I did see an occasional F mixed in with the hood units. ~Mike

-- Michael P. Hunt (, February 15, 1999.

If you look in the "Classic Trains" magazine (Kalmbach) for Winter 2001 on page 75, you will see a colour illustration of the SR FT set with the black and white (silver?) paint scheme. These illustrations where in a booklet printed in 1944 and I presume that this would be the paint scheme for F-3's up until the 1949 change to green. Am I right about that last bit? Ian Venables

-- Ian Venables (, February 01, 2002.

Ian--yes, all freight units were painted that way. Note that with that scheme the lettering and small stripe was duluxe gold (yellow) not metallic gold as used after 1958. Also, the passenger F3s that arrived in the black scheme were repainted into the fancy green and imitation aluminum paint scheme.

-- Larry Puckett (, February 03, 2002.

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