501 cab interior

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The NC Transportation Museum had 501 out again this year giving cab rides during Rail Days (Aug 28 & 29, 2001). Of course, I had one too. I noticed that some extensive metal work had been done to straighten out the interior sheet metal between the windows. From the look of this poor attempt at body work, appears that 501 was wrecked at some point and the window area was extensively damaged. Anyone know which wreck this could have been? By the way, there are no remnants of any cab signals in this area.

-- Jim Coviello (jcovi60516@aol.com), April 29, 2001


Public timetables are a little "iffy." Like the diesels, the ink used appeared to vary somewhat over the years. Early in the century, the timetables were more blue than purple. Issues from the 1940s and 50s do seem to be very close to the diesel and passenger car paint. In the 1960s, ACL shifted to a distinctly darker timetable shade - the railroad still called them the "purple folders," but the late ones are more like a very, very dark blue.

Don't forget that the ACL & SAL HS sells authentic ACL purple model paint (by Badger) in our catalog.

-- Larry Goolsby (LGoolsby@aphsa.org), May 04, 2001.

Although bidding has closed,E:bay item 1137314937 "ACL Royal Purple Color Sample" has an example of the 1952 shade.

-- Randall Bass (Randall_Bass@despo.odedodea.edu), May 04, 2001.

Interesting how we have gone from sheet metal to purple paint! Anyway, one source of the purple color may be the ACL public timetables that are floating around (usually on ebay). Those in good shape probably have not faded much. I would assume that ACL probably required that the shade used by the printer be true to it's corporate color (image is everything). Yes, I too think 501's purple is too red but it is still nice to look at! The Museum folks are doing a great job keeping it looking good.

-- Jim Coviello (jcovi60516@aol.com), May 03, 2001.

Having looked at the interior photo from Jim, I can see the location where the RF&P cab signals used to be. I can also see the windshield defroster unit which was a sheet metal contraption which blew warm air onto the windshield. This was dented and beaten up-as these units commonly were.

As for the paint, well Purple went out in 1957(dont date yourself here Doug!)and it was replaced by the Balck and yellow Rice scheme. One possible problem in exactly matching the colors is that the paint manufacturers may no longer make the exact colors which were used in making the original color. Secondly, if the proper color was not specified by the restorers, you could get something that doesnt look right. Thirdly,even if the new color is fairly close to the original when applied, the different components will cause it to age differently in the hot sun, causing a further difference in color. Let us look at this not as a perfect model to be used for setting modeling standards. we have written records and enough written information from umpteen sources to accurately determine colors. Lets look at this unit as a survivor of a wonderful age and a railroad which we are lucky to have around, 62 years after it was fabricated and numerous wrecks later.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), May 03, 2001.

Tom is correct. The 501 has, and from photos I've seen has always had since its restoration, a shade of purple that is definitely toward the cranberry end of the spectrum compared to ACL's original purple. While ACL did try different formulas and manufacturers in its attempt to get a stable purple paint, old photos pretty consistently show an "original" purple that is like what you see on the better models, such as Lifelike's E6 and E7. Once out in the weather, the purple started to "chalk" fairly quickly and usually started getting lighter and bluer, not redder.

-- Larry Goolsby (LGoolsby@aphsa.org), May 03, 2001.

The "original" purple paint used by ACL was very prone to fading in the sun. As a matter of fact, the paint shop experimented with at least four different shades of purple throughout the early diesel years to address this problem. Even though I haven't seen the 501 in person since it was repainted purple, I have acquired numerous slides of the unit, and they all look beet-red when compared to the dozens of old purple slides that I've grown acustomed to.

-- Tom Alderman (Topa12283@aol.com), May 02, 2001.

Troy, The ACL started painting their locomotives black with yellow striping when I was a youngster. My own references are based on faded purple geeps and E-units I remember from my childhood and latter day discoveries of ancient leftovers from the bygone days, such as the columns at the Florence, SC station. The purple now on the 501 seems to be fairly close to the color in the early publicity shots, but then, they were airbrushed. Warren Calloway is probably the ultimate authority on paint. He has (or used to have) jars of paint from the railroad shops that he used on some of his own models many years ago, but here again, even the same exact paint doesn't look the same on a small scale model as it does on the real thing. Maybe Warren will pick up on this question and give you the answer you seek.

-- Doug Riddell (railroaddoug@erols.com), May 02, 2001.

so is ACL 501, as currently painted, the correct shade of purple??? It doesnt seem so, especially considering the models i have seen which what seems (at least to me, and the pictures i have seen) to be the correct shade of purple... this is confusing.

-- troy nolen (kirkwood@gdn.net), May 02, 2001.

One of the problems with the ACL's purple was the paint's tendency to oxidize rapidly. When I first worked into Florence, SC in 1977, the support columns for the station's platform covering were still painted purple and white. The ones that were exposed to constant sunlight and the elements appeared to be a different color from the ones closer to the main overhang, which were shaded and dry. Sometimes one side of a column was darker than the other for the same reason, but you must assume that they were all painted at the same time. I would imagine today's technology (and the limitations put on the elements that are included in paint) might affect the appearance of the color--not to mention the advances in the color quality of the film used to preserve shots of the old purple locomotives.

-- Doug Riddell (railroaddoug@erols.com), May 02, 2001.

Question, why was ACL 501 painted the wrong shade of purple??? Every color photo I have seen of that era purple ACL unit shows it a VERY different shade of purple, as painted now, it looks more like a Plumb color, why is this??

-- troy nolen (kirkwood@gdn.net), May 01, 2001.

Mike, I shot two rolls of prints and some slides during the weeks that the 501 was housed next to the crew reporting office in Raleigh. (I made friends with the guard--yes, they had one around the clock, I'm embarrassed as a railfan to admit, to prevent people from taking keepsakes.) I never considered looking at the photos too closely until now. I'll see what I have. I even shot the steam generator from inside and out (it had a small one, by the way.) Unless I'm also wrong (I may be confusing the 501 with the former NYC E8s I ran out of Nashville a coupe of years ago) the automobile style "wind-up" side windows had been replaced with "pull-ups". I'll dig up those shots and see what I can come up with.

-- Doug Riddell (railroaddoug@erols.com), May 01, 2001.

The 501 had cabsignals installed twice during its career. The first installation was between 1939 and 1943 when it had RF&P's prewar three aspect, two speed continuous cab signal system, while the second was the RF&P's post war four indication coded cab signal system between 1964 and the time it was sold.

As for wrecks, well the 501 was a champion(pun intended)wreck survivor. See my latest article on Observation Car Wrecks in Lines South. I noted that the 501 was in numerous wrecks on the ACL, including Hortense GA 1941, Milan NC 1943, Dillon SC 1953, etc. When I finish my forthcoming article on ACL wrecks, I will try to compile an all time list. However, I do not think that the window area repairs resulted from wreck damage. Wreck damamge was usually performed at either the railroad's shops or at EMD. It was usually well done and in this case, I think that Doug Riddell has hit the nail on the head. The application of the heavier glass to meet FRA regs probably has a lot to do with the ersatz appearance. Did you take a photo-that would help determine the cause.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), April 30, 2001.

Jim, As an afterthought, another likely explanation is the retrofitting of the 501's windshield to comply with FRA Part 32 Glazing. Locomotive cab windows are now required to be equipped with a multi-layer, non- shattering safety glass that is very thick and heavy. I've been told by shop forces that a piece the size to fit in the windshield of an F40 costs $2000 and is imported from England. That said, it still could have been caused by a wreck.

-- Doug Riddell (railroaddoug@erols.com), April 30, 2001.

The 501 WAS at one time equipped with RF&P cab signals, the absence of which I noticed when I was in the cab a few times when it was at the DOT facility in Raleigh. Extensive sheet metal work may not necessarily indicate wreck damage repair however. At high speeds, even with good gaskets, water leaks around the glass and the windshield panels rust out--trust me. I've been on several F40s and some older E units where you could see daylight through the holes. Most are simply plugged with putty, but at some point (and I would imagine with a unit as old as the 501, it has indeed reached that point once or twice) that sheeting has to be replaced. You should see the condition of some of Amtrak's P40 and even newer P42s after only a couple of years of use. (As a side note, the photo we are using for the masthead for my column on trains.com shows me peering out the engineer's window of the 501.)

-- Doug Riddell (railroaddoug@erols.com), April 30, 2001.

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