Quick link to GNR Color Chips
This Reference Sheet brings together several items of unique importance to the Great Northern enthusiast. First is a series of color chips prepared from actual paint chip samples supplied by the Railway. The Fraternal Order of Empire Builders is indebted to Wolfgang F. Weber for supplying these chips. Through his generous efforts, the colors were carefully formulated to exacting standards and should provide an accurate reference for the formulation of paints for modeling or other purposes which may require colors following Great Northern Railway practice. The reader is cautioned to keep in mind that absolute colors did not exist even on the Railway itself. Differences in batch product with one supplier, differences in the same color paint from several suppliers, the tremendous affects of weather and age, and subtleties of the lighting conditions under which the colors are viewed can render any particular color in a wide range of hues and tints.
Following the color chips are reproductions of three documents from the public relations files of the Great Northern. The original of the first document, "Office of the General Superintendent Motive Power - Color Chart", is a thin "onion skin" carbon copy, undated, and typed in a simple two-page format. Careful analysis of the listings has provided no conclusive indication of a date of release although previous research and data suggests the color schemes on this release are at least pre-World War II and perhaps earlier than that. Aluminum lettering on steam locomotives was prescribed for at least one version of the silhouetted goat herald with "Great Northern" lettering (see Reference Sheet No. 25, p.2, Dwg. No. 18820, dated April 25, 1944). The term "House Car" suggests an earlier period, and several of the color schemes indicate practices that have long since been superceded.
The multi-page center section of this sheet, "Exterior Coloring of Great Northern Locomotives and Cars", is a reprint of a P.R. release issued by the Railway in 1951. It included small color chips of three of the "Empire Builder" scheme colors (green, orange and yellow) and two lithographed four-color cards displaying the freight diesel scheme on a small wallet-sized calendar card and the passenger diesel scheme on a larger card with locomotive specifications on the reverse. These cards are reproduced on the last page of this Reference Sheet in black and white.
The third document entitled, "Standard Colors for Painting Great Northern Equipment" is obviously post-war "diesel" era painting information. Analysis of equipment listings suggest this list was issued between 1953 and 1954. Handwritten additions or alterations on these releases are presented as they appear on the originals.