Quite some time ago, we talked about how the Nickel Plate Road almost made it into the modern era as it was the proud owner of THREE, modern, 89-foot auto racks. As a model project for interested HO scale modelers, the Nickel Plate Historical & Technical Society is going to do a run of these cars based on the Accurail model.
It is important that a historical society "gets it right," so there is considerable discussion among the ranks of our Modeling Committee about just what color the placard on the side of the auto rack should be. As can be seen above, it certainly "looks" like it is blue. But that is where looks may well be deceiving.
A little forensic detective work may well be proper here. First, while the placard appears to be blue, take a look at some of the automobiles on the rack. Look particularly at the red convertible; does that roof look blue or black? Now think about this... when a color fades, does it get lighter or darker? If the placards had been painted blue, they would have faded to a lighter, not darker color. Nickel Plate blue was pretty much a royal blue shade so one would expect the color of the placard to have gotten lighter when it faded, not darker. This looks like a navy blue shade.
There is one more factor that comes into play... the pictures above were taken with Kodak Ektachrome slide film. Any serious slide shooter from the 1960s will tell you that Ektachrome had a tendency to show a blue tint after the film had aged over the years. So what may have very well been black "looks" blue after the film has aged.
Finally, as we have mentioned so many times previously, the surrounding light that illuminates the object in question has a lot to do with the color that it appears. So in this case, the blue skies will impart a blue tint to everything that is lit by it.
No one can find any hard evidence that the placards are blue and there is precedent for the NKP to paint cars black (most hoppers & gondolas) so after a lot of deliberation and back & forth, the Society has decided that the cars will be decorated with black placards.
So, what do you think? Black or blue? And you thought modeling was easy!