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Heralds and Lettering style:

* The oval "Lines" herald prior to November 1935 had a black background and was replaced with the oval "System" herald in November 1935. Reporting marks and data were Roman style.

Oval Sizes:

Effective Date:

 18" x 9" used on flat cars, containers and container cars

March 4, 1907

 18" x 12" used on flat cars, and special flat cars

May 11, 1905

 28-1/4" x 19-1/8" used on self clearing hoppers, gondolas, double deck stock cars

January 31, 1905

 36" x 24" used on single deck stock cars

November 12, 1904

 48-3/8" x 32-1/2" used on boxcars and auto boxcars

December 1904


* Roman style "System" herald used between November 1935 and August 1955. Between November 1935 and March 1944 - the roman "System" herald had a black background. The black background officially removed from the roman "System" herald starting March 2, 1944. Reporting marks and data were Roman style.

Oval Sizes:

Effective Date:

 18" x 9" used on flat cars, containers, container cars and special flat cars

November 25, 1935

 28-1/4" x 19-1/8" used on self clearing hoppers, gondolas and double deck stock cars

November 1935

 36-3/8" x 24" used on single and double deck stock cars with large letterboard

November 1935

 48-3/8" x 32-1/2" used on boxcars and auto boxcars

October 30, 1935


 * Gothic style "System" herald used between August 1955 and May 1959. The black herald background returned with the gothic "System" herald. (NOTE: The gothic "System" herald was also used prior to 1955 on Pacemaker boxcars and bay window cabooses. Reporting marks and data were Gothic style.

Oval Sizes:

Effective Date:

 18-1/2" x 10-1/2" used on flat cars, composite and 65' gondolas, containers, container cars and special flat cars

October 14, 1955

 29" x 19-3/8" used on cabooses, gondolas, tank cars, self clearing hoppers, ballast cars, double and adjustable deck stock cars and auto racks

September 7, 1955

 31-5/8" x 19-1/4" used on steel bay window cabooses lots 782 and 778

September 16, 1949

 48-3/8" x 32-1/2" used on Pacemaker boxcars


 54-3/8" x 37-3/4" used on boxcars and auto boxcars and repainted Pacemaker cars after October 28, 1955

August 19, 1955

 36" x 24"" used on 70 ton welded triple hoppers

November 15, 1956


* Blue and yellow Script herald of 1956 applied only to NYMX mechanical refrigerator cars ( A modified version of this herald was also applied to some locomotives during 1956 through 1959 ). This herald is approximately 45" x 30". Reporting marks and data were Gothic style.

* Yellow Early Bird herald applied only to Lot 862-B 50' boxcars in 1957. ( This herald was also applied as a test on Lot 737-B 40' boxcar #174853 ). Reporting marks and data were Gothic style.

* White Early Bird herald applied only to Lot 936 NYRX 40' insulated boxcars. Reporting marks and data were Gothic style.

  * Experimental blue boxcar scheme applied to cars 92102 and 220539 in September 1958. Reporting marks and data were Gothic style.

* Cigar band 'test' cars appeared in November 1958 ( drawing dated October 22, 1958 ) with the horizontal bar below the center line. Applied only to 12 cars: 176326, 176349, 176697, 176747, 176893, 176920, 176941, 176981, 177128, 177158, 177234 and 177287

* Cigar band style herald officially adopted at 1959 Shareholders meeting and cars started to be repainted in the Century Green scheme June 1959. Originally, boxcars painted in the Century green had black roof and ends. September 18, 1961 - the line in the reporting marks was removed. During 1963 - cars started to appear with entire car body painted Century Green and smaller herald appeared on boxcars starting in 1964. Covered hoppers and flexi-van flats were painted gray with black lettering - despite what some model companies have produced - the NYC did not paint covered hoppers Century Green. A small number of covered hoppers were painted black ( usually assigned to company sand service), but never green. It appears that Flexi-van flats never received the cigar band herald. Lots 130G and 148G cars had no heralds.

Oval Sizes:

Effective Date:

144" x 64" used on boxcars, auto boxcars, ACF cylindrical covered hoppers

June 19, 1959

 84" x 37" used on 125 pressure differential covered hoppers, cabooses and new built boxcars

December 26, 1962

 52" x 24" scotchcal decal used on boxcars and cabooses

May 6, 1961

 52" x 23-1/2" used on boxcars, auto boxcars, outside stake covered hoppers and gondolas

May 11, 1964

 33-1/8" x 15-5/8" scotchcal decal used on multi-level auto racks

May 6, 1961

 32-1/4" x 14-5/8" used on rebuilt 65ton and 70 ton 2 bay hoppers - all white with horizontal bars


 32-1/4" x 14-5/8" used on multi-level auto racks, transfer cabooses and coil cars

March 9, 1961

 32-1/4" x 14-5/8" used on 100ton gondola, lots 120G, 123G and 122F cars - all white with no horizontal bars

June 1967

 30" x 13-5/8" used on lot 959H cars only

May 1965


* Variation of Cigar band style herald used by the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie.

* Pacemaker cars painted starting in 1946 for service as cars were modified from regular boxcar service to high speed lightweight service. It took until 1953 before all 1000 lot 737-B cars were modified and painted for Pacemaker service. Paint was Sherwin-Williams flash-dri paint red over gray. Red door and side sill under door when door in closed position also red. Ladders, grab iron rungs, brake wheel, underframe and trucks were black. As originally painted - Gothic lettering and herald white - no black background to herald. Paint diagram shows roof as black F-1 car cement, though most cars had red overspray making the roof appear red from ground level. No dimensional data on cars when originally painted other than LD LMT and LT WT. After February 1951 - cars that were repainted had reporting marks, car number as well as LD LMT and LT WT data painted black. Three cars - #174146, #174654 and #174861 - had ALL lettering in black - including the PACEMAKER FREIGHT SERVICE logo - circa 1952. Lot 848-B cars delivered in Pacemaker paint including complete dimensional data in black - these were the only cars built new in the PACEMAKER scheme - delivered in 1954. In September/October 1955, the oval "System" herald had the black background return. Complete dimensional data added to cars that were not fully repainted - usually in white paint. Also, there were 200 temporary Pacemaker Service cars from lot 773-B - which DID NOT receive the full red/gray Pacemaker paint. Most did receive the PACEMAKER FREIGHT SERVICE logo over their regular paint job, while some cars only received a small rectangle with the word PACEMAKER inside. When cars removed from Pacemaker service (starting in late 1959) - cars either repainted in regular boxcar scheme of the day or simply had the '4' in the car number changed to '5'.


* Paint Code Triangle: Starting around December 1950 - NYC cars had a small 6-7/8" x 8-9/16" triangle applied to the bottom left corner of freight cars. 1" letters and numbers were used. The question that has been constantly asked over the years is - What does it mean ? Well - it was a stencil that indicated the type of primer and paint used on the car and when the car was painted. The top line was a code for how the car was cleaned prior to painting. The second line was the primer manufacturer code and primer type code. The third line was the finish paint coat manufacturer followed by the finish paint type followed by the number of coats of paint. The bottom was was the paint shop code followed by month and year. In the example shown - the code reads:

Cleaning: W = Wire Brush

Primer: 14 = MFG: Frazer Paint B = Type: Zinc Chromate

Finish Coat: 12 = MFG: Rust-Oleum Corp E= Type: Cold Spraying Synthetic Enamel 1 = 1 coat.

Shop: WS = Indianapolis - West Side Date: 12-50 = December 1950.



SHOP CODES: Can't figure out the letter codes for various car and loco shops around the NYC. Click here for a PDF file for codes in use in 1954

Hoppers, flatcars and gondolas:

An issue that keeps coming up concerns the color used on NYC freight cars - primarily the open top cars ( hoppers, flat cars and gondolas ), since during different time periods, they were painted either freight car brown or black. So here is the answer based on railroad documents, as outlined in various issues of the NYCSHS Headlight:

*  Shops equipped for handling F-1 black car cement, between April 1 and October 1 painted the cars BLACK. Shops NOT equipped for handling F-1 cement and ALL shops between October 1 and April 1 painted the cars freight car brown. This information comes from Specification P-18, Painting Open Top and Flat Cars, first issued December 28, 1921. In practice, it seems that locations with inside paint facilities used black F-1 cement year round and these locations accounted for the preponderance of cars painted.

* From February 20, 1941 to June 6, 1956 they were painted freight car brown.

* After June 6, 1956, shops equipped for handling F-1 black car cement, between April 1 and October 1 were BLACK. Shops NOT equipped for handling F-1 cement and ALL shops between October 1 and April 1 were freight car brown.

* From about 1960 to 1968 a black paint replaced the F-1 cement and was used year round on hoppers, gondolas and flatcars. Some special service gondolas received silver paint. Some P&LE gondolas and flatcars were painted Century Green between 1960 and late 1966.

* NOTE: Dates quoted are the official drawing dates and may not reflect actual dates of first / last usage as some shops may have used the old style longer than the date quoted and some shops may have started painting cars prior to the official drawings being produced. So, dates should only be used as a guideline and occurances of new / old paint jobs may span a couple of months on either side of the official drawing date.


Other painting notes:

* During the 1920's, many cars had a "S-" in front of the car number. From what we can determine, there was two meanings. First, it signified a "SYSTEM" car, or one which was "at home" on any of the NYC affiliated roads and secondly it denoted a maintenance group - which basically determined the limit of expenditure for repairs.

* A STAR under the herald was suppose to denote a car that was not to be sent off line ( per Charles Smith - NYCSHS - Third Quarter 1995 Headlight) ( NOT to be confused with a star located next to the car capacity ). In addition to this, based on an article in the December 1947 Headlight, there was a major shortage of freight cars, primarily boxcars, and this may have been in an effort to keep cars online to continue to provide enough cars for NYC customers ( please note that this is NOT specifically stated in the article). Since this shortage was from 1945 to around 1949, most cars having this star were built or rebuilt during this same period of time. During these years, cars were being retired ( due to being worn out by extreme war time demands on the fleet ) at a faster rate than new cars could be built and at the same time freight traffic was at an all time peace-time high, resulting in a critical shortage of cars during these years - this was a nationwide crisis - not a NYC only situation, so this may have been a NYC effort to keep a supply of cars on hand for their own customers. Once the shortage of cars ended, these cars roamed off home rails. Another use reported indicates that the STAR meant the car was for clean lading only, such as grain service. I have not found any NYC documents to support any of these uses.

* A YELLOW CIRCLE with a black A denotes a car acceptable for clean lading only.

* Covered hoppers were painted grey with some being painted black.  I have yet to find a Century Green painted covered hopper.


Of course, with a Railroad the size of the NYC with a huge fleet of cars, there were some exceptions to these guidelines. Dates noted above are the official date on the NYC drawings and may not reflect the date of the first instance of the change as sometimes cars may have actually been painted prior to the official release of the drawing.