Ignorant question for Saturday

I could not answer when asked why, during WWII, the Germans. painted the undersides of their engines red ?
Figures a history teacher at school would ask a question I didn't know.

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Warning to keep away from moving parts. LTG :)

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the OTHER Mike spake thus:

Are you sure that's a fact and not an urban legend?
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I always heard that the wheels and underframe were painted red because if a crack developed any oil or grease would seep into the crack and it was easier to see any problems.
Robert

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Robert "rpon" spake thus:

Well, that would explain why they'd paint it *white*, not red; locomotive parts (like driver tires) were painted white for that very reason.
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It is the reason behind the Chinese steamers having the red wheels, but they also have white tyres as well.
Not every railway system used that concept. But it worked for those who did use it.
Other systems used a white sodar ash mixture at specific points to examine the wheels & frames.
Colin Hussey
David Nebenzahl wrote:

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the OTHER Mike wrote:

While I don't have a specific answer, I would think that it was for safety reasons. As others have already indicated.
But it wasn't just German Engines and not just during WWII. Red running gear/frame combination was used on many European railroads. Soviet Union and Poland also used that paint scheme. And I think that this practice started way before WWII and it continued on until demise of steam.
But the red paint got grungy quite fast, so many engines appeared to have black running gear.
Peteski
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Peter W. wrote:

I think it goes back to the very early days of railways, when engines were painted in very colourful liveries. The US lines adopted basic black early on, as labour was relatively expensive in there. In Europe, the colourful liveries on steam locos continued well into the 20th century. As Peteski notes, the red running gear on steam locos pre-dates WW2, in fact, and was not limited to German locos. So I think it was done for aesthetic reasons. Somebody high enough up in the bureaucracy just liked it, and ordained that it be done.
Now that bright paint and vinyl stick-ons are relatively cheap, and big machines are painted in semi-automated paint booths, we're back to very garish, um, I mentersay _colourful_ liveries on locomotives. And as in the past, someone high up in the bureaucracy makes the final decision, based on his dubious sense of colour, and despite whatever the marketing gurus tell them. :-)
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

Thanks to everyone that replied, now I'll go post Mondays ignorant questions !
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On Mon, 21 Aug 2006 09:12:01 -0400, Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

Er, uh, wasn't it marketing gurus helped design and push the Edsel?
:-)
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Steve Caple wrote:

IIRC, it was Ford Family decision. They wanted to memorialise Edsel, who died young.
The design was the styling department's product. They stuck with it even though the marketing gurus pointed out that the Public thought the Edsel looked like it was sucking a very sour lemon. Besides, in those days a car's style had a four to six year life, with minor sheet metal and chrome changes every year. By the time the Edsel was launched, that style of barge on wheels was already, um, dead in the water. But the Ford Family wanted Edsel's name on a big car, a prestige model, not some cute li'l subcompact. Irony was, the guts of the Edsel were plain old Ford. Go figure. -- I was a young man in those days, and followed automotive news very, very closely. Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated was my idol. :-) But I won't vouch for the details of my story.
HTH
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On Mon, 21 Aug 2006 13:53:38 -0400, Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

Okay; but there's still New Coke <g>
I have less use for marketing majors than I do for probate attorneys (the welfare queens of the legal world).
--
Steve

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I was under the impression that the public thought the grill resembled something else... :)
Dale
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Dale wrote:

Um, yerss, but this is a group suitable for family reading, is it not?
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Well, it was... :)
Dale
GM tried the same sort of thing with a locomotive, but sideways-
http://www.tcamembers.org/articles/chronicles/GORDON 'S_TRAVELS/gordon05.jpg
Dale
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Dale wrote:

Yes, that's the Aerotrain, of unlamented memory. the cars were widened bus bodies running on a Talgo-like arrangement of single-axle trucks IIRC. Was said to be a rough and noisy ride. I recall reading that GM was venturing into this business because sales for their busses had slumped.
What's interesting is the "futuristic" styling, so characteristic of the 50s/60s. It seems stylists can't imagine a future that isn't an obvious riff on the present, which dates their attempts very rapidly. Raymond Loewy was an exception: his GG-1 restyle is IMO timeless.
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

There were a few more than Loewy. The GM F and E units all look right up to date and modern even being 60 years old. The ALCO FA and PA units, the Geeps and the Budd RDC cars all look right up to date and they were all styled 50 years ago or more. These is in contrast to the autmobiles of that era, which all look dated now.
David Starr
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David Starr wrote:

Agreed, but it seems that the stylists of these locos were anonymous - at least, I haven't found any information about them. For example, the "styling department" of EMD was responsible for the E and F units, and they also offered a handful of standard paint schemes in colour combinations to suit their customers. Same for the hood units. I suspect that these stylists weren't out to "make a statement," but simply to make the loco look good. Information about the stylists would be welcome.
HTH
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The first German loco with red painted wheels and underframes was "Der Adler" of 1835. Most German steam locomotives since then had red painted frames and wheels.
The purpose was to make metal fractures more obvious and to make working parts more easily visible against that background. While white would make fractures and moving parts even more visible, white paint was generally more porous so would quickly end up darker than red.
You need to remember (or recognise in the first place, Mark) that paint technology hasn't always been at it's present state of development and different colours (colors US) were mostly made with various naturally occuring pigments, eg red-oxide from iron ore oxide and heat resistant paints from a lead base.
German locos generally had plate frames for the first century. These were more prone to cracking than US style bar frames. They also tended to have more "works" between the frames than US locos. Both those factors made a colour lighter than matt black desirable.
While the early WWII locos (1939-42) had red frames the new ones nearer to the end (1941-45) usually had frames painted black.
Regards, Greg.P.
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Of course you don't Mark. If I said the world was round you'd join the flat earth society.

My experience? It's purely with preservation projects, first hand and second hand.
Plate frames tend to crack from cut-outs such as around cylinder fixings, axle slots and at the base of cantilevered overhangs such as the rear frame behind the rear driving axle. When, for example, one side frame parts company below and behind the firebox and the tractive effort opens the crack under traction but allows it to close at rest, visual and tactile inspection is more effective that tapping with little hammers. Still, you're the expert!

Agreed. However, red is still slightly better than matt black in that situation. (Flare lamp?)

I have only published opinion, but from people I consider to be knowledgable on the subject. Bellingrot for example. Unfortunately it's not accessable to me at present as all my literature is packed away for my forthcoming move north.

I really don't mind if you are well versed in the subject, that doesn't damage MY ego. If you are reasonably knowledgable then we have nothing there to disagree on.
Regards, Greg.P.
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