Tool Review
British Railways, 1948-1959
British Railways - Early period, 1948-1959 Set 1
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

British Railways - Early period, 1948-1959 Set 1 is the first of three new railroad sets from LifeColor. This satin-gloss acrylic paint six-color set is XS-10.

LifeColor is releasing three new sets for British Railways, covering three specific periods from 1948-1990. These sets cover England's post-war steam to diesel transition. Five years ago we examined the LifeColor set XS06, British Railways. That set features a sample of six unique colors found through the three eras. Those six colors and three eras are now expanded with three almost comprehensive sets of unique colors from LifeColor. Once again, the colors were developed with British railroad expert George Dent.

Set XS10, Early period, 1948-1959 arrives in an attractive flip-top cardboard box with the six 22ml plastic bottles held in individual compartments. The bottle caps were molded with an internal rim which both provides a small palette cup as well as inhibits paint fouling the bottle cap thread.

These paints are made with very fine ground pigments. They have no noticeable odor. I find most of them them to be thinner than other brands I am used to, almost like a heavy wash. These paints are not formulated for one-pass brushing, rather for multiple passes and airbrushing.

There are no instructions other than as printed on the back of the box, plus six printed color chips. Lifecolor reminds us that these can be mixed with Tensocrom Medium to create washes and glazes.

This set includes:
    UA 817 Fitted Freight Bauxite
    UA 818 Unfitted Freight Grey
    UA 819 Loco Green (Early)
    UA 820 Signal Red
    UA 821 Coach Crimson
    UA 822 Coach Cream

Recall I wrote that this set is almost comprehensive? As the years passed, BR revived some of the local private liveries with blue, brown, and green. Perhaps though may be forthcoming? Those, and structure colors? (Fingers crossed!)

What are these British Railway (BR) colors based upon? As the box indicates these colors were developed in partnership with George Dent of Model Rail Magazine and The Airbrush Company. A shamble through sites dedicated to prototype preservation and modeling of United Kingdom railroads produced a great deal of information, including the meaning of "Fitted" and "Unfitted", which categorized whether a freight car had automated brakes or relied on the braking of the locomotive, with or without a "Brakevan" (Think of it as a caboose specifically intended to manually set brakes for the train). The following excerpt offers a glimpse into the gargantuan diverse topic of English railroad liveries;
    The Second World War reduced much of the goods rolling stock to a generally dilapidated state. Following nationalisation in 1948 the remaining pre-war liveried wagons were usually repainted as they passed through the workshops for maintenance and repairs.

    Initially British Railways adopted an official basic goods livery of grey for unfitted stock, that is for wagons with only a hand brake, and a red-brown called 'bauxite' for fitted stock, that is for wagons fitted with a vacuum brake. British Railways adopted the vacuum brake as standard and following the 1955 Modernisation Plan, they fitted this to most new stock (other than the steel mineral wagons). The flexible brake pipe connections were red. Some wagons with only a hand brake had pipes and connectors for vacuum brakes, this allowed them to be marshalled into a train of 'fitted' stock. These 'piped' wagons were painted bauxite with white pipe connections.

    Originally the unfitted wooden bodied wagons were unpainted, although the wood had a slightly silver look to it when new due to the use of an aluminium primer. This idea was abandoned by the mid 1950's and they were then painted grey. It should be noted that many unfitted pre nationalisation wagons, principally open types, appear to have all paint removed (or worn off), and some had markings reduced to the number painted in the lower left hand corner, generally in black but sometimes white on a black patch. The standard was black underframes and running gear much as used on the LNER, however the solebars, particularly on unfitted stock, were sometimes painted body colour.

    Van roofs were initially white, as usual greying in service. According to Dave Larkin's book on
    British Railways Standard Freight Wagons many vans had black roofs by the late `60's, however I have not traced any official instruction regarding this colour being used and it could perhaps have been simply a very dirty grey. *

Fitted Freight Bauxite was used on freight cars, as touched upon, above. (Freight Brown replaced Fitted Freight Bauxite sometime in the 1970s.)

Unfitted Freight Grey was used on freight cars, as touched upon, above.

Loco Green (Early) was used on steam locomotives until the regional variations.

Coach Crimson represents Crimson Lake, the original official lower body color for BR passenger main line passenger cars, and the suburban carriages were overall crimson.

Coach Cream was the original official upper body color for BR passenger main line passenger cars.

(Those two colors are used for the Crimson Lake & Cream livery, nicknamed ‘Blood and Custard.’ An overview of Crimson Lake & Cream livery can be found through Click here for additional images for this review, below.)

Signal Red is a red-orange that seems almost Day-Glo. It was used on signals and buffer beams of steam locos.

I airbrushed these colors onto models of unprimed black, brown, and crimson.

I did not try handbrushing these paints.

Lifecolor instructs that for airbrushing, use low pressure. Not surprising they also recommend using their own thinner but state water will suffice. I sprayed them with my Aztec airbrush. I used the medium area coverage 0.50mm nozzle. Air was regulated from an old diaphram compressor of about 12 psi. Paints were shot onto a smooth unprimed white card sample swatch. Pictured are the swatch in natural shade light, as well as scanned on a scanner. (Scanner sample includes the text.)

Airbrushed coverage is excellent with complete opacity. All covered perfectly and smoothly. The paint dried semi-gloss. None of the colors ran nor puddled.

However, the two freight colors gave were thicker than the other four, requiring more thinner.

Excellent! I taped over the cream color five hours after application.

I am enthusiastic about these acrylic paints. As such they are less hazardous than solvent-based products. These are a fine set for the early era of British Railways.

Adhesion is awesome! The bottle design is great, as is the packaging. These paints cleaned easily with Lifecolor Cleaner or water.

Lifecolor states they should be thinned with the brand thinner, which I also tested. All six colors performed exceptionally well via airbrush.

These are quality paints and I recommend them.

Please tell retailers and vendors that you saw this review here - on RailRoadModeling.

* Smith, Mark. "British Railways (1948/64) Livery." Goods & Not So Goods, An overview of railway freight operations for modellers. N.p., 2003. Web. 27 May 2014.

Smith, Mike. "British Freight Locomotive Liveries." Goods & Not So Goods, An overview of railway freight operations for modellers. N.p., 2003. Web. 27 May 2014.

Multiple contributors. "Wagon Paint." National Preservation. N.p., 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 27 May 2014.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Easy to use and adhesion and coverage is awesome. These paints performed exceptionally well via airbrush.
Lows: The freight colors required more thinner than the other four.
Verdict: This set should allow models of post-war British railroads to create the most common liveries.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: XS-10
  PUBLISHED: Dec 27, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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