Train Wheel and Truck Muck
The growing popularity of railroad subjects in the static model community has expanded the common model railroad question of What color are wheels, trucks, and bogies
? I hope these images will help modelers clarify this question for their modeling enjoyment.
What color are trucks? The answer is What color aren't they?
That isn't meant to be flippant. Rather, the color of track can vary widely depending on the era, the environment, maintenance, whether under steam, diesel or electric locomotives, even the season.
The specific trucks were photographed in October in East Tennessee. They run on a light-use excursion 3-foot narrow gauge track. Other trucks and wheels shown are on operating and display steam locomotives and rolling stock. Note the bright yellow-orange fresh rust on the driver tire of a steam locomotive; photographed in July, the engine had just braked to a stop about an hour earlier. Look at the tank car and Wabash box car: the tank car shows wheel splatter sprayed against the ends plus how dust and grime has washed down the sides to pool on the bottom of the tank cylinder. Oil and grease changes the hues. Note the visible face of the wheels under "29". Dust and dirt add unique coloration, too. You can also discern the proper color(s) based on the drawbar and coupling equipment. These are also heavy metal components that exposed to the same spray of particulates as the wheels. The couplers even show green moss!
One other reference is the color of rail. Rail and wheels are made of similar metal, both are exposed to similar weathering. Wheels on rail knock off zillions of metal flakes and that becomes dust which settles on the trucks.
So what color are trucks?
Many colors! The truck under repair shows Rio Grande wheels cast nearly 90 years ago.
Further references can be explored through the following links:
Layout Scenes IV: Rail & Tie Color
Steam Locomotive Weathering
Roaring Camp RR Reference Gallery
Rudy Narrow Gauge Railway
Attempts to create authentic truck color should be proceeded by research into your subject. Consider the time and era of the subject, what was hauled, and traffic densities. Above all, enjoy your hobby and model what makes you happy!