Western Union Tool Car Ready for Lettering

The Western Union #3558 tool car is almost ready for lettering.

Lettering for one of the museum’s historic railroad cars involves research to find in-service photographs or drawings made of the same or similar cars. Inspection of the actual car lettering can also provide the information needed on some cars.

Currently, the museum has a black and white photograph of its Western Union car in 1959 in addition to photographs and drawings of other cars used by the Western Union Company for guidance.

Painter and helper getting ready to spray paint the Southern Railway logo on the car in white

Research conducted by SRM librarians indicates that the lettering of the car is yellow. White lettering was likely used on the metal car frame for the repair work done by a railroad.

With this information, Ben Neal will make the lettering on heavy Kraft paper for the lettering stencils. The letters are scaled to size and duplicated in appearance according to the historic photographs. Some lettering has already been remade a second time when Ben realized the lettering he made was not the correct size.

He will then cut the letters out where paint will be applied.

The restoration team’s role is to have a well-painted surface that is clean and ready to apply paint to. The crew has recently applied the second coat of paint to the car for that purpose.

Ben will then tape the stencils to the car for the painting work. He will paint with artist quality brushes. He will apply a thick paint for the lettering on top of the Pullman Green sides. This will be done letter by letter until complete.

Ben plans to apply the lettering in early June.



Lloyd Neal closes a paint can after applying paint to the Western Union tool car. Kristen Fredriksen. May 12, 2018.

Ties: The Southern Railway System Magazine. June 1947. Volume I, Number 4. Not copyrighted.

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