GP9 Medallion

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Mon Apr 7 13:13:27 EDT 2014

Thanks, Ken. I can see why the "6 spot" would have non-standard lettering, as the tank is so short. Apparently the non standard lettering on the Alco's was due to the distance between vents on the long hood of the RS3. Not a problem on the RS11, but having given Alco a stencil for the RS3, why change it? Interestingly, the louvers on the GP9 did not bother them, as the steam era lettering goes right over them. So we still have a problem lettering an as delivered RS3 or early RS11. But then, we have some problems modeling the N&W RS3 in the first place.

Jim Nichols 

From: NW Modeling List <nw-modeling-list at>
To: NW Modeling List <nw-modeling-list at>
Sent: Monday, April 7, 2014 8:40 AM
Subject: Re: GP9 Medallion


Without having any of my materials in front of me, I have to work on memory here. But I thought the RS3 and first RS11s were first delivered in with a totally different lettering than either the N&W steam or early diesel. 

Since I have done some of the real thing over time, here are some details: N&W steam lettering came in several varieties, 10 inch letters were what was used on all the large modern steam tanks, As, Ys, Js, Ks, Zs, etc. This is, of course, post May of 1941. Spacing varied some, depending on the tank, and the sign painter who applied the stencils. On the smaller power, the S1/S1a, and the like, it was 8 inch lettering, again, with some spacing differences.

Based on my experience, I'd feel strongly that it was 10 inch letters on the GP9s.

However, until last fall, I thought that the modern N&W was standard with those two steam sizes. A project that I have been working on since last summer is to re-letter the G1 No. 6 at VMT, which will hopefully happen as soon as the temperature is consistently warmer.

The 6 had been repainted and re-lettered at some point in the 1960s with something totally incorrect, probably by a Roanoke City parks employee, accuracy was not a byword in those days. The 6 had been cosmetically restored by N&W and presented to the City of Roanoke in September 1955. I made the mistake of assuming that it was 8 inch letters, went on and cut my stencils, went down to apply and paint, and started to calculate the distance end to end, and they were not even close. Measured what remained there and with photos from Richard Shell, and it appeared to be 7.5 inches. To my experience, the N&W rarely used lettering that was not even inches for the road name

Went back home, and dug through my photo files, and finally found a view of No. 6 as freshly painted on September 20, 1955. Made some measurements on the No.6 for some various sizes, and enlarged the photo in Photoshop to full size and determined that it was 7 inch letters. But it was not standard N&W letters, as once it was enlarged, the letter widths were very different from the normal 8 inch or 10 inch art, so I have now redrawn the letters to the correct width and recut stencils, and am waiting for warmer weather.

Ken Miller

On Apr 7, 2014, at 12:29 AM, NW Modeling List wrote:

Measuring from a photo on page 287 in Jeffries' book, the lettering on the RS11 appears to be 9.5" high. Measuring the GP9 photo on page 288, the lettering appears to be 10.5" high. Of course this method has some margin for error. The biggest problem with the Alcos is that the letters do not appear to be quite as wide as the steam loco stencil. The lettering on the GP9 looks to be straight from the steam stencil, but the spacing of the letters is closer than on a steam tender. Spacing on the Alco's also is close, but the letters themselves appear to be not quite as wide as the steam stencil letters. Friends advise me that no decal is available that is accurate for the RS3s and early RS11s as delivered. Sadly, this appears to be true.



>Jim Nichols


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