California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Model Train Help EBook

Southern Pacific Diesel Locomotive Paint Schemes
1947 - 1956
Yard-Switcher Tiger Stripe scheme.

1947 - 1956

Image of SP S4 #1474 from the Orange Empire Museum CA. ©Stan Rothwell

Orange diagonal stripes on a black carbody, commonly known as Tiger Stripe, was the paint scheme applied to all new diesel switchers from 1947 to 1956. It was also applied to all diesel switchers repainted up to 1957/58.

SP's first yard switchers delivered in the 'standard' Tiger stripe scheme looks to be T&NO S-2's. These came with Orange diagonal stripes applied on the entire long hood end, and wrapping around the side a short distance, in a chevron pattern. The cab end was striped up to the bottom of the windows, some units to just below, (there may be a dimension for this), this also wrapped around the cab side a ways. The frame and pilots were also striped, all stripes were continuous, ie. they followed a pattern, always facing the same way, and the hood and cab end, and pilot stripes forming a continuous pattern when viewed end on. They kept the Orange pin-stripe along the top of the hood.

New units also had the air reservoirs striped, but usually lost this on the first repaint.

The lettering on the hood-side was changed to 15" Southern Pacific, still painted in Orange, (the word Lines having been dropped in 1946), as was as the cabside number. Unit numbering on each end, on the Orange and black stripes was in white, and on the black was Orange [I assume :-)].

Locos known to have appeared in this scheme:

  • SP:
    • HH-660
    • VO-660
    • VO-1000
    • GE 44 tonners
    • SW1
    • NW2
    • S-1
    • S-2
    • S-3
    • S-4
    • S-10
    • S-12
    • FM H12-44
  • T&NO:
    • S-1
    • S-2
    • S-4
    • NW2
    • S-12
  • PE:
    • VO-660
    • VO-1000
    • GE 44 tonners
  • VE:
    • GE 44 tonners


  • Any brand of Black.
  • Use decals for the Orange stripes.


Microscale sheet 60-71 and 87-71 caters for this scheme,


  • NW2's had 12" Southern Pacific lettering to fit between the hoodside louvers.
  • Any NW2's later receiving 15" lettering, had it stacked at the front of the unit.
  • Some units may have stacked lettering instead of lettering all in a line.
  • The ALCo S-1, S-2, S-3, S-4, S-6's had the fuel tank? below the frame, between the trucks, striped.
  • GE 44-tonners also had this area below the frame striped.

Known Exceptions:

Cotton Belt's Post war switchers came painted in an orange 'bow wave' on black carbody scheme, as typified by the SSW SW9 in the image at right.

A picture of a Cotton Belt VO-1000 1003 appears in SP Dieselization page 169.

SSW Locos known to have appeared in this scheme:

  • SSW:
    • VO-1000
    • SW7
    • SW9
    • RS-3
    • DT-6-6-2000
Image of Cotton Belt SW9 2204 from Rob Sarberenyi
Image of Cotton Belt SW9 2207 cab end from Ed Cooper

Initially the first diesels designated as Road Switchers also received the Yard Switcher Tiger Stripe scheme in 1948-49.

Units known to have appeared in this scheme:

  • SP DRS-6-4-1500 #5200 - 5202,
  • SP DRS-6-6-1500 #5203 - 5215,
  • T&NO DRS-6-6-15 #187 - 188.

They very soon repainted them into the Road Switcher Tiger Stripe scheme.

Relevant Magazine articles:

  • Model Railroader, July 1974, page 36. - Painting Diesel Switchers - Interim Tiger Stripe, Tiger Stripe, Halloween and Blood Nose.
  • Railroad Model Craftsman May 1988, page 54. - Modeling a Tiger Striped S2.
  • Model Railroader - Aug. 1995, page 62. - Tiger Striping and detailing SP NW2 and SW1.

Additional Information on this Page contributed by Rich Sievers.

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Sunday, November 11, 2001