SP GS-series Painting & Deskirting Dates

Deskirting dates as follows from Strapac's SP Steam Compendium data:


The GS-3 class engines went through several paint schemes and configurations.

SP 4424 in the as-delivered Daylight scheme. Eddie Sims collection 

The GS-2/3/4/5 classes were delivered in Daylight scheme with skirts. However as each new class arrived the older classes were repainted into general service black to save time and labor painting the complex schemes. 

SP 4422 with all-black and war-time headlight shroud, circa 1943-44. Eddie Sims Collection 

During WWII many of the older GS class were assigned to work routes that didn't have upgraded lightweight passenger trains, such as the Morning Daylight, Noon Daylight, Lark, or San Joaquin. These engines started being painted black instead of Daylight.

SP 4411 pulling No.43, the Californian, in 1948 - Brian Black collection, Nolan Black photo. 

After the lettering change, dropping the LINES from the tenders in June 1946, the early GS classes continued to wear their skirts, but painted black, as seen above with 4411 in 1948 meeting a fain trip in Southern CA.

Deskirting of GS-3 class engines

4416 1950
4417 1-23-50 Sac
4418 4-25-50 Ogden
4419 1-13-50 West Oakland
4420 1-2-50 Sac (Smoke Deflector added 2-19-53 Sac)
4421 1-29-50 Ogden
4422 3-20-50 Sac
4423 4-3-50 West Oakland
4424 2-7-50 Sac
4425 1-31-50 Ogden
4426 1950
4427 1-26-50 Ogden
4428 5-6-50 Ogden
4429 ?

SP 4412 pulling No.56, the Mail, into Modesto, circa 1950+. - Brian Black collection, Nolan Black photo. 

Finally after the orders came down in 1950 to start removing the skirts, the GS-2/3s reached their final appearance, continuing until retirement with the large tender lettering, no skirts, and aluminum pilots.


SP 4450 as-delivered in fill Daylight colors. - Eddie Sims collection 

SP 4450 at Bakersfield roundhouse at La Mesa Club, San Diego, CA in 2017. 

The GS-4/5s were also a common sight in the 1940s both before and after the war on the San Joaquin Daylight working among the regular MT-class engines on the assignment.

Deskirting and 'Quick Changing' Schemes

SP 4439 Half-Daylight Eddie Sims Collection 

In 1950 the order came to remove the skirts from all but the last dozen GS-4/5 class engines, which would cover the remaining steam powered premier trains on the Coast Division, Coast Daylight, Lark, and Starlight. MTs or black GS-class would work the Sad Sam (Coast Mail) and the Overnight (CME/CMW) trains, with Daylight GS filling in if available.
Deskirting of GS-4 class engines

4430 3-22-50 LA
4431 3-18-50 LA
4432 3-13-50 El Paso
4433 1-23-50 El Paso
4434 3-24-50 LA
4435 3-15-50 LA
4436 1-27-50 El Paso
4437 4-23-50 LA
4438 1-31-50 LA
4439 4-28-50 LA
4440 3-11-50 LA
4441 4-21-50 LA
4442 3-9-50 LA
4443 3-26-50 El Paso
4444 1-23-50 El Paso
4445 3-5-50 LA
4446 3-14-50 El Paso
4447 2-23-50 El Paso
4448 ? 1955
4449 ? 1955
4450 ? 1955
4451 ? 1955
4452 ? 1955 - photographed on Coast Div in partial Daylight, Jan'55-May'55
4453 5-16-55 San Jose
4454 ? 1955
4455 ? 1955
4456 ? 1955
4457 ? 1955

Deskirting of GS-5 class engines

4458 ? 1955
4459 ? 1955 

It is interesting to see the locations of the engines when the orders came to remove their skirts. Many of the earlier GS-4s were already working LA-El Paso with the GS-3s working West Oakland-Roseville and Sparks-Ogden pools.

Last Stand of the Daylight GS-4/5s

SP 4449 pulling Commute No.132 around 1955. - Eddie Sims collection. 

After coming off the Coast Daylight, the GS-4s were assigned to the San Francisco Commutes.

SP 4455, the last Daylight-painted GS-4/5 to pull the Coast Daylight in January 1955. Carl Sturner Photo - American-Rails.com 

This shot of 4455 was taken after she came off the Coast Division's passenger assignments, bumping down to hauling the Commutes between San Francisco and San Jose. She would loose her skirts and Daylight paint in the coming months.

There's a pair of late-era photo of SP 4452 in the "3/4-Daylight" deskirted transition pulling the Coast Mail with her red stripe still on her boiler and the orange still on her remaining skirt edges, ladder sides, and pilot in Southern Pacific's Golden Empire, 1954-1958 by John B. Hungerford and Harold F. Stewart on page 174-175 taken between January and May 1955.

Deskirted and Black 'Til the End

SP 4459 departs Bakersfield with No.51, passing the US Mail building across Baker St. from the station. - Eddie Sims collection.

After the last twelve engines were relieved of premier assignments on the Coast Division, they too were stripped of their Daylight colors and skirts to run out the rest of their service lives on the SP.

In Closing

I'll probably update this page with additional dates as I research them. 

Jason Hill

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  1. As a child, I cut out and saved (in a scrapbook somewhere in my garage) an LA Times photo showing 4455 as the last steam engine to arrive at LA Union Station. True or not, that's what the LA Times reported, at any rate. Unfortunately my young self cut the date off the top of the page. Perhaps it's in their archives somewhere?
    Ross PINYAN - Irvine, Calif.


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