Painting the Sharks 

by Jay Winn, edited by Rudy Garbely

all photos from the collection of Jay Winn

It all started one day in late 1974, when I was approached by a friend with a proposal for me to paint up some shark models in D&H colors for the D&H to review. At the time, I had only heard rumors to the effect that the D&H had indeed purchased (or, more accurately, swapped scrap value for) a couple of old NYC sharks (RF16s) which had been finishing out their second lives on the Monongahela Railway. The deal was that I would paint a couple of models with proposed D&H paint schemes for review, utilizing standard D&H colors, lettering, and logos (I owned and operated a custom model train shop). In 1974, the D&H was home to a variety of diesel paint schemes, so coming up with an ideal paint scheme for the sharks was no small task. There were ultimately three models/schemes produced, each in a different proposed D&H scheme.

These slides from 1974 show my progress as I painted the model sharks. I painted a Model Power shark in the standard D&H freight scheme, and a Mantua shark in a modified D&H Warbonnet scheme. I quickly sent these off to the D&H, as there was a strict timeline for the decision. A third shark model was later obtained and painted in a modified NYC lightning stripe scheme, but this model never made it to the D&H for consideration. By the time I had completed it, the deed was done.

It was a real thrill to see grown men referring to models to paint the locos. As I recall, when stripping one of the real sharks, they revealed the NYC lightning stripe underneath. A few minor changes were made on my original scheme. On the real thing, the lower body stripe curls around the pilot - on the model it does not, due in part to the inaccuracy of the Mantua model. Also, the number placement and color was changed for more visibility.

My personal connection with the D&H sharks was firmly established. As a direct result, I made a few acquaintances (that is I was able to meet them) on the D&H, notably Marv Davis (Chief Road Foreman of Engines) and Bruce Sterzing (President and CEO), and I developed a passion for the D&H sharks that were ultimately painted in a scheme I had helped to create. Later, I painted a pair in the final scheme for display on Bruce Sterzing’s desk.

Below are a bunch of pictures of the completed sharks in Colonie, followed by a bunch of “in service” shots working the Sayre Turn out of Binghamton, and a few slightly out of focus shots of what I believe was the only fantrip out of Mechanicville.

For some photos of a cab ride on the sharks in service on the D&H, click here.