Help support TMP

"Color for Thaddeus Lowe's Hydrogen Generator Wagon" Topic

9 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the ACW Painting Guides Message Board

1,201 hits since 20 Nov 2007
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Joe Martin21 Nov 2007 12:37 a.m. PST

I am painting up the 15 mm Minifig Hydrogen Generator Wagon for Lowe's Observation Balloon Corps. Gettysburg Soldier has one on their site painted in supply wagon blue.

However, from the national archives pictures that I have seen on the web ('s_balloon_gas_generator.html), the actual color, when compared to similar pictures of supply wagons, appears much lighter, possibly white. The wheels look to be darker, maybe red like supply wagons? Does anybody have any ideas.

Also, does anybody know the text of the lettering on the wagons, besides "Lowes"?

Also, since I am somewhat computer illiterate, how in the world do you paste the link so that others can actually click on it?

Jay Arnold Inactive Member21 Nov 2007 12:53 a.m. PST

If you simply paste it in as it's in the navigation tool bar, it should go right in:


Jay Arnold Inactive Member21 Nov 2007 12:54 a.m. PST

By the way, anybody know how these work? I know how a gas generator works in a meth lab (from my work, not form personal use). I wonder if they work along the same principles.

Jay Arnold Inactive Member21 Nov 2007 12:59 a.m. PST

Maybe so:


floating white bear Inactive Member21 Nov 2007 8:00 a.m. PST

I believe the wagons may have been a medium blue. The hydrogen was generated somehow using iron filings. Not much help, eh? Rob.

Larry Gettysburg Soldiers Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2007 8:24 a.m. PST

Joe, I painted the Balloon wagons Sky Blue, based on information in "Military Ballooning During the Early Civil War" by F. Stansbury Haydon. His research discovered the original invoice for pale blue paint, and bold black lettering. (page 251).

Haydon's excellent book includes detailed descriptions of how the balloons were inflated, how long it took to inflate and ascend, etc.

Another good source book is "War of the Aeronauts, A History of Ballooning in the Civil War" by Charles M. Evans.

I have copies of both books, they can occasionally be found on Amazon or


Jay Arnold Inactive Member21 Nov 2007 10:26 a.m. PST

I find the whole thing to be rather fascinating, actually. Too bad more wasn't done with the technology at the time. Although the volatility and relative rarity/difficulty to produce hydrogen was a major factor.

Joe Martin21 Nov 2007 10:51 p.m. PST


Thank you so much – it's really great to get a response from "the actual man." Pretty impressive. I am sure you are correct, especially since you are basing your painting on a primary source. It does appear that this pale blue may be a lighter shade than the normal supply wagon color (note that there are wagons in the background of the photo I linked; although I am certainly not an expert in determining color from 19th century pictures)

I'll go with the dark brown you used for the wagon wheels, on the assumption that this is based upon the same or other sources.

Once again, thank you for helping a lowly amateur. I hope I can get up to see you from here in Texas. By the way, not that you need my affirmation, your products are beautiful.

Larry Gettysburg Soldiers Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2007 7:41 a.m. PST

Joe, Thanks for the kind words!

According to Haydon, the lettering on the wagon reads:
" Lowe's Balloon Gas Generator"

Black & white period photos can be difficult to interpret shades and perceived colors.

About the wagon wheels…remember that wooden wagon wheels took a beating and had to be changed on occasion, just as we still have to change tires today. For that reason they probably did not try to maintain matching color with the original paint job on the wagon.

I will be glad to let you borrow my Haydon book for your research, if you can't find a copy. It honestly contains more information than any of us would ever want to know about ACW balloons!

You can contact me off-thread, thru my website.


Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.