The title pretty much describes the locomotive fleet of Penn Central. From freshly painted diesels to absolutely filthy ones, Penn Central’s diesel fleet surely carried ten shades of black. While growing up around PC, I don’t believe I saw more than a handful of clean or freshly painted locomotives.
Penn Central was above all a huge transportation company, moving tons of freight and passengers. The company started out with a new if not drab paint scheme on freshly painted locomotives, some with different color variations on the mated worms logo, which even the old factions couldn’t agree on.
Even with freshly painted locomotives the dirt and grime soon accumulated, sometimes simply due to the poor limestone ballast used which with reduced maintenance caused mud holes to develop, coating trucks, pilots, and frame sills as freight after freight pounded over these mud holes.
Penn Central I must say had a lot of dedicated employees who cared and worked hard right up until the formation of ConRail. However, as the years of bankruptcy rolled on, more and more locomotives became not only filthier, but bad ordered as well. From what I observed in my train watching, very few if any ever made it through a wash rack. A good example of this is the photo below, courtesy of Pinterest: