PPG has been supplying the maintenance teams at the iconic Puffing Billy Railway for 20 years.

PPG colour and product solutions support the Puffing Billy team to keep this heritage train looking amazing against the lush green backdrop of Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.

The most recent facelift completed in July 2023 saw PPG Australia’s colour lab team formulate specific colours to ensure accurate matches to the heritage tones needed to maintain the historical integrity of the engines.

Professional Architectural Coatings Specialist, Terry Ward, provided advice regarding the type of paint they could use for the metal substrate. They ended up using PPG’s White Knight Rust Guard product, which added a convenient solution to protect the metal finish. This product was also able to be tinted to the colour required.



A proven performer when it comes to metal protection, restoration and decoration.

Lisa and the team at the Taubmans Ferntree Gully store then supported supply of the product and made sure the colour was tinted perfectly to their needs. 

The result is impressive, and a fantastic team effort to protect and beautify an iconic attraction to be enjoyed by many generations to come. 

Want to know more about the Puffing Billy Railway? Here is some insight from Puffing Billy Locomotive Workshop Superintendent, Andrew Nolte.  

Photographer Credit - Kahla Webb 

Are you able to provide some background around the re-painting requirements for the engines? 

Andrew Nolte: The engines typically undergo repainting every 15 years, with timber components receiving a single-pack paint and metalwork receiving a two-pack paint. The application method involves a combination of brush and spray techniques. For metal surfaces, a back-to-bare preparation is preferred, while the condition of the coating on timber is assessed before stripping and filling, as necessary. The choice of colours is guided by our Heritage & Standards Manual, which references the paint codes derived from the original examples in the early 1900s. 

How old are the engines and how important is the coating to protecting them? 

Andrew Nolte: Our engines vary in manufacturing dates, spanning from 1899 to 1950. Given the demanding daily workload our fleet handles, it is crucial to apply a resilient protective coating capable of withstanding heat, dirt, and oil. This is essential not only for preserving and conserving our assets but also for maintaining the vibrant external appearance that the public has come to anticipate. 

Tell us a bit more about the heritage requirements for the colour matching? 

Andrew Nolte: Puffing Billy Railway’s era of significance is from the 1900 to 1930s and the visual configuration of our locomotives aligns with this historical period. The specific colours used for the various locomotive liveries hold significant importance as they need to harmonise with our other locomotives for fleet consistency and adhere to heritage standards requirements. 

How many visitors on average do you get on Puffing Billy yearly? 

Andrew Nolte: During the last financial year, Puffing Billy Railway had the pleasure of welcoming back more than 250,000 passengers. Looking ahead, Puffing Billy Railway is looking forward to extending a warm welcome to nearly 310,000 passengers in 2023-24. 

How long has the Puffing Billy team been working with PPG’s colour team and products to support maintenance of the engines? 

Andrew Nolte: Our collaboration with PPG has spanned at least 20 years! 

The use of paints and other coatings is crucial to maintaining the heritage locomotives as closely as possible to their original specifications. 

Find out more about Puffing Billy Railway here.