Featurette #3 BR Goods Vehicle Paint Schemes

The most asked question received in our inbox relates to the specific colour of our vehicles, BR was very good at cataloging items within their own numbering system so looking through any BR documentation of the period you will be quoted a BR catalogue code.  This is all fair and well until you try and order paint from a modern-day merchant.

So what we have to do is go back to the British Transport Commission and their specifications, specifically B.T.C. Spec. 32A. Dated 1955
This states the following:

Freight stock Red for the external body on fitted & piped vehicles BS 381C 446 Red Oxide
Freight stock Grey for unfitted vehicles BS 381C 693 Aircraft Grey
Freight stock Red for Brakevan Interiors below 3′ 6″ BS 381C 446 Red Oxide
Stone Colour for Brakevan Interiors above 3′ 6″ BS 381C 361 Light Stone

As easy as that……………….well no not all modern-day merchants will be able to mix paint from the old British Standard 381C. Luckily there are a number of ways of converting to an alternative modern standard. Although we have taken some artisitic license and have 2 options for bauxite. So our modern Spec. 32A is as follows:

Freight stock Red for the external body on fitted & piped vehicles RAL 3009 Oxide Red
Freight stock Grey for unfitted vehicles BS 5252 18 B 23 Grey
Freight stock Red for Brakevan Interiors below 3′ 6″ RAL 3009 Oxide Red
Stone Colour for Brakevan Interiors above 3′ 6″ BS2660 BS 3-043 Light Stone

RAL 3011 Brown Red is another alternative to “BR Bauxite”
Most of our paint is applied by spray in a 3 step process.
Prime, Undercoat, and Gloss with the primer depending on the material being painted.  We have used 4 types to date, Wood, Metal, Galvanised Steel and Fibreglass.
Undercoat matches the Gloss coat so again a fair few varieties mostly dark reds or greys.

For our brakevan interiors we have chosen a different cream being the external Deep Cream as applied to coaching stock which matches an original panel we found within S56010 this being BS381C 353 Deep Cream (Left) or to give the equivalent we used from the Dulux range 27YY 68/470 Golden Bark 6 (right), specification is for the demarcation to be 3′ 6″ high, we applied this to the nearest feature if any at this height,  so for BR Standard vans this is the lower window sill height, the Midland was the seat back for the bench side and for the Southern this was below the lower window framing.

Going back to specifications again.  Lettering on all vehicles was white, with variations appearing as part of the 1964 spec.  Grey vehicles had there lettering applied to black areas. This was not a requirement for Bauxite stock however black patches were applied when details or markings were changed,  either return to location modified, tare weight altered after a modification, like a change of vehicle bearings as an example or when removed from revenue earning to departmental or internal use .

Our only departure from standard practice is the application of bitumastic paint to solebar and below, this is to protect the underframes as they take a fair amount of abuse from wet track and brake dust and can be touched up very easily without having to prime and undercoat.20200322_110231

Other colours such as White, Black and Red are simply off the shelf with the lettering I apply being Signwriters “1shot” white.

One colour thats has gone down like Marmite is the Ice Blue applied to our fishvan, this colour came about, in 1964, as a result of the British Trawlers Federations fears that the public preceived these visabilly dirty white vans as being the same internally.  The majority of vans only recieved blue marking panels although a percentage did recieve the all over colour and E87674 was one of these.  The spec being BS381C 112 Artic Blue (Left) with a modern alternative being BS2660 BS 7-084 Feista Blue (Right)

Last colour to speak of is yellow.  This is were it gets interesting BR spec was BS381C 356 Golden Yellow (Left) with our modern equivalent being BS2660 0-003 Golden Yellow (Right).  This is used for warning ends, roller bearing caps and yellow markings post 1964 but the interesting bit was during the change from half to full yellow ends on diesels the actual colour was whatever yellow you could get from the nearest hardware shop. Having spoken to an ex BR Fitter he told me that once steam had ended and the instruction went out to paint full yellows there was not enough Warning Panel Yellow in the BR Stores the instruction went out to get any yellow you can.

This final statement above realy covers all the paints discussed  in this feature as well as any railway applied paint.  There were so many BR works and the paints were hand mixed the variations would have been massive.  So the above is all to Specification as mixed by a modern computer that can re create this time after time, back in the 50s and 60s colours would vary even within the same works depending on who was mixing it.

Our choice is to do them all the same and alow the weather to make the variations, however others do chose to mix that variation in at the initial painting stage. There is no wrong way or right way its down to individuals and how they wish to present there own fleets.  The key is not to get bogged down in precisely what the colour should be just as long as its close/similiar or simply evokes a memory or feeling. Above is what we do and once complete in a rake, although not prototypical for a fully restored rake to run together it does look good, and we are proud. 

Finally it is hoped that this is the last of our Covid-19 features, I have a meeting and site visit with the GCR to finalise Covid precautions, this has also included permission for myself to undertake restoration work from Wednesday with the aim of a reduced gang authorised to return from next Saturday. This is still of cause under finalisation of precautions and fingers are very much crossed.