09/08/20 – Mineral done, Medfit next

Two groups in action Saturday, Dave and I on the Mineral and Nick and Jake on the Medfit.  

The Mineral sees the detailing being applied, first being the application of the door stripes.  Positions were measured and masking applied, masking was also applied for the brake change over indicator, data panel, and Vacuum brake square.

I of cause began the lettering application whilst Dave applied the white to the masked areas.

Nick and Jake, having scraped down the Medfit and applied Red Oxide to the bare metal areas followed up with a layer of undercoat.

Dave also applied gloss to the top surfaces and behind each door of the Mineral.

With the lettering complete, Dave masked off and applied the boxes that enclose the vehicle details.

With the undercoat dry, Jake then applied the gloss coat with Nick following with brush in hand.

We were also joined Saturday by BBC Journalist and fellow Railway enthusiast Tom Ingall, he was on site finding out about us and our fleet, more on this however in the future.

All that is left to do is admire the now completed Mineral Wagon.  We have gone for the post-1964 BR scheme to separate our mineral from those of the Windcutter groups, who carry pre-1964 livery.

On to Sunday and the Mineral was moved up to the turntable to take pride of place.

Nick and Daves attention turned to the Medfit scraping down the underframe in preparation for paint.

I started with a bit more signwriting.  Applying lettering to the door sign made last week, which received a coat of Oxford Blue Saturday and completion of a Headboard for the GCR.

I also, between periods of awaiting paint to dry, manufactured and primed a new chalkboard for the Medfit

With the door sign completed it was fitted to the Shed

All attention then turned to painting the Medfits underframe.

So that leaves us in a similar place to last weekend, although this time its a Medfit not a Mineral.

Last item, Ross is away in Greece and sends some snaps.  He even found an Ice Blue urn.

02/08/20 – All about the Mineral

Our focus for this weekend was B550356 our own 16T Mineral Wagon, the first such wagon on the preserved GCR, arriving over 2 years before the formation of the Windcutter group.

Preparing the body for paint was the task in hand with Nick, Jake, Dave and I scrapping, sanding and chipping.

The loose material was then blown down,  inside and out.

Any areas taken down to bare metal was then given a coat of Red Oxide Primer

Eddie was also on site and gave our new “Site Office” a spruce up.

For the shed I cut and shaped a door sign, in the style of a BR enamel sign which I then applied a coat of wood primer too.

Whilst I was making the sign, Nick and Jake adjusted the Minerals brakes. taking up the slack caused by brake block ware.

On to Sunday and Jake assuming command of the spray guns,  whilst thinning the paint Dave applied undercoat to the top of the vehicle and under the doors.20200802_093250

With the tower built Jake began applying the undercoat.  Still grey at the moment but this isn’t to much of an issue.  Dave following Jake with a brush touching up any areas missed by the Gun.

Whilst the undercoat was being applied I continued with making the Fish & Chip train headboard for the GCR,  this has been sat at Rothley for 4 months over the lock down and was retrieved last weekend by Nick so I could progress it.  The shed door sign was also undercoated.

With the undercoat complete,  we admire the familiar site of a Grey Mineral wagon.

Eddie and Harry on site as well, having brought some boxes they had wrapped in the week, they reapplied bitumen to the inside of E280364.

With the warm weather the undercoat was dry in no time and the Gloss was then applied, of cause our usual shade of Bauxite was the top coat of choice and Dave chasing Jake with brush in hand.

With the Gloss hardening off,  we made a quick clean up of the underframe and applied a further colour for the day.  Black Bitumen,  Jake again spraying the sides whilst Dave and I followed with Brushes.

It was at this point Nick arrived from Rothley having been assisting Jamie with further welding on “the yellow coach” this completes this task,  but there is still a long way to go with this vehicle.

With the really good weather we were able to add some of the finishing details. Swan necks, Lamp Irons, brake handles and brake change over levers.

That concludes this weekends update with the rare sight of a bauxite Mineral Wagon on the GCR,  as always more next week.

19/07/20 – Odd Jobs

One final task on BD 4304B, riveting on the kickplates. These were drilled, riveted, and painted.

So, just me on Saturday, Nick was at Rothley with Jamie as they continue the bodywork repairs to “the Yellow Coach“.

My attention then turned to B550356, initially marking out areas requiring repair and taking measurements. I was then joined by James who continued the scraping down of the vehicle whilst I cut the required repair plates.

These plates were then tidied up and red oxide applied to the plates and areas on the wagon.

With the paint drying, I moved onto preparing posters for Madges Trailer which were then fitted ready for display next weekend when the GCR reopens.

Speaking of posters,  the last few weeks Jack has been preparing a number of them for the station and as part of the station being prepared for the return of passengers these were also pasted up.

On to Sunday, Harry and Eddie on site, continuing the preperation of the Mineral and Medfit. Whilst Dave, Jack and I focused on Madge making preperations for her to go on display from next weekend as part of the railways reopening to the public.

Tasks included a good clean and service, a few paint touch ups and the main job, swapping the Trailer Handbrake cable for the Trailer release cable, as this one had become serverly frayed.

Nick and Ross attended to two vacuum brake cylinders an 18″ and 15″, giving both a full overhaul this is in preperation for swapping those under the Mineral and Medfit.  Ross also overhauled a number of vacuum release valves.

Also in preperation for next weekends displays I loaded a boxvan.


Finally, as I have an interest in all things Railway Goods related I though I would mention my collection of boxes, as you know I own two of our containers but I also have a collection of Collico Cases20200719_185259

During the 60s and early 70s the British Railways Collico Service begain as a responce to complaints that traders parcels and other merchandise being conveyed by the railways were being damaged in transit.  The idea being with the cases essentially BR assets the Porters would look after them.  This however was found not to be the case.  The service was simple, traders would pay a monthly fee for the required number of cases for their needs and when not in use were returned to either the Railway or the trader in a collapsed state.

There were 17 sizes of case and as can be seen above I have 4, although I do have examples of the smallest and the largest and I’m always on the look out for more.

As always more next weekend and the return of public passenger trains on the GC.

12/07/20 – Con-pleted

The finishing line is once again insight as we enter the final few tasks to complete both BD4304B and B507489. For me, a full day of Signwriting as I mark out and apply the lettering to my container.

Nick and Jake concentrated on preparing the securing chains and fitted the identification plate over the doors of 4304.  Jack was also on-site preparing posters for the station.

Jake also sanded and applied bitumen to the subframe of 4304.

This completes BD4304B with load, tare, capacity information, number, exam dates and branding applied

On to Sunday and first job to paint the kick plates for 4304 quickly followed by the main event. With the Loading Shovel started up and under Ross’s direction we once again brought a Container and Conflat together.

For no other reason than to equal the weather effects on the Conflats and to keep the Containers in the same oriantation they have been in since arrival, we gave them a spin on the turntable.20200712_101105 Jack again continued with his poster sorting and we removed the now inaccurate wagon label.

We then set about the task of securing the container,  chains fitted and tightened down, although, as expected, we had to modify the chains by shortening a number of links as was done with 4303.  Whilst Nick and Ross carried out this task I began the signwriting.IMG-20200712-WA0001

As a break in the singwriting and to ensure she is still OK, I woke Madge up and Ross undertook a few tasks. Recrimping some of the electrical connections, correcting the upside-down fitted wing mirrors,  and doing some exploratory work with the door handles.

Once complete. We took the opportunity to test the Mirrors and it is 100% improved.  It is now possible to look through the mirrors down the side of a trailer without having to swing your head around the cab like a mad man.

With the signwriting all done, that sees B507489 complete, and with its load, it joins B505313 with two consecutively numbered experimental Containers together.

All that is left to do is look back about a year ago and view two proud owners and there fibreglass boxes.received_2507036179515307IMG_6137

05/07/20 – Deja-con’s

Lets begin with our next projects, arriving in the week Medfit B461074 and Mineral B550356 these, of course, will be subject to our usual attention in the next coming weeks.

Jake and Nick did a little work on my Container, Jake applying the masking tape to the rubber components and Nick clearing the roof bars one final time before hopefully Sunday painting.

My aim was to complete the work on the Conflat, this involved a touch of sanding and filling of the chain boxes and final rubbing down, assisted by Jake. Thankfully the weather sort of played ball and what rain did fall was brief and dried up rapidly.

Eddie and Harry were also on-site and made a start on scraping down the mineral,  a fair amount of loose rust was removed from the wagon’s floor.

Jake and Nick’s next task was to look at B458484, it had been reported that this had suffered with a locked axel when shunted at Swithland some time ago. We manhandled it up and down the siding with it rolling freely.  Each journal, oil pad, and axel was inspected, as well as the vacuum system tested and the hand brakes exercised.  The vehicle was left with the brakes applied and when we returned the next day vacuum remained in the cylinder,  this was released and again the vehicle man handled up and down the siding.

With the Conflat work complete I applied a layer of red oxide, primarily to cover the areas of bare metal.

Finally, for Saturday and the forecasted rain keeping away, Nick and I applied a layer of undercoat. Grey undercoat this time as we are running low on the red.  This places us ahead of our plan.

On to Sunday and a Split gang.  Ross and I staying at Quorn and Jake and Nick, assisted by Jamie from C&W were up the line at Rothley.
The task at Rothley centered around ADB977107, welding continues on this vehicle as we are keen for it to return to Quorn.  Jamie giving Jake some instruction into the art of welding. The South east corner and toilet filler as well as under the first-class toilet window being the focus for today as well as some of the missing brackets for the steps under the luggage and first class doors.

Back at Quorn and finally a break in the weather.  A moment I have been waiting for for over a year painting of my fibreglass container.  The special Fibreglass/gelcoat primer first.  The is a very fast drying paint and was quickly followed up by the undercoat.

With the undercoat requiring a little longer to dry Ross and I continued painting but the more traditional method and the usual Bauxite shade, as we continue the Conflats repaint.


With the main coat done we turned to the details. Vacuum swan necks, lamp brackets and brake handles

Ross also had a further look at the Volvo20200705_154948This filled up the time allowing the undercoat on the Container to dry and the application of the Crimson topcoat.

So that completes the weekend, with the “Yellow Coach” progressed, the second Container in Crimson and the second Conflat in Bauxite. All that is left is a little teaser of our 3 Containers together for the first time.


21/06/20 – Once, twice, three times a Container

A split effort this Saturday, those who are on our facebook page will know that we had a little road trip to Morecambe. Once again our thanks go to our freinds at Kenway Construction for the loan of one of their 7.5ton lorries, Nick was struggling to give it back this time.  So what took us to the Lancashire coast? Well, a 1958 Park Royal Coachbuilders built Diagram 3/047 Light Alloy Container. An eBay purchase from a Morecambe scrap merchants.

Whilst Nick and I were touring the west coast Dave continued with my other container.  filling, sanding, more filling and even more sanding, finishing with some more filler. 20200621_101127

Jake was sent into the Iron Ore Tippler to paint the interior walls. This concludes the work on this vehicle, this week I will be making the request to the GCR Operatons department to have this as well as the Vacuum Steel High moved to Swithland to enter the mixed freight and our next vehicles requiring work moved to Quorn.

 Ross’s day was spent on the Volvo loading shovel, this needed some TLC and a service after its forced lockdown out of use, and its use was required when Nick and I returned.  Ross investigating its persistent charging issue,  it turns out that the alternator hadn’t been reconnected correctly when reassembled after an engine overhaul. With the offending wire found and correctly reconnected, things are looking better but further investigation is still required.  Oil was topped up and filters cleaned out, though the air filter is needing replacement. The exhaust needs further work due to the silencer not being connected, and having a big tear across it. We have two options sourcing a replacement or figuring out an alternative arrangement.

With the Volvo ready Nick and I arrived with B55897B.  This was unloaded and placed on the ground.

Sunday and Dave continues his mission of filling and sanding. He has done a superb job and with one final morning to complete a few finishing touches we will be ready for paint.

Nick and Jake looked at our new arrivals doors. The pins of which were severely corroded, in fact the lower doors pins had seized and sheared.  This required a lot of heat and percussion adjustment.  The locking bar was also similarly delt with and a new door locking pin acquired and fitted.

Nick, Jake and I also moved the contents in my fibreglass container into the new container.  These are tea chests and boxes which after some TLC will be used for charters and galas.

My tasks were to look at B507489 specifically the chain box sides which required a touch of filler. As well as manufacturing new kick plates for my container.

I also began my usual industrial archeology, finding the original BR markings under the later Vickers Underwater Pipeline Engineering Trials Unit paint scheme.  Tare, Gross Weight and Numbers as well as Branding for Luton Midland Road LMR.  I will in time take my usual measurement although these will be retained for future reference.  The livery from the research I have already carried out was originally bare aluminum with white panels and black lettering.  The current condition, which includes a number of steel repair panels will not allow a true restoration to this condition without significant work, plus having worked in the aviation industry in an aircraft structures environment I am fully aware the labour intensive nature of polishing aluminium.  So as an economy measure late 60s door to door bauxite will be the livery of choice. The builders plate stamped with the lot number 3174 is also fitted as well as the cast numberplate.

Unfortunatly a turn in the weather saw the demise of the gazebo but it served its purpose and lasted much longer than expected,  being in place for a full 8 days.

So hopefully with good weather we will see substantial progress with my fiberglass container and Nicks conflat as well as some other vehicles to work on.  Fingers crossed.

07/06/20 – We are back

Monday I spend time on site with the GCRs H&S Co-ordinator finalising our specific Risk Assessment and ordering PPE for a safe, controlled return for the rest of the team Saturday. I also gained permission to carry out a number of tasks whilst there.

So Monday sees the completion of the Iron Ore Tippler, Axel ends painted yellow, levers and lamp irons painted white and underframe details completed. All that remains is the internal bitumen.

Under coat was also applied to the Air Braked High for the Air Braked Network circle as well as the HMLE stickers.

Final bit of activity was to check over Madge, I gave her a run as well as trying her new trailer. All worked well.

On to Wednesday and as usual the weather had other ideas. First job I drilled out the blobs of weld which filled in the holes for the chalkboard brackets and assisted by my wife Michelle we fitted four brackets, this allowed me to measure up for the new boards which I cut and primed.

With the weather continuing to be disruptive I sign wrote the sole bar details, 280364:


Thursday and a little better weather and more signwriting. This time the main lettering on 280364 as well as painting the ABN circle yellow.

The main lettering was also applied to 281882.

The chalkboards for 280364 were also undercoated and as the sun came out a quick look over the 3 almost completed wagons, still a few finishing touches remain.

Friday afternoon I popped in and applied the ABN initials to the Air Braked Network circle on 280364 and painted areas of the data panel in preparation for dates to be applied.

Top coat was applied to the BR style chalkboards and I also manufactured and primed a pair of LNER chalkboards.

With a phased return of personnel, Nick joined me Saturday spending his time tidying a number of areas as well as assisting me fit the completed chalkboards to 280364.

Paint was applied to the nut heads and I moved on to manufacturing LNER style chalkboard brackets.

With a break in the weather I applied details to 280364s data panel and drilled holes for 281882s chalkboard brackets, these would originally have been welded but this is a facility we do not have due to power constraints. Red Oxide and Gloss was applied to the freshly drilled holes.

With the holes drilled I applied Red Oxide and Gloss to the brackets and undercoat to the chalkboards.

The phased return continued Sunday with Ross and Jake on site, the rest of the gang will be contacted this coming week about the way forward.

My first job was to apply the top coat to the chalkboards and brackets, followed by painting the adjustment indicators and brake pin on 280364, as pers 1970s spec.

This completes 280364, having applied a 1970s livery she will not be joining the mixed freight rake but retained with the Test Car as a test vehicle for demonstrations and Test Car open days.

Nick and Jake made repairs to the roof of 783082, this had been observed to be moving during a photocharter. The nuts holding the edge of the roof had worked loose as well as the lath on the edge having rotted, this was replaced, the roof edge bolted down and any rips in the sealed. The rest of the roof was given a look over to ensure secure.

Ross replaced the compressor motor on the test car which has seized before the lockdown.

Once complete Ross fired up the test car and tested the compressor, charging the main reservoir and operating parts of the air system.

With the chalkboards now dry and Ross inside the wagon they were fitted to 281882 and another coat of paint applied for good measure.

This was followed by my final task of applying branding to 281882. When I started working with Nick I asked if I could apply something to one of his vehicles appropriate to myself. He agreed and 281882 was chosen to be the one a number of years ago, this had been used for transporting bottled gas in its former BR life. Living close to Lincoln the nearest rail connected yard to my home would have been the Gasworks in Bracebridge. It was on the Lincoln to Grantham line which was closed in 1965 but the line to the works was retained until it and the Gasworks was closed in 1970 with the discovery of North Sea Gas.

That also sees 281882 complete and once the final touches are completed to the internal faces of the Tippler arrangements will be made with the GCR for our next projects.

Having been with us for over a year and being pushed back due to other vehicles it is good to finaly complete these three.

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.

Featurette #2 BR Goods Vehicle Markings

The first feature covered the period 1948 – 1964, this one picks up where we left off and covers 1964 – 1973.  Of cause, the styles of lettering mentioned in this and the previous feature would have been seen beyond the dates stated as it was impossible for the works to paint the 1,124,812 wagons (circa 1957) in a single year and they would have been  brought into line at the next scheduled repaint. However, this particular period sees the greatest variety as previous styles remained and only those details that required to be changed were changed.

So we begin with a new font.  As part of the corporate rebranding of “British Rail” in 1965. Rail Alphabet was developed, there were two styles, British Rail light normal and British Rail dark normal.  Light was used for light background colours and dark for dark, with bauxite and Rail Blue classed as dark. The difference being the dark font was slightly bolder.

British Rail Dark Normal

The new font, however, was slow to be applied to Rolling Stock with Gill Sans seemingly remaining until Steam bowed out in 1968.  It was possible to see blue/grey carriages and  fully repainted bauxite wagons using the specifications below with Gill Sans applied.

So on to the specification. Issued in 1964 the lettering heights remain the same as the previous specification although the details were reorganised slightly. The Running number, gross weight, and telegraph code remained on the left-hand side and was joined by the tare along with its paint date symbol. These were all enclosed within a box with the individual markings segregated.  I apply 10mm lining.

On the right-hand side the previous tare location was replaced with a data panel, this detailed when the last examination for the items listed was carried out.  This information had always been carried on the vehicle but in an area close to the item being examined usually on the solebar. The new data panel brought all the data into one location above which the wheelbase was applied using the same rules as previously detailed in featurette #1. The data panel is lined and I vary the width between 2-5mm.  The details contained are as follows:
L – Lifted
P – Paint
BO – Brake Overhaul
O – Oil
PE – Pad Exam
R – Roof

The dates are accompanied by a 4 digit works code. The box is 15″ wide and the height as required.  I originally painted the panel in chalkboard paint, but now I vary the blacks used and leave some areas in bauxite,  this gives the illusion that dates have been altered.  The dates I apply are fictitious, the actual dates are held with in the vehicle record cards we maintain and shared with the GCR. We use 2 works codes on each vehicle 5683 the works code for Tinsley Wagon Repair Sidings and the other will be were the vehicle was bought from.

This is were variation begins to come in, as the number of works and the manpower within reduced full repaints of vehicles were also reduced, with only bare parts or replaced parts being painted.  This lead to the specifications being adhered to but older markings remaining in place. The biggest example of this being the XP marking, if it remained legible it remained in its position above the wheelbase on the right-hand side of the vehicle.  If it had faded or on fully repainted vehicles the XP was placed within a box to the right of the main group of details. If the vehicle was vacuum-braked but not suitable to run in an Express Goods then the box was applied without the XP, or if modified the XP was painted out.

At this point we shall mention the switch from Vaccum Brakes to Air Brakes which began in the 1960s. In those early days an airbraked vehicle would state on the side wether it was airbraked, an example being the Steel Highs that were converted to air as part of the Western Region Air Braking trials.  A Vaccum fitted vehicle was simply called a HIGH,  those that were converted became HIGH AB. LH Detail

With the two different brake systems in use a quick reference was required so shunters and guards making out the prep sheets and vehicle consists could quickly work out the maximum speed of the train.  This was done by use of an HMLE sticker, a small yellow rectangle measuring 7.5″ x 5″ that stated the Weight, Brake force for Vacuum, Air or both, Route Availability  and maximum speed for four states, Heavy, Medium, Light or Empty.  The maximum speed of a train was taken from the slowest vehicle in the rake.  The HMLE negated the requirement for the XP marking for vacuum vehicles but most remained in situ.

As the 1970s rolled in, the UK turned to metrication, and the previous imperial tons and hundredweights made way to metric tons and kilograms.  There is no definitive date for this but between 1970 – 1978 metric units gradually became the norm.  For us however, we do not apply metric units to vehicles as the Guard prep sheets used on the GCR use imperial units.

Brake Changeover tear drops remain the same as mentioned in Featurette #1 however the spec for brake release stars was White for Air, Yellow for Vacuum it is however unlikely this was followed with all stars being white and accompanied by either AIR or VAC as applicable.20190901_195743

A further change was shock stripes,  these now become shock “squares” and measured 16.5″ tall and 14″ wide, 3 on each side. On the doors each side and evenly spaced on the ends.20190704_180515

The specification for branding also changed to Yellow with a boarder20190717_162552c

Two items I neglected to mention within the previous feature.  Door Stripes, these were painted to quickly identify the location of doors which could be opened but not immediately apparent by looking at the side.  End door stripes were either the width of the steel banding for wooden wagons or 2 1/2″ for steel wagons.  Vehicles with lower doors were identified by 2 diagonally opposed lines each 1 1/2″ wide, 3″ apart at bottom and 13″ at the top, with a vertical height of 7 1/2″.

With the introduction of the Total Operations Processing System (TOPS) in 1973 the first immediate change was the end of the Telegraph codes on the vehicles these were replaced by a 3 letter code which identified the type of vehicle, specific model of vehicle and brake equipment fitted.  There were other changes but this moves away from our area of focus although when it comes to the refurbishment of our Rudds we may have to look deeper.

This concludes our 2 part look into Markings on Goods vehicles, the thinking for my next feature is to look at the specific colours we use on our vehicles as it seems to be a regular question.



Featurette #1 BR Goods Vehicle Markings

To allow Ross at least a weekend to think about our next vehicle profile I am going to write about markings applied to BR Goods vehicles between 1948 – 1964 there meaning and the rules that I follow when applying them to our fleet. The period defined in this particular feature is pre-tops so applicable to the steam and early diesel eras, which is how we present the majority of our fleet.

To begin we have to go back to 1936 when the LMS made an economic decision to reduce the amount of paint used to letter Goods vehicles. Up until this point the big four and the preceding pre grouping railway companies painted large initials and numerals on their vehicles, anything from 6” to 24”.

In 1936 the LMS reduced the size of their lettering so that someone could reach all the markings on the vehicles without the use of a step ladder. The markings were concentrated in 2 areas, the extreme bottom right and left of each side of the vehicle. From 1937 this was adopted by the Railway Clearing House (RCH) as the standard for all goods vehicles and adhered to by the big four companies.

London Midland & Scotish Railway Railway Clearing house livery

Located on the left side was the vehicles running number typically 5” tall, above this the vehicles gross weight when loaded typically 4” tall and then the company initials at 5”.

On the right hand side was the vehicles tare, the weight of the vehicle unloaded. Some vehicles also had the wheelbase added mainly those that were vacuum fitted or through piped but not suitable for operating within an express goods train. Those vehicles that could run in an express goods, trains running at an average speed of 35mph or over, were identified with the XP marking which was agreed by the big four companies replacing any older markings. All of these markings ranged from 3” to 6” and varied between the companies.

The following image details the precise layout as detailed by the Railway Executive (RE)  from 1948. This layout remained the same until 1964 with the introduction of a new standard which I will detail in a future feature.

RE standard
Railway Executive Livery 1948

The typeface used during those early years was a sans serif, a simple letterform which is void of the little flicks, curls and fancy bits typical of older lettering styles. It is impossible to state an accurate font as the lettering was all hand applied and was down to the individual sign writer. I have developed my own style of this typeface which is based on that applied by the  LNER sign writers. I have scanned in many images of LNER vehicles and picking my favourite style of each individual letter or numeral from the many available. Below is the style I have drawn and is essentially my own Grouping Typeface, which would have been in use until a new typeface detailed by the Railway Executive was issued to all the BR works in August 1948. M500954 carries this earlier style.

Pre Nationalisation typeface


For the new typeface we must again go back but this time to 1929, Eric Gill had in 1926 developed a new letter style that was adopted by the LNER in 1929 for publicity material. The LNER produced a guide for its sign writers on how to apply this typeface. This was of cause Gill Sans and at this time it was not applied to rolling stock. BR adopted the letter style for all purposes and in 1948 produced its own guide.

This is when the waters start to muddy, and causes issues with trying to recreate accurately what had gone before. BR stated that Gill Sans was to be applied to Rolling stock as per the Railway Excecutive standard, although it omitted the requirement for company initials. As the lettering was still hand applied and the BR Gill Sans differed slightly from the LNER Gill Sans a lot of variation creept in especially when you look at the numeral styles.

LNER Gill sans
LNER Gill Sans MT

BR Gill sans
BR Gill Sans MT

So what do I do?  I vary the styles I apply.  My preference being the LNER style. To begin my first port of call is to find the exact livery applied to the vehicle.  This is done in two ways. First sanding down the vehicle to see what clues are underneath the layers of paint.  This was successfully done with B780282.  The lettering applied matches that found under the MODs layers of green applied, essentially preserving the BR layers for me to find.

The second option is to find a picture of the vehicle or one from the same batch. This was done with B850498 which was done using a reference image of B850333.  As you can imagine I have a lot of railway goods vehicle reference material.

Author: J.H. Russell
ISBN: 0860931552


If all else fails we essentially make it up using the RE specification and discussion with the whole team, specifically Nick, as to what we feel will look best. Keeping the additional markings of Wheelbase and XP relevant to the vehicle the marking is being applied to, using B850498 again as an example, as built this was vacuum fitted and suitable for express goods, this, however being a rewheeled vehicle with an unfitted chassis, that we through piped, the XP marking would not be appropriate and is therefore not applied. Although the wheelbase and Western style non common user plates were applied to add interest.

Western Style Non Common user plates

I stated above that the RE standard omitted the requirement for company initials although true what was added was a regional allocation, this was initially to be applied to all vehicles under the running number with a 2″ height, although this became very complicated as vehicles moved from region to region because they were all owned by the same nationalised company.  The regional requirement was altered and was applied to vehicles with regional specific branding or traffic, although this again changed from the full region name under the running number to regional initials as part of the branding.

Regional Allocation

Branding was applied to vehicles assigned to set traffic or those hired by companies, were known this has been reapplied accurately to our vehicles, however we do occasionally indulge ourselves. B786348 is branded Empty to Tinsley E.R. this was done as Nick was proud of this rewheeled former grounded body.

As the 50s rolled in to the 60s, In the same vane as branding, Circuit Markers began to be applied to special vehicles on set traffic, this was a yellow circle 10″ wide with an arrow pointing at the wagon label clip, directing shunting staff as to the vehicles set route. Examples being Vanwides with wider doors for palletised loads or the Shockhood B built specifically for South Wales tin traffic.

Also applied to vehicles were its telegraph code.  This was used to communicate the description of vehicles between stations and goods yards when running as part of a train or when a specific vehicle type was required.  Using the code was quicker than asking for a vehicle which had a capacity of “X”, dimensions of “X”, fitted, covered etc etc. The RCH were involved again, having the codes standardised in 1922 excluding the GWR who were then brought in to line in 1943.

Telegraph Codes

There were two technical markings applied to vehicles, both relating to a vehicles braking system. First is the vacuum release cord star.  This identifies to shunters and wagon works staff how to release brakes for shunting or maintenance.  Then we have the brake change overtear drop this identifies the location of the change over leaver or Empty / Loaded lever this allows an additional brake cylinder to be in use when the vehicle is loaded to increase brake force.  The brake star measures 3″ and the tear drop 8″ although this does vary depending on the works applying.

Other instructions may also be added to the vehicle and these are 2″ tall, there were many possibilities.

Shock stripes, these were applied to shock absorbing vehicles. These are vehicles who’s body is designed to move separate of the chassis and is sprung to dampen the movement of the vehicle during shunting. These stripes would be the entire height of a open wagon and half the height of a van, with a width of 4″.

Finally, looking at the images of vehicles we have posted in the past and in this feature, you may have noticed a little symbol under or around the tare.  This was an LMS system adopted by BR, it identified when the vehicle was last painted.  Vehicles would be repainted usually every 6 years and the symbols was a quick reference for mainternance staff to work out when the next paint was due.  The symbols were a repeating sequence of 12 1.25″ high shapes, letters or images.  I have continued the sequence and those applied to our vehicles represent that specific year.  Paint symbols

In the next feature we shall look at how the markings changed from 1964 until the introduction of TOPS for goods vehicles in August 1973