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Instrument Colours.

British signalling of the past (UK, excepting Northern Ireland)

Instrument Colours.

Unread postby MRFS » Wed Mar 2, 2011 1:41 pm

following on from the question asked HERE - apologies for the slight diversion into 'overseas' practice, as I originally wrote this for the overseas section.:

Chris Osment wrote:Was it common in the UK to paint the whole of the instrument according to the configuration colour? And did that practice extend to the 'large' ETS as well as the METS?


AFAIK it was fairly uncommon. ISTR that the RSCo generally turned out the instruments in Red, with the 'configuration label thumb grip' in the colour of the configuration. However, it is hard to speak with any surety on this matter as by the time colour film had become commonly available the majority of staff and token instruments were red with a splash of configuration colour. Tablets OTOH stayed green, (although I'm fairly sure NZGR had all tablet instruments painted red - LINK - hopefully the Ferrymead lot will recover from the earthquake damage).

There were, of course, two separate colour schemes for the four main configurations. I think one was propounded by Tyers and the other by the LNWR and therefore the RSCo via Webb/Thompson. The one I'm familiar with has
  • A red
  • B blue
  • C green
  • D yellow
    and then common:
  • E brown
  • F grey
  • G black

Unfortunately I cant remember the other list completely [1] - I have a suspicion that because a prototype RSCo METS (a catalogue demonstrator, if you like) of configuration C (I think) is all-over yellow is that I've remembered the Tyer's scheme and not the RSCo one. Perhaps it's just C and D that were swapped over - although on checking in LNWR signalling I've remember the scheme for the Premier Line. I've found a picture of a Large ETS in all over red with a yellow splash LINK but if you look at the DI's pictures of Ockendon LINK where there is a splash of colour in the Bluebell example, I think both the one and two-column instruments have black, and West Thurrock Junction - Ockendon is recorded as Blue, and Ockendon - Upminster East is recorded as Red.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that the Australian No5 tablets were red (Newport - Thomas Mill - Brooklyn A - Sunshine) and also possibly the Tralee and Dingle examples, Reedham - Breydon Junction were green with black details but a red galvo.

[1] Am I barking up completely the wrong tree? I'm sure that there were two distinct colouring schemes, but the more I look, the less I seem to find!


EDIT: I've also remembered that I've seen the prototype 'old style' RSCo KT and that was also Yellow for a 'C' - it's companion 'new style' 'B' was still in grey undercoat. Howsoever, I think I've seen the one in Ramsbottom, and that's all-over red for a B (think its a B).

What we mustn't forget is that different railways did things different ways! Even more so, post preservation.
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Chris Osment » Wed Mar 2, 2011 7:37 pm

Many thanks for the information.
The Winchcombe Rly Museum has an M-type METS instrument painted blue all over, yet curiously its config label says that it's a an 'A' !

Tablets OTOH stayed green....


Whilst this certainly seems to have been the case with most ETT instruments that I have seen of No 6 or older, the few No 7 sighted have all been red.
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby MRFS » Wed Mar 2, 2011 7:58 pm

Chris Osment wrote:The Winchcombe Rly Museum has an M-type METS instrument painted blue all over, yet curiously its config label says that it's a an 'A' !


I do think that there were two different schemes for colours!

Tablets OTOH stayed green....


Chris Osment wrote:Whilst this certainly seems to have been the case with most ETT instruments that I have seen of No 6 or older,


Yes - and two shades of green for the unwary.

Chris Osment wrote:the few No 7 sighted have all been red.


Cor. Even the Scots ones? All the pictures I've seen of those are green - I think. Has anyone got any photos of No 7s (or urls)?

EDIT: (just found the IoWSR picture of a red No 7) - I'm trying to locate a Scottish one, as I'm sure they were green.
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Chris Osment » Wed Mar 2, 2011 8:38 pm

Well, I know of one ETT 7 with a nameplate which, if original, was of Scottish origin, which certainly was red.
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Andrew Waugh » Wed Mar 2, 2011 10:35 pm

Since MRFS brought in Australia...

In Victoria large electric staff instruments were painted the gauge colour (A Green, B Red, C Blue, D Grey), while miniature instruments were painted red irrespective of gauge. The shade of the colour was not consistent - I've seen sky blue instruments and dark blue instruments. Laterly, of course, it was common to find large instruments painted in any colour overall with a patch of the gauge colour. The few derelict tablet instruments I've seen were painted green.

I have in mind that NSW was similar - for electric staff at least. Queensland and SA instruments I've seen have all been red, but neither used large instruments. I recently saw the preserved Tasmanian S pattern staff instruments at Glenorchy, and they were painted the gauge colour (in this case, E Red, B Blue, but I can't guarantee the gauge letters were correct).
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Peter Jordan » Thu Mar 3, 2011 5:57 am

There are Scottish No. 7's in the Kidderminster Railway Museum collection and they are red. However, from memory, the auxilary No. 7 in Muir of Ord box (that I mentioned on another thread) was grey.

The KRM also has large staff instruments, one of which is red and the other (an ex-LNW example) is green.

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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby David Holden » Thu Mar 3, 2011 9:14 am

I have a red No 7 instrument that came from Collectors Corner, reputedly from Irvine.

Richard Pike has in his collection a No 9 instrument that is red but the knob on the top is yellow.

STS rail (ex Tyer) have configuration colours as A- Red, B- Green, C- Yellow, D- Blue
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Martin Shaw » Thu Mar 3, 2011 9:37 am

We have four No 7's in the collection, one came from Killin - Luib section and one from Irvine works, both are red. The other two are ex NZR, both red but with the brass bits chrome plated, being the only visible difference.

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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby MRFS » Thu Mar 3, 2011 12:05 pm

Martin Shaw wrote:We have four No 7's in the collection, one came from Killin - Luib section and one from Irvine works, both are red.
David Holden wrote:I have a red No 7 instrument that came from Collectors Corner, reputedly from Irvine.
Peter Jordan wrote:There are Scottish No. 7's in the Kidderminster Railway Museum collection and they are red. However, from memory, the auxilary No. 7 in Muir of Ord box (that I mentioned on another thread) was grey.


Aha! Well, I stand happily corrected on this - because I have a memory of Muir of Ord as a kid, and I could've sworn they were green! Funny how the mind plays tricks with the passage of time. :D I don't remember the one end of the auxiliary pair, but I do remember you posting about it, PJ.

Martin Shaw wrote:The other two are ex NZR, both red but with the brass bits chrome plated, being the only visible difference.


Really, really? Do the plates read 'London' or 'London and Carlisle'? [1]

Like the No 6 tablet instruments could have a green or a white face to the indicator panel, it would also seem that No 7s could have a white, a brass or even a green face to the galvanometer dial.

David Holden wrote:STS rail (ex Tyer) have configuration colours as A- Red, B- Green, C- Yellow, D- Blue


Lovely - I was beginning to worry that I'd imagined the whole thing! In fact looking at the STS Accessories Catalogue LINK STS Rail seem to have reused Tyer's illustrations, so I suppose it is safe to assume that they have preserved the colour scheme.

AFAIK the one pair of Neales Balls that are in this country are all over green; as are most examples world wide. Grey is also used - Shimla's instrument is all-over grey with black details:

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[1] not wishing to divert the main discussion, but trying to date the change in style between 'London' and 'London & Carlisle' is a bit elusive.

Also - just out of interest I think Andrew Waugh is spot on with NSW staves being all red - here's a photo of a very rare beast (at least in the UK): LINK - a three column large instrument (at Mudgee).
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Chris Osment » Thu Mar 3, 2011 7:09 pm

it would also seem that No 7s could have a white, a brass or even a green face to the galvanometer dial....


Oh dear.... The only ones that I have seen have had a green dial, with the result that when I was 'helping' someone to model a pair he re-painted his white to green :oops: It shows you can never be too careful!
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Martin Shaw » Sat Mar 5, 2011 10:18 am

MRFS wrote
Really, really? Do the plates read 'London' or 'London and Carlisle'?


Unfortunately I am unable to tell you, the pair of NZR instruments are kept in a location away from the railway that is not readily accessible. I'll check the other pair in the next wee while. AFAIK all four galvos have green faces.

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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby MRFS » Mon Mar 7, 2011 5:11 pm

Courtesy of The Sleeper - a red No 7, a grey No 7 intermediate and a green No 6 at Insch: LINK - why was the intermediate there? Was it an auxiliary pair formed of a pair of intermediates, then?
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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Peter Jordan » Mon Mar 7, 2011 6:33 pm

Are we sure that is Insch? Could it not be Muir of Ord? There's a very short nameplate on the No. 7 which, if it is Muir of Ord, worked to Lentran.

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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby John Hinson » Mon Mar 7, 2011 7:18 pm

If it is Insch, those are cardboard replicas. Insch was converted to tokenless block in the 1970s.

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Re: Instrument Colours.

Unread postby Keith » Mon Mar 7, 2011 10:08 pm

signalman wrote:If it is Insch, those are cardboard replicas. Insch was converted to tokenless block in the 1970s.
...converted from AB, and in one direction only, the other remaining double track - there would never have been any token or tablet instruments there.
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