Modifications - Vehicles and the evolutionary change

Once a vehicles has been built and is in service there are three basic maintenance operations that occur to retain the vehicle for traffic use

  1. Routine or cyclic maintenance
  2. Repair work
  3. Modifications and improvements

In VR history many protocols were established to ensure vehicles were well maintained. In this day and age it would appear that it may have been a case of 'over servicing' but the times and the political envirnment need to be understood. VR was a government run railway and had a responsibility to maintain equipment in good order.

Routine or cyclic maintenance

By the 1970s the average vehicle lift was five years. Rolling stock in higher mileage traffic, such as carriages and express vehicles, the average was about three years. The 'lift' entailed an inspection of the underframe and body with repair work as required. Brake rigging and equipment was checked. When done, the vehicle was rolled out to the Paint Shop, given an overspray and lettered up for traffic. In the 1880s through to the 1900s, brake maintenance and some 'lifting' was done at local steam engine depots. I'm sure that as larger and larger vehicles were built this became more difficult. Brake equipment in service had a defined 'life' between overhaul. As vehicles were regularly checked, those found with 'expired' or 'brake overhaul due' dates were inspected. The two types of lettering for vehicle maintenance were:

Repair work

As in the case of any moving vehicle or traffic, damage to vehicles was a fairly common event. Not always related to derailments, damage to vehicles usually occurred in the following manner

In most cases, the damaged vehicles are transferred to a major workshop where they are stored in the yard until workshop time and money can be allocated for repair. Transfer could be as easy as attaching to an engine or train. Badly damaged vehicles were lifted onto other flat wagons or road transport for transfer. Vehicles severely damaged were 'written off' and scrapped, sometimes on site. All efforts were made to effect repair as this was generally cheaper than the construction of a replacement vehicle. This work was done after an assesment of cost and time. The work was then authorized.

Modifications and improvements

Modification work was usually carried out during the routine maintenance cycle. Only rarely will a modification be important enough for vehicles to be recalled as soon as possible for a modification change.

Modifications were generally done for the following reasons

Peter J. Vincent

April 2008, v5