Find on this page the terms and wording used within or without the VR for the many events and happenings. In some cases slang may be used. Terms used will include equipment and words used that had a common meaning understood by most in the rail employ. This list may appear in present or past tense for the era 1880s to the 1990s. Many terms will continue as the practices are brought forward by people from that era.
- Where Placed On Line - ie the location where it was first placed onto the running line and available for traffic
- When Placed On Line - ie, the date of the event shown above
For accounting purposes, a date must be used to indicate when the vehicle has been fully constructed and ready for use. This date has been subject of many discussions. As an overview the owner of the vehicle was the 'Rolling Stock Branch' and the 'Built New' date is the 'Register'(ed) date. Even though the vehicle may not get into traffic at this point, this is the 'start' date. This date and the method of deriving it has also led to the viewing and photographing of many interesting events over the past 110 years.
The vehicle can be constructed, numbered and classed and sit within the confines of the workshop ( ie Newport, Bendigo, Ballarat) for weeks, months or years but until it actually leaves the site it will remain unRegistered ( barring special circumstances, of course). It is for this reason that many vehicles have been seen and photographed never to appear in the official records. Rel;iance on these photographs without this understanding can lead to mistaken events and histories being presented. Only when the vehicle leaves the yard on a train does the paperwork start for logging the vehicle and identity into the system. The following events are presented as examples:
- Haydn Baggs notes in his diary a visit to Newport Workshops during 1897. He mentions cars of the AV and BV class with numbers in the 280 to 290 range. This was a continuation of the AA number group. However AV 287 was renumbered to 1 and all cars renumbered. The 'phantom' cars were never officially logged.
- In 1899 VR introduced a new bogie vehicle to service 'OO 1'. After trials and some use the vehicle was deemed a failure. Yet in 1902, FIVE other wagons were placed into service. Strange if the first one was unsuccessful. But not so strange if there was a construction of six vehicles for expected traffic. I am presuming that with the first vehicle a failure, the remaining vehicles were completed and remained in storage for a couple of years until "..they..figured out what traffic to use them for...". The remaining or all vehicles, after modifications to the first, then entered service in 1902.
- There is a photo of an IB underframe converted to a WTT in the 1940s. The WTT carries a wrong number. However this conversion is not mentioned but it appears that the vehicle in the photo was given a wrong number in the workshops and when issued to service carries another number.
- In the 1950's editions of the VR Newsletter there are photographs of newly constructed vehicles in the Newport Workshops yard. Amongst them is a photo of the start of auto coupler conversions to Way And Works sleepers. Old four and six wheel vehicles in this group had the bodies lifted off the underframe and placed onto auto coupled chopped and shortened carriage underfarmes. Photo shows the class W and the next available number. By the time the conversions went into service they had been reclassed and renumbered into the WW group. No mention of the bogie W car.
- I have a photograph of a duplicate GH number in Newport Workshops which had just been constructed. Duplicate because Newport were starting to use the same number group as Ballarat and a vehicle with this number was already in service. The vehicle was renumbered and entered service without any mention of it in official records.
At the end of the day, what you see is not always what you get.
'Scrapping' is where the vehicle is cut up into pieces or is physically separated from the underframe, bogies or body and is sold. This can also be a reference to the selling of the complete vehicle to a scrap metal merchant. In this case the date of scrap is the date the vehicle was transferred to the merchant.
From the mid 1970s the ARHS Victorian Division 'Newsrail' publication regularly reported vehicles as 'Scrapped'. This was incorrect as the vehicles in general had only been 'Recommended for Scrap'. At this time, the fixed wheel fleet was being downsized rapidly. Some vehicles from this list were restored to traffic.
Some official records also mention vehicles as being scrapped but still visible many years later. This generally occurred when vehicles had only been placed 'Off Register' and it was inferred the vehicle would be scrapped. Until later data is found, the term 'Scrap' can also be a reference to 'Off Register'.
The term 'Scrap' has probably only come into use since the 1920s and the use of arc welding with the ability to cut up vehicles easily and in most cases convert the vehicle to 'Scrap metal'. From the 1880s to the mid 1940's the VR used a term called 'Broken Up'. Historically this a reference to vehicles made of wood and iron that were physically 'broken up' by hammer and chisel.
Scrapping vehicles was usually a low priority. It was reserved for times when new construction and maintenance cycles saw little work at the workshops. Vehicles were placed out of service and stored until such time as they could be disposed of. Welding staff were then sent out to dismantle the stored rolling stock. This was usually at a specific site in the yard and shunting staff supplied stored wagons to the siding used. There have been occassions when the wrong wagons were supplied and the mistake not found until too late. Oops.
Many vehicles 'disappeared' during the 1970s due to scrapping but they were never recorded. Lettering fades and disappears with long term storage. In the belief that 'somebody knows' (the identity), vehicles were cut up at Spotswood Reclamation Depot and Newport Workshops with no identification. Using the best lettering possible correspondence was returned to Head Office with the following codes
One example of this would have been 'N 1' a ballast plough that had been in storage for about 10 years or more with all lettering obliterated. Only a reference to the stamped number tag proved the identity. Scrapping staff would not have known about the tag or tag location and probably would not have cared. If any documentation was submitted it may have been simply as '- 1' ( ie dash one) and given the spate of other incorrect codes and numbers, the reference would have been useless.
Peter J. Vincent, June 2007