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Japanese locomotive number plate collections.


ben_issacs

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Folks, 

On my visits to railway museums in Japan, often a big feature there is a wall of a hundred or so locomotive number plates

Is this peculiar to Japan?

In Australia, and Britain ,people usually collect locomotive builder's plates, or in the UK, locomotive name plates. but not often number plates.

What's the setup in other parts of the world? 

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

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I imagine people collect whatever is easily detachable. What is easily detachable will depend on the traditions of the country/region in question. For example, I imagine people in the UK collect fewer number plates because usually numbers were painted on (with the exception of the GWR [1] and to a certain extent the BR Western Region).

 

[1] http://www.gwr.org.uk/liveriesnoplate.html

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In the US numbers were usually painted on the loco, so those would be lost when the loco was scrapped.  With later diesel locos occasionally the number glass from the number boards will be saved when a loco is scrapped, and museums will often have a few of those on the wall somewhere.  My local model railroad club has a few, along with some EMD builder's plates.

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3 hours ago, bill937ca said:

i've heard these number plates referred to a license plates. Is this true?

 

Sounds like a contextual mistranslation of "ナンバープレート" (number plate) into North American English.

Edited by railsquid
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In the U.S., the builder's plates were often saved from steam locomotives and are generally very valuable.  I suspect there are a lot of replicas in the market though. 

 

I have also seen lighted glass number plates that were saved from steam and diesel locomotives. 

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Folks, 

Railsquid's point about painted numbers versus actual number plates is a valid one.

DRG seems to have had cast plates, possibly DR and DB also.

FS and SNCF painted.

Q'ld seems to have had painted numbers, NSWGR individual numbers generally , Victoria largely number plates, also South Aus.

Tassy might have had individual numbers, Western Aus., cant remember, NZGR painted (I think).

Replica builder's plates abound, I have one full size and one half size plates from Datong , China, aluminium castings, and a brass replica plate from an early VR engine from Beyer, Peacock, Gorton Foundry, Manchester, 1859.

But, this still doesn't explain the Japanese concentration on number plates.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne..

 

 

 

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Makes good sense, Japan has a very high number of railfans and rail memorabilia is much more prevalent in the culture in general so would be even more in the museum like that where the numbers represented locos that may have sent most or all of their lives on the same route.

 

what do you think they should be concentrating on besides number plates? builder plates? These are probably collected as well, just may not be as available. Number plates are clear and easy to see from a distance so what I would put in a larger exhibit (that’s my day job) where the numbers may have some localized meaning. Builders plates you usually have to be within a couple of feet to read them. You could also make replica number plates inexpensively (I think I’ve seen replicas for sale in japan) to make a large wall exhibit like that they would not need to be originals and hard to get all the originals most likely. Many times we use representative things like this for larger visual educational displays were it would be impossible to obtain or prohibitively expensive to do so. Then in up close exhibits have a few originals with good local story relating to a particular plate.

 

jeff

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15 hours ago, ben_issacs said:

Folks, 

Railsquid's point about painted numbers versus actual number plates is a valid one.

DRG seems to have had cast plates, possibly DR and DB also.

FS and SNCF painted.

Q'ld seems to have had painted numbers, NSWGR individual numbers generally , Victoria largely number plates, also South Aus.

Tassy might have had individual numbers, Western Aus., cant remember, NZGR painted (I think).

Replica builder's plates abound, I have one full size and one half size plates from Datong , China, aluminium castings, and a brass replica plate from an early VR engine from Beyer, Peacock, Gorton Foundry, Manchester, 1859.

But, this still doesn't explain the Japanese concentration on number plates.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne..

 

 

 

 

FS cast iron.

 

Cheers NB

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19 hours ago, ben_issacs said:

FS and SNCF painted.

 

Italian locomotives do have number plates, but are a bit different from the rest of the world:

 

They always come in couples, one over the other (top one is the locomotive number, bottom is the manufacturer one) and are found at the level of the cab windows on the driver's side.

Whatever the liviery or locomotive, they always are of the same size and colored red with silver numbers.

 

They can be clearly seen here, to the right of the cab side windows.

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Thanks, Socimi, 

I was thinking more of FS steam locos, which seem to generally have painted numbers  and classifications, but the usual cast builders plates. 

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

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22 hours ago, ben_issacs said:

FS and SNCF painted.

Q'ld seems to have had painted numbers, NSWGR individual numbers generally , Victoria largely number plates, also South Aus.

Tassy might have had individual numbers, Western Aus., cant remember, NZGR painted (I think).

 

G’day Bill,

 

I’d say the majority of SNCF and pre-nationalisation railways steam locos I’ve seen or have photos of carried cast number plates on the cab sides or bunkers. A lot of the tenders, which were classified separately, also carried cast plates.

 

Queensland steam locos had a cast number plate on the front course of the boiler, just behind the smokebox. Tasmanian steam locos had cast number plates on the cabs as well as the loco headstock, as did some of the early diesels. Same goes for WAGR and NZGR.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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On 9/17/2019 at 11:04 AM, railsquid said:

I imagine people collect whatever is easily detachable. What is easily detachable will depend on the traditions of the country/region in question. For example, I imagine people in the UK collect fewer number plates because usually numbers were painted on (with the exception of the GWR [1] and to a certain extent the BR Western Region).

 

Didn’t most post-nationalisation BR steam have cast number plates on the smokebox door?

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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On 9/17/2019 at 12:58 PM, Kiha66 said:

In the US numbers were usually painted on the loco, so those would be lost when the loco was scrapped.

 

I’d say that most US locos I’ve seen or have photos of have cast number plates on the headlight bracket or smokebox door. I’ve seen a lot of these in museums and private collections. I used to have a couple myself until they were stolen. 🤬

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

Edited by marknewton
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21 hours ago, cteno4 said:

Makes good sense, Japan has a very high number of railfans and rail memorabilia is much more prevalent in the culture in general so would be even more in the museum like that where the numbers represented locos that may have sent most or all of their lives on the same route.

 

I reckon part of the reason is that JNR steam engines carried four number plates - smokebox door, both cab or tank sides and the rear of the tender or bunker, so there were a lot of them available. And as there were essentially three standardised versions of similar size they’re easy to arrange in a uniform manner for display.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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Mark, 

Thanks for your comments on the local number plate scene, I'd forgotten completely the QGR cast plates on the boilers.

On some of the very early IGR alpha-numeric number plates, as well as the big class letter and number, below these was a line of small characters.

These said, I think, something like  'C57 shiki(?) (pattern, series, form)'

C57 1 should have plates of this type.

A good, clear front end shot of a loco should show whether the plate is of shiki type or not.

Don't know when this subscription ceased to be used. 

Plates of this type would be quite valuable.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

 

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Fairly common for UK scrapyards to cut the body panel with the number out and offer it for sale at the yard gate, at least in years gone by. A few minutes extra work with the gas torch and you make rather more than the scrap value of a relatively small piece of steel plate! I have seen photos of what looked like the same thing from Japanese locos, the scorch marks around the edges were a giveaway.

 

Shed plates are sought after here as well. They'd be displayed on the smokebox door and had an alphanumeric code denoting the home shed of the loco.

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A question on JNR and perhaps JR number plates... The base colors that I have seen in photos could be black, red, green or blue. What is the significance of the different base colors? A guess would be home shop ( maintenance depot) location or route assignment but that is just a guess on my part.

Thanks and regards,

Cliff

Edited by amtk908
Misspelling correction
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