Modelling Station Name Boards

Every station has them, but how do we model them ?

Prototype station name boards were constructed in numerous ways, not least due to regional company influences, but also due to the methods of construction.
This article describes one way of modelling stations nameboards using the common 'rail-built' method.


'Ashprington Road' was in need of some station name boards.
The first thing to do was to research prototype name boards. 'Ashprington Road' is a WR station, set in the early 1960's period, very loosely based on a South Brent 'might have been'. South Brent was of course, a former GWR station, so I looked for photographs of GWR name boards, South Brent and stations on the Kingsbridge branch.
Our own Gallery also has a few GWR station name boards. Dunster and Minehead both have standard GWR name boards. It turns out that although Kingsbridge had standard GWR nameboards, South Brent did not. In fact, South Brent had name boards which were built using rail, which is a bit of a surprise, given its status at the time.

I looked for commercial products and found the Springside GWR boards and the Coopercraft boards, the latter of which seemed to be somewhat regional independent.

At this point, I also had to think about what text I was going to place on the station name board and therefore get boards which were of a suitable size. This, in combination with the rail-built nature of the South Brent boards ruled out the lovely Springside GWR name boards. The Coopercraft offering was also not large enough.

This left me with a situation where I was going to have to build rail-built boards myself and this is the subject of this article.

Board Construction

I started by sourcing some rail for the posts. I filed down the web on some code 75 rail to give it the appearance of bull-head rail as this type would have been used on the prototype for the period being modelled. In retrospect, it was a time-consuming exercise and it would have been better to simply buy some bullhead rail, but the outcome hasn't been affected.
I then cut the boards from .75mm plastic card. The faces of the boards are 44mm x 18mm in size. These were glued to the sides of the supporting rails:

A thin strip of plastic card was attached along the low side of the board and a square section plastic card strip was attached along the top of the board, overlaping the tops of the rails. This top strip was then filed to give it a triangular 'ridge'. The top 'ridge' was a weather protection measure on the prototype. The production line then started with more boards:

I constructed a total of five boards. All except one was to be double-sided.
Painting commenced with a spray undercoat for the metal parts and then hand painting with Railmatch colours for the cream:

When dry, I commenced making the text for the boards. This was done on computer using the following graphic which was duplicated for the number of required times:

The font used is Gill Sans.
Please note that this graphic is compressed for purposes of uploading to the internet and is therefore not of the same quality as the original 1.3Mb bitmap which was used for the purpose.
The graphic was printed on high quality matt photo paper using Windows PaintBrush and printed at 70% of original size. Using the dash marks as guides, each name board was cut out and stuck using PVA to the name boards.

The following table describes the fonts which British Railways have used:

Gill Sans for British Railways Totems and Signs Used by the LNER and subsequently by British Rail from 1948/9. Appeared in regional colours - upper case only
British Rail Dark Normal Used from 1965 until privatisation: Black characters on white - Rail Alphabet - upper and lower case
British Rail Light Normal Used from 1965 until privatisation: Black characters on white - Rail Alphabet - upper and lower case
Following privatisation, all fonts were determined by indvidual private companies according to their corporate brands and there were therefore, no standards

To download the above fonts, click the required font name in the left column and save into your Fonts folder.

Here is the final product:

Graham Plowman (15/6/2009)

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