BLOG: The Naming Game

Photo: LMS 'Jubilee' 4-6-0 45699 Galatea approaches York with the Scarborough Spa Express on August 3 2017


With Summer here (although not so you would notice), recent modelling opportunities have been limited to a few smaller detailing tasks such as renumbering and renaming my fleet of ‘OO’ gauge diesel locomotives.

West Coast Railways Class 37 37685 Loch Arkaig stabled at York on August 3 2017

The Railway has long held a tradition for naming its locomotives, whether individually or as an entire class, while in more recent times railway public relations departments have also recognised the benefits of using naming ceremonies to cement relationships with business organisations.

Virgin Trains East Coast Class 43 HST Power Car 43208 Lincolnshire Echo

Luckily, model railway manufacturers have also recognised the benefit of releasing locomotives with names, while specialist manufacturers have developed extensive ranges of after-market transfers and etched metal nameplates to enable you to customise your fleet with specific names or simply apply etched examples over the printed versions.

Class33_33102 with Eastleigh etched metal depot plaque

My most recent naming ceremonies have included a few Heljan Class 33/0s, Class 33/1s and Dapol Class 73/1s. Replacing the printed versions with etched metal nameplates really does make a difference. Usually this is a fairly simple task, as the replacements simply overlay the printed version without too much issue. However, occasionally I find that some manufacturer’s printed nameplates can be slightly oversize which results in a ‘halo’ effect when the etched example is placed over the top – a silver printed edge often showing beneath the etched nameplate, which is not ideal.

Dapol ‘OO’ gauge Class 73 73113 County of West Sussex

If I’ve been renumbering a model, the process is easier as I will usually remove the previously printed example and then add a new etched metal nameplate, as was the case with 73113 County of West Sussex. Patience and perseverance paid off, with the previous name Airtour Suisse removed with a cocktail stick and some very careful rubbing. This method also often works with Bachmann models, but less so with models from the Heljan and Hornby ranges. Some suggest using small amounts of T-Cut or thinners applied to cotton buds to remove printed nameplates, although I’ve had mixed results using these methods. As with any removal process, try it on a small area or even a scrap bodyshell before attempting it on your prized model, just in case!

For the Heljan models, my plan has been to replace like-for-like on 33008 Eastleigh, 33002 Sea King, 33109 Captain Bill Smith RNR, 33116 Hertfordshire Railtours and 73113 County of West Sussex. A rummage through my nameplates box unearthed sufficient ‘plates for Eastleigh, but typically the others required ordering in. I opted for examples from the Modelmaster Decals range.

The Hertfordshire Railtours nameplate proved to be a perfect fit over the printed example, although at this point I realised I also needed a suitable etched metal depot plaque too. No bother, (so I thought) and another rummage through the spares box unearthed an Eastleigh ‘Spitfire’ etched metal plaque. However, on checking the fit, the printed version was showing through underneath!

Heljan ‘OO’ gauge Class 33/1 33116 Hertfordshire Railtours

Luckily, I also had a set of Jackson Evans plaques for another depot which appeared to be the right size. Obviously, I couldn’t put those on the locomotive, but opted for a few sets from this range on the basis that they should be the same size. Luckily, this proved to be the case! Oh, and whilst I was researching photographs of the prototype I discovered that at some point in 33116’s career, the locomotive carried both Eastleigh and Stewarts Lane plaques! A selection of 4mm etched metal plates for both depots were duly ordered … (A perfect example of making sure you do your research!).

Class 33 33116 Hertfordshire Railtours with Stewarts Lane etched metal depot plaque

When fixing metal nameplates in place, I apply double-sided sticky tape to the rear which means I can ‘ping’ them off quickly if necessary. Small amounts of glue or varnish can also be used, although there can be seepage issues when applying the plates this way and they tend to be a more permanent fixture as a result.

Thankfully, each naming ceremony went well apart from 33002 Sea King. Typically, the printed nameplates on this model appeared to be slightly oversize, and shows through beneath the etched plate. As a result, the naming ceremony for this particular locomotive has been temporarily postponed… And talking of ceremonies, another task on the ‘to do’ list is to create a small 4mm scale stage and set of curtains ready for a diesel depot open day scene – but that, as they say, is for another day…

I hope you enjoyed this latest post and if you have anything you would like to comment on, drop us a line to

Hornby Magazine Assistant Editor Mark Chivers’ next blog will be live on September 1 2017 and you can expect more from Editor Mike Wild on August 18 2017.

Posted in Blogs, Mark Chivers


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