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OCEM coach classifications


10800
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I've been doing some research into OCEM coaches for my 1950s/60s ex-Midi layout. It's a bit of a minefield to say the least, and I'm hoping I can call on the wider knowledge of this community to help. My understanding is that the basic classifications refer to class and number of bays/compartments, so that for example an A3B5 is a compo with 3 first and 5 second compartments, and a C10 is a 10-compartment 3rd; and that the overall length and bogie-to-bogie wheelbase can vary depending on the configuration. Then we have early coaches with visible rivets and later ones with flush plating. Am I right so far?

 

The research has led to some other questions:

 

1) How long did the three-class system persist on the SNCF?

2) The OCEM classifications also include lower case code sequences such as 'yfi' - what do these mean?

3) Did secondary route trains have to have a brake vehicle? Is there a typical set of formations?

4) Is there a reference or book on this, similar to the HMRS book on Mk1s? 

 

I don't need too many coaches, but I'd like to get appropriate ones. For example I know the Midi bought 20 A8, 20 B9 and 150 C10 rivets-showing coaches; and 20 A3B5, 10 A8 and 15 C5D (?) flush-plated coaches. Models World do a set of three C10s, or at least Jura Modelisme/Million do; how do I know if these are riveted or not? REE, LS Models and R37 also seem to do various types.

 

Thanks in advance for any advice.

 

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Hi Rod

I can answer some of your questions.

OCEM is generally used to refer to a particular range of main line coaches but was an intercompany design bureau  l'Office Central d'Etudes du Matériel de Chemins de Fer set up on government demand after the First World War to bring economies of scale and a degree of standardisation that also designed, suburban carriages (Talbots) ,  fourgons (baggage cars), postal vehicles, wagons and even a few classes of locomotive.

However it's the main line coaches we're interested in here.

SNCF maintained three classes until 1956 when third class was abolished in much of Europe including Britain. In Britain there had been just two classes 1st and 3rd for quite some time so 3rd was simply redesignated as 2nd. In France, third class stock became second while some second class remained as such and some was elevated to 1st.*

The letters A,B,C,D refer as you say to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and baggage (fourgon) and  there had also been an L for Lit toilette meaning a private sleeping compartment as we'd understand (as opposed to a couchette) with a wash basin that could be converted to day and night use . There were only a few OCEMs that included sleeping saloons (as opposed to couchettes) built for the Etat and the Midi. 

The Midi's had the incredibly complex number of A12/2c2/2L2g2B5yfi

meaning one first class day compartment, two first class coupé couchettes, 2 lits-toilettes compartments and five second class compartment.

 

The first supplementary number referred to the number of separate compartments in each class  and for coupés (with a single row of seats) there could be halves indicated by 1/2 or 2/2 etc. . For couchettes that first letter and number was followed by a lower case c followed by the number (of couchettes which was commonly, but not always, the same as the number of compartments. 

The lower case letters following would, for an OCEM and most modern bogie coaches, typically be myfi with m meaning metalique so with an all metal, normally steel body (the pre SNCF companies don't seem to have used this suffx but SNCF did , y meant bogies, f was for frein a vis  meaning it had a manual screw brake (as well as the Westinghouse brake) and i meant interconnexion i.e. with an enclosed gangway between coaches. t stood for toilette  which was implicit for connected stock so you'd only find that with coaches equipped with a WC but with no connections between coaches and a well known series of wooden bodied bogie coaches  was ty.

The earlier OCEMs had visible rivets and were known as RA (Rivets Apparent) while later models had invisible rivets so were known as FL face lissee or flat faced, while the final orders in 1938-40 were S for soudure  (welded).

Other variants including the sanitaires which were third class coaches with larger toilet compatments and provision for easy conversion to ambulance coaches by removing the compartments and fitting central double doors for stretchers. This gives a particular arrangement of the central  windows.

 

There had long been a rule that there must be a fourgon or a fourgon compartment between the locomotive and the passenger accomodation as a collision buffer but, by your period,  this only applied to wooden bodied coaches in express and rapide trains so not OCEMs. However, the habit persisted of marshalling a fourgon at the head of almost any train for quite some time.

The actual rules are quite complicated but I have a copy of the compositions des trains rule book from early in SNCF's history. for the relevant trains there had to be  a fourgon  or a fourgon compartment before the first passengers and failing that the first three compartments could be locked out of use.

 

* Even twenty or more years later when I was travelling round Europe by train,  you learnt  to avoid SNCF's former 3rd class coaches as they were far more cramped than those that had always been 2nd class especially the couchettes.

 

 

Edited by Pacific231G
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Before David gets back from dinner...

 

All trains required a brake vehicle to be at the head of the train (for crash purposes) if operating above a certain speed.

 

OCEM rivetted coaches came in short and long versions. I don't remember if the Midi had some short ones but it would obviously be advantageous on a small layout. The old Jouef OCEM are a very decent model. Jouef also did the long versions which had originated as a RMA models.

 

PS: I think that I have just spotted my copy of "Encyclopdie des Voitures SNCF" and can look up some of this.

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Many thanks all, useful stuff.

 

I've just seen a copy of Encyclopdie des Voitures SNCF on AbeBooks for £232!

 

I'll keep a lookout for copies of the Le Train references - I'll need much the same for the DEV AO stock as well in due course. I might try through the FRS as well after checking the Le Train catalogue.

 

This is a bit like a French modeller researching Maunsells, Bulleids and Mk1s!

Edited by 10800
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After nationalisation, would coaches have stayed mostly in the area of their previous owners, or did they become a bit 'common user'? Or to put another way, should I try and stick with Midi-purchased vehicles, or would (say) PO or PLM coaches be acceptable?

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I'm now dined  :D

I've been looking through the OCEM chapter in  l'Encyclopedie des Voitures SNCF as well as my copy of Le Train's les archives de l'OCEM but, though they show lengths in their drawings, neither includes them in their tabulations of which railways had what. 

There wasn't a vast difference in their lengths and I'm not sure if there were short and long versions as such though they do seem to have got slightly longer over the years. 

There was also a sub-species not strictly OCEMs but developed from the original OCEM RAs with some improvements, especially in weight and crash resistance. Just ten of these were built as B4C6s for the Midi but the PLM picked up the design and ordered 185 C11s. They were all built by the firm Dyle & Bacalan so known as Bacalans. They were 22.75m long.

 

for the earliest OCEM series, the lengths shown in the various diagrams over buffers  are 21.57m for a C9  and a C4D,  but 22.45m for a C10 built for the Midi and 22.56 for a B9 . For the later FL types lengths include  23.263m for an A8, 22.965 for a Midi B9, 23.164 for a PO Midi , and 23.727  for a welded C10 and B5D   

 

In answer to your other question, the SNCF did move stock around while the war and occupation scrambled things up quite a lot. Stock was though "owned" by each region so didn't move around willy nilly and the first digit in the carriage number was the region so I don't think they were "common user" . For your area it's also worth noting that the PO and the Midi amalgamated in 1934 and though, apart from its ten Bacalans, the PO didn't actually order any RA OCEMS it did order 115 FLs. The Midi was keener on them and had a total of 251 RAs over half of them (150) were  C10s and the Midi were the only company to have RA C10s.  I notice also that the neither the Midi nor the PO ordered any  OCEM RAs with a fourgon compartment though between them they did have thirty five FL C5Ds.

If you're interested in the actual composition of trains LR Presse's 60 ans de Compositions de Trains de Nuit Francais (1950-2010) is well worth getting and includes over thirty trains for Region 4 (Sud-Ouest) in the 1950s and 1960s. It's interesting to note how few of the coaches in overnight Rapides and Expresses were couchettes.

 

As a member of the FRS you have access to dossiers on the OCEM coaches that have been in Loco-Revue. We have those in the library and I look after that collection.

 

Edited by Pacific231G
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You just beat me to it.

 

Had my copy of the book in my hand and was surprised to note those slightly different lengths for the various coaches. I am not sure that the models available all reflect that correctly.

 

For the OP's layout, we are in slightly difficult territory with the "rule one" electrification. That would probably make a bit of a difference to the rolling stock. Some 6-wheel stock for local trains? And just the one train (portion) of couchettes from Paris detached at Bedarieux,

 

 

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David, I've requested the Encyclopedie from the FRS library via Roger. I might be in touch about the dossiers, but for now I think I have enough info to work with.

 

Joseph, I've got some 6-wheel stock (Fleischmann) and will consider some detached couchettes. 

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14 minutes ago, 10800 said:

Joseph, I've got some 6-wheel stock (Fleischmann) and will consider some detached couchettes. 

The Fleischmann 6-wheelers are ex-PLM metalisee. They are also a bit overscale as were some other Fleischmann items at the time, but otherwise a nice enough model. Another producer (REE?) has done them more recently.

 

Former PO-Midi metalisee coaches on local trains were 4-wheelers, which ISTR, is the version that was available in kit form from Mougel.

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Wikimidi may be of some help but you will probably have to trawl through a lot of pages

 

http://wikimidi.railsdautrefois.fr/wikimidi/index.php?title=Matériel_roulant#Voitures

 

I know from experience of the wikiplm pages that if you know exactly what you are looking for it is excellent but if your query is less precise it can take  few - admittedly enjoyable - hours to find things.

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2 hours ago, 10800 said:

Is there any designation to distinguish between corridor and open configurations, or were they all corridor?

Hi Rod

That's slightly (well more than slightly) confusing and inconsistent, as you'll discover when you get the Encyclopedie des Voitures SNCF, but AFAIK, there was no particular designation for open saloons or, if there was, I've not seen an example.

 

These codes were on the coaches usually on the left hand of each side. They changed when UIC numbering arrived in the 1960s

 

The superscript suffix after the class letter can refer to the number of separate enclosed compartments (with half compartment coupés  indicated by n/2.) Often though the number refers to the number of seating bays instead; even when arranged as open saloons with seats either side of a central passage .

So, an ex Etat  "transatlantique",  which had two "private" six seat compartments with a side corridor and two saloons with 2 +1 seating on either side of a central passageway, was an A4yi and a number of coaches with just two saloons were A2,B2 or C2  (sorry I can't do superscript on here).

 

For coaches with open seating bays to one side of an open side passage it seems to have generally been the the number of seating bays that were counted even though they weren't actually enclosed.

For coaches with saloon seating it varied. Some counted the number of saloons (with doors between them) but many others were numbered according to the seating bays. So, the ex German "Armistice" coaches with "saloon" seating in two compartments were C81/2yfi and the Nord's 3rd class coaches for "Trains Rapides" built from 1928-1936 with open saloon seating in five compartments with toilets in the middle, five sets of side doors and interconnections betwee coaches were designated C11yfi

 

I  don't know whether these differences represented different practices between companies but SNCF's 1956-1962 steel bodied conversions know as "Bruhat's" with two open saloons either side of a central double door vestibule and a toilet at each end were B10t (t not i for some reason even though they had interconnections)  So, SNCF may have favoured counting bays rather than compartments but don't seem to have changed the codes already applied by their predecessors.

 

If you want even more complication look at the codes for double deck coaches !

 

I've never been quite sure why some of this was considered useful for the traffic department. Knowing what stock was wooden or steel bodied, whether passenger could move between them and if they had bogies, toilets, screw brakes, couchettes or fourgon compartments was obviously useful in making up trains but, when it came to seating, I'd have thought that the really useful information would have been how many seats were available in each class.

 

Poor old French. they do try so hard to be totally logical but reality will keep refusing to play ball :rolleyes:.

 

 

 

Edited by Pacific231G
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  • 2 months later...

A follow-up non-OCEM question. I have two Liliput coaches ref. L350006 which, despite having the FRS' copy of Encyclopedie des Voitures SNCF in front of me, I just can't identify. They have inset end doors only, riveted sides (but may be rebuilt), square-cornered widows and nearly arc-roofed profile without any downturn at the ends. They have some characteristics of Bastille coaches but otherwise I'm a bit stuck. Does anyone know what they are? I can put photos up if necessary.

 

One thing the encyclopedie doesn't have is tables of coaches by running number - maybe they just changed too often to make it a practicable proposition!

 

Thanks and festive wishes

 

 

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Hi Rod

The Lilliput coaches are almost certainly ex DRG stock transferred to SNCF at the end of the war. They are though a bit different from the "Bastille" coaches that had double doors at one end. There are thiough several Lilliput DB and DR (DDR) coaches that look very similar to L350006 .

 

If the FRS librrary copy is the same edition as mine, which I think it is,  take a look at the coach at the bottom of p173 of the Encyclopedie. However, according to its listing, were well over a thousand ex DRG bogie coaches ended up with SNCF as "pris de guerres" . Apart from the 87 'Bastilles' They would have been a pretty eclectic mix from whatever was in good condition in Germant (probably mainly in the French sector) in 1945.   

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Hi David

 

Yep, that's it - I obviously missed that photo. The Liliput pair includes a C10 like that - the angled section between the side and door is characteristic - and a similar A2B6 composite with the first class in the centre.

 

Many thanks!

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