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This is one of those questions to which there is no simple answer apart from "it depends", which is not altogether helpful!  What follows is something of a snapshot based on 1961 info.  Others are far better qualified than I to comment on other periods.  [Hint, hint] 

 

The Mk 1 TPOs used in the Paddington - Penzance TPO were delivered in Post Office red at the end of 1959.  Before that TPO vehicles generally wore the same colour scheme as ordinary parcels vehicles - crimson or maroon depending on the date and possibly in pre-nationalisation colours into the early 50s..

 

Formation - that depends on the train.  The Paddington - Penzance comprised a Siphon G and six TPO vans, of three different types, for Penzance, and one Siphon G each for Bristol, Exeter, Torrington and Plymouth..  By contrast, the 1.5 am Bristol - Neyland, which connected with the Padd - Penzance at Bristol, had one TPO stowage van and one TPO sorting carriage amid a hotch-potch of passenger coaches (4) and assorted vans (at least 10, depending on the night).  The TPOs were ex-GW vehicles until quite late on.

 

The 7.25 pm Bristol - Newcastle, which may well be seen on Barrow Road one day, had 7 passenger coaches, 5 BGs, a sleeping car and three ex-LMS TPO vehicles.

 

By their very nature most postal trains ran at night.

 

Do come back if you want to know more, sez he making a rod for his own back ...

 

Chris

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Just to enlarge on what Chris said, from 1949 to 1956 the official livery for TPO vehicles was all over carmine red with a single yellow/black line at the waist and in the cantrail. After 1956 lined maroon was adopted. PO red was a late-comer restricted to BR Mk. I's, so no pre-1947 design carried it.

Edited by coachmann
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Thank you for the help. I want to use Bachmann tpo vehicles so would I use the tpo in post office red with yellow writing or the earlier version?

scott

 

If you are looking to the late 60s you will need the earlier version, or some transfers.

 

Chris

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One thing that has puzzled me in the past is that some ex-GWR corridor full brake vehicles were painted in plain crimson rather than the crimson and cream that would have been expected. Hawksworth K45 BGs W324 and W325 are good examples.

 

I wonder if these vehicles were intended to run in mail trains and hence painted to match the TPO livery? Pure speculation but it would be nice to know the reason.

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To throw a further spanner in the works, the Southern Region ran TPO's in Green and take a look at this scene at Penzance in 1969 http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/12749759793/

 

As for the formations, this varied depending on the service. Generally though, each Sorting Vehicle would be accompanied by one or two Stowage or Tender coaches. A complete train could be anything between 2 up to 12 coaches. If modelling a train with exchange apparatus remember, that was always on the left and at the front of the train if any passenger accommodation was in the formation.

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