Friday, July 6, 2012

Luggage Racks

Most of the fittings in Clarabelle were stripped out at some time in her past, probably soon after she was decommissioned in 1990. This included all the metal work that could be salvaged for scrap or repurposed. Door locks, handles, grab rails and other fittings were removed and probably melted down. Luggage racks were also removed but many of these found their way into people's homes as novelty shelving.

So I've had to refind all kinds of bits and pieces which, if they are still available, are now classed as antiques and attract prices to match! Luggage racks regularly turn up on Ebay which is my main source for them and I now have several of them - probably enough for my intended uses around the inside of the carriage.

It was while collecting luggage racks that I became aware of there being two types and I've been able to piece together a bit of their history from a variety of sources.

The older types have the 'QGR' motif and are usually bronze. Frequently these have been painted over in the colour I now call Deep Indian Red. They appear to have been fitted to carriages well into the 1950s and originally Clarabelle would have been decked out with this kind of luggage rack.

The second type of rack have the 'QR' motif. These are often chrome-plated and can be polished to a high shine. I think that these started to appear in trains in the 1960's.

At the top is the older type of luggage rack support with the QGR motif while below is the more modern type with just 'QR' in the lacework

Beggars can't be choosers and I have to take whatever I can find so I now have a mixture of these two types of luggage racks ready for installation with some already installed. And it's when I came to installing them that I realised that they come in a bewildering range of sizes! The racks on the market have been sourced from a variety of different types of carriages and thus were required to be all different lengths. The longest I have is 2.4 metres long and fits across one end of the carriage.

Authentic luggage racks have the carriage number stamped into the back of the mounting plate of the supports. Not that forgeries are a problem! While luggage racks used in NSW were subsequently copied and sold through home wares stores, so far as I know this did not happen with QR luggage racks. If it has ends that resemble either of the above, you can be assured that it is the genuine article!

I would be interested to know if any readers can fill in some more details about the history of these racks. When did they change from the old type to the new type? If you know, please drop me a line or add a comment on this blog.

A modern type rack in gleaming chrome-plate installed in the carriage

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