Another very early shotThe RF Story

Appendix - RFs with Semaphore Trafficators

Jim Andress


RF395, one of the original Sutton batch fitted with semaphores, the slot for which can be seen behind the doorway (no door of course).  This is a very early photo, as the RF does not have the extra rail fitted across the passenger windscreen. The body of RF395 (but not the chassis, this is one of the minority where the bodies were swapped on overhaul) ended on RF627, rather confusingly a green RF that was repainted red (but is now green again).  Got that?

Photo © Geoff Rixon, Jim Andress collection


In late 1952 and early 1953, 24 new RFs were delivered experimentally fitted with semaphore trafficators. All were delivered to Sutton (A) and Norbiton (NB) garages for route 213.


Having identified those RFs that were allocated when new to A & NB for the 213 route, they totalled 29, so presumably 5 of them did not have semaphores. I studied all the photos I could find of these RFs on the 213, and managed to identify some that had semaphores and some that did not. I then checked the Vehicle History book by Alan Bond et al, and realised that some of the RFs which were initially allocated to the 213 at A only stayed for a short period, some only three weeks. Since it is understood that only RFs on the 213 used semaphores it seems rational to assume that those that moved on were not so fitted.


As a result of following that assumption I was delighted to find that I was left with 24 RFs that I either had seen photos of with semaphores or that could be assumed to have had them. I them checked the body numbers carried by the RFs allocated to the 213 when new and identified the final RF numbers they carried. I was surprised to discover that of the 29 delivered, 7 still exist, including some well known ones.


Those which remain are 351, 355, 366, 504, 512, 518 and 627. Of these 504 and 518, which were originally 415 and 399, did not have semaphores. The others, which were originally 372, 386, 390, 403 and 395 respectively, did have semaphores.


The full list of RFs initially delivered to A and NB is as follows:-


A: 372, 374, 381, 386, 388, 393 to 407, 415, and 499, of which 374, 399, 415 and 499 did not have semaphores and were all transferred out in a short time.


NB: 375, 379, 383, 389 to 392, of which only 375 did not have semaphores, but remained until first overhaul.


The experiment with the semaphore trafficators was clearly not considered satisfactory [see here, Ed], and they were removed from the RFs.  I have however not been able to find any reference to when they were removed. It may have been at first overhaul in 1957, and I would be interested to know if anyone can confirm this.


This article is based on a piece by Jim Andress in the RT/RF Register Newsletter in 2002. We are grateful to Jim and to the Register for permission to publish it here.  Jim's closing question still stands - can anyone help?


Until now, we had not been able to track down a photo of an RF with the semaphore in use.  However, thanks to Alan Cross, we can now illustrate both the semaphore and the unusual 'left-arrow' display adopted by LT but soon changed.  The whole photo can be seen here.
 Cyclists beware