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How to Paint a Locomotive

The current COVID-19 virus has brough a halt to the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway (C&PRR), operating trains for the first time in a quarter of a century.

The C&PRR, operated 100% by volunteers, is one of the newer Heritage Railways and only celebrating its 25th Anniversary of operating trains last year. What are we doing in the lockdown? 

Painting is one activity that can be carried out safely, but have you ever considered how a locomotive is painted? Let’s look at a 1960’s built 50-ton diesel shunting locomotive based at Chinnor which is over 12 feet high. Scaffolding is required to reach all areas safely and to comply with working at height regulations. As all diesels work outside for obvious reasons and attract all kinds of airborne dust and less desirable droppings from above! It’s even worse underneath as brake and track formation dust and lubricants congeal together which gradually forms an impenetrable gooey layer covering all surfaces in ever greater quantities no matter how well the locomotive is maintained and driven.

First, the locomotive has to be rigorously cleaned back to the paint before being rubbed down as you would expect. But painting a locomotive is complicated because of its shape and many protruding external features such as handles, grab rails and vents making many parts pretty much inaccessible. Once it is ready for painting, vast areas have to be covered to keep clean and errant paint splashes away. This is a major job with so much to cover up. And whatever livery is chosen, the position of lettering and decals must be measured meticulously beforehand.

All this work is carried out by volunteers at Chinnor. If you fancy joining this large-scale painting challenge, we have several vehicles that need painting.


Because of Covid-19, the now preserved line is now under preventative maintenance and inspection regimes by several volunteers working to Government guidelines of remaining the required two metres apart from each other while we are unable to operate public trains.

The Volunteers at The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway need your support in these challenging and uncertain times. No matter how large or small, every donation will be welcomed and it's easy to contribute on our donations page - not only will it help us maintain the Railway, but to reopen it as soon as we are allowed and the safety checks have been completed.

We'll be here to help you plan a trip and to welcome you with open arms when the time is right.

Thank you for your support.