Updated 13th January 2000

As an active modeller one of the problems I often have with the histories written from the view of the average railway historian is that these histories, excellent as they often are, sometimes don't tell the modeller what we really need to know, and that is what the rolling stock or infrastructure being described actually looked like!

This page is an attempt to show the various stages that the appearance of the “Dogbox” carriages passed through in their long years of service on the railways of NSW and some notes on typical train compositions that included Dogboxes. 

The excellent talks by John Beckhaus given at the Modelling the Railways of NSW Conventions in 1996 and 1997 on “The Life and Times of the Express Lavatory Car” and “The Painting and Varnishing of Passenger Cars in NSW”, respectively, have been comprehensively mined for information to support the illustrations in this section.  Thanks John, you made life so much easier!

Now, of course, after many years of waiting, we finally have "Coaching Stock of the NSW Railways" and the history and appearance changes of the Dogbox cars are much easier to follow!  Thanks once more to John (Beckhaus) and his fellow authors, David Cooke, Don Estell and Keith Seckold.  One must not forget the excellent illustrations by Dennis Toohey either, though its a pity the producers of the book choose to reproduce them so small and to such variable scales.


Like most British influenced railway systems the NSWR made much use of non corridor compartment carriages and the cars of this series were known universally on the system as “Dogboxes”.  Their official title was “Express Lavatory”, as they were designed to provide more comfortable accommodation on the express trains of the late 19th century than the existing fleet of carriages, and due to the distances traversed in NSW, the provision of accessible lavatories was a very welcome advancement for the long suffering traveller.

The first series of "Dogboxes" entered service during 1890-91 and were all constructed on a standard 46ft underframe.

The series consisted of :

50 FX Second class cars 

30 BC First class cars 

18 AJ Composite branchline cars with sleeping accommodation 

18 HA Guard's vans 

Despite their official description as "Express Lavatory" vehicles only some of the First class compartments in the BCs, the Sleeping compartments in the AJs and the HAs were actually provided with toilets!

The vast majority of this series of "Dogboxes" were rebuilt as L type tourist cars during the late 1920s, except for some of the AJs, which were converted to various designs of composite/Guard's vehicles, all coded HS, which survived into the 1960s and the HAs, of which some 21 were converted to the HO code by the removal of the toilet compartments between 1907 and 1909.  Some of the HOs survived as Guard's vans into the 1950s and as ways and works vehicles till the early 1980s.

Then, in 1897, the first of the second series of Dogboxes made their appearance.

They consisted of:-

221 LFX Second Class Cars

107 BX First Class Cars

105 CX Composite First and Second Class Cars

53 EHO Guard's Vans

Click on the links above to go to the page on that carriage type.

This second batch of Dogbox cars was built in three roof styles, 


1897 to 1909

Low Semi-Elliptical 

1910 and 1911

High Semi-Elliptical

1911 to 1915

There were also two further types of High Semi-Elliptical roofs used on EHO Guard's Vans only.

These carriages formed the backbone of NSWR country services for many years and up to the delivery of the FS and BS cars in the late 1930 trains consisting completely of Dogboxes were common.  Even into the fifties Dogboxes could be found "strengthening" many passenger trains from the lowliest outer suburban train, through the short distance country trains, the overnight Mails and even, on occasions, the air conditioned Daylight services.  In the early 1930s many were converted to R cars and a batch of the later BXs were rebuilt to ACM Composite Sleeping Cars, however this still left a large number of Dogboxes still valiantly soldiering on till scrapping started in earnest in the late 1950s and early 1960s. 


 While I have endeavoured to get the shades of colour in this guide as close as possible to what I think the originals were, the limitations of computer colour reproduction means that these illustrations should not be used for colour matching, but rather as guides to the general arrangements of the schemes and their lining out styles.

PURPLE BROWN,  1897-1920s

As far as can be ascertained from this distance in time, Purple Brown, lined out in Gold or Buff and with a White Lead roof was the standard NSWR passenger car colour scheme from 1874 till 1920.  Of course, not all cars were repainted in the new livery in 1920 and cars in this scheme would have lasted into the 1930s, and perhaps even longer.  An intriguing colour photo of a train on Cowan bank in Ron Selems' book, "Steam in the Fifties" suggests that it is possible that at least one "Dogbox" lasted in this scheme till the mid '50s.


This is a speculative illustration based on the b&w photograph of a "Dogbox" at Orange in 1933 on p55 in "Byways of Steam", Encore edition, that can be interpreted to indicate that a panelled vehicle is painted in a two tone colour scheme.  Logically, once the new Russet and red colour scheme was introduced in 1920, carriages that still had the old style panelling would have been repainted in the new scheme.

The Russet and Red colour scheme, fully lined out in buff, was introduced in 1920, and over the next couple of years, most, if not all, the "Dogboxes" that had not been converted to R cars, would have carried this scheme.  The last cars to carry this scheme are believed to have lasted till the early to mid '50s.  The roof treatment changed from the older "White Lead" treatment to a newer method known as "Navy Dressing", which was a yellowy brown colour.  Of course, the roofs did not stay clean and colourful for long, soon weathering to a sooty brown/black colour.


During 1942 a number of carriages were painted Khaki Green with two horizontal buff lines.  "Dogboxes" known to have carried this scheme include;

High Semi-elliptical Roof :- LFX 728, 1648, 1650, 1735, 1971, 1642, 1845, 1973, 2069, 
 1730, 1742, 1767, 1769, 1976
CX 527, 883, 889, 1711, 1955, 2061
BX 1628 

 Cove Roof :- CX 1519, 1520 
BX 1481

No Mansard roofed vehicles were painted in this scheme.


From 1946 a new standard colour scheme was introduced for all non varnished cars, it was similar to the pre-war Russet and Red scheme, but the elaborate lining out was replaced with two 1/2 inch buff lines, above and below the windows.  While the both the pre-war and post-war reds are described in official correspondence as "Tuscan Red", I believe that the shades may have been different, as I have seen a couple of O gauge models that were constructed in the 1930s that depict the red as much darker than the post-war shade.  As the only evidence I have seen that indicates this cannot be regarded as completely reliable, this, for the moment, remains speculation.  Many "Dogboxes" carried Tuscan and Russet till they were either scrapped or converted to Ways and Works use.

DEEP INDIAN RED,   1954-1982

From 1954 the standard NSW scheme was changed to an overall red, but retaining the two 1/2 inch buff lines of the previous scheme.  Described in official correspondence as "Deep Indian Red", it was, despite the popular misconception that the 1946 and 1954 reds were both "Tuscan Red", definitely a different red to the red used in the Tuscan and Russet scheme.  The post '54 Deep Indian Red was much darker and tended towards the blue/brown end of the spectrum.  This is clear from the study of colour photos and colour samples.  The last remaining restored examples of these cars are painted in this scheme.  At about this time a new roofing material, Malthoid, was introduced, a bitumous material that was laid over the roof in wide sheets. This was painted silver when new, but soon weathered to the traditional sooty brown/black.

In the late '50s and early '60s some "Dogboxes" were repainted overall post '54 red, but without the buff lining.  LFX 609, the subject of the ILM kit, was painted in this scheme.
Lambing Flat Home Page
Lambing Flat Locomotive  Page
Lambing Flat Layout Page
Dogbox Colour Schemes
Trestle at Old Junee 
Archival Recording #1
EAM/LAM/VAM Colour Schemes
L Car Colour Schemes
 Stock wagons of the NSWR
Trains at Young 1972
 Modifying the Lima 38
NSWGR Drawgear 1963
Rurr Valley Railway
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