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Depot Brands (Those stencils found on solebars)

 Depot Brands

Wagons passed regularly through shops for repair, overhaul and maintenance. The last shop passed through, the last shop where the wagon was overhauled, and the site of the last air brake overhaul were usually marked on the solebars. The overhaul site and date are indicated by the letters ‘OHL’ after 1960 and ‘LIFT’ prior to this. The brake overhaul is indicated by WB. For all these codes the site of shopping is given by a single (or sometimes double) character depot brand followed by the month and year maintenance took place.

Using appropriate codes clearly sets your models in their right era and location.


I have a sheet numbered 4CA25 cancelled on 20-7-43 that gives the brands shown in the following tables. In some cases the symbols are not part of the standard character set, and so a brief description is given.

North Island depot brands pre-1943

Depot Brand Depot Brand
Auckland A Paekakariki K
Cross Creek C Palmerston N. V
East Town E Hutt P
Frankton F Rotorua # at 45 degrees
Gisborne J Stratford X
Helensville HL 1 Taihape B
Hawera Z Taumaranui T
Huntly square Te Kuiti I
Lambton L Thorndon D
Marton M Waipukurau U
Maungaturoto Q Wanganui Siding W
Mercer + Whangarei G
Morinsville diamond Woodville S
Napier R Tauranga TA 1
Napier Shops H Otahuhu Yard Y overlaid O
Otahuhu Shops N
New Plymouth Y
Ohakune O
Paeroa Reversed crescent

1 There was no space between letters of these codes, thus forming a single composite character.

South Island depot brands pre-1943

Depot Brand Depot Brand
Addington A Rangiora E
Ashburton Y Ranfurly F
Balclutha B Springfield S
Christchurch C Timaru T
Clinton X Wairio Z
Cromwell Q Waipara W
Dunedin D Westport K
Gore G Greymouth Shops V
Greymouth C&W M
Hillside H
Invercargill Shops I• (dot)
Invercargill C&W +
Lyttelton L
Milton U
Nelson N
Oamaru O
Otira R
Palmerston S. J
Picton P


By 1963 the number of depots was much reduced, plus the list had been harmonised to cope with interisland movement of wagons on the ferry. The following list is taken from the NZMRJ of April 1995.

North Island depot brands 1963

Depot Brand Depot Brand
Auckland AK Palmerston North PN
Taihape B Napier R
East Town E Taumaranui T
Frankton F Tauranga TA
Whangarei G Gisborne U
Kawerau K Westfield W
Wellington L Wanganui WG
Otahuhu N New Plymouth Y
Hutt P A&G Price Thames Z

South Island depot brands 1963

Depot Brand Depot Brand
Addington A Timaru M
Christchurch C Oamaru O
Dunedin D Westport S
Hillside H Greymouth V
Invercargill I Picton X
Palmerston South J

I have made every effort to ensure that the information in this document is accurate. I would be grateful for any corrections or additions. I do not have depot codes for the 1943-1963 period and would be grateful to anyone who can provide these.