Headboards

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Gabor Kovacs
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Headboards

Post by Gabor Kovacs »

Kevin, as much as you and others gricers loathe the use of head-boards, it is free advertising for FotR, which our marketing man, Arno is probably pleased about.
At least, it does not cost Arno any funding from his marketing budget!

With the currently situation of having to develop Hermanstad as a new venue, any free advertising should be seen in a positive light, as this might secure donations of kind, or get more “bums” on seats!
Certainly the passengers on the train don’t care whether there is a head-board or not, as long as they get to there (Cullinan) safely and in good time (TFR allowing), and for line-side gricers they must just accept it for a while as a norm!!

Maybe a donation of cash (in 10 000's of Rs'), could see the head-board disappear on a leg of a trip; ie. Hermanstad to Cullinan, or vica verse!
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Kevin Wilson-Smith
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Re: 2650 at Zonderwater on 070908

Post by Kevin Wilson-Smith »

Just remember that the gricers give you the pictures in magazines, books and on international websites - worth a lot in terms of publicity.

Barend's pics are great. But, due to the headboard they are fairly unlikely to grace a magaine or book.

You are also not going to get any sponsorship from anyone who sees the train come past with headboard ablurr.

Logically wear the board at start and finish and take it off when you are running.

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But this may be academic - I was told sometime ago (JA? NB?) that headboards were not allowed on engines.... True? False?

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Lastly see here for a fine happy headboard shot.....!!!!

http://www.friendsoftherail.com/phpBB2/ ... oard#p2134
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John Ashworth
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Re: 2650 at Zonderwater on 070908

Post by John Ashworth »

As with many issues, everybody is actually right. But we can't be all things to all people all the time, so it's always a question of finding compromises (a "win-win" situation, as we say in the trade).

We certainly don't wear a headboard when we have professional photo shoots, nor when we have organised tours of overseas photographers. When we are deliberately creating heritage scenes of times gone by a headboard is definitely out of place. That's one of the reasons why we decided, at an AGM several years ago, not to paint our coaches in a new corporate livery (a la Rovos Rail), despite strong pressure from our then marketing department. We felt we wanted to maintain the heritage ambience rather than a corporate identity. But we did put "Friends of the Rail" transfers on the side of our coaches. Other non-heritage changes focus on safety - large yellow signs on coach ends warning passengers not to behave stupidly between coaches, a new sign on 3117 stating that unauthorised people can't ride on the moving footplate, the dreaded high-vis vests which the photographers hate but which are now normal apparel for crews, etc.

However we are also running in the here and now. As Gabor says, most of our paying passengers don't care what the loco looks like. Anecdotal evidence suggests that FOTR is still not well known even in the area where we operate frequently, so any opportunity to publicise ourselves must be taken. The train travels slowly at many points during the trip and stands at signals, often in stations or populated areas, where the headboard can be read clearly.

There are also times when we wear a headboard deliberately to create history. An example would be the Centenary of the Cullinan branch. At one level we tried to recreate a stopping passenger train of times gone by; at a second level we created a brand new event, celebrating the Centenary with a headboard and with South African flags on the front of the loco. Or my wedding train, with balloons and streamers on the loco as well as a headboard. Hardly authentic from a heritage point of view, but great publicity pictures which have taken FOTR's name and address all over the world, and which can be used in marketing our train for weddings and other such events.

Taking the headboard on and off may solve some problens for the photographers, but it sounds to me like yet another task which will have to be performed by the same very small number of people who are already performing a host of operational tasks, many of them safety-critical, as we arrive in and prepare to depart from our destination. While I don't want untrained people climbing on the front of the engine and removing headboards, it would be nice to have some dialogue with those who don't like headboards as to how they are going to organise the fitting and removal of the headboard without imposing an extra burden on the fireman.
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Kevin Wilson-Smith
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Re: Headboards

Post by Kevin Wilson-Smith »

Historical headboards are fine - otherwise........... And I take it I was misinformed when told we could not carry headboards?

I will just repeat that headboards WILL probably lose you key photographic coverage. Some editors will not accept headboard pics (free advertising) unless they are historical, when they are naturally welcome.... I know that from experience. Books, magazines, Internet - expanded coverage - worth anything?
However, if the publicity en-route from the front end outweighs and is more significant then the above then so be it.
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On a different note, given that headboards are felt to be effective. do we not need then to organise headboards for the other engines? Or is the current one easily transferable to the 15 F etc.?
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Chris Janisch
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Re: Headboards

Post by Chris Janisch »

A decision was taken at a board meet over a year ago not to run with headboards, and I remain in favour of that. No problem putting it on at Hercules before a train if the crew want to, and it is very easy to remove.
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Steve Appleton
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Re: Headboards

Post by Steve Appleton »

Lineside photographers and even pics in international enthusiasts' magazine, etc do not pay the rent. Local bums on the seats do!
Apart from organised photoshoots and tours, I have yet to see a lineside photog pay a cent for the priviledge. Most joe public amateur photogs (as opposed the the gricing variety) do not give a damn about the headboard. In fact at Cullinan last week, lots of pics were taken by many amateurs of the loco from various perspectives and not one complained about the headboard. In fact many will be reminded time and again of who we are when they look at those pics!
I say that unless the photogs actually pay for the privilege, the headboard (perhaps a better looking, updated one), stays on. As for loosing out on marketing via pics in the enthusiasts' mags, exactly how many of their readers ride our trains, outside of an organised rail tour?
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John Ashworth
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Re: Headboards

Post by John Ashworth »

I don't know about headboard decisions - as footplate crew we just found the headboard on the front of the loco so we ran with it, assuming that someone somewhere had made a decision.

I suspect this headboard will fit all locos, but haven't tried it.

Whilst taking Nathan to the airport this morning we talked about correcting the address on the headboard and he said he'd do it when he gets home in about ten days.

I don't think anyone is saying that international exposure has no value, so I hope that we will continue with that avenue. But local exposure is also extremely important. So, as I said a few posts ago (above), we should be looking for a compromise which satisfies these differing and sometimes conflicting needs. As Chris J and others have demonstrated, there are some stunning photos which don't show the front of the loco.

My main aim is just to make sure we don't create more work for firemen!
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Chris Janisch
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Re: Headboards

Post by Chris Janisch »

The decision was taken to remove headboards as they looked cheap and detracted from the loco appearance. At the same time I made a recommendation that we invest in nice brass signs permanently attached to each loco, ala Rovos Rail boards. This would look professional, and be smaller and unobtrusive, actually adding to the engine's appearance.
There has been no official decision to put the headboards on again, and until a board decision is taken to that effect, so it stands. We will discuss this topic at the next board meet, and when Nathan returns he can go about getting a quote for nice boards. Perhaps Liesel can design something.
As for the Cullinan column, plain grey only. No adverts or logos on the tank. We can erect a sign nearby referring to us and the owners.
My view is, we are heritage operators and would like to retain some things the way they were. If headboards were to bring in the dough, no problem, but I don't see that happening. Tasteful advertising is fine- but isn't that what the website is for?
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Gabor Kovacs
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Re: Headboards

Post by Gabor Kovacs »

Firstly, I placed the head-board on 2650 on the previous Tswane trip, and being that it was well pass 1800 when we could eventually throw the locos’ fire, and it the dark where there was no illumination to speak of, the head-board was forgotten, and not removed.
Maybe, if there just a few more hands helping with getting our trains / locos prepared, and on Sunday evenings stabled, then, certainly there should not be and excuse to have not removed the head-board

I'm amazed at the simple fact that at the time when at Hermanstad, getting ready to depart for that particular Tswane trip, absolutely no one even commented on the fact that there was a head-board was the smokebox door handle for that particular trip!

As far as I can remember, NO Exco member has even bothered to inform non-exco members that head-boards are not to be used, so I'm totally disappointed at the fact that even on this forum, communication proves to be somewhat elusive to say the least, so I ask the question why is FotR just as silent as HRASA, and on the “inner-circle” is kept up-to-date?

I think the Rovos head-boards that they use look damn smart, but they are manufacture / cast in brass. How can we even consider manufacturing something similar when 3117s' number-plates are just fibreglass and the club is pleading poverty that it would be expensive to have new brass plates manufactured, painted and fitted?

With regards to Kevin’s comment that publication editors will not accept headboard pics (free advertising) unless they are historical, many British publications that arrive in our book stores, where and assortment of both historical and “new age” head-boards are used on an assortment of trains, even youtube video clips are full of them!

I will scan and up-load, just for your to see, an article in which Chris J’s pictures have appeared, where one of our locos had the same head-board on. These pics were greatfully and proudly published in an eastern European rail magazine editor, and to this day not one bad work has been mentioned yet to me or others, so I don’t see that there should be a issue using head-boards to advertise FOTR.

Maybe the Exco should consider having white 3metre square decals to be produced and stuck on both sides of every locos’ tender!
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Kevin Wilson-Smith
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Re: Headboards

Post by Kevin Wilson-Smith »

Gabor, your Exco comments are relevant in relation to the communication - though I must admit that I did think minutes of the Meetings were available. Chris can confirm this.
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Your comments re the decals: Given the strong views expressed here on the value of advertising on the engine, and being quite willing to accept others views when they are expressed as strongly as has been the case, I think perhaps this should be looked at. Dylan indicated someone else does it. In all of this I would also to see Arno's input but neverless I am quite happy to suggest decals etc at the next Board meeting.
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John Ashworth
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Re: Headboards

Post by John Ashworth »

Gabor is right that Board decisions are not systematically communicated to members. The Board minutes are not routinely given to members.

In my view the Board minutes should be published in the members' section of the forum. Any personal, confidential or sensitive issues can be edited out, but the vast majority of the Board's discussions and decisions can and should be communicated to the members.

Chris J, do you think you could start doing that? Posting a slightly edited version of the Board minutes to the forum after each meeting?
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Chris Janisch
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Re: Headboards

Post by Chris Janisch »

Should be fine. After all, we are NOT a secret society like some others...
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Steve Appleton
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Re: Headboards

Post by Steve Appleton »

Hmmm,
I guess I must re-enter the fray.
There has been no new or recent board decision made regarding headboards. The last comment I can find about such is in the minutes of the October 2006 Board meeting: "Chris J spoke about headboards. He felt that our current headboards were ugly and superfluous. It was agreed that we do not need to run with them but a nice board can be used on the loco before departure when pictures are taken. Kevin suggested making a small neat professional brass board on the basis of the Rovos logo and this was supported."
So, from that, I read that the headboard is indeed optional.
It would seem to me that there is more than a little self-interest at play here. The argument for removing the headboard is advanced by the (mainly) photographer members; at least one on the basis that pics taken with the headboard in place will not be accepted to be published in certain journals. The inference being that pics that contain the headboard are valueless, like unfranked stamps.
I find that argument for removing the headboards facile. I care not whether the headboards are off or on (and in the last instance the board was on because it was put on and simply not removed: not for any ulterior reason). However I do care for marketing. I happen to believe that the headboard is the first thing (and in some instances the only thing) seen by linesiders, cars at crossings and casual photogs that identifies who we are and where to find us in cyberworld. That the web addy on it is dated is besides the point, because links to it are redirected anyway. If it can be proven that the thousands of quality pics published in obscure railway enthusiasts magazines bring in more money for FOTR than by announcing ourselves locally via a readily-visible headboard to the pubic at large, then I am for keeping it on.
Yes, a smarter, fancier, "more discrete" board would be nice, but we have got bigger things to worry about and, to quote John A, "who is going to do it?"
My last comment is that we must also not use the forum to attack indivduals over what they said or didn't say. Tempers get raised and, if we are not careful, ill-needed resignations by good members may be the consequence.
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John Ashworth
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Re: Headboards

Post by John Ashworth »

After talking to Kevin, and in the light of remarks in Steve's last post about discussions getting out of hand and tempers getting raised, I have moderated this thread slightly to reduce the temperature. I hope I have remained faithful to the gist of the conversation.
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Nathan Berelowitz
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Re: Headboards

Post by Nathan Berelowitz »

Hmm! Gabor, just a reply on the number plates for the 15F. We were approached by a friend of mine, who offered to cast replica plates in resin or whatever and the plate wil look "exactly" like the real thing, for no charge, as a donation to the club. I said that would be great, then if it looks like the real thing, then it will do and be less stealable. Also the possibility orf recasting replicas for resale was mentioned, but never fully explored. There were never lack of funds or pleads of poverty to go this route, it was an offer I accepted. That the other two operating locos of ours have pltaes in brass that seldom get polished by anyone, except on odd occasions, makes the task on 3117 simpler, as the plates retain their authentic semi polished look!

Headboards in a new design, should be no problem, who will design. We could not even get a new corporate logo designed by anyone some time ago when the call went out.If you ride the Harz railway in Germany, there are headboards on some locos.
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