The National Traction Engine Trust

Turin Charter

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INTRODUCTION The owners of historic vehicles and the curators of historic vehicle collections have been very successful in their efforts aimed at ensuring the preservation and operation of historic vehicles.

This Charter was passed by the FIVA to provide guidance for decisions and activities in relation to historic vehicles. It is the best way to preserve historic substance unaltered and to allow future generations to enjoy these cultural treasures.

OBJECTIVE The Turin Charter reunites the guiding principles for the use, upkeep, conservation, restoration, and repair of historic vehicles in active use. We hope that these guidelines will help our members in coming to reasonable and sustainable decisions.
It is complementary to the other Charters in force referring to the preservation of our cultural heritage.

DEFINITIONS As defined in this Charter, historic vehicles include automobiles, motorcycles, utility vehicles, trailers, bicycles and other mechanically operated vehicles as well as non-rail land vehicles powered by steam, electricity, petrol, or muscle power.

The scope of this Charter may also include buildings and infrastructures primarily related to historic vehicles and their period operation, such as factories, fuel stations or special roads and tracks. Furthermore we aim at preserving the special knowledge and skills historically related to the manufacture and operation of such vehicles.

Preservation means the care and prevention of deterioration by which the present condition, individual and memorial quality of an historic vehicle or object is preserved.

Conservation is a process aimed at preserving the condition of a vehicle or object. It includes any intervention serving to secure and stabilise the vehicle or object, as long as its historic substance, parts and materials, such as they be, are not altered and its historical or material documentary value are not at risk in any way. Conservation serves simply to prevent or at least delay continued deterioration. Usually such measures are not superficially visible.

Restoration is a process aimed at replacing missing parts or areas with the purpose of making visible an earlier state of the vehicle or object and/or structurally strengthening it as compared to its condition prior to the works. Generally, restoration will be more intrusive than conservation. Restoration is also careful of the “historic stock” and will attempt to preserve as much as possible of the authentic substance. Restored areas should harmonically blend in with the existing historic stock, but remain distinguishable on closer inspection.

Repair means the adaptation, refurbishment or replacement of existing or missing components. Repair aims first and foremost at implementing a pre-determined standard for mechanical integrity or in line with intended use. Repair does not care about the historic condition of components, the original materials or work techniques or the authentic substance of the vehicle; the only aim here is to make the object fully operable again.

Renovation concentrates on a more or less exact imitation of a “factory-new” appearance. Such a revision tries to extinguish all traces of real age and history on the vehicle, without much caring and on the expense of historic substance.

Vehicles or objects altered in this manner are in danger to loose their value as sources for cultural history. The renovation does normally not comply with the Charters approach on historic vehicles.


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Article 1
This Charter aims at preserving the history of vehicles and its tangible and intangible testimonials.

We propose to utilise any and all scientific and technical knowledge available as well as the organisations and facilities working in this area to ensure the preservation and operation of historic vehicles, including on public roads.

Article 2
Preservation and restoration as well as any related work processes are aimed at preserving historic vehicles both as significant technical and cultural artefacts and as milestones in the history of transport. As an integral part of this effort, the necessary traditional skills must be passed on to future generations.

Article 3
The permanent and sustainable care for the sum of a vehicle’s components and regular operation are essential to the survival of historic vehicles. The active use of historically valuable vehicles, including on public roads, is essential to the preservation and passing along of the traditional knowledge of processes to future generations and an important factor in understanding them.

Article 4
Socially acceptable and mutually beneficial forms of public use have always contributed towards the preservation of historic vehicles. Therefore it is important and desirable that they should be used.
However, in order to use them, historic vehicles should not be modified more than strictly necessary.
Such modifications should interfere as little as possible with the historic substance of the vehicles, they should not alter the vehicle’s appearance and they should be completely reversible.

Article 5
Historic vehicles should bear witness not only to their own role as means of transport but should also reflect their historic origins, the technical state of the art of their period and their impact on society.

Article 6
Any restoration is a highly specialised process aimed at preserving and exhibiting a vehicle’s aesthetic, functional and historic value. It should aim at understanding and considering the original design and the historic background of the individual vehicle. It should be based on respect for the individual historic entity before us and on information found in authentic documents.

Article 7 In the restoration of historic vehicles preference should be given to historically accurate materials and work techniques, unless such materials or techniques can no longer be used for security, legal or availability reasons.

Sometimes, traditional materials may not be adequate to the task of conserving the historic substance. As elsewhere in the field of restoration, modern materials and techniques may then be used instead, provided that they were proven adequate and durable in experiments or tried in practice.

Article 8 For the purposes of restoring an historic vehicle or object it is not required to return it to the original condition from its year of manufacture. Many vehicles gained their special significance only later in the course of their use. A restoration should take into account the related historic changes.

A restoration that would return a vehicle to the condition of a certain period should not be attempted without a careful examination of historical records, artefacts and documents from the period and without a restoration plan based on that study.

The components and materials replaced in the process should be identified with simple and permanent markings, for instance alphabetic stampings, to distinguish them from the historic substance.
A marking system has been successfully used in the restoration of historic rail vehicles:
NB = for “newly built” (as accurate as possible a copy in terms of type and materials & reproduced directly from a documented original)
FR = for “free reconstruction” (free reconstruction without using any direct historic model in terms of form, material or work technique. The part technically fulfils the function of a historic component utilised earlier)
CS = for “conservational stabilisation” (a later structural reinforcement added for conservation purposes, e.g. necessary to allow the use of a structurally undermined vehicle body. No such component was ever part of the historic substance)

Article 9 Any modern safety equipment whose installation is required by law should be integrated harmoniously and discreetly into the vehicle. On inspection, such additions or changes to the original structure should be clearly recognisable as such. Again, appropriate permanent markings should be used for identification and such installations should, as ever possible, be completely reversible.

Article 10 Any modifications required later for whatever reasons should respect the original’s structure and appearance. Ideally, such modifications should always be reversible, and any important original parts removed in the processes should be kept with the vehicle to allow later re-utilisation and to serve as reference for the originally existing substance.

Article 11 Each step in the conservation or restoration of an historic vehicle should be planned systematically and consistently documented in the course of the project. The project’s written and photographic record should be kept at least for the duration of the vehicle’s lifetime. The FIVA supports the safe storage of such documentation in either national or international databases.

Article 12 Any facilities and organisations involved in the preservation, conservation, restoration, repair and operation of historic vehicles must take appropriate steps to protect their records and archives.

Article 13 International and national governmental authorities and agencies should recognise non-profit organisations or associations involved in the preservation of historic vehicles and their tangible and intangible context as cultural institutions and assign them the status of charities.

Article 14 Institutions, as defined in this Charter, engaging in the preservation and passing on of knowledge required in the preservation and operation of historic vehicles should be recognised as cultural conservancies and granted appropriate exemptions and funding.

Article 15 Collections including documents, plans etc. relating to historic vehicles which are accessible for research should be recognised as part of the cultural heritage and protected as cultural property in accordance with the relevant international conventions.

The Charta of Turin Working Group Sunday, 20 March 2011 Thomas Kohler, Gundula Tutt, Rainer Hindrischedt, Yves Campion

31 Mar 2011