Dapol’s new OO gauge ‘Silver Bullets’ (and a scratchbuild project of old)

Here it is: The Dapol OO gauge ‘Silver Bullet’ slurry tank wagon, famous of China Clay flows from Burngullow to Irvine in Scotland and calcium carbonate from Quidhampton near Salisbury. A fine looking specimen it is too, something for pairs of St. Blazey Class 37s to haul, or maybe a Class 60…or a Class 92 on the WCML.

Creating a vee tank barrel is not easy, as I can testify from my own scratch building attempts at slurry tank wagons. Nonetheless, nothing seems to deter Dapol in either OO or N gauge. The company has  done a pretty decent job of this complex wagon – dare I say considerably better than its EWS MBA model. The N gauge version is eagerly awaited.
In common with contemporary models, there are a large number of standalone parts, neatly fitted to the model including wire pipe runs and grab rails. Note the legible the data panel printing and accurate details. Whilst the silver chrome finish is a good representation of an ex-works wagon, it can be simply toned down with light weathering, retaining the character of the wagon in its first years of traffic before they were allowed to become completely coated in brake dust and slurry staining.

Printing of livery details is really neat and that tank filer hatch platform fits the tank barrel beautifully and without the usual unsightly slots in the barrel where the legs of the platform meet it. NEM coupler pockets for close coupling are included, together with RP25/110 wheels for operation on OO gauge track. The model is very free rolling and a rake of 12 or so will present nothing in the way of a challenge to a Class 37 or Class 60.

I am pretty relieved to say that the slurry tanks I scratch built about 12 years’ ago are based on a different type of ‘silver bullet’ tank wagon to that now offered by Dapol. It has a shallower tank angle and is slightly longer together with a wealth of differing details. I calculated the tank angle from side on photographs and painted it dull silver knowing that I would weather the model. They remain an important part of my fleet to this day, seeing use on my Dudley Heath Yard layout.
Such a model can take over 25 hours of modelling time to complete with the most basic of detail, consequently the version offered by Dapol is something of a relief on two fronts: it will save time in putting together a decent rake and (thankfully) Dapol chose the ‘other one’!So here it is: impressively finished and look at all those underframe parts too. By the time I had photographed this version of the model, the limited edition ‘weathered’ version for Kernow Models had all but sold out.

It bodes well for the KQA ‘pocket wagon’, samples of which were displayed on the Dapol stand at this weekend’s Model Rail exhibition (Glasgow SECC) together with the N gauge version of the ‘silver bullet’ which cannot be very far away now. It seems that Dapol is prepared to get on with producing some much needed wagons in both N and OO gauge and I suspect the ‘silver bullet’ is far from the end of the story.

As for that shiny tank barrel – it’s a great pristine finish and accurate for the cladding plates in as-built condition. However, it tested my studio lighting skills to the limit!


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