Scout Green on the West Coast main line is the location of this picture of EWS Class 92, 92 009 ‘Elgar’ wheeling a rake of ICA ‘Silver Bullets’ south to Willesden which was taken on the 6th June 2008.
The iconic ‘Silver Bullet’ tank wagons have been offered by Dapol in both OO and N gauge as high fidelity models, both in weathered and pristine condition. I use a rake of the N gauge models on my Dudley Heath layout where they perform beautifully and look great. Og the Dapol releases, they are amongst my favourite models.
The full-size wagons were constructed by Arbel Fauvet as a batch of 120 wagons for use both in the UK and Europe, featuring a distinctive and apparently sharply inclined tank barrel to assist he discharge of slurry – it is the tank shape that gives the wagons their distinctive appearance. Numbered 33 87 7898 000 to 119, they are SNCF registered and only one block of wagons see regular use in the UK. One well-documented flow is the famous train of china clay slurry from Burngullow to Irvine in Scotland, once hauled by pairs of St. Blazey allocated Class 37s until Class 66s ousted them after the introduction of the class under EWS ownership. Traffic changes means this flow no longer runs, and block trains of slurry for paper manufacturing run to and from Europe, worked by Class 92s over the West Coast main line.
Another flow utilising the tank wagon represented by the Dapol N gauge model originated from the now closed calcium carbonate works at Quidhampton, near Salisbury, a flow which ceased on 31st March 2009. The wagons were tripped to Eastleigh Yard for forwarding to Wembley Yard and this trip working has produced all sorts of motive power over the years including Class 47s, 58s, 66s and 73s. This particular trip working together with the trunk flow to Willesden offers modellers the chance to utilise the new Dapol Class 58 with these wagons, amongst others.
If you thought Dapol’s OO gauge Silver Bullet bogie slurry tank was a remarkable model, seeing one in N gauge (1:148 scale) is all the more eye-catching, especially when the level of detail applied to the smaller scale version is taken into consideration. The N gauge model is a dead ringer for its OO gauge counterpart; a model of a model, if you like, right down to the silver finish to the barrel tank walkway and filler hatch detail and the design of the underframe. Naturally, Dapol did its research carefully and that is reflected in both models.
Capturing the distinctive shape of this wagon’s barrel in model form was clearly mission-critical for its success and Dapol has achieved just that with its N gauge model, producing what has to be one of the most remarkable wagon models to be released in recent times. The N gauge model has the same good proportions as the OO gauge model together with silvering that faithfully represents the wagons when clean. The biggest problem for modellers is keeping finger prints from spoiling the finish! Panel seams and the conical ends are faithfully captured on the N gauge model, closely matching the prototype.
The barrel sits seamlessly on a moulded underframe which is adorned with a great deal of detail including brake components, air pipe runs and discharge pipes. The level of detail is very fine, yet robust enough to withstand rough handling.
The underframe has numerous details such as ferry hooks picked out in yellow, hand brake wheels in white and various items of printed detail applied to the sole bar and tank support frame adding the fine appearance of the model.
The model features a great deal of fine detail. From the top down, there is a moulded walkway and filler hatch moulding which is finely executed in plastic. Separate wire grab rails cab be found all over the model and the end platform detail is also separately applied. Brake wheels, discharge wheels, discharge pipes, brake equipment and ferry loops all appear to be separate fittings, nicely moulded and all contributing to the impressive specification of this model. There are parts for the modellers to fit too, including air brake pipes to the headstocks and dummy screw couplings for display models.
Without doubt, this model has a certain wow-factor built in, the same as it OO gauge counterpart. The shape, profile, proportions and finish all faithfully come together to create a remarkable model and in such a small scale too. The number of separately applied parts is noteworthy for an N gauge model as is the quality of printed detail. As stated earlier in the article, a particular favourite in my N gauge wagon fleet.