BLOG: Numbers game

Photo: Prototype Merry-Go-Round HAA hopper wagon 350000, on display at Locomotion, the NRM at Shildon. Photo: Mark Chivers


Scorching Summer weather and a recent holiday have meant that many of my modelling projects have been put to the back-burner for a while, although I have enjoyed a couple of therapeutic evenings recently, renumbering a few ‘OO’ gauge wagons.

With the patio doors flung open and a few wagons strewn across the dining room table, I’ve been personalising a rake of HAA Merry-Go-Round (MGR) hopper wagons that I’ve gradually acquired. So far, I have 15 MGR wagons, mostly the early Hornby (now Hornby RailRoad) model, which although not as detailed as the current high-fidelity model, can still hold its own with a little extra work. Oh, and by the way, in case you’re wondering why I’ve gone off on a tangent with my modelling interests from the usual Southern and Scottish projects, there is a plan.

Of the 15 wagons currently being renumbered, nine carry English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EW&S) branding, six are in BR Railfreight coal yellow and silver and a lone BR Railfreight red and silver model too. Each will undergo a similar makeover which includes new running numbers, removal of the large tension lock couplings, replacement metal wheels and appropriate weathering – some a little heavier than others.

So far, I’ve changed the Total Operations Processing System (TOPS) data panels on the wagons using Railtec Transfers’ sheet of ‘OO’ gauge HAA hopper wagon waterslide decals (Cat No. 7060). Invariably, the replacement number data panels simply slide over the top of the pre-printed ones – which makes it quick and simple – while additional elements such as depot branding is being added to a few of the BR Railfreight yellow examples, as are alternative HAA labels on some wagons. The decal sheet also includes Scottish Saltire decals, while there are different styles of data panel included too, for added variety.

Why have I been doing this? Well, Hornby Magazine’s next ‘OO’ gauge exhibition layout project will be a modern-era layout based on West Coast Main Line operations in the 1990s/2000s, with overhead line electrification equipment and modern signalling. Given our previous exhibition layouts have been set in the 1950s/1960s, it is likely we will need plenty of modern freight vehicles, as well as passenger rolling stock too. As I already had a few ‘OO’ Hornby Class 56 and Heljan Class 58 locomotives in my fleet, it seemed appropriate to develop a small rake of suitable wagons for them to haul – something I’ve been meaning to do for a few years!

Prototype MGR BR HAA hopper wagon 350000 on display at Locomotion, Shildon in 2014. Photo: Mark Chivers

Keep an eye out for more details on our forthcoming ‘OO’ gauge layout project both online and in Hornby Magazine Yearbook No. 11. Plus, regular readers will have noticed that we started this new project layout back in HM132 with the rebuilding of the Felton Cement Works with a West Coast Main Line theme – quite different from its previous rural North Eastern Region location in the 1960s. Its first exhibition appearance is planned to be on the Hornby Magazine stand at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition on November 24/25. See you there!

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