Oxford Rail North British Jubilee Wagon
Until recently, there have never been any mainstream ready to run locomotives or stock suitable for the pre-group modeller of the Highland. Whilst there remains nothing that emanated out of Lochgorm, with the release by Oxford Rail of a NB 8 ton jubilee wagon we do at least have one that would have made it onto the system regularly!
The first of these wagons originated from 1887, the year of Victoria’s jubilee (hence their name) and the bulk were constructed at Cowlairs but with others from several outside contractors. The design was developed and eventually over 20,000 were constructed, forming the mainstay of the North British’s mineral fleet. The model represents an example of the diagram 16B wagons, built from 1896 and marginally longer than those that went before. Oxford Rail presently produce this in NB livery and five private owner liveries, recognising that many of the railway company’s vehicles were leased to collieries and took on their lessee’s branding.
Dimensionally, the model matches the prototype well and as a result the proportions capture the character of the prototype. One exception seems to be the stanchions to the fixed ends which are placed rather too close together. Although with such a large number of examples spread over many batches there may have had examples with this closer spacing, I have not been able to unearth any photographs to confirm this. This problem is not difficult to solve, as the end stanchions are separately applied with small spigots attaching them to the body – thus it is easy to prise them off and reattach them on fresh holes at the correct distance apart.
The model correctly incorporates scotch fulcrum brakes, although it provides one complete set per side. Although not wrong, it was more common for the wagon to be fitted with brakes to one side only and this variety can be provided by the relatively simple task of the removal of one set. In an approach that I have not seen before, the solebars are part of the body moulding with a separate chassis moulding that sits inside this. This does make the colour changes between the ironwork and the timber crisp but has resulted in the width between the W irons being narrower than usual – especially as the width over the solebars is a tad narrow. It is possible to convert the wagon to EM but it requires the shaving of a large degree of the inside of the W irons to take the increased width across the wheel faces. It is not possible to widen it further to accommodate P4 wheels, so to convert the wagon to P4 requires the replacement of the W irons in total. Few P4 modellers will be put off by this as with some carving away of some the inside of the solebars, Bill Bedford sprung W irons can readily be used. If the vehicle is to be kept as OO, the wheels can be retained as the correct split spoke wheels have been provided – a first I believe for a ready to run model.
The moulding is beautifully crisp throughout and the detail neatly incorporated. There are good amounts of separately added elements of detail – such as brake gear and buffers – assist in achieving a quality rendition of the prototype. They are also readily removed/reinstated, which is of assistance if you chose to enhance your model or convert it to one of the wider gauges. Rather peculiarly, a number of fairly obvious elements of ironwork to the solebar have been overlooked, including the crown plates. On the private owner variants these are visible so it appears to have been the intention to paint these on the model but this has not occurred in the North British liveried version for some reason. However, it is not particularly difficult to add these as they are available as etches from a number of sources. The most obvious issue with the model, however, is its colour; it is much too light for North British wagon grey and no amount of weathering will disguise this. This is a shame because the printing of its lettering is exquisite and any repaint will obliterate this.
Other points of detail that are not quite correct are the end hinges, part missing internal strapping, buffers that are too long for an unfitted wagon, overly skinny side door hinges and a few rivets that are in impossible positions. However, only the more fastidious modeller will want to change these (although this might include me!) and but for the colour this would be a “ready to plonk” model for most people. Helpfully, none of these points are insurmountable with a little effort and for those that want to improve the model, it will be a task of only a few hours.
So overall, I would commend this to the Scottish modeller of the pregroup or grouping era as it captures the look of these distinctively Scottish wagons even if it does really need a repaint. As I have hinted, I have attacked my wagon to correct these issues and convert it to P4; this will appear in the next blog post.