Model Rail (UK) - - Reviews -

The ship­ping con­tainer has rev­o­lu­tionised the global lo­gis­tics in­dus­try and en­ables goods to be smoothly trans­ferred from ship to road to rail. But the re­cent adop­tion of 9ft 6in tall con­tain­ers threat­ened to in­ter­rupt the smooth flow of con­tain­ers - that ex­tra foot over the tra­di­tional 8ft 6in con­tainer meant that they were too tall for Bri­tain’s rail net­work, and they ei­ther had to be con­veyed in spe­cial low-height wag­ons, or go by road. Wagon builder W.H. Davies de­vel­oped a so­lu­tion: the ‘Su­per Low’ con­tainer flat (coded IDA un­der TOPS). This ve­hi­cle, which op­er­ates in fixed pairs, en­ables 9ft 6in con­tain­ers to be car­ried across vir­tu­ally the whole of the rail net­work at 75mph. Dapol an­nounced that it would pro­duce the ‘Su­per Low’ con­tainer flats when it un­veiled its plans to pro­duce the Class 68 in late 2013. The ‘68’ ar­rived ear­lier this year, and now the wag­ons have landed, too. First im­pres­sions are very good although, be­ing con­tainer wag­ons, there’s not a lot to look at! The DRS blue is well fin­ished and the myr­iad let­ter­ing, lo­gos and icons are beau­ti­fully printed. You can even read DRS’ tele­phone and fax num­bers on the side, al­beit un­der a mag­ni­fier. Only the IDA ex­pert is likely to note that some bits of pipework are sup­posed to be yel­low. De­spite their skele­tal looks, these wag­ons are weighty and have cen­tral die-cast spines. The ad­di­tional plas­tic de­tails are neatly ren­dered and par­tic­u­larly fine in places.


The Stan­dard Car Truck Com­pany bo­gies, the se­cret weapon that al­lowed W.H. Davies to pro­duce the IDA, are also well fin­ished. The wheels are tiny - just 7.5mm di­am­e­ter. The only vis­ual de­trac­tor here is that the axles are more vis­i­ble on the model than in re­al­ity; the rea­son is be­cause the cen­tral spine looks a bit slim­mer in or­der to en­able the bo­gies to pivot freely. With that in mind, you can for­give this slight dis­crep­ancy. There are NEM cou­pling pock­ets at each end. They’re on a sprung cam ar­range­ment, but the spring is per­haps a lit­tle on the stiff side and it meant that the IDA kept un­cou­pling on our test track. The wag­ons are joined by a cou­pling bar that clips into the NEM pock­ets. There are moulded rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the brake pipes, which is a neat touch. You will need to re­move one of the cou­pling bars be­fore you cou­ple the ‘twins’ to­gether. The ‘Su­per Lows’ per­formed well on our test track and ne­go­ti­ated first ra­dius curves and point­work with ease, even at high speed. Aside from the oc­ca­sional un­war­ranted un­cou­pling, per­for­mance was top notch. The only other nig­gle that we found with our sam­ple was the odd bro­ken part, in­clud­ing one of the buffer­heads. That aside, there’s noth­ing much else to com­plain about. In fact, it seems churl­ish to crit­i­cise these wag­ons when you con­sider that you can get a pair of highly de­tailed, well fin­ished bo­gie wag­ons for less than £45. There is, of course, less ma­te­rial in­volved in their con­struc­tion, but that still makes them ex­cel­lent value. Well done Dapol.


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