Dapol HAA coal hopper
◆ GAUGE ‘O’ ◆ MODEL Dapol 7S-048-006 BR HAA 32t coal hopper 359180, early livery ◆ PRICE £54.95 ◆ AVAILABILITY Dapol stockists or www.dapol.co.uk
Dapol has received quite a bit of criticism for its ‘O’ gauge rolling stock. Some criticism is justified, thanks to one or two compromises too many on the odd model. But Dapol can well and truly turn the tables on the critics with its first modern image wagon, the HAA coal hopper. Your first impression when you lift the HAA is one of weight. This is a heavy beast (401g) thanks to its heavy die-cast underframe. The HAA’S distinctive shape is superbly captured and the model compares well to drawings published in David Monk-steel’s Merry-go-round on the Rails (HMRS, 2011). The hopper body – a blend of angles and odd curves – looks just right and features some very neat rivet detail. It’s supported by the belly band and end frames that give the wagons their character. Our sample’s belly band suffered from some misaligned parts but it didn’t detract from the overall impressive appearance. The heavy die-cast underframe is fitted with plastic running gear, handbrake and chute door gear. The metal wheels are free-running (one wheel on each side has a representation of the brake disc), there are sprung coupling hooks with three-link couplings and sprung buffers. The only issue with the underframe is that there isn’t enough relief immediately behind the headstock, Our review sample depicts 359180, which was built at Shildon in 1976 to Diagram 1/156 (Lot 3887). Wagons seldom receive the attention they deserve and so, consequently, published material is somewhat thin on the ground, especially when compared to locomotives that hauled them. Our subject for review is 359180 and there are no pictures of it either in David Monk-steel’s book nor on Paul Bartlett’s website (https://paulbartlett.zenfolio.com). We can only assume that the detail combination is correct for 359180. Dapol must be commended for spotting key variations. The line of horizontal rivets that spoils the smooth finish indicates that this HAA has received a replacement body. Originally, HAAS sported four stiffening ribs, but these took a pounding from coal loaders and were replaced with new bodies with steel sections.
HAAS were designed to discharge through their chute doors automatically (inspiration came from the London Underground’s tripcock signalling system) but there were manual door opening systems. There were two types of gear shield. The original style was more rounded, but replacement shields were more angular. B359180 sports the later style. Not all the manual door handles had a shield. Those without had an obvious hoop behind (sometimes it was more angular than rounded) and it’s one of the very few niggles that the hoop is missing. Galvanised steel is never going to be the easiest material to replicate in plastic, but Dapol’s grey finish is actually pretty effective. HAAS were rarely clean, so this model really would benefit from some weathering, particularly the distinctive stripes left by loading/unloading equipment. Our sample was finished in early livery with bauxite framing. This was replaced with the more familiar flame red colour. The printing and lettering is first class, but it’s definitely worth focusing your attention on the wagon’s worksplate. This is moulded onto the solebar but it’s so crisp that it looks like a separately fitted component. The finishing touch is a separately fitted plastic, non-working battery lamp, which just plugs into a hole in the headstock. The HAA feels like a real step forward in terms of quality and detail. It’s good value too – you get change from £55 – and suggests that further modern image wagons will match this standard. Come on Dapol, now you need to make a Class 58 to match! (RF)
The hopper body – a blend of angles and odd curves – looks just right and features some very neat rivet detail