Bachmann FFA/FGA Freight­liner flats

◆ GAUGE ‘00’ ◆ MODEL Bachmann 38-625 FGA Freight­liner wag­ons (twin-pack); 38-626 FFA (sin­gle pack) ◆ PRICE £99.95 (twin-pack); £49.95 (sin­gle pack) ◆ AVAIL­ABIL­ITY Bachmann stock­ists,

Model Rail (UK) - - Reviews -

ne pos­i­tive and last­ing legacy of Beech­ing’s mod­erni­sa­tion plan for Bri­tish Rail was the Freight­liner con­cept. Em­ploy­ing a fleet of air-braked flat wag­ons, stan­dard­ised do­mes­tic and mar­itime con­tain­ers could be moved be­tween ports and in­land ter­mi­nals with ease. Manual han­dling and tran­ship­ment of loose goods would be a thing of the past, as in­ter­modal con­tain­ers could be lifted from train to ship or lorry, with the min­i­mum of fuss. ‘OO’ mod­ellers have been well served in terms of post-pri­vati­sa­tion in­ter­modal wag­ons from Hornby, Dapol and Bachmann, a few of which just about over­lap with the fi­nal days of BR. And yet, the clas­sic FFA/FGA wag­ons, launched in the mid-1960s, have been over­looked thus far, save for Hornby’s an­cient ver­sion that lingers in the bud­get Rail­road range. More dis­cern­ing mod­ellers have, there­fore, been faced with su­per-de­tail­ing those old Hornby wag­ons or build­ing etched metal kits, such as Colin Craig’s im­pres­sive of­fer­ing. Hap­pily, the sit­u­a­tion has now changed, with Bachmann’s much-an­tic­i­pated re­lease of the FFA/FGA Freight­liner flats, com­plete with an at­trac­tive ar­ray of con­tain­ers. Of­fered in twin-packs (FGA) and sin­gle wag­ons (FFA), it’s pos­si­ble to as­sem­ble au­then­tic five or four-car sets us­ing ‘outer’ and ‘in­ner’ wag­ons (see Factfile).


Straight from the box, Bachmann’s wag­ons are im­pres­sive, the open skele­tal na­ture of the su­per­struc­ture be­ing faith­fully ren­dered. Air brake equip­ment and a mod­icum of plumb­ing is pro­vided, along with cross-shafts for the hand­brake gear, all be­ing vis­i­ble from above when run­ning free of con­tain­ers. In fact, it’s al­most a shame to hide the ex­cel­lent de­tail by load­ing the wag­ons! The char­ac­ter of the bo­gies has been faith­fully cap­tured, with plenty of relief to the side frames. The disc wheels are also im­pres­sive, fea­tur­ing brake discs and calipers within the frames. All vi­tal di­men­sions ap­pear to have been scaled down cor­rectly, with the ‘outer’ FGA wag­ons be­ing pro­to­typ­i­cally longer than the ‘in­ner’ FFAS and sport­ing a lovely set of sprung buf­fers (of the cor­rect di­am­e­ter) at one end of each ve­hi­cle. The low-pro­file wagon body is ren­dered pre­dom­i­nantly from die-cast metal, with the lower truss­ing and bo­gies moulded in tough plas­tic. There­fore, the ve­hi­cles pos­sess ad­e­quate mass for re­li­able run­ning, with an in­di­vid­ual car fully loaded with Bachmann’s con­tain­ers weigh­ing in at 114g (47g un­laden). In­deed, this three-wagon set ran im­pec­ca­bly on plain track, across

This three-wagon set ran im­pec­ca­bly on plain track, across points, and suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ated sec­ond-ra­dius curves when loaded and empty

points, and suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ated sec­ond-ra­dius curves when loaded and empty. Piv­ot­ing auto-close-cou­pling units are pro­vided across all ve­hi­cles, with NEM cou­pling pock­ets ac­cept­ing tension locks or other com­pat­i­ble cou­plers at the ‘outer’ ends of the FGAS. For the ‘in­ner’ fac­ing ends, Bachmann has pro­vided short, fixed cou­pling bars, along with a con­vinc­ing ren­di­tion of sag­ging air pipes. Each wagon is sup­plied with a bag of ex­tra de­tails, in­clud­ing a sprue of plas­tic ‘twist lock’ fas­ten­ers, which are pushed into holes in the wagon frames from be­low, to fix the con­tain­ers in po­si­tion. How­ever, the fit of the con­tain­ers is not wholly se­cure, so be­ware of picking up a loaded wagon solely by the boxes. Two lengths of fas­ten­ers are pro­vided, cater­ing for raised or low­ered po­si­tions, de­pend­ing on the sizes and num­ber of con­tain­ers that you choose to run on each ve­hi­cle. Also pro­vided is a set of etched metal splasher cov­ers, de­signed to fix within the open fram­ing above the bo­gies. On the real thing, these plates were de­signed to pre­vent dirt splash­ing up from the wheels, al­though these were of­ten re­moved in ser­vice to ease main­te­nance. Dummy screw cou­plings and brake hoses (with at­ten­dant brack­ets) are also pro­vided for in­stal­la­tion, as re­quired. The sim­ple BR liv­ery of Rail blue (sides and ends) and black (ev­ery­thing else) has been ap­plied to a high stan­dard, with an ar­ray of leg­i­ble printed le­gends. The con­tain­ers have also been ren­dered to a very high stan­dard. The strik­ing grey and red Freight­liner liv­ery is suit­able for lay­outs set from 1966 through to the late 1970s, and the plas­tic con­tain­ers fea­ture plenty of de­tail relief on the sides and ends, in­clud­ing sep­a­rate door latch­ing poles and han­dles. Al­ter­na­tively, Bachmann is of­fer­ing a sim­i­lar trio of wag­ons loaded with a set of cor­ru­gated con­tain­ers, more suited to the 1980-1990s era, branded with a va­ri­ety of ship­ping com­pany lo­gos. Fur­ther­more, ex­tra va­ri­ety – and a broad­en­ing of eras – can be ob­tained by adding con­tain­ers from the C-rail In­ter­modal range.


Bachmann’s FFA/FGA wag­ons suc­cess­fully fill a gap­ing hole in RTR air-braked freight stock for BR and early pri­vati­sa­tion-era mod­ellers. With these earlystyle con­tain­ers, mod­ellers can recre­ate the 1966-1980 pe­riod, per­haps with Class 47, ‘Western’ or AC elec­tric trac­tion for longer rakes, while Type 2 or Type 3 diesel lo­co­mo­tives would be suit­able for shorter, ‘feeder’ ser­vices. Even by to­day’s stan­dards, these wag­ons seem a lit­tle pricey at first glance: you’re look­ing at al­most £250 just to as­sem­ble a pro­to­typ­i­cal five-car set. That said, with the at­ten­tion to de­tail and high-qual­ity fin­ish – plus the im­por­tance of the pro­to­type – they make for a wor­thy in­vest­ment.

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