Rapido Trains UK first announced these 00 gauge ready to run South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) / Southern Railway wagons in May 2021 and they have now arrived at retailers. These new models cover the Diagram 1355 seven-plank open and both the Diagram 1347 and Diagram 1349 five-plank opens built by the South Eastern & Chatham Railway on the same Maunsell/Lynes steel underframe.
Graham asked: “should this review be written in the style of a Rapido marketing email,?” but Muz replied: “Right! Stop that! It’s silly.” (with apologies to Monty Python).
I will let the photographs show how good these wagons are and provide a welcome addition to any SECR / SR modellers fleet. I have only purchased some of the SR versions, but SECR grey and BR Grey and BR Departmental versions are also available (see the original announcement here for the full list).
Some people, without a full understanding of the manufacturing process and where production and overheads costs lie, might crawl away at the RRP of £32.95; and whilst there might still be other manufacturer’s wagons currently available at a cheaper prices the realistic market prices are certainly changing as all costs rise. The models can of course be purchased from retailers such as Kernow Model Rail Centre at a slight discounted price.
The 7 plank open, later SR Diagram 1355, were the SECR’s most numerous wagon with 2,121 wagons built between 1915 and 1927. The SR later fitted a sheet rail. British Railways had over 70 wagons still in service in the 1960s and the last withdrawals were not until the 1970s.
The 5 plank opens utilised the same steel chassis as the 7 plank wagons, 550 were built between 1920 and 1925 with standard buffers that became SR Diagram 1347. A further 150 were built 1921/2 with the self-contained buffer type, as on the 7 plank D1355 wagons, and became SR Diagram 1349. They were withdrawn in the early 1960s.
All three versions of the models, sharing the same underframe, have accurate body detail, including nicely planked insides and now becoming much more common on wagon releases good underframe detail that includes both etched and wire parts. They also feature nice split spoked wheels on 26mm pin point axles that run in brass bearing cups, that along with a with a weight of 32/33g ensures very free running.
On my examples, as can be seen in the images, a number of the self contained buffers were glued in at wonky angles, but being separately applied parts these can be carefully reaffixed.
The livery application is crisp and well printed. I know for a fact that Rapido have used the same paint colour reference for the SR brown as the Kernow Model Rail Centre used on their ex LSWR/SR D1541 Road Vans, although this appears to be a slightly lighter but still more than acceptable, interpretation of the colour possibly due to the more satin finish, (and even lighter with the lighting I have used in my studio), on these wagons.
The tooling allows for both taped plain and the self-contained buffer types for the 5 plank wagons. To achieve the 7 plank versions fitted with the sheet rail, a pre shaped wire rail along with its moulded mounting brackets for each end of the wagon have been supplied as separate parts for the use to fit (glue) into position (instructions on fitting is included with each wagon).
The holes in the mounting brackets for the sheet rail will need to be opened out very slightly to ensure a good fit. The one slight downside is that the rail can only be positioned in the upright position, as it would be when a sheet was covering the wagon and not, without some modification, in the sideways stowed position when no sheet was fitted.
[Edit 20/05/22] To demonstrate the effect that the factory satin finsih has on the paint colour as mentioned above, the picture left shows a comparison with one of the Rapido wagons given a coat of Testors Dullcoat matt varnish and brings the colour much closer to the Kernow Model Rail Centre ex LSWR/SR D1541 Road Vans, and therefore looking much better.
The sensible choice of body and underframe combination by Rapido Trains UK provides SECR / SR modellers with three different wagon diagrams from one set of tooling and is an approach for choosing wagon types to produce that Rapido Trains UK are have also undertaken with their announcement in January of the ex SECR Diagram 1426 covered van and the D1744 ballast wagon that also share a common underframe (hopefully with straight buffers…).