The Rapido Trains UK ‘OO’ gauge GWR V6 ‘Iron Mink’ covered vans have arrived, it might seem unusual for such a wagon to mentioned here you might be thinking… there is a reason, read on…
The GWR covered vans of all metal construction, therefore known as ‘Iron Minks’, appeared between 1888 and 1901 (after which their covered vans construction reverted to being built with wooden bodies) were built on 16’6″ underframes with a 9′ wheelbase and had a capacity of 8 tons, with over 4000 being built.
Due to the Governments re-armament programme, the fact the Southern Railway had not built any Gunpowder vans and only had 38 were in service (such as ex LSWR Diagram 1701) , a further 100 were apparently required from late 1937. It was decided to exchange 100 covered vans for GWR ‘Iron Minks’ and convert them as Improvised Gunpowder vans, they were to be returned at the end of the armament period or potentially the end of the war.
It does not appear to be documented exactly how many actually came to the Southern or for how long they stayed, but they were lettered SR with temporary SR numbers in the range 59001-100 and carried the SR code name ‘Cone’.
They were never allocated any SR Diagram number, and do not appear to to have been included within the SR Wagon registers, although they are very similar to the aforementioned LSWR Diagram 1701 Gunpowder vans, except the LSWR vans had lifting link brake gear rather than the two independent sets of brakes on the GWR Iron Minks.
As is now standard on the Rapido Trains UK they feature good underframe detail that includes nicely moulded beams, planking and central coupling rods/spring details and brake gear nicely in line with the wheels. Standard NEM slim line tension lock couplings are provided (on removable mounts for those that want to use 3 links) although they do protrude out past the end the buffers a little more than I personally prefer.
The brake handle correctly passes through the see through ratchet, rather than just being a solid moulding, a welcome development that is now starting to be seen on some of the more detailed new RTR wagons.
They also feature correct 8 spoked wheels on 26mm pin point axles that run in brass bearing cups, that, despite being slightly lighter than I would prefer at 32g, run very freely.
The black livery application is crisp and well printed with the red cross and red and white lettering and has an overall pleasing satin finish. The roof is mid grey which I prefer, although it is suggested that they might haver originally been white.
These excellent SR Improvised Gunpowder van versions are already sold out at Rapido Trains UK direct, but are still in stock at official retailers such as Kernow Model Rail Centre here.