A much over looked wagon yet one that played in important part in the life of heavy industry is the 20t Coke wagon, easily recognised by their high sides, fitted with wooden slats to allow the carriage of the much lighter mineral. According to the title “Wagons of the early British Railways era” by David Larkin the wagons were originally introduced for use by private owners. However, the LMS also ordered a batch to diagram 1/150. The model on offer here represents the build to diagram 1/151 built at Shilden works. Under TOPS they are classified HCP indicating they are from the hopper group of wagons with through pipe, but not fully fitted, hence the bauxite livery. These wagons are mot TOPS marked. However it took many years to complete the renumbering process and even then I suspect some escaped. There are some examples of the TOPS code were simply applied by hand rather then the more conventional stencil method. It would be quite easy to produce an alternative data panel. This would also have the advantage of being able to make individual numbers!! The only major difference between the two was that the later design had full metal ends whilst 1/150 had wooden slats at both ends. I am led to believe one of the more well known kit makers produce this version. Question for those in the know? Ware I have used the term slats for the wooden panels, I believe they are also known as “raves” perhaps somebody could correct me. From viewing the engineering samples to opening the box I was immediately impressed the the attention to detail. The main body is well constructed without feeling chunky. The metal uprights that are riveted to the wooden slates are delicately rendered as are the numerous rivets without looking over sized There also two steps at the right end of the body on each end Seperatly grab rails are firmly also attached. The inside of the hopper is again well detailed including a bracing strut mid way along the top of the metal body. Ribs and supporting struts are clearly moulded but again without looking toy like. Inside the bodywork there yet more rivets. The wooden slats that makes these wagons stand out from other general hoppers are clearly defined The under frame is offered in the same high standard of detail including miniature foot steps at each end that seam quite sturdy to the touch. The running gear is subtle adding to the overall great appearance of the model. A nice touch is the separately fitted handbrake that stands out well with the end of the leavers picked out in white. I suspect a little care will be required as I can see it easily being caught, and damaged. There are also tiny hooks, mounted on the chassis. The buffers although not sprung are metal as are the standard three hole wheels. As a precaution I checked these for gauging and found them all requiring easing out with my trusty brass gauge. Time well spent, preventing frustration later. The couplings are of the familiar NEM type allowing the fitting of KDs. or other coupling systems. However owing to the length of the wagon the NEM assembly is screw mounted to the under frame with a flexible self-centring “tail”. For the more authentic three link coupling a hook is also provided. ecoration as per the prototype is sparse. The model is offered in pristine condition. The body is in bauxite with appropriate wagon numbers in white on a black background. At the opposite end are some tiny markings that viewed under a very powerful magnifying glass reveal themselves to be a tiny grid. At the end of the body, located to the left of the vertical grab rail are standard OHLE flash warnings. The under frame is also appropriately marked out with the makers plate ware can be seen the wagon number. Personal view Well Done Hornby, you’ve pulled it off again. For one reason or another this type of wagon has to the best of my knowledge not been released. in RTR format, so fills a gap. The modern modeller is a hard task master demanding higher and higher standards. However I feel this delightful offering is going to tick many of the boxes. Costing £19.50 from Rails of Sheffield I paid slightly less than RRP. Value for money? For me anyway a resounding YES! This is a well made model with plenty to interest and will bring yet more variety to my freight fleet. If you like building for relaxation that’s great, but I suspect there would be very few modellers who could produce anything as detailed as this and most probably would find it difficult to match even the growing cost of the RTR offering. And now its time to enter service. By the nature of their work they were filthy so it off to Paul Bartletts wonderful site and out with the poster paints. Watch this space!!