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‘Esso’ Tanker Train - The Tanks

Sylvian Tennant



The Dapol 20t tank wagons is a simple kit top produce, one I actually would recommend to anyone who was starting out or wanted an add some non-taxing details. However, there were a few slight hiccups when opening most of the kits. Broken parts as you can see here.


This isn’t a major, if incredibly irritating, problem. So first check all of the parts and prepare to spend the best part of a hour trying to rectify any problems you come across!

I started with the barrel and this was the first of my modifications. I added a 10 gram weight perched upon a bit of spare sprue inside. The weight it self is self adhesive but I added a coat of liquid poly just as insurance.


The completed barrel should look something like this and should naturally sit the right way up with the newly added weight.


If it doesn’t…panic!

The chassis was again a straight forward build initially. I should have bored the holes for the braking gear on the chassis and brake blocks BEFORE this stage but I left it until later. For ease of the reader I have included it in this part. I used a 1mm drill bit for the hangers and 0.55mm for the brake shoes and safety bars, be careful as the hangers are prone to snap and cause a lot of foul language! I also could have added buffers here too, but I seem to have taken these photos before I did!




The major modifications begin after this stage!

I ended up using Hornby narrow couplings instead of the ones provided. I would suggest that if this is your first kit to use the ones they provide, I learnt a whole spectrum of colourful language whilst trying to super glue them to the chassis and make them work.


Unfoundedly I didn’t think this through and went I tried the train it kept derailing on the 2nd radius curves. So unless you plan to run your own train on wider, non-train set curves then you may need to select (or keep) different couplings or, like me remove one of the hooks. Since I was planning to keep it as a block train I didn’t really bother me. However, MAKE SURE, the hook align with the loops if you are going down this route!


If you decide to go down this route and want to add the under frame details as I did you’ll have to GENTLY file away a angle at the back of the coupling.


As I said, the Dapol kit was great for basic mods because it is itself quite basic. One major difference you will find is the inclusion of a discharge pipe along the underbelly. Check the length with the chassis and gentle indent with the cutters.


This is followed up by the braking gear. First the tie bars between the break shoes, made from 0.5mm brass wire.


Then I used the staples to create the safety bracket (things). Bend and cut accordingly using the cutters and pliers.


Unfortunately I wasn’t too particular as to their positioning, they should be closer to the spine.


I bit of the inner brackets should be sticking out of the top of the chassis, simply cut this bit off.


The parts connecting the brakes to the cylinders were created using plastic tubing and microstip. I used the same technique to fit the rod as I did to fit the tube. However now there should be a bore in the hangers to help it sit there. (ignore the file!)


The connecting bars were measure between the cylinders and rod to judge the distance. Once there were marked out and cut. I cut a slight section out of them.


I attached them to the cylinders making sure they sat on the rod. Once they had set I then glued them to the rod.


I left the ladders unmodified because I couldn’t be bothered updating them and they looked alright. I also left out the support brackets too because they look simply but are a blooming nuisance!

Here is the rake of unpainted wagons


This was actually taken before I updated the chassis! But next time I will carry the work out in this order!




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Probably better than the original instructions, which in many kits tend to be rather vague. A jolly useful article, thank you.



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Why thank you smile.gif, I know how you feel, I built a Parkside Bolster wagon blind the other night because the instructions were blooming useless!


I must also point out that the main elements of the wagons (the chassis, nameplates, barrel & ladders/walkway) arn't glued on yet whilst I'm waiting to paint them. Everything I have used I will list out when all of the articles are complete!!! which may take some time!!!


Sylvian smile.gif

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They do look good, a lot better than ones built straight of the packet. Iain Rice also did an upgrade to this kit in his book on improving kit built wagons. Don't know if it is still available new but for those of you who build wagon kits it is well worth a look. Did similar books on improving RTR wagons and RTR locomotives as well.

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was that the book about improving 4mm scale wagons cos if it is...I ranted about it then I actually ended up using it as a source of inspiration!!! (gah!!!) apologies to the author of that book, it was really good. I was just really inpatient!!!


Thank you though :) hopefully when they're painted and weathered they're look a whole lot better!

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Just one caveat. In both the article on modelling the MTV (using the Dapol chassis and scratchbuilt body) in the most recent edition of 'Update', and in the chapter on modifying one of the tanks to represent a Class A one in Geoff Kent's 'The 4mm Wagon; Volume 2', mention is made of the axle-centres not being the same on both solebars. The discrepancy is fairly small, but sufficent that, if left unmodified, the two axles will not be parallel to one another, thus causing problems with the running and trackholding qualities.

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I have found that (especially without brass bearings) the running qualities are livable yet you do have the issue of wobbly wagons and the occasional derailment (though most of mine was down to a bad desicion with couplings). I still have occasional issues with them but they seem to be okay now, the barrier wagons as well!


I'm told that the bearing (like with most things) may remedy the situation but you would know more than me!

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Those old Airfix kits really do stand the test of time - add the Presflo and Prestwin to this tank.


The underframe detailing in my view makes a lot of difference, and brings the whole thing up to modern standards



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