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What happened to the Wrenn locomotive and tender moulds ?


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I used to have some Wrenn locomotives many years ago and I was told that the reason for the high prices at the time was that the loco moulds were destroyed in a fire. I am not sure that this is true. I think the moulds may still exist. I know Dapol ended up with many of the wagon moulds but I am not sure what happened to the loco and tender moulds.

 

I know they were not accurate scale models but they certainly did have a "presence" due to the weight in the bodies. Even some of the tenders were made of metal.

 

What were the bodies made of ? Was it white metal, mazak or something else ?

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The bodies were made of Mazak, the same as Dinky Toys. I am not absolutely sure but IIRC they were produced outside of the Basildon factory which produced the plastic moulded wagons. The wagons were assembled by 'out-workers' in their own homes, a process that would be unsuited to the manufacture of model locomotives.

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Some at least have ended up with the current Wrenn company, who currently offer the West Country at a price. (£80 for the basic body casting last time I looked.) I'm not sure if these are new production or old stocks though.

 

http://www.gandr-wrenn.co.uk/index.htm

 

There's plenty of Dublo and Wrenn still about. The prices are quite reasonable if you're not looking for mint/boxed.

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There's plenty of Dublo and Wrenn still about. The prices are quite reasonable if you're not looking for mint/boxed.

 

 

There is a red Coronation Scot King George VI on ebay at the moment for $900 Australian dollars. That is about 560 English pounds. He already has one bidder. I was hoping for something a bit cheaper. This may be a rare model as per the seller's description ; I am not really sure.

 

What I am curious about is this : If the models fetch this sort of money and somebody still has the moulds then is it not worth setting up production again ? I mean a whole working locomotive ; not just a body shell.

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I was under the impression that some of the moulds were destroyed in the Dapol factory fire (1990s?) which was why some things never reappeared. Some moulds appear to still exist, given that Dapol keeps issuing new liveries on the blue spot fish van.

 

Given that the Wrenn moulds came from Hornby Dublo, I would have thought that the other small problem is that those that still survive (especially of earlier models) would be getting a little worn.

 

I occasionally punt the odd bit of Hornby Dublo and Hornby Acho through Ebay, but I get the impression that there is no real market for the high prices as the stuff I sold never realised the silly prices that certain other sellers seemed to always get for the same items. In the end I gave up and still have a crate of items under my bed waiting for re-homing when I get around to it.

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Some of the ex-Airfix moulds were reported as being destroyed in the Dapol factory fire. Amongst them was the Lowmac/JCB, however they were discovered intact a few years later so perhaps there is a slight hope that one day some others will be rediscovered

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I believe many (and possibly most) of the ex-Wrenn, ex-HD moulds for the locos and (plastic) coaches are currently owned by a collector who operates the current incarnation of the Wrenn company. I get the impression they are happy selling off existing spare parts, but have no strong intention of re-starting manufacturing. They've had the moulds about 10 years now, and I don't think anything has happened with them yet. It may well be that either the moulds are incompatible with modern machinery or were sold with a contractual obligation not to restart manufacturing. I doubt all the moulds were too worn for further use.

 

The HD E3001 body shell was incorporated into the main Triang range and was scrapped fairly recently by the modern Hornby company.

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It possibly not just a question of having the moulds. Dublo and Wrenn bodies are high pressure die castings requiring spoecial (and expensive) equipment. Their prices seem high, but it's one of those situations where producing one is nearly as expensive as hundreds or even thousands.

 

However, why they supply the West Country in black, I'm at a loss to explain. Brunswick green or even grey primer would be much better. At around £80 for the body, it's a lot cheaper than the £600, I've seen for certain Wrenn items. A chassis can be obtained from eBay or possibly the specialist spares suppliers (G and R Wrenn can supply the block). (or you could buy a Hornby one.....)

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Wow...that Red Coronation King George VI (W3202) sold today for $1535. That is about 955 English Pounds. It is nice to see that somebody has that sort of money to spend on locos.

 

Thank you : I understand now about the moulding process. It is not like casting a few bits and pieces of white metal in the back yard with an old saucepan and a synthetic rubber mould.

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Wow...that Red Coronation King George VI (W3202) sold today for $1535. That is about 955 English Pounds. It is nice to see that somebody has that sort of money to spend on locos.

 

Thank you : I understand now about the moulding process. It is not like casting a few bits and pieces of white metal in the back yard with an old saucepan and a synthetic rubber mould.

Actually, the streamlined Coronation was a late addition to the Wrenn range, and actually used a whitemetal body supplied by N & C Keyser ('K's'). Problems with quality control meant that numbers made were low, hence the price.

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Just as an aside to the making of HD or Wrenn type locos, I have cast up a couple of bodies and chassis for technically adept HD collectors to make some of the locos that HD should have made, if they had not screwed up and gone out of business.

 

They have been cast in aluminium alloy, using the lost wax moulding method, allowing for a good amount of fine detail, but still retaining the 'feel' of Dublo or Wrenn locos. Initially, I have only made bodies and chassis in small batches, with most of the other parts being got, by the builder, from HD spares that are available. The runs were limited and what I have not kept for my layout, which was my original intention, have been sold to a few other collectors I know.

 

However, I have been asked by a number of HD runners and collectors to remake some of these and to do additional locos. There have been quite a few collectors asking if I can do complete RTR locos and I am currently looking into this as it does look quite feasable at a reasonable cost.

 

To date, I have made GWR Stars, GWR Great Bear, LMS Black 5, BR Class 5, a 3R V2 chassis, a streamlined Coronation body (better than the Ks unit) and Southern King Arthur class. I can repeat all these bodies and chassis, as I still have all the patterns and wax moulds.

 

I have been asked to look at making A2/3s, Princess Royal class, Royal Scot class, V2 class, GWR 2-6-2 and Coronation Sir William Stanier, amongst others.

 

So much as Hornby Dublo may have gone, some of us are trying to recreate the dream!

 

Handyman

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  • 4 weeks later...

"There's plenty of Dublo and Wrenn still about. The prices are quite reasonable if you're not looking for mint/boxed."

 

Apologies for being slightly off topic and not answering the original question. Some readers may be interested in knowing there is an interest in redoing original castings and models in liveries/finishes that HD-Wrenn never quite got round to. I`ve seen some truly excellent reproductions of Dublo finishes, I believe there is a guy that specialises in this, I saw some at the Alreford show a couple of years ago on John Ablett`s layout. The train collectors society may be able to assist if anyone is interested. Coaches/wagons/locos in tatty condition are easily available at toy fairs (do "swapmeets" still exist?)

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  • 7 months later...

I know this is a very late post by way of a reply however I found the thread via a google search looking for inspiration on the range of HD and W locos. II am wowed that you are doing bodies in alloy - just awesome. Can you post when you are doing a few as I would love to get in on this action? ANY of the above would be a fabulous project.

 

I have struggled with whitemetal kits and while I can get reasonable results they are fragile, not much fun to make and not at all kid friendly. Whole cast bodies in the HD style would be terrific (much like the old Gaiety Pannier tank kits).

 

A technical question - can you cast Mazak/Zamac in the lost wax method? If so it might be a great way to reuse the great stacks of dead cast chassis and toys about the place!

 

My personal dream is a triple casting in the HD/Wrenn style of the LMS garratt. So far I have built one from scratch using Triang/Hornby running gear and body work entirely made up of plasticard, bits of locos and pipe. It is recognisable and runs quite well powered by 2 can motors robbed from CD rom drives. Ideally HD wheel sets and motion from a pair of 2-6-4s would do well with a pair of modified or custom chassis.

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