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Heljan Dogfishes


Chevetter

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Does anyone have an opinion on the Heljan Dogfish? Good model, detailed? Etc.?

 

Am thinking of getting 4 to go with a Hornby Shark. They don't seem to do them in rust-covered brown though which is the colour they should be!

 

Would I be better off with a Cambrian kit?

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Personally I think the Heljan Dogfish is an excellent model and the Cambrian kit is a "Dogfish" to make.

With some decent weathering applied, in the case of mine by Roomey, I have a very nice rake of Heljan Dogfish, Bachmann SeaLions and two Cambrian Catfish. Apart from the issue that the early ones had non insulated wheels which shorted the track out I've not heard a bad word against them.

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Apart from the issue that the early ones had non insulated wheels which shorted the track out I've not heard a bad word against them.

There's been quite a few negative comments in the Model press and on the web about the Heljan Dogfish - notably the omission of dozens of prominent rivets and the wrong section hopper support brackets. The Cambrian kit can be a beggar to make (I've got 9 of them), but at the price Heljan are charging for their effort, their Dogfish should be a much better model than it actually is.

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There's been quite a few negative comments in the Model press and on the web about the Heljan Dogfish - notably the omission of dozens of prominent rivets and the wrong section hopper support brackets. The Cambrian kit can be a beggar to make (I've got 9 of them), but at the price Heljan are charging for their effort, their Dogfish should be a much better model than it actually is.

Fair comment. I've not read any of the reviews for them and they're certainly not cheap.

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Depends if you're a rivet counter or not then, I guess. I never had the chance or inclination to count ballast wagon rivets when I used to watch the real railway - they were just something workaday trundling along behind the real focus of my affections, and I'd wager that's the role played by upwards of 90% of ballast wagons on people's model railways.

 

So, if they look like a Dogfish to you (and I think you'll admit they do because you had to ask, after all), then go for it. If, however, you sleep with a huge hi-res print of the real thing above your bed and the lack of Danish rivets is going to send you mental, or if you get a kick from cursing over Cambrian kits, then that's presumably the course to take.

 

I picked mine up in packs of four, which was cheap in itself, then sold a couple on eBay which basically meant I ended up with six for the price of four or thereabouts. Weathered they look great, and after all unless you model P4 or EM with three-link couplings then you've already sold a goodly slice of your soul to Mistress Compromise. wink.gif

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Guest jim s-w

Hiya

 

I would recommend the Cambrian kit myself. Here's one of mine.

 

dogfish.jpg

 

For me its not the lack of rivets with the Heljan one but the fact that the underframe is virtually 2D to look at - needs far more relief. I did have a couple but I was that dissapointed I gave them away,

 

Cheers

 

Jim

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Oooh, looks like i've started a bit of a disagreement ;)

 

Well, basically I ordered a Horby Shark today because I think they look quite cool. Dad's birthday on tuesday but he's already getting a G2a, 3 box vans and a brake van so he's probably got enough to be going on with.

 

Thought I might construct him a ballast train for xmas thoguh including the Shark, with maybe some Dogfish... or could always go with Catfish etc. to run behind his BR green class 20. Was even thinking of using EM/P4 style couplings since the rake will always stay together. Don't mind making kits seeing as I have 9 months to play with - just want to get him something interesting and different. If I could make the train actually spread ballast that would be awesome :P

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Hehehehe! No disagreement - I just liked conjuring the image of wagon-fanciers lying there staring up at a frieze of their favourite hardware, and counting rivets instead of sheep. Each to their own, I just don't have the time to worry about it.

 

For me locos have to look right and capture the elusive signature features of the real thing (no Heljan Westerns here), I can forgive minor indiscretions with RTR coaches (Bachmann's MkI roof groynes, famously) and to be honest the quality, straight from the box, of newly issued wagons suited to my era is such that I wouldn't go back to the (for me) bad old days of kit-built. My time is split accordingly in decreasing ratios: locos, LHCS, wagons, and it's the freight consists that make or break it in my analysis, not the minute detail of each four-wheeler; heaven forbid there are some individual wagons running round with the same numbers - to The Tower with him at once!

 

As you say, if time's no object and you enjoy kit-building then that's your baby. In fact, I actually like the idea that as a gift to your dad, the kit built element makes it that much more personal. Power to your elbow, Chevetter. biggrin.gif

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I've got a few of the Heljan ones.

They're ok. Not great, but ok.

One thing I really dislike about them is the hight of the couplings are lower then usual. Sometimes I run mine in a rake with Hornby Seacows (or SeaLions, I can never remember) and they don't couple nicely. Could be a problem if your trackwork isn't 100%.

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I've got a few of the Heljan ones.

They're ok. Not great, but ok.

One thing I really dislike about them is the hight of the couplings are lower then usual. Sometimes I run mine in a rake with Hornby Seacows (or SeaLions, I can never remember) and they don't couple nicely. Could be a problem if your trackwork isn't 100%.

 

I bought two of these recently and found they would not run on my layout because (1) the low couplings that you mention and (2) there are details (air pipes?) that stop the couplings from moving sideways. The couplings were low enough to catch on the rails at points and their inability to move sideways pushed the back of each truck off the rails on second radius curves. However, they now run beautifully - I replaced the couplings with the Bachmann version (the originals just pull out and the Bachmann's push in) and the air pipes can be removed or twisted out of the way. Coupling with locos and other wagons is now no problem. A pity they weren't right in the first palce though.

 

Harold.

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I bought two of these recently and found they would not run on my layout because (1) the low couplings that you mention and (2) there are details (air pipes?) that stop the couplings from moving sideways. The couplings were low enough to catch on the rails at points and their inability to move sideways pushed the back of each truck off the rails on second radius curves. However, they now run beautifully - I replaced the couplings with the Bachmann version (the originals just pull out and the Bachmann's push in) and the air pipes can be removed or twisted out of the way. Coupling with locos and other wagons is now no problem. A pity they weren't right in the first palce though.

 

Harold.

 

Yes Harold, I've had mine a couple of years - possibly even more than that actually - and I seem to remember having to cut off some pipes too.

Even with Bachmann couplings I'd still immagine they'd be too low though, as it's actually the socket that's posistioned too low, isn't it?

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If I could make the train actually spread ballast that would be awesome

 

While it's a nice idea in principle, that quantity of loose ballast on your layout is almost guaranteed to start ruining locos ;)

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Its the old pros and cons thing here - if you are prepared to put up with the innacuracies then Heljan is the way to go - they can be improved, Steve Hall did a very good article in MRJ a few years back just after they first came out - i shall have to try to find which issue.

 

The Cambrian, what can I say. Ive built 3, the underframe IMHO is far to flimsy and flexible for my liking and I ended up building the last with frames made from Brass section in order to make it more rigid and strengthen it. but as Jim says it does look better than the Danish offering, plus the satisfaction of building a kit well!

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It was in MRJ 163 Andy, and thanks for the heads up - an article I wasn't directly interested in at the time, but I will now revisit it smile.gif

 

(Memo to self - for many modelling related questions, check your own magazine indexes first wink.gif )

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Guest jim s-w

If I could make the train actually spread ballast that would be awesome :P

 

Heh heh - closest I got was this diorama!

 

diorama1.jpeg

 

diorama3.jpeg

 

Regardless of where you source your dogfish from its worth getting some of these

 

Cheers

 

Jim

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Yes Harold, I've had mine a couple of years - possibly even more than that actually - and I seem to remember having to cut off some pipes too.

Even with Bachmann couplings I'd still immagine they'd be too low though, as it's actually the socket that's posistioned too low, isn't it?

 

Surprisingly, simply replacing the Heljan NEMs with the Bachmann cured the height issue. There must be something different about them as I didn't do anything with the sockets. It was a hint that I picked up from someone on RMWeb just as I was thinking of returning the wagons as "not fit for purpose"!

 

Harold.

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Guest Max Stafford

If you're running a fixed rake of Dogfyshe, another coupling type worthy of consideration is the Roco or Hornby close coupler with your standard type on the ends.

 

Dave.

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I've got a few of the Heljan ones.

They're ok. Not great, but ok.

One thing I really dislike about them is the hight of the couplings are lower then usual. Sometimes I run mine in a rake with Hornby Seacows (or SeaLions, I can never remember) and they don't couple nicely. Could be a problem if your trackwork isn't 100%.

 

Totally agree on the coupling height comment - fitted some Kadees to mine and the loop was so low it fouled the trackwork and wouldn't couple to other wagons very well. I ended up totally removing the Heljan NEM box and fitting Kadee (no 5s?) at the correct height using the Kadee mounting height block.

 

Would agree the wagons as a whole are ok if you don't get too close and know what you're looking at. If your skilled with making plastic kits the Cambrian model is good but a bit tricky. If not go for the Heljan and put up with the missing rivets etc. Horses for courses.

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  • 2 years later...

I have just bought a pack of dogfish from Kernow Model Railway Center. The coupler problem you all talk about on this wagons I haven't experienced yet but when you run them in a rake the coupler height change from slack to tourt just like the real wagons with the instanters as they are a pig to get them right. I have been running them with a Hornby Shark and Tope ballest Hoppers. I am also able to shunt the dogfish over peco code 100 points without problems.

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