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This section details currently available ready to run rolling stock and
their prototypical basis where such information has been found. I have
included full details of discontinued ranges, including the former Lima and Hornby Minitrix offerings in the survey as these will continue to be
available second hand.
To assist people planing to kit-bash their own wagons I have included details of the chassis provided, all dimensions are given in millimetres. 'OH' is length over headstocks (length over buffers is dependant on the buffers used), 'WB' is wheel base, and 'OA' is the amount of track occupied when the wagon is in a train. This latter figure is intended to enable some degree of planning prior to obtaining the stock.
If you apply British N standards divide the figures quoted in millimeters by 2.05 to give dimensions in feet (or multiply by 148 to get full size in millimeters), if your are modelling to 2mm fine-scale, which is 1:152, simply divide by 2 to get dimensions in feet.
Continental N gauge models use a scale of 1:160, or 1.9 mm to the foot, the British loading gauge (tunnel and bridge clearances) being smaller than the continental standards the engines are smaller so the British came up with their own scale to accommodate the continental loco mechanisms in British outline locos. One slight benefit is that bogies from continental manufacturers, with the smaller wheels, look better on Freightliner Conflats than those produced by British manufacturers using their standard wheels.
All ready to run items use a variation on the standard Arnold coupler, and will link up without serious problems. One tip is to avoid curves of less than 12 inches radius as this does seem to upset couplers from different manufacturers on occasion.
Peco offer an electromagnetic uncoupling system for use with their un-sprung Else type coupling based on an original idea by the well known N Gauge modeller George Nutter. This comprises a small metal clip which fits on the coupling itself and an electro magnet which is fitted under the track. Seep have produced a version designed to operate sprung couplers such as those on Graham Farish and continental models for which a stronger electromagnet is provided. This is a little more obtrusive than the Peco type, but is said to work well.
There are alternative couplers, the best known is the Mike Bryant tension-lock type which was designed to use a permanent magnet fixed on top of the sleepers but they can be used with electromagnets. The Americans offer the Kadee coupler, which allows you to uncouple two wagons over the electromagnetic uncoupler, them push them further along the track. This is handy in that it allows you to position individual wagons in locations where there is no uncoupling magnet.
There are problems with all the alternative coupling types, obviously they add to the cost and you usually need to modify the wagons to carry the new couplings. In the case of bogie stock this latter issue can present difficulties. Also modified wagons will not then couple to standard ready to run items (I am told the American Kadee will couple up to standard couplings but I have not tried this myself and I suspect it would be liable to fail).
Parkside Dundas have now released a range of spoked, three hole and disc wheels to fit Peco chassis, these will fit Graham Farish chassis but this entails fitting them and running the wagon back and forth to free up the bearings. You may also be able to use these with other chassis however I have not tried this myself.
Private owner wagons usually had spoked wheels whilst the railway company stock had in the main changed to three hole or disc wheels by the mid 1930's. As a general rule steel bodied wagons were all fitted with discs. Some coaching stock, notably the Graham Farish ex-NER horse box, were fitted with 'Mansell' wheels, which had a brown wooden centre with a steel tyre. Having said which British Railways still operated quite a number of vehicles with spoked wheels as recently as the 1970s, when modelling a specific prototype it is best to look for a photograph.
General livery information along with notes on livery modifications and painting and lettering kits and modified vehicles, has been discussed under Livery earlier, however any errors noted in the ready to run models are mentioned in the relevant entry.