Background

HBA/HEA Hoppers

Coal hoppers, in the form of HAA Merry Go Round (MGR) hoppers, were some of the first wagons constructed as the air braked era dawned. However, it was to be a further 12 years before a more general use hopper appeared.

Although a world leading concept the MGR system required expensive automatic unloading equipment that would be unjustifiable at many factories, ports and coal concentration depots. As a consequence, much of the traffic to these locations was still conveyed in vacuum braked and unfitted hopper and open mineral wagons with relatively low speeds and capacities.

The prototype HBA hopper was constructed at Shildon to lot 3881 in 1976 and very soon after work began on lot 3885, also at Shildon, which would eventually swell the fleet to 1998 wagons, with the last two under frames constructed being diverted to prototype projects. The wagons were substantially constructed from steel with integral hoppers, supports and under frames.

Early versions of the wagons had a centrally located access ladder at each end with thin supports at the corners of the hopper body. Somewhere in the range before No. 360242 this arrangement was modified to an offset ladder at the left hand side and no corner supports.

The running gear as constructed featured weighing gear for a self adjusting brake system which utilised disc brakes. The wagons were originally constructed with 13 leaf BR friction link suspension which allowed an maximum speed of 60 mph when loaded but only 45 mph when empty. Throughout the construction period a number of wagons were out shopped with experimental suspension systems, none of which were really successful. In 1979 the decision was taken to alter the suspension of the wagons to allow them to work at 60 mph irrespective of their loaded state. Consequently, Nos. 361782 - 361796 & 361799 were fitted with Bruninghaus suspension at the time of construction.

This modification was an immediate success and wagons from No. 361800 were also built with Bruninghaus suspension from new. These wagons were also coded TOPS coded HBA like the earlier wagons until 1981 when the decision was taken to differentiate between the types and the Bruninghaus sprung examples gained the TOPS code HEA. At the same time it was decided to respring the earlier examples in the same way and as this took place they too gained the HEA TOPS code. It was not until 1985 that this respringing was completed.

Carrying on the story of the HEA Hoppers this expansion provides many of the liveries and changes that have taken place since the formation of the shadow privatisation companies and the subsequent privatisation of the freight business. The new liveries feature updated overhead warning flashes and in some cases the lettering has been renewed to reflect the years that have passed since it was originally applied. The only physical modifications have been the removal of the access ladders at the wagon ends to reflect their removal from about 2002.

To complete the pack a manual in the style of a period BR official booklet is included giving more details about the models, their use in scenarios and other important information.

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