A Freightliner for Minories


Tom Cunnington


6th August 2020

Reading Time

3 minutes

Freightliners were a regular feature on the section of railway I overlooked as a child, running down off the WCML through Primrose Hill and Camden Road. The Hornby model is clearly very dated:

and I could never quite convince myself to buy the Colin Craig etched kits that I have jealously watched on other layouts, like Calcutta Sidings and Mostyn. Bachmann announced they were going to produce FFA/FGA and I placed the order with Model Junction in Slough and took advantage of their pre-order discount. Once they arrived they needed a bit of work to assemble and convert to EM.

The wheels as supplied are 11mm diameter on 25mm axles. They flanges look too deep to just pull out on the current axles. So I’ve used some DCC concepts 10.5mm wheels, which come on 26mm axles – you can see the differences in the first picture (also in the first picture is an AG axle just to see whether one might be easier than the other to change).

I tried to fit in a new axle without any adjustment, and you can see how far it deflected the sides of the bogie in this picture – so it needs some fettling.

The axles come with the brake discs on them – and for this first one I’ve not bothered to put them on the new wheels just to see that it works mechanically. But in fact it’s the brake pads themselves that are a bit fiddly – they make it more difficult to open out the plastic bearing to get the extra length for the 26mm axles to run freely. I’ve used the Micro-Mark truck tuner to do the opening out – but with the rubber removed so it fits by the brake pads which makes it more difficult to turn. But it did the job, and then a couple of strokes with a small file on the inside of the axle boxes and the new wheels slot into place.

This version has a variation, using the AG wheels. In this case I’ve reused the original axles and put on the Gibson wheels. It means less work on the bogies sides.

Both versions run freely on the test track. So yes it’s much easier than some other recent models, but does need some time and effort rather than a direct drop in.

Next up is mounting the splash guards and boxes. I’ve mixed them around a bit, with some gaps in both the splash plates and boxes, and the 30′ and 20′ slightly more random than supplied. The fiddly bit is putting the correct version of the tiny yellow twist locks in place. Both the twist locks, containers and splash plates are held in place with canopy glue, so it should be possible to move them around.

Next up, some renumbering and weathering..



3 thoughts on this post

  1. Gus Paul says:

    What is the formation you expect to run?

    1. Tom Cunnington says:

      I have enough to run 10 wagons – ie two sets of 5 – in each direction. Although at the moment they run as 8 car formations on Minories which is long enough….

  2. Stephen Siddle says:

    You might like to bear in mind the Anchor Butter Freightliner from Tilbury to Swindon which ran into the early 1990s, and should have crossed London.

    For that you’ll need ACT, ANL and OCL containers – 20’INS , 8′ high porthole reefers . Fortunately the original Hornby boxes were 8′ high, though a representation of the two “portholes” on the end (in and out blown-air reefer connections) would be needed .

    I started my career with ACT(A) at their Fenchurch St head office in the late 1980s , and one day when we were clearing out the Commercial Dept filing cabinet I found the internal file relating to ACT(A)’s arrangement with Hornby in the early 1970s to produce a promotional model based on the Hornby FFA with 3 containers in ACT livery. The indication was that additional production run would be released in the Australian market , where Hornby then had a local company and range (The Class 31 tricked up in NSWGR tuscan and yellow is best forgotten – never saw one of those in Sydney Yard!). I kept the file to prevent it being chucked away – there was a contemporary Triang-Hornby catalogue in it

    So I was a little surprised, not to say delighted some years later when I saw an old second-hand boxed Hornby FFA on sale at a show – with 3 ACT boxes. I managed to buy it for a very reasonable price and still have it tucked away

Leave a Reply

Thursday Track Nights

We are open on Thursday evenings from 7pm to 9pm at our Keen House clubrooms. Visitors are welcome, please come along and introduce yourself.


Keen House, 4 Calshot Street, London, N1 9DA

Become a member  

Get our newsletter

Sign up to receive all the latest updates direct to your inbox