Every now and then a new model is released that makes you just want to run out and buy it. Or in the case of Southern Rail Models, sell-off your American N scale collection and switch to modelling Australian HO scale. Southern Rail Models' NPRY/NPRF NSW SRA cement hopper was certainly one of the reasons why I am now building a HO scale NSW bookshelf layout.
|Southern Rail Models' PRX/NPRY/NPRF cement hoppers were released in packs of 4 for $250.00|
The first two orders of NPRY aluminium tear-drop shaped cement hoppers were built between 1978-1981 and were initially released into service as either PRX or PRY hoppers with the blue 'L7' NSW logo. By 1979, the Railways of Australia re-classification saw these wagons re-coded as NPRY. In 1987 a third order was placed which entered service as NPRF hoppers with red 'L7' NSW logos. In 1994 some of the aluminium bodies were repainted white with Freight Rail logos applied. Later still, the Freight Rail logos were removed by new owners Pacific National. Southern Rail Models released four different versions of these distinct hoppers.
|A third series NPRF cement hopper I photographed at Wauchope, NSW in 2008, still wearing its red L7 logo.|
Built to carry cement, these hoppers got all sorts of crud spilled down their sides once placed into traffic, and soon lost their 'as delivered' shiny aluminium finish. The NPRF cement hopper I photographed above at Wauchope on the New South Wales north coast in 2008 is wearing 21 years worth of spilled cement, dust and pigeon-poop, while the red under-frame is hardly visible beneath the grime.
|My series 1 NPRY cement hopper from Southern Rail Models' pack NPRY 3.|
The detail on these hoppers is incredible, right down to the differences between the series 1, 2 and 3 versions. The series 1 version above has the narrower ladder, a greater angle on the end supports and has the bulk holding cylinder sitting a bit higher than the series 3 version shown below.
|My series 3 NPRF cement hopper from Southern Rail Models pack NPRY 7|
Straight out-of-the-box, the model is a little tricky to place on the rails. There is a fair amount of play in the bogies and this is noticeable by the amount of wobble on the model. Give the edge of your layout a hard enough bump, and the cement hopper does a good impersonation of a bobble-head. However, the thing sticks like glue to the rails when you free-roll it through a set of points, and the couplers all worked perfectly, first-time and every time since.
|Woah, there are more details underneath the NPRF/NPRY than you can poke a stick at!|
Underneath the model is a plethora of details, some molded in plastic, others represented with wire. It seems Southern Rail Models went all out to ensure that the under-frame was just as highly detailed as the rest of the model. It was about this time that I discovered one of the white brake levers visible on the side of the NPRY hopper was missing. A quick check inside the box soon recovered the culprit and it was soon glued back on. However, the same problem occurred again when I purchased my set of NPRF hoppers, this time in the form of one of the end foot rungs. I glued it back on okay, but as you can see from the above photo of the hopper with the red L7 logo, the right foot rung looks a little beat up. It seemed to me to be the result of the packaging fitting a little too-tightly around the model, and I wonder how many other modellers may have experienced the same thing?
|A string of NPRF hoppers ready to be shunted into the cement works road on Philden. Now that's nice!|
The final proof of any model however comes when you actually place it on the track and put it to work, and the Southern Rail Models NPRY/NPRF hoppers have given me nothing but immense pleasure ever since they arrived on my layout. I ended up buying two packs of these models to mix and match on my layout, an 'as delivered' set of shiny NPRF's and a weathered set of NPRY's. For a small bookshelf layout like Philden, the NPRY/NPRF hoppers were all I needed to go ahead and model a small cement plant. Short freight cars, short trains, but big on detail!
Review Card: Southern Rail Models NPRY/NPRF hoppers
Final Thoughts: With so many different body styles and paint schemes to choose from, I couldn't stop at just one pack. And man, that Freight Corp set looks so tempting...