REVIEW - Revolution Trains JNA/MMA EALNOS box wagons
Following on from their acclaimed 4mm scale model, The Revolution Trains N Gauge JNA/MMA EALNOS box wagons are now hitting retailers shelves. In this review, N Gauge News takes a look at two examples of these impressive wagons.
Built by Astra Rail, who are now part of the Greenbrier Europe Group, and introduced in 2016 there are now well over 500 of these distinctive box wagons in use on the UK rail network. These distinctive open box wagons have approximately 60 m3 capacity and were designed for ‘level fill’ of bulk products such as aggregates. Coded MMA under TOPS for the wagons in service with DB Schenker, the remainder are coded as JNA. In UIC nomenclature all versions are know as ‘Ealnos’.
The wagons have a number of differences with 9 and 11 side rib variants and some with & some without bodyside access doors. The length, height and axle load can be changed to vary the volume or tonnage per unit length to suit and unloading of the wagon is carried out by mechanical excavators. Fitted with track friendly bogies, the wagons have been designed to optimise the tare weight, volume capacity, and payload with the shortest wagon length over buffers for the bulk material they transport.
In early 2020, more batches of Ealnos arrived in the UK and entered service with private leasing companies VTG & Touax, and civil engineering firm Cappagh. The Touax wagons, in their eye-catching dark red livery, have 11 bodyside ribs with no door and combine the longer air tank of the VTG versions with the body-mounted parking brakes of the DB MMAs. The wagons operated by VTG have different brake equipment. Some are dedicated for Mendip Rail traffic and carry a branded or unbranded silver livery; others are available for spot hire and in a dark blue. Others are in service with Ermewa/Tarmac and feature further variations of bodystyle and braking equipment.
The rugged construction of these wagons allows for easy unloading using a mechanical grab in locations where a dedicated terminal for hoppers with underfloor discharge gear would be uneconomic, and they can be found behind a variety of motive power, including Classes 59, 60, 66, 68 & 70.
Arriving in the now familiar Revolution Trains outer sleeve & jewel case style packaging, the first thing that strikes you on removing the models is the high level of fine detail included on these wagons. The bulky appearance of the prototypes has been captured perfectly and the models have weighty look of the real thing, something which can be difficult to achieve in a small scale such as N Gauge.
Moulding is excellently defined all round, including the distinctive side ribs and reinforcing strip which runs the length of the wagon, and there are some nice touches including the small gaps in the bodywork at each corner just under the top bracing that are a notable feature of the prototype. The flat panels at each end include the two rows of round indentations and separately fitted lamp irons.
The shrouding that runs part way along the underframe between the lower edge of the body and bogies is present and is the correct length depending on the wagon livery. In both examples reviewed here it runs to the forth rib, however Revolution have also tooled the shorter version found on the DB and Ermewa variants. The buffer beams feature fine wire grab rails under each buffer.
The underframe is perhaps where these models really shine, and the different variations of brake cylinders, piping and wheels have all been reproduced in fine detail by Revolution. The Touax, Ermewa & DB wagons feature the full gamut of underside pipework, brake rigging and cylinders, giving a very busy looking underframe. The handbrake wheel on these versions is correctly located toward the centre of the wagon.
The remaining versions have slightly less in the way of underfloor equipment and the handbrake wheels correctly located on the bogies, but the less cluttered appearance only serves to reveal the really very nice representation of the underframe structure. It's just a shame this will be rarely seen when running on a layout! Standard NEM couplers are fitted to a kinematic coupling mechanism that is free moving and gives excellent close coupling whilst allowing the models to negotiate down to radius 2 curves.
The TF25 track friendly bogies have been excellently reproduced with good depth of detail and separately fitted brake shoes which are inline with the wheels, so top marks to Revolution for that! Pin point wheelsets gave excellent smooth running on the samples in this review and the bogies are mounted to the body by a simple screw mount. There was no evidence of wobble in any of the six wagons owned by the reviewer, no doubt aided by the inclusion of a sizeable weight in the floor of the wagon.
The weight is disguised by a fake, removable floor painted in the same colour as the interior. Even those this makes the floor of the model slightly higher than it would be, it's not really that noticeable and doesn't detract at all.
In addition to the floor, the models are supplied with a moulding that represents a fully loaded wagon. The texturing effect achieved by Revolution is really very nice indeed, one of the best we've seen for wagon loads, and can likely be improved further with some careful weathering. The loads are pre-fitted but can be easily removed if you prefer to run the wagons empty.
In addition to the standard models, Revolution give the option for a working flashing tail lamp. A small circuit board is located at one end of the wagon and requires two CR927 batteries to function. (Not LR44 as stated in the instructions!
The LED is fitted to the circuit board and simply transmits the light through a hole in the end of the body to the lamp moulding. A small switch protrudes through the underframe to allow the user to turn the light on and off, and will need a small flat headed screwdriver or small tweezers to activate give its location above the bogie.
The effect is convincing enough, although it is more of a steady flash than the pulsing effect of the prototype. The only disadvantage of the tail lamp fitted models is that the PCB for the light does not allow the flat fake floor to be fitted, meaning they will need to be run with the load in place.
The application of the liveries is superb, easily matching the benchmark standard set by Graham Farish with smooth finish and good colour density. The multitude of data panelling, text and waring lables are sharp and legible except for the very smallest text. In the case of the Touax model, the distinctive brown colour is a good match to the prototype whilst the silver of the MRL livery is also excellently applied. Metallic finishes can sometimes appear over scale in a small size such as N Gauge but it has been very well done here.
It's difficult to review many N Gauge models these days without wheeling out the same superlatives, but these are certainly some of the best N Gauge modern wagons released in N Gauge to date with the high levels of detail and excellent finish putting them right at the top of the pile. The widespread use and number of livery variations of the prototypes means these should find a home on most N Gauge layouts representing the current day railway.
The following models have been produced by Revolution Trains and are available from Revolution stockists:
N-EAL-101 MMA DB Schenker Red
N-EAL-102 JNA Ermewa Grey
N-EAL-103 JNA VTG Silver
N-EAL-104 JNA VTG Blue
N-EAL-105 JNA Mendip Rail Silver
N-EAL-106 MMA GBRf Blue
N-EAL-107 JNA Cappagh Blue
N-EAL-108 JNA Touax brown
Multiple running numbers of each livery are available, along with tail lamp fitted versions.
In addition, Revolution Trains have produced a limited number of JNAs in Wascosa/Network Rail yellow and these are available exclusively from the Revolution Trains website
The models reviewed were purchased by the reviewer direct from Revolution Trains during the early bird period for £36.50 each