Improving the Heljan waste oil tank wagon : Stephen Young

(Click image to enlarge)

The Heljan waste oil tank wagon provides the modeller with the opportunity to run something a little different, especially as these wagons run in short trains from their base MPD to the waste disposal facility at Immingham. Heljan have based their model on a ex-Esso Class B 35ton air-braked wagon #43777, TOPS code ZRW ADB 999074. The prototype is currently at the Northampton & Lamport Railway where it has been recently restored (№-3777/). A good series of general and detail photographs of the wagon taken by Andy Jupe prior to the restoration can be found at


The first stage of the project was straightforward. Just Like the Real Thing make a lost-wax brass casting of the pipe work for the end of the barrel. Fitting this is simply a matter of using the supplied measurement guide to drill two holes in the barrel of the wagon then applying a couple of spots of CA adhesive (Fig 1).


The second stage was to fit the brackets on the barrel side that support the ESSO logo plate. These can be obtained from Pete Harvey (PH Design) as a very nice brass etch that will give you enough to do several tank wagons (Fig 2). The difficulty with this job is to accurately place the brackets. One way is to do as Brian Daniels did using the ESSO plate as a guide for drilling the holes for the brackets. However, I noticed on close inspection that if you hold the wagon at an angle against the light and glance across the barrel there is a series of 'blemishes' in the surface finish. These may be mould marks; they are certainly in the correct positions for the brackets. It makes me wonder if Heljan had originally intended to represent the brackets. I used a 0.7mm drill to carefully make the holes. The brackets are removed from the etch and folded up before fixing with a spot of CA adhesive (Fig 3).


The third stage was to make the air pump and pipe work used to fill the tank wagon from depot storage tanks. These parts were scratch built from scraps of plastic and lengths of wire. I don't claim that the pump is an accurate model as I could not find a decent close-up photograph of a pump. Figures 4 & 5 show this work and Figures 6 – 8 the finished items.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

(Click on an image to enlarge)