Review of the Dapol 7mm scale BR Brake Van [7F-200-008]

Prototype History

The BR 20 ton Goods Brake van we have all come to know had its origins in an LNER design. BR Diagram 1/500 was in fact an LNER design built by BR and is easily identifiable by the stepboards stopping just beyond the axleboxes instead of protruding to the full length of the underframe and the lack of handrails on the end platforms.
BR's own design was initially covered by two diagrams and two lots, each of 125 vans and were built as part of the 1949 programme. Diagram 503 and lot 2026 provided for non-fitted vans (painted in 'unfitted' grey) while diagram 505 and lot 2025 provided for the brake piped version (painted in 'bauxite'). Brake piping meant that the vans had a through brake pipe, but no actual vacuum braking fitted. Later versions such as those produced under diagram 1/507 had roller bearings and hydraulic buffers. They had a brake valve and through pipe but no vacuum brakes. All had manual brakes, operated from a hand wheel mounted inside the cabin. The lot book records that the final four lots were vacuum brake fitted.

The Model

The model is supplied in the standard style of Dapol rigid box for 7mm scale models. Internally, there is foam protection and a plastic carrier, pretty much identical to the packaging used for 4mm locomotives. The model is well protected.

The Dapol model under review appears to represent a brake-piped van from Diagram 505, however, it is un-numbered, giving the modeller the opportunity to apply their own number. It does not have a vacuum cylinder, so would represent a piped, not vacuum fitted version. The 'bauxite' may appear somewhat bright in the images here, but in natural light, to the reviewer, it looks spot on - nothing that a little weathering couldn't make even better.

Upon removing the model from the box, one is immediately aware of the 'presence' of the vehicle due to its size. It is also of a decent weight. The model needs to be handled carefully because all of the handrails are plastic. Some of them could do with being re-fitted as they are not entirely straight - this wouldn't be a big job. Having said that, close-up photos make this problem look worse than it actually is.
One particularly neat feature is the handrails which protect the exits - they can actually be positioned in an 'open' or 'closed' state as shown in the 3rd and 4th picture below.

The buffers are sprung as is the coupling hook, in this instance, fitted with instanter couplings. The vacuum brake pipe is also modelled.


When I first positioned the model on the rails, I noticed that the wheels have some side-play. Personally, I don't think this is necessary in 7mm scale. The right W-iron in the image below could do with re-fitting to improve the situation. Note the pin-point bearings.

It should also be noted that the model has a novelty implementation of compensation where a metal bar is pivoted at the centrepoint behind the solebar on one side and rocks to enable up and down wheel movement on that side at each end. It operates like a see-saw with one end going up while the other goes down. The first image below shows the compensation bar running along the bar of the lower solebar while the second image show the pivot on the extreme right and how the bar threads behind the brake gear on the right. It actually 'wraps around' the bearing - this can bee seen on the left end of the axle in the image above. It seems to work quite effectively.

The wheels seem to run true. The compensation system would iron out minor discrepancies anyway.


A really nice model, full of presence, well detailed and finished. Some minor quality control issues in assembly which seem to be the norm with plastic RTR models, but this is easily resolved. Recommended.

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Graham Plowman (Created 26/04/2020, modified 1/06/2021 12:26:09 PM +10:00)

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