Back in November 2010, I was ruminating on how to progress with my rake of detailed and repainted Hornby HAA merry-go-round coal hoppers. Nearly a year later, they were dug out of my ‘In Progress’ box and are due to appear in the pages of Model Rail (Issue162).

My quest has been to recreate a short rake suitable for use in the mid-1970s-1980s, and, with the basic form of HAA not so freely available in recent years, I’ve had to adapt what I could find. Although this situation (typically) has now changed with Hornby backdating its most recent releases, I’ve been converting CDA china clay wagons and removing the top cowlings from HFAs. As I intended to completely repaint each model, the specifics of each donor model was not important. Indeed, one of the main points of this exercise was to see if the Hornby paint finish could be improved by stripping and recovering with Alclad2 cellulose metallic lacquers.

Now that my rake of HAAs is entering service at Maudetown Colliery, I'm left to reflect on the completion of another long term project; one that has been very enjoyable and well worth the effort. See MR162 (on sale 6th October) for a full demonstration of how these wagons have been improved.

The HAA project stalled last year as I pondered whether to replace the incorrect Hornby buffers. I soon realised that this was really a ‘no brainer’, as the factory fitted units are nothing like the real things. It only takes about 30mins to treat each wagon and the results are well worth the effort. Suitable replacement buffers are available from Intercity Models or Fourmost Models/ABS.


  1. Hello George,

    Doing this little project myself now having bought a lot of old Hornby HAA's on ebay.

    Any pointers/tips/hints you can give me so I can make a OK job of it?


    1. Hi Andy,
      Have a look at Model Rail issue 162 (Nov 2011) for a full demo of how I improved the later Hornby HAA models, which will translate easily to the older models as well. I have been wondering about doing something with the older HAAs too, especially as they're in the cheapo Railroad range now - you'd need to change the wheels, fix the axleguards (to stop them rotating) and refine a few more details. Maybe it will make a good feature for MR in 2014....? I think I'll put it on the list!
      All the best,

    2. PS, see also this post on HAA hoppers: http://georgedentmodelmaker.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/happy-hoppers.html


  2. Hello George,
    Thank you very much for the info. New wheels are on order and I'll be going through my pile of Model Rail magazines later to find 162. I think it will make a good feature for MR too.
    Living in the shadow of Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station has given me a (Un)healthy interest in coal trains and wagons................


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