Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Tale of a Truck : Part The First

Wikipedia reminds us:-
A Tale of a Truck was the first major work written by Jonathan Swift.

It is arguably his most difficult piece of writing, and perhaps his most masterly. The Tale is a prose parody which is divided into sections of "digression" and a "tale" of three trucks, each representing one of the main branches of model making and purchasing. Composed between 1694 and 1697, it was eventually published in 1704.

Perhaps not? **

fbb, meanie that he is, tries to buy most of his model railway "stuff" second hand, or pre-owned as we have to say nowadays. A company which makes the best fist of displaying such wares is Hattons of Liverpool.  And they were  advertising back in 1955.
fbb has no shares in the company but has been a very satisfied customer.

Until now!

But let us go back 60 years! Hornby Dublo were the connoisseur's toy trains. They had an extra rail for electrical pick-up (three rail), they were made of metal and exuded quality. Then along came two-rail Triang and started producing cheaper models in plastic. Early efforts were of poor quality ...
... with sides that buckled with age and they had poor underframe detail. But set against this was equally coarse detail from Hornby with printed tinplate sides and similarly poor underwear.
But Triang trucks did things! Like this fellow which first went on sale in 1955.
It was a drop-side wagon with sides that dropped. Excitement all-round! According to the enthusiast's lists it was manufactured until 1973 ...
...occasionally appearing in grey, incidentally with a different number from the above.
Its brand followed the dubious fortunes of the company; being straightforward Triang until 1964, then Triang Hornby until 1971 then, under new ownership, just Hornby. Whoever owned the company, the wagon didn't look very much like the real thing ...
... seen above on the Bluebell Railway; but, who cared? It was better than the old tinplate Hornby and the cheapest on the market.

Before the merger, Hornby Dublo had responded to Triang's plastic adventure by introducing its SD6 range. Now, at the time, these were something special and a half.
They had much more accurate detail in their plastic bodywork. They weren't cheap (mineral wagon 5/6 : brake van 6/-) and they still had poor quality chassis. Indeed the mineral wagon was equipped with the standard effort below the belt from tinplate day. fbb saved his pennies and bought the brake van!

Anyway, on with fbb's Tale of a Truck. Poring one day over Hatton's on-line catalogue, he came across one of these ...
... at a frightening £6.50! A modern, much more accurate, version (look lovingly on that underframe "stuff"! - click on the pic to enlarge) would cost you over £22! OUCH.

So fbb ordered the £6.50 second hand truck in a fit of misplaced nostalgia. For the record, the 1955 retail price was about 4/- (20p). Inflated to 2015 prices his would be about £5; i.e. NOT £6.50 and certainly very not £22.

But, on the third day, it duly arrived  in a pack with some other goodies; Hattons, three cheers for efficiency.

But what a disappointment ...

** P.S. For those lacking the privilege of A and S level English at Northampton Grammar School, Swift's somewhat perplexing satire is actually called "A Tale of a Tub".

 Next truck blog : Monday 8th June 


  1. Did they mis-pick the order? Hattons are good at that!

  2. Never had that problem. But thanks for the warning.