Tri-ang Hornby Bulk Grain Whisky Wagons
The first series
First of all, to be clear, the real Bulk Grain Whisky Wagons do not actually convey the water of life but what they do carry is one of its main constituents, namely grain.
The first Whisky Wagons seen in the shops in Glasgow were however not made by Tri-ang Hornby but were made by Trix. A range of nine wagons advertising various brands of Whisky were offered along with an unbranded wagon, a Maltsters Association wagon in yellow and an open topped hopper wagon in grey. All nine whisky branded wagons were in blue. That is twelve different wagons in total.
The first Trix Whisky Wagon (Jamie Stewart) was seen for sale in M G Sharp on the 18th November 1967 for 8/11 (44½p). Of course, purchase was made. This wagon was an excellent model, had quite fine scale metal wheels and crucially, fittings on the nylon underframe were provided for the Trix/Peco type coupling to be replaced with a Tri-ang Hornby Mk.3 tension lock coupler. The fine scale wheel sets did not like Super 4 points at all but these wheel sets were very easily replaced with Rovex types.
Imagine the surprise when on the 30th November 1967 on visiting Lewis's toy department two Tri-ang Hornby items that were not listed in the 1967 catalogue, namely Whisky Wagons (Dewar's and Vat 69) were seen. The price was identical to the Trix models at 8/11 each and of course purchase was made. These Tri-ang Hornby boxed wagons were absolutely identical to the Trix boxed models but of course these wagons were fitted with Tri-ang Hornby Mk.3 tension lock couplings and standard Rovex wheel sets. On the 2nd December 1967 a further purchase was made (Haig), also at 8/11. Revisiting Lewis's on the 7th December 1967 yet another version was purchased (Johnnie Walker) also at 8/11.
On visiting the many other model train shops in Glasgow, many more wagons were available but no other variants could be located. Since no Whisky Wagons were listed in the 1967 Tri-ang Hornby catalogue, it was impossible to determine if any other named grain wagons were available.
The 1968 Tri-ang Hornby catalogue was eventually purchased on the 3rd of February 1968 for 1/6 (7½p) and this confirmed that only four variants, R647 Dewar's, R648 Johnnie Walker, R649 Vat 69 and R650 Haig were on offer. All were supplied in DR type window boxes. The list price had however now increased by 1/- to 9/11 (49½p). The prices were always identical in every shop as retail price maintenance (similar to the net book agreement) was in force at this time. These early Tri-ang Hornby boxed wagons are distinguishable from later hybrid Trix/Tri-ang Hornby and pure Tri-ang Hornby or Hornby production by the pivot fitting underneath to accept a Trix/Peco type coupler and a small slot in the end of the underframe for this coupling to fit through.
The intriguing saga of how these Bulk Grain Whisky Wagons came to be included in the Tri-ang Hornby range is well documented in Rovex 2 by Pat Hammond.
To add to this saga, these initial series Whisky Wagons seemed to be quite plentiful around the model train shops in Glasgow at that time, bringing into question the production figures and the dates quoted, these being 129 Dewar's, 159 Johnnie Walker, 54 Vat 69 and 191 Haig. It would seem to be most unusual if all this very limited production was distributed only in Glasgow so therefore at this point you are now left with more questions than answers.