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Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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Joined: Tue, 07/07/2015 - 04:38
-581 and 981 Horse Box 'Express Horse Box Hire Service' (1953-61)

Greetings all!

Seeing the numerous Topics (an incredible 9 in total!) associated with 581 and 980 Maudslay Horsebox "Express Horse Van" (1953-60- US Edition (a title of which the model was never known by the way, just Horse Van on its box and some literature), I decided the 581-981 Horse Box  (1953-1961) Topic should be created, as there is a wealth of information out there that should appear in a Topic of this great model that had so much play-value built into it with its opening ramps.

I have taken the liberty of changing the title from that appearing in the PDF File, 581 and 981 Maudeslay Horsebox "British Railways" (1953-60) by deleting "Maudeslay" (an incorrect spelling - should be Maudslay ) and "British Railways" as the model was simply known in all the Meccano literature as well as its box and inscribed under the model itself as "Horse Box". I have also changed the final date and details surrounding this change are below.

The Horse Box made its debut with an announcement of its arrival in the April 1953 issue of MECCANO MAGAZINE. The advertisement had this to say:

A really beautiful model of a vehicle used by British Railways and transport companies for conveying race horses and bloodstock. The hinges ramps at the offsideand rear for loading and unloading animals are reproduced in the miniature. Richly enamelled in B.R. (British Railways) crimson, with transfer markings in cream on the front and sides.

This rather grainy black and white photograph shows my 981 Horse Box in the near bottom righthand corner taken near our back door on a sunny day in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia - the only photograph showing my model that sadly now resides somewhere within the Armidale rubbish tip.  One may very well ask, "How was this possible", or "who was responsible for this unspeakable ending for a fine Dinky Toys"?  Well, in short, it was my well-meaning but highly irresponsible Mother!  As I have written in other Topics, I spent 21 years in Papua New Guinea, and on my return, I collected my Dinky collection. Being a very fastidious individual, I conducted an audit, discovering that many, 19 or 20 had disappeared. One model I specifically asked Mum about was what became of my Horse Box that used to reside in the kitchen cabinet that had been pensioned off and moved into the laundry, the other model with the Horse Box was my Blaw Knox Bulldozer. I had the Dozer, but not the Horse Box. Mum replied that as it had become chipped, she threw it out!  I could not believe what she said as she knew how much my Dinky Toys meant to me. I was speechless (an unbelievable occurrence) and absolutely shattered. Well, that is what happened, but, there is still a ray of sunshine - I still have its original box!

Now that is one for the books - usually the model loses its box, not the other way around!

However, I have since those dark days, obtained another example, this one having been originally sold in Australia judging on the 1957 plus price written on the top of the box.

The model was quality inspected in November 1958, two and a half years after my original model was made. But at least it was originally sold in Australia!

Returning to the 981 Horse Box, the deletion year as indicated in the PDF File is 1960. However, the 981 Horse Box was included in the February 1961 Dealer Order Form.  I do not have an Order form for March or April 1961 but the model is not included in the May 1961 Dealer Order Form. This is where it becomes tricky! The 981 Horse Box is NOT included in the January 1961 DinkyToys Price Leaflet printed for the Australian market. Nor was the 981 included in the UK Price List dated May 1961 of which the front of this price list is in colour showing models 187, 155 (in yellow!), 186 and 194.

But, a separate price list with the print code 10/561/50 (3rd printing) which translates to May 1961 does contain the 981 Horse Box at a price of 12/9. I have decided to change the year the model was deleted from 1960 to 1961, based on the February 1961 Dinky Toys Order Form with the later confusion of May 1961 with it still being available. The 981 is not included in the 1961 catalogue which was printed in May 1961 (there's that month of May 1961 again!) but surprisingly the 979 Racehorse Transport was, when this model was not released until October 1961 as a new colour issue of the 981 Horse Box. In my uneducated opinion, the 981 model remained officially in an unofficial capacity until the arrival of its brighter version, thus confirming 1961 as the last year for the original 981 Horse Box. Hope all that makes sense!

A brighter addition to the Dinky Supertoys range but one that would only remain in the sales documentation until 1964, bringing the actual casting in production for an amazing eleven years. I look forward to more contributions to this Topic!

Kind regards to you all

Bruce Hoy   (150)

20171007/1137/2109


janwerner's picture
janwerner
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Joined: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 06:56

Re : -581 and 981 Horse Box 'Express Horse Box Hire Service' (1953-61)

I agree, Bruce, it's always the mothers who did it! wink Fortunately my mother did not dare to throw away or give away the boxed models, with the result that the best Dinkies survived up to the present day.

I have always wondered why the Horse Box was designed as early as mid-1949 already and was published as late as 1953. It may have had to do with the Korean War and the related shortage of some metals (it was made of aluminium after all) and the poor production capacity until the Speke factory was opened, that it took such a long time. Kind regards, Jan  


dinkycollect's picture
dinkycollect
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DTCA MemberFrance
Joined: Fri, 06/26/2015 - 22:49

Re : -581 and 981 Horse Box 'Express Horse Box Hire Service' (1953-61)

As usual with Dinky Toys, there are some variations of this model.

On some models, there is a line above the rear door. Were there two dies or has the line been griunded ?

Four ridges have been added : one in the cab, one in the front compartment and two in the rear compartment.


Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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AustraliaDTCA Member
Joined: Tue, 07/07/2015 - 04:38

Re : -581 and 981 Horse Box 'Express Horse Box Hire Service' (1953-61)

Greetings all

Thank you Jacques for Posting the images of those other changes that can be found with this model.

Continuing with this long-neglected Horse Box, for years I thought that it was a rather mundane model – nothing interesting to learn, just one of those models Meccano produced that went through its life providing fun and enjoyment for probably thousands of young boys – me included. The amount of stuff I shoved inside, even using it as a car transporter, admittedly using something less than a Dinky!

Reading the information contained in the Talk Model Toys website, the following is an interesting aside on the actual manufacture of the Horse Box provided by a younger Jan Werner!

Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - 08:00 am

In fact, the component castings for the Horse Box were not produced in Liverpool at all. They were cast in Smethwick, at the BAC (Birmingham Aluminium casting Company). There is an interesting story related to this cooperation between Meccano and BAC. There was the representative of BAC, Mr. Howard Fairbairn, who (too) frequently visited Binns Road for talks about the quality of his products. Before the Horse Box and the Pullmore Car Transporter (also most of it aluminium as you know) the Hornby train station was made of aluminium already there. Mr. Fairbairn appeared to be an industrial spy in the end. Percy Hewitt, the senior manufacturing leader of Meccano in those days, often showed him around, showing the manufacturing (casting) process and machines for Zamac die-casting. In those days of shortage of die-casting capacity with Meccano, Fairbairn made the proposition for Meccano to buy him the correct die-casting machines so that – besides casting aluminium – BAC could also – by sub-contract – make Zamac component parts for Meccano. The story ends (or begins) in 1952/53, when Fairbairn left BAC for Mettoy and introduced the making of diecast toys over there: Corgi Toys! The rest is history ...
Hewitt regretted his communicativeness in those days very much as you may understand!

Kind regards, Jan Werner

I will let Jan add anything from his Post (which is quite long filled with interesting stuff!)

In the meantime, over the years, starting in July 1995 I have acquired ten 581/981 Horse Box models, six of these being boxed. I have always been in pursuit of a replacement for my own discarded model, (thanks Mum!) and have been attempting to find one that ticks “all the boxes”.  I have sold six but still have four, one of which I have decided to keep as The Replacement, not because it is the best model I have acquired, but simply the auction took place on 13 July 1998 which would have been my father’s 88th birthday.  Dad bought most of the Dinky Toys he and Mum gave me, so I think it is rather fitting to keep a model with such a connection. The auction took place at Wallis and Wallis in Lewes, an auction house I was to later visit in 2005.

While looking carefully at these models I immediately noticed one major difference, this being the shape of the front left mudguards with the right mudguard being closer to the original shape. I began a painstaking job of comparing each model, eventually arriving at a short list of differences just in the area of the left side front – the location of the front cab recessed in-step, a very visible mould join from the top near the windscreen down to and across the mudguard, and the absence of lines across the side flash showing the edge of the door. Examples of these models are below:

HB 1255  (December 1955) Left side

HB 1255 (December 1955) Right side

H 1056 (October 1956) Left side

H 1056 (October 1956) Right side

Other slight differences also showed up on closer examination such as the shape of the raised section surrounding the in-step.

My next Horse Box was an accidental acquisition from an auction house in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, an early version with the maroon hubs, 581.  On removing it from its box, I saw that the shape of the left mudguard was perhaps the original shape with less roll-over compared to the other later issues, with only the right mudguards bearing a closer resemblance to this first issue.

DB 35 DINKY TOYS (May1953)

Other differences were the inclusion of the outline of the door across the side flash, as well as a very prominent moulding flash that extended across the mudguard from the vicinity of the windscreen.

I then returned to the Horse Box I had won from Wallis & Wallis. Extracting it from its box and there it was, another model with differences! A large “blob” below the cabin window in front of the door handle in the location where a circular ejector outline is found on another model.

HB 1255 DINKY TOYS (December 1955)

The lack of the moulding strip down the side and across the mudguard with the instep closer to the mudguard. (Plus the unfortunate chips on the mudguard!)

Two of my models had a "clean" interior roof, with the other two having four large ridges, possibly to aid the flow of aluminium.

As all four models came with an original box, putting all these in date order according to the quality inspection stamp revealed something most unexpected; nothing appeared chronologically!

DB 35 DINKY TOYS (May 1953)

HB 1255 DINKY TOYS (December 1955)

H 1056 (October 1956) 

Z 4 L 1158 DINKY SUPERTOYS (November 1958)

As seen above, there is no logical sequence of changes which leads one to suspect two dies were being used.  .

These are the details of the models and the box in which each came, based on the Quality Inspection Stamp, the green are presumed to be Mould/die #1 and red, is confirmed as being #2. (Apologies, the red and green colours did not work! Models 1 and 3 should be bold GREEN and Models 2 and 4 RED)

1)   DB 35 DINKY TOYS box, BR Crimson body and hubs, grey ribbed tyres,

Door edge casting through side flash

Both front mudguards are similar

Gap between mudguard and passenger door instep

Raised straight casting line, windscreen to mudguard both sides

No numeral under the roof in the rear compartment

No additional internal roof ridges

Area over rear door ramp smooth – no ridge line

2)   HB 1255 DINKY TOYS box, in BR Crimson, red ST hubs and black, block tyres

No door edge casting through side flash on both sides

Both front mudguards are dissimilar.

No gap between mudguard and passenger door instep

No raised straight casting line, windscreen to mudguard both sides

Numeral “2” cast under the roof in the rear compartment

No additional internal roof ridges

3)   H 10 56 DINKY TOYS box, in BR Crimson, red ST hubs and black, block tyres

Door edge casting through side flash

Both front mudguards are dissimilar.

Gap between mudguard and passenger door instep

Raised straight casting line, windscreen to mudguard both sides

No numeral under the roof in the rear compartment.

Additional four internal roof ridges

Ridge-line on roof above rear ramp

4)   Z 4 L 1158 DINKY SUPERTOYS box, priced 29/9, in BR crimson, and black, block tyres

No door edge casting through side flash on both sides

Both front mudguards are dissimilar.

No gap between mudguard and passenger door instep

No raised straight casting line, windscreen to mudguard both sides

Numeral “2” cast under the roof in the rear compartment

Additional four internal roof ridges

The above confirms that there were at least two moulds/dies manufactured for the Horse Box with only one being numbered.

From information I have gathered over the past decade or so, the Horse Box was produced during the following months and years:

581  January 1953 , April 1953, May 1953, July 1953, September 1953, November 1953, May 1954

981  July 1954, January 1955, February 1955, October 1955, December 1955, March 1956, April 1956, July 1956, September 1956, October 1956, January 1957, February 1957, May 1957, November 1957, December 1957, June 1958, September 1958, and November 1958            

Perhaps the model was on the production line during months not listed, especially the months after November 1958 as it was still listed as being available for a further two years and three months, so hopefully members can check the box(s) for their 581/981 Horse Box, and let me know, or better still post the images and details in this Topic!

Kind regards

Bruce Hoy   (150)

20171502/1139/0333