I have entitled this page "Collectors Tips" and hope that some of the information will be helpfull to those embarking on, and those currently with, the Wrenn experience.These are purely my own opinions, accumulated over many years as a collector, and are not endorsed in any way by the official G.R. Wrenn Ltd company.
I have divided my views generally into the four periods covered by this site, with emphasis on the "00" Gauge products of Wrenn, Basildon, however some will cross relate to the overall area of Wrenn collecting/buying.
Period 1 - Locomotives
All Locomotives from this era had metal driving wheels, however the front and back pony wheel assembliess (including the tender where applicable) had plastic wheels. Please note when purchasing.
With respect to the Castle Class ie Cardiff Castle (the first Wrenn Loco to be launched), it is well known that "Ludlow Castle" was introduced (and then withdrawn) with Cardiff sidecab and boiler numbering.This rare item is very collectable, but please remember;
Box recognition and variations are fully covered by Maurice Gunters book "The History of Wrenn".
When storing Locomotives after layout use, always lightly oil (as per the Wrenn Instruction Manual), and run briefly on the layout.Wipe away any excess oil before storing. This prevent any oil being absorbed into the box "packaging" and more important attacking the paintwork/transfers/lettering etc.
Period 1 - Pullmans
No Pullmans/ Coaches were issued by Wrenn in Period 1. Be carefull that you do not purhase Hornby Dublo which looks similar to the Wrenn Pullman but is more "raggedly" detailed. The Hornby Dublo Pullmans also have H/D couplings which are not compatible with the Wrenn or Triang type.
Period 1 - Wagons
Wrenn issued a range of 29 Wagons in Period 1, in "WRENN OO/HO WAGONS" type boxes.They had the darker yellow plastic insert which held the wagon in place. These darker yellow inserts were carried through to Period 2 (Triang/Wrenn) era.
All Period 1 Wagons had metal chassis with Hornby Dublo style metal clips to retain the plastic wheel hubs. Metal rimmed wheels can be fitted but they must be of the "stubb" axle type. All Period 1 Wagons were fitted with plastic wheels as standard.
All Period 1 Wagons have self coloured plasic bodies.
When purchasing those wagons with "named boards" check the condition of the lettering on both sides of the wagon. If part is missing it will get worse with age. The following are particularly susceptible;
The wagons of Period 1 were issued with loose alternative "Hornby Dublo" style couplings which were sellotaped to the back of the yellow plastic insert.These have often been changed and the "Wrenn factory fitted" couplings replaced. Please Note ; If this is the case the pillars wil have been filed down on the chassis making it unlikely that Wrenn couplings can again be fitted successfully for layout use.
Alternatives ; Use a convertor chassis (Wrenn coupling one end, Hornby Dublo the other), or replace chassis.
Period 2 - Locomotives
All Locomotives from this era had metal driving wheels, however the front and rear bogie assemblies (including tenders where applicable) had plastic wheels.Please note when purchasing.
In Period 2 we saw the emergence of the 0-6-2 Tanks and City/Coronation Class Locomotives. Box styling had changed to Triang/Wrenn on the front and box sides, and the inner box had a "corregated insert/box" which prevented the Loco moving in transit. This was as well as the packing rings.This is applicable to the so called "flimsy box" of this era. Ensure this is included in any purchase.
A common problem throughout all periods is tender damage, for example on the Rebuilts such as "Dorchester " or "Barnstable" .Although both are in BR Livery, the tenders may not be identical in terms of colour, and lining. Remember the lining on the tender only matches the cabside lining on the Locomotive. Similarly the lining on the Loco chassis matches the lining of the boiler bands on the Locomotive. They do not cross match.
The instruction manual also stated Triang/Wrenn on the front cover, however many of these have been lost over the years, and you are more likely to find a Period 3/4 Instruction Manual included. Always buy with the Instruction Manual, but avoid the duplicates which are circulating around these days.
Period 2 - Pullmans
No Pullmans/Coaches were issued by Wrenn, Basildon during Period 2, comment same as Period 1.
Period 2 - Wagons
Wrenn issued a range of 64 Wagons in this Period 2, in "Triang/Wrenn" type boxes with the darker yellow plastic insert as Period 1.
The Wagons still used the "Hornby Dublo" style metal insert in the chassis which took plastic (fitted as standard) wheels. These could be changed to the metal rimmed wheels utilising "stub end" axles. If they have been changed, this is not how the wagon was produced by Basildon.
One of the rarest of the Triang/Wrenn range is the W4625P "Auto Distributors" which came in a long box and load comprising Minic Ford Anglia and Caravan. These were suppied in a variety of colours, the most difficultto find is the Black Ford Anglia. Boxes had end stamps and were occasionally labelled. Look out for the inverted stamp on the box end flaps which is RARE.When purchasing check the state of the Auto Distributors boards on both sidesof the wagon, as the transfer tends to crack and peel through age.
We also observed in this period the emergenceof the "short wagons in long boxes" , examples being ;
to name but a few.The W4626 and W4630 were slightly unique as they had metal rimmed wheels and pin wheeled style axles. Presumeably Basildon did not reproduce the tooling for this length of chassis.
Period 2 provided a wide range of Private Owner Wagons" and established Basildon as a major player in the OO Gauge Wagon Business.
Period 3 - Locomotives
Period 4 - Locomotives
Royal Scotts - 5 Pole Motors which were factory (Basildon) fitted to 3 Pole Wrenn Locomotives, ie Grenadier Guardsman, Manchester Regiment, etc had a high failure rate. This is due to the armature overheating. The windings of the armaturer rub on the step of the chassis and insulation is compromised. To combat this remove the armature and file approx 1mm from the step of the chassis. Re-assemble.
Brighton Belles - Pick-up problems/juddering. More prevalent to pre 1986, Brown table Belle Sets and is a common problem. Please contact me for details on the modifications to eradicate/minimise this.