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Hornby BR 7MT Britannia
 
Username
Tom Davidson
 
Version
70050 ‘Firth of Clyde’ Early Br Green R2718
 
Appearance
The Hornby Britannia is widely regarded as one of the best steam locos in OO gauge, with an accurate bodyshell and wealth of fine detail. The brunswick green and decals are both applied without any blemishes or faults.
 
Detail
A detail pack included in the box provides vacuum pipes and a coupling for the front end of the loco, which are both easy to fit. The finely moulded detail can occasionally seem a bit fragile – for example the speedo connection which came off during one of my many dismantling sessions. I think I am just a bit too rough to deal with this sort of detail!
 
Performance
I have had several examples of this loco, and was disappointed by the performance of each of them – for different reasons. On one loco, the acceleration and deceleration were not smooth at all, as if there was a problem with the gears. On another, slow speed running was accompanied by a growling noise when using the standard Hornby decoder, which wasn’t what I expected from such an expensive loco. This model performed better on DC than on DCC, but overall I was left feeling a little let down having heard great things about the Britannia’s performance.
 
Having tried to solve the running issues without a positive resolution, I dismantled several of these models and ended up not being able to put them together again – off to ebay for parts. Wheel cleaning isn’t often necessary due to the 10-wheel pickup.
 
Overall ranking
8/10
 
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Username
Paul Johnson
 
Version
Hornby Britannia no 70008 ‘Black Prince’ in BR lined green late crest. (Split from a boxed set by Hattons, no longer have the packaging so don’t know the R number but it came in a better box than standard, yet was very cheap!)
 
Appearance
It’s right, this is a model which captures the class appearance very well. Checked out the main dimensions and they are all good. OK, one real gripe, the flangeless rear wheel. I view my layout from track level, and this really shows. But at least there is a replacement flanged wheelset in the box and with a little work to install it the loco will still go round the 30” minimum radius I require, so all is well. Tender linkage is a drawbar in the proper location and has a correct loco to tender spacing setting. Add the weather sheet between tender rear and cab, and the ensemble looks just perfect. The paint job and print all out of Hornby’s top drawer. What a beauty, and the best name of any of the Britannia class in my opinion.
 
Detail
The detail pretty much encompasses everything practical in 4mm scale, the model needs careful handling if the finer parts are not to be damaged. Everywhere you look there is something nice to see, really adds character to the model. The brass and lagged piping are a bit bright for a working loco, never saw one like that. Some dirt on the brass, and grey brown paint on the pale grey lagging soon deals with that. The chimney rim should have a near knife edge on it, it is a separate piece that is readily removed, and can be ‘sharpened’ with a couple of minutes work and refitted. Some might want to thin down the inside edges of the smoke deflectors. But this is gilding the lily territory, it will wow most people. Separate items like brake rodding and cylinder drains provided for the user to add. The drain pipes need to be checked by the user when fitting to make sure they don’t foul on the tightest curves on the layout. Also a bag of coal for the bunker, nice touch.
 
Performance
Good runner as received, picks up on all coupled wheels and all tender wheels as supplied. (Excellent plug in loco to tender electrical connection, a major advance for Hornby when introduced on this model.) Smooth and quiet from a slow crawl to full express speed and has all the motor power it needs with enough weight for traction to pull a full length load. Some gentle running time saw some further improvement, but it was definitely ‘ready to run’ as received. Best chassis I had ever experienced on a Hornby steamer at the time of purchase, a standard happily maintained on the subsequent main range newly tooled steam models that I have since bought.
 
Maintenance
It came with adequate grease on the major moving parts, and will get more grease as required. Getting the body off the first time was difficult: just one slot head screw above the front bogie wheels to undo, but the chassis was stuck fast, the black goo Hornby use under the motor had squeezed out and the chassis was gummed to one of the firebox sides. Coaxed it out, eventually... My usual choice of a Lenz silver decoder was installed, located flat above the motor, this delivers the expected excellent performance with Hornby’s black can motor. Also while the chassis was out added springing to the bogie pivot pin. Then had to ‘go fishing’ to get the rear locating projection of the chassis back into the slot in the body. Ended up opening the front edge of the body slot into a taper with a flat needle file to make relocating the chassis easier.
 
Comments
Have wanted a Britannia of this quality since seeing the originals in service alongside Doncaster’s finest, and previous RTR Hornby models were never up to scratch. Many years ago built one from a kit, which looked OK though not to the same detail standard; and ran decently, but not as quietly and sweetly as this model. Everything that a RTR model ought to be, and still the best ‘big engine’ in Hornby’s range in my opinion. One day I will add the etched name plates that the model deserves.
 
Overall ranking
10/10

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