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Hornby GWR Castle
 

Username

Tom Davidson

 

Version

4097 ‘Kenilworth Castle’ Great Western R2232 (China made, Ringfield motor)

 

Appearance

The attractive prototype is well rendered by Hornby’s model, although the new tooling has since added new levels of detail and accuracy. A clean paint finish has some crisp decals, whilst the body moulding captures the elegant look of a Great Western loco well. This tooling is a little dated by modern standards, being an ex-Dapol model from the 1990s.

 

Detail

In keeping with its 1990s heritage, the model has a lot of moulded detail and a large tension lock coupling. It does feel heavy and robust though, and is better suited to young modellers than the delicate new tooling.

 

Performance

Here’s where the model fell down for me – the mechanism was prone to erratic starts and stops, and was also quite noisy. It was difficult to get a smooth start and stop as with a more modern loco, but perhaps with a bit of maintenance and running in this would improve (much like the Bachmann B1).

 

Maintenance

I didn’t carry out any maintenance whilst I had it. The old tooling means that no DCC socket is provided.

 

Comments

A good looking model let down by a slightly erratic mechanism. It’s also fairly difficult to connect the tender to the main loco...

 

Overall ranking

5/10

 
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Username
Paul Johnson.
 
Version
Hornby Castle  no 5068 ‘Beverston Castle’  in BR lined green early crest. R2849
 
Appearance
Here’s the classic GWR Big Four period standard express design very neatly presented by Hornby. Generally it appears ‘right’, looks like a Castle from any angle, and overall measures up well against reliable drawings. The main drivers with their subtly outward flaring spokes as they come to the hubs, and the representation of the massive slide bar and crosshead  assembly make this one of the best chassis I have seen on a Hornby model. 
 
If you are really fussy, Hornby have had to ‘do something’ to this model to get it round set track curves; the cylinders are slightly further forward than they should be  - only a millimetre – to allow the rear bogie wheel to fit neatly inside the cylinder block when it swings out for curves. A very sensible compromise and one which does not detract.
 
The slight loss of the boiler underside is rather more noticeable in the gap between the splashers, but has to be looked for, rather than calling attention to itself; also a fine join line both sides of the coned section of the boiler which can be seen if looked for. The loco to tender linkage is a neat drawbar but falls down on spacing, there is no correct distance setting, which has to be a design oversight.
 
Reduce the spacing to scale ( an easy way is by modifying the drawbar, see below) and the loco and tender together look very fine indeed; I also gently reshaped the fall plate to a slightly lower position in-situ without breaking it off. Removing the plastic coal moulding from the bunker and adding some real coal, is another obvious user improvement.
 
The paint job, lining and printing all very neat and tidy to Hornby’s usual good standard. Deserves a set of etched name and cabside number plates to give it the final touch. (In case some of the above appears over-critical this is a very fine model; when it is this good some of the ‘small stuff’ that wouldn’t notice on a lesser model starts to show.)
 
Detail
The detail is comprehensive  to the level that is practical in 4mm scale, and requires careful handling: Hornby have screw on lugs engaging in the packaging to stop the model rattling around in transit, which must be removed before operation by undoing and replacing two cross head screws which also retain the keeper plate. This worked well, mine was perfect as received.
 
Although quite a plain design there are enough small parts to represent to give character to the model. The representations of brass and copper fittings are well judged, clean but with a dull shine rather than ‘jeweller’s shop window’. The cab interior all tricked out, more worthwhile on a loco with such an open cab and low tender where much of this can be seen while the loco runs. Various small parts like brake rods and buffer beam pipe fittings are provided for the user to add, the latter of course have to be tried to see if they interfere with any coupler that is fitted, when the loco is run on the layout’s curves. The detail has all stayed attached after quite a lot of running too. Most satisfactory in short.
 
Performance
Ran well  straight from the box, has pick up wipers on all coupled and tender wheels all of which were properly making contact. It has the neat four pin plug loco to tender electrical connection to allow the decoder to be in the tender, the loco has to be plugged up to the tender to operate which is perhaps the only slight downside (Hornby could provide a blanking plug to allow the loco to run alone on DC).  Smooth and quiet from a slow crawl to full express speed and has all the motor power it needs.
 
Not enough weight for traction to pull a full size load without a lot of slipping to very slow speed on curves; on the near level London-Bristol main line they were put on 15 coaches on regular services. Piling weight on top of the loco until the wheels stopped slipping proved that the motor could pull this size train at full speed, but I don’t think there is room inside without major surgery to make space for all this weight.  It was however more than up to pulling six or seven coaches, as seen on the well known ‘Cheltenham Flyer’.  
 
The 8 pin decoder socket was wired right way round and with clear indication of pin 1 for correct decoder insertion, more than enough room in the tender for any HO decoder. The NEM coupler pockets are correctly positioned, a Kadee no18 was right for height on the Kadee gauge, no need for any adjustment.
 
Maintenance
Taking off and replacing the loco and tender bodies was straightforward; secured by one screw on the loco, two screws on the tender, all described clearly on the diagram. Neatly lubricated on the major moving parts, and will get more grease as required. Good solid motor mounting; the motor is a longer slim black can of a type I had not seen before in a Hornby model, proved just as sweet running as the familiar fatter ‘black can’ motor in the A3, A4, Britannia, Q1, 7P, 8F etc.
 
My usual choice of a  Lenz decoder was installed in the tender and proved a fine combination with the version of Hornby’s black can motor used in this model. That said the motor and chassis is so sweet running that any competent decoder would do a decent job I should imagine. Also while the chassis was out, added a soft spring to the bogie pivot pin, as this really helps the appearance as the model moves on entering curves.
 
The loco to tender drawbar mounted on the tender was given a fair sized ‘U’ bend to shorten it and bring loco and tender to what I believe to be correct spacing, 5mm between the cab and tender vertical handrails. As a secondary benefit the linking wires can then be draped through the bend in the drawbar to keep them tidy and at no risk of dropping down and snagging on a point blade or other track component. With the drawbar shortened to give the correct spacing it only starts to bind below 24” radius, and if the intermediate buffers (which are small metal fittings) are pulled out of the tender front will just about squeak around second radius. Obviously a slightly larger spacing will make the loco ‘comfortable’ on second radius without much loss to appearance, an easy modification which anyone can do.
 
Comments
This is very good altogether, falling down on two points: by being a little light for full on traction for the type, and with the unnecessarily way oversize loco to tender spacing, which would be so easy to rectify with a small redesign. Also would have liked etched plates for the money, Bachmann typically supply them on similarly priced premium express types.
 
Overall ranking
9. Docking it a point for the lack of traction. Any user planning to operate it with half a dozen coaches will be unlikely to complain though. 
Review Hornby Bachmann 
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