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Hornby LMS 8F
Paul Johnson
Hornby 8F (loco drive, current version, R number unknown)
Generally good and well finished. It measures up well against the works GA drawing, so no surprise that it looks like the real thing. If you are looking closely, then Hornby’s Stanier 4,000 gallon tender has the silly error of a valance above the tender axle boxes, and the lack of daylight under the boiler and a rotating gear shaft on view don’t enhance the appearance. Hornby also use their weird camming mechanism on the lumpen pony truck so the pony wheels slop about fore and aft when loco direction is changed. This wheelset is a generic one, most resembling an LNER type; replacing it with the correct LMS pattern is just so worthwhile, and since I happened to have one in the odds and sods box, my lucky 8F looks all the better for it. Needs scruffing up to represent a freight loco in constant use with little attention to cleaning; then it looks just like the old ‘eights’ that lumbered about LMR and beyond.
Not quite as much detail as the latest introductions, but most of the significant stuff on the body is present. The cab doors and fallplate are particularly good, and the side rods and valve gear are amongst the best I have seen from Hornby; they even make the centre coupling rod of correctly heavier section than the end coupling rods which is a nice touch. The pony truck casting is a blobby lump, I have an improvement in mind. Everything well attached,  nothing has fallen off despite a lot of handling of the body while modifying it and adding weight.
Runs very well and has all but the pony truck wheels picking up. Smooth although a little growly from dead slow up to a more than high enough scale maximum speed. (They could and did get whipped up to 75mph on passenger trains at need, quick for a small wheeled goods type.) Was the loco powerful enough to pull a prototypical load? Not really; often struggled to start and then slipped a lot when running on level track with 60 free running wagons behind, couldn’t keep moving on a 1 in 100 gradient with more than 40 on. It is just too light (same problem on the Bachmann WD and ROD 2-8-0s ) but the motor and drive train is more than good enough to handle extra weight for increased traction. Hacked about for lead to go in, it is now a good puller.
I will use grease when required, adequate lubricant was present on receipt, no spillage. The rotating gear shaft ends are now concealed behind strips of matt black paper. Fitting a shorter loco to tender linkage to couple at scale distance makes the usual worthwhile improvement in appearance. The pony truck is modified to swing on a single pivot.  I rewired the loco chassis to isolate the chassis block, and hard wired a decoder in the tender to leave all the space possible to get maximum weight in the loco. A Lenz silver predictably runs Hornby’s good black can motor beautifully.


There is a very good kit from Brassmasters to build a replacement pony truck correct for this type, which will be a huge improvement over the metal lump Hornby provide. I will add that one day.
This was a second hand purchase already renumbered and lightly modified with some extra detail (which I have not mentioned) which is why I have no clue to the R number.
Overall ranking
8.  Docked it a point each for the lightness which seriously limits traction, and the defects to appearance of lack of under boiler daylight and rotating gear shaft on view. But make no mistake it is one good representation of Stanier’s handsome freight engine; took a little work to make it perform the way I need it to, but entirely worthwhile when you see it  going with a heavy goods on. This was the last steam type I saw hauling a train in normal BR operation in late Spring 1968...


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