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Hornby LNER A3
 
Username
Paul Johnson.
 
Version
Hornby A3 St Gatien R2536 in BR lined green early crest (split from a set, and purchased for £40 including p+p, came in a better heavy pasteboard box than the standard model – figure that out...)
 
Appearance
What lookers the originals are, and Hornby have it generally well rendered. Measures up well. Paint and decals to Hornby’s customary fine standard. The ghastly flangeless wheelset in the Cartazzi truck is the major blot on the loco landscape – what were Hornby thinking of with this cheapo compromise? – but they do at least include a flanged wheelset for user installation, of which more anon. There is a strange ‘air gap’ where frames should be behind the cylinders, that needs infilling. The coal rail tender is very handsomely done: in some ways the tenders have been the biggest gainers in the move back to loco drive. Replacing the antiquated tender link with a DIY replacement for correct spacing of loco from tender further enhances the appearance;  more on this below.
 
Detail
The detail parts are realistic, but careful handling is required to avoid breakages of fine parts.  The much too fine plastic sandpipe detail doesn’t last long on a running loco; Bachmann’s scheme of shaped wire is far more robust. The detailed and painted cab interior is over the top for my money, just the hint of the interior with the red painted brake valve seen through the cab side window is enough. The motion parts are if anything a little too fine, the connecting rod especially too skinny in cross section. The model has to be very carefully checked on receipt and the connecting rods adjusted to avoid any chance of catching on a leading crankpin. (The Hornby motor has ample power to destroy this component if it catches while the loco is running at any speed.)
 
Performance
Ran smoothly and quietly straight out of the box, picks up on all coupled wheels and all tender wheels as supplied. Weird effect of the slim front bogie pin being slack in the slotted mounting,  allowing the loco to move nearly 2mm before the bogie does.
 
Good gearing for express speed, rather  important for a member of the fastest family of UK steam locos with a string of speed firsts including first reliably authenticated 100mph by any steam loco, and a member of this class holder of the record at 108mph for some time.  The loco has ample motor power but is too light to reliably pull a prototypical load: there is space in the big boiler to install enough weight for it to haul anything you care to hang on the hook however.
 
Maintenance
It came with adequate grease on the major moving parts, and will get more grease as required.
 
Lenz silver decoder hardwired in, excellent performance.
 
Now sit down for the essay on the work it has had.
 
The pick up wipers on the loco are too long and flexible for reliable longevity (eventually they deflect and get caught in the spokes), so soldered on wire stiffeners on the backs, while modifying the pick up strips so that both are soldered to wires and the chassis block is isolated from the track. (As supplied the chassis block is live, bad news for DCC as it makes the loco potentially prone to random short circuits.)
 
Interior rearranged for weighting, ensuring the loco balances in the middle of the coupled wheelbase to give it realistic tractive potential. Made up to 500g it will drag 20 coaches around very happily.
 
Modification to Cartazzi truck axle mounting to enable the loco to go round my 30” minimum radius curves  with the flanged wheelset installed. Interior of Cartazzi frames moulding cut away to allow the wheelset to traverse. (Bachmann’s A1 is longer in the wheelbase by 4mm, has a flanged wheelset in the fixed Cartazzi frames, and will traverse second radius curves as supplied  if required so the flangeless wheel compromise not only looks horrible, it is completely unnecessary. Naughty Hornby, bad dog, sit in the corner.)
 
Added the infill to eliminate the air gap in the forward frames
 
Addition of a light spring to the lined up bogie pivot pin. Now the bogie action looks good, not slopping around but guiding the loco into curves.
 
A new tender link made to couple on at scale distance and eliminate the very dated power coupling. Soldered wires across to the tender.
 
Removal of tender pick ups after a year in service. All too often after a fair amount of running Hornby’s tender pick ups become very effective brakes; and there is no permanent cure that I can find. The locos run fine on driven wheel pick up only, so it is no loss.
 
Return crank rivet fell out after three years steady use, repaired.
 
Wind deflector fell off cabside; it will be somewhere on the layout, (never know, I may find it one day and be able to re-install it on the ‘spares loco’ from which I have robbed the part to keep the running loco looking good)..
 
Comments
I see that Hornby have revisited the A3/A4 chassis to move the decoder into the tender, have they tackled any of the other shortcomings I wonder?
 
Overall ranking
10 for looks, 3 for mechanical competence (at least it has a good motor and gearing choice). Hornby know how to do much better, see the Brit or Castle.
 
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UsernameTim Davies & Harry
 
Version
Hornby R1135 Trainset, LNER A1 “Doncaster”, with 3 Railroad Pullmans, track and controller. £99-50 on special. 5 pole skew wound motor (presumably), loco drive. DCC ready. Made in China. 10 wheel pickup. There are various versions of the A1, some with tender drive and 3 pole motors. Be careful to check specs before buying. Similar locos may be available around £52 (loco only), but ensure they are loco drive and have tender pickups.
 
Appearance
Railroad finish, but still retains the imposing aura of the original. Paint excellent although the colour maybe a little dark. Flat gold lettering. No noticeable seam on the boiler as in some other versions. 
 
Detail
There are no fine detail parts to get broken. No glazing in cab, but sprung buffers and wire handrails on boiler.
 
Performance
Starting and slow running (down to 1cm/sec) are perfect, as there is electrical pickup on all driving wheels and 4 wheels in the tender. Insulfrog points are no problem, nor is not so clean track. We had to increase the pressure of the driver pickups to get the best performance. Top speed is about right, depending on operating voltage. Running light or with a load, the motor is silent, all you hear are wheels on track. No derailment problems. We have hauled 11 free running coaches up a 1 in 50 grade, so my estimate is 20+ coaches on the level. Note that the Pullmans supplied with the set have plastic wheels and have a much higher drag than our test coaches. Before fitting the decoder, DC performance with the basic set controller was also excellent.
 
Maintenance
Careful oiling at 100 hours or six months. Check/adjust the electrical connection on the hook between tender and loco. Clean the wheel tyres and the pickup contact areas on the backs of the wheels. Use clip leads to the tender wheels to run the driving wheels while cleaning them. A service cradle is almost essential for this.
 
Comments
This handsome loco has outstanding pulling power and excellent running characteristics. Silent too. To get the rivet counter look you would have to pay double. No NEM pockets. The loco and tender are more difficult to re-rail than most. It is annoying that manufactures and retailers are often far too vague (deliberately?) with important specs like motor, drive, flywheel and pickup arrangement. The A1 is subject to all sorts of variations, making intelligent buying difficult.
Installing the TCS (no wires) UK decoder in the loco is straightforward, but there is an annoying mess of wires over the socket. Before buying a decoder, check that it will fit. Buying a DCC ready version allows you to choose your own decoder.
 
Overall ranking
This review is partly based on comparison with seven other current Hornby DCC loco drive models I have tested, which include LNER J83, and Southern N15, Schools x 2, T9 x 2 and Q1. On an absolute scale I would give a 8/10, due to minimal detail. If it were stolen, Harry would definitely buy again, so the final Railway Review score is 10/10. Great value from Hornby!
 
PS If you think I’m Hornby biased, check my review of the LNER J83!
 
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UsernameBocaj 

Version 
Hornby Flying Scotsman. This model came in a great train set before it was moved to the railroad range. However, this model is the one that comes in the Flying Scotsman train sets now as well as it being in the Railroad Range. This model is a older model so it is tender drive.

Appearance 
The appearance is great, it looks just like it was when it was a LNER A1!

Detail 
There is a fair bit of detail on this model but as it is in the railroad range it is not outstanding. It has non-moulded handrails and cab and tender detail however this is not painted. It also has sprung buffers and a nice corridor tender

Performance 
The locomotive is not that smooth because it is tender drive. The locomotive can probably pull about 6-9 coaches as long as it has got traction tyres on. Without the traction tyres on it can’t pull any coaches at all.

Maintenance 
This model is tender drive so it needs a lot of maintenance. I am unsure about fitting a decoder as it is still DC but my model is not DCC ready so the decoder will need soldering into this model. Because of this it is going to be quite hard to fit a decoder.

Comments
Overall, it is a good model, also it has a good price

Overall ranking
7/10
 
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Username
Bocaj
 
Version
Today I will be reviewing the Hornby R2966 A3 60043 "Brown Jack" in late BR Green with double chimney and smoke deflectors. This model is was only recently releases so is loco drive and made in China.
 
Appearance
This model looks fantastic, the BR livery is spot on. The German style smoke deflectors indicate the locomotive is for running in the 1960s, as this is when this class were fitted with these to help stop lineside fires I think and keep the view clear of smoke for the crew. Hornby have definitely captured the appearance of a BR Gresley A3.
 
Detail
This model has tonnes of detail on her. The front buffer beam has no working coupling; however like the A4s they have the couplings which are real locomotives. The handrails which go from the smokebox to fire box are hand fitted, along with two golden wheels on the side of the locomotives boiler. It also steps, on the cab, smokebox and tender for people to tend to the locomotive. The cab is also spot on, it is all painted to make it stand out and it also has guards to stop the driver and fireman falling out of the cab. On to the tender, it also has a lot of detail. It has things like the water control detail. It also has removable coal which is very easy to control, this reveals a proper coal area on the tender and Hornby has even put detail in there. There is a small hole where the coal would have gone into the cab to be shovelled into the fire. It also comes with some other detailing, things like pipes, brake rods and cylinder cock drain pipes.
 
Performance
The locomotive runs very smooth indeed, the connecting rods go around so smooth. She can easily handle insulfrog points, she just runs over them as if they were not there. She is one of the smoothest locomotives I own, and I have not tried it on DCC Yet!
 
Maintenance
Keep it well lubricated and it will be fine. The decoder socket is located in the tender, which is a large empty space so it should be easy enough to fit a decoder. It has an 8-pin decoder socket.
 
Comments
She is a great locomotive, there are a few things you will need to know regarding getting her out of the box. The packaging is in the new style, which has two polystyrene blocks which split into two and you have to lift the locomotive out. Be careful while doing this, as the guards on the cab are liable to fall off and don't grab it by the smoke deflectors. Then, there are small black metal bits to hold it in place in transit; these will need removing using a screwdriver. Then, to run her you will need to connect the tender using the plug which connects the tender to the locomotive. Be careful that you don't break any of the details off while doing this.
 
Overall Ranking
10/10, excellent locomotive!
Review Hornby Bachmann 
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