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Hornby LNER A4
 
 

Username

Tom Davidson

 

Version

4468 ‘Mallard’ LNER Garter Blue (China made 3-pole tender drive)

 

Appearance

The LNER garter blue has been well rendered, and responds particularly well to a bit of dry-brush weathering. My version was renamed and numbered to 4490 Empire of India using HMRS transfers, despite having an incorrect double chimney.

 

Detail

No other detail parts were fitted, but the handrails and buffers are factory fitted metal parts that really do lift the appearance of the model. Large tension lock couplings make for easy operation, but can look a little too clumsy.

 

Performance

The Chinese-made 3-pole loco is exceptionally fast (even more so than Smokey Joe). Even with a feedback controller or DCC control it is difficult to get a smooth start, although extra pickups on the tender do help. The high speed and traction tyres mean that it can easily haul a prototypical load of 10 or 12 coaches.

 

Maintenance

No maintenance has been necessary, and a decoder was hard-wired into the tender using the panel to the very rear. 14-wheel pickup means that wheel cleaning hasn’t been necessary.

 

Comments

A good looking model that goes a bit too quickly to be used on anything other than a large tail-chasing layout.

 

Overall ranking

7/10
 
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Username
Paul Johnson 
 
Version
Hornby A4 Golden Plover  R2340 in BR lined green late crest. (Repeats shared features in the Hornby A3 review).
 
Appearance
Best yet in plastic bodied renditions of the difficult A4 shape. Joy unbounded, the tender is one of the four coach ended type built for the original  ‘Silver locos: unless I am mistaken a version never previously available RTR. Generally the model measures up well. Paint and printing 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 below. There is a complete blunder in the rendition of the double ejector: the rear aperture is smaller than the front one, a very strange error – easily filed out to full size – improved further in appearance if lined up inside with the blast pipes. There is a strange ‘air gap’ where frames should be behind the cylinders, that needs infilling. The profile of the cylinder cladding is incorrect, doesn’t roll under the cylinder properly. 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.) Nice touch on the corridor tender, the buckeye coupler head is modelled and hinges correctly on the drawhook.
 
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 the ultimate UK steam express loco.  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. Will run at a scale 130mph (all other express classes on the layout except Peppercorn A1 and A3  (110mph) limited to 90 mph, to make it clear just which express class IS the real thing.)
 
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 650g it will start and take 25 coaches up a 1 in 100. (This is essential for an A4 model, a feat achieved during wartime operation, and a credit to the driver as the loco was near the limit of its’ theoretical tractive effort and adhesion factor.)
 
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.)
 
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. Motion bracket  fell off after several years on the layout, cemented back on.
 
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. Hasn’t stopped me buying more, and doing the necessary work on the mechanism.
 
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Username
Bocaj
 
Version 
I am reviewing the R2339 Version of A4 Mallard, It has a 5-pole moter located in the main Locomotives. The model is made in China.  

Appearance 
It definitely looks amazing, the perfect garter blue livery looks great with a rake of pullmans! The LNER lettering is also spot on.

Detail 
This is one of the best models on detailing terms. All the details in the cab and tender are painted to make it stand out! It has the Opening vents on the cab roof. It came with handrails and Brakerods Factory fitted. It also comes with removable coal in the tender which is a nice feature However due to the tender not having a corridor it is quite hard to remove and fit back in! The details which don't come factory fitted are just the usual things like the Cylinder Cock Drain Pipes and Vacume Brack Pipes.
 
Performance 
This loco runs very smoothly and can handle points well. It can pull a correct load of coaches!

Maintenance
It was easy to fit a decoder to. Odly, you don't need to lubricate it as much as other locos but still lubricate it.
 
Comments
It's an amazing model. It also features the type of packaging which splits in two which means nothing breaks getting it out of the box.
 
Overall ranking
10/10
Review Hornby Bachmann 
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