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Hornby LNER B17

Paul Johnson.
Hornby B17/1 in BR lined green early crest no 61637 catalogue no R2921X
No doubt what this is a model of, overall it looks right for the class and the major dimensions are correct. Hornby’s usual finesse with paint, lining, numbers and totems on show. It really should have an etched name plate to match the quality of the rest of the model, must order a set one day, The overall impression of the lightweight express loco is well caught, helped by the fact that this is a ‘Sandy’ and so has the short GER design tender. The tender is worth a mention on its own, a very neat little unit with the big brakle wheel clearly on view. A wipe of ‘dirt to slightly tone down the bright red helps this.. Really needs the moulded coal to be removed and some of the real stuff in it to finish the appearance. No complaints here at all.
Generally well executed. The boiler bands correctly rendered, really subtle; excellent cab glazing. The valve gear slightly simplified compared to Bachmann’s best efforts and looks a little flimsy in very bright metal. The slightly sunken superheater header covers on the smokeboxes are questionable, these should be much nearer flush than as represented. Somewhere on my layout there must be a regulator handle, as it has fallen off from the cab interior! Cannot say this last really matters, not visible when the loco is running. Otherwise pretty much all the practical detail is well applied.
As usual, the supplied user-fittable items like cylinder drains and bufferbeam detail have to be tested against the layout curves and couplers to see if they are useable.
All that it should be after a couple of hours out of the box, following steady running on DC with the supplied decoder removed*. It droned a little at first but that quieted and it ran smoothly at all speeds up to a good express maximum, there’s traction enough for the usual loads these locos took on, in BR service. A 1930s LNER version might need some weight to make it good for 14 coaches, these machines were put to very hard work when new, relative to their size and light construction. They got fairly broken...
*This was bought decoder fitted as it happened to be the cheapest on offer. As received whether run on DC or DCC it was clunky starting and jerky at low speed. This was all down to the Hornby decoder, once removed the mechanism was smooth on DC. So Hornby’s own decoder actually degraded the basic performance of the mechanism! Piece of junk, and I can imagine might make some feel DCC is bad news.
No mechanical attention required, neatly greased where it needs to be, I’ll oil the rod pins at the usual two month interval that seems right for my regular operation. Really easy to get access to the decoder socket as the tender top is screw attached. Installed a Lenz standard in tender, very sweet running resulted.
I have slightly shortened the supplied drawbar, to bring loco and tender to scale distance, always a worthwhile improvement if layout curves permit. The very neat arrangement of crew doors on loco and tender nest together with this done, and after some time running now have realistic scuff marks where they move against each other on curves. Also put a light spring on the front bogie pivot, which improves the movement on track.
I am not impressed with the Hornby decoder - again. Second time I have seen one in a DCC fitted Hornby model, and it’s as bad as the first time...
Overall ranking
9.5 That’s with the supplied Hornby decoder removed, docked a half for the couple of detail issues. If the running with the decoder is taken into account I’d make it a 6, the low speed jerkiness was poor.

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