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Hornby LNER J83
Tim Davies & Harry
Hornby R2970X LNER 0-6-0T Class J83. 3 pole open motor, loco drive. DCC installed. Made in China. 6 wheel pickup. £35, RRP around £40.
General outline OK. ‘Railroad’ standard. Faulty printing of ‘9805’ on this sample. No cab detail or floor. 
Very basic, about the same standard as the Tri-ang Jinty of 1953. Memories! Moulded handrails. There are no fragile parts except for air hoses, which can be optionally fitted on the buffer beams.
Top speed is about right, depending on operating voltage. The motor is noisy but can run well and quietly at slow speed, down to 1cm/sec, on clean track. As purchased there were severe pickup problems - much stalling and jerking, in fact that’s mostly what it did! Two pickups would jam against the chassis and had to be adjusted, and all needed the tension increased. After modifications which included fitting a decoder with Stay Alive, extra weight, and shimming the rear left driver bearing, the loco ran reasonably, but still has about 20% chance of stalling or jerking over insulfrog turnouts. It can now haul 7 free running coaches, and 4 up a 1 in 50 grade, with slip on the latter. No derailment problems. 
Performance Update  29-July-2011
Unfortunately, further running revealed that our foolish optimism was not justified. At times it runs quite well, at others it will stop instantly over insulfrog turnouts, then start again smoothly or go into reverse for an instant, all by itself! Sometimes it would stop and restart on plain track. LNER’s revenge for nationalisation. Seems like suspect pickup is affecting the decoder. Other DCC locos run perfectly over the same track. This is still a work in progress. I hope to update this review in the future with good news.
Careful oiling at 100 hours or six months.  Clean the wheels and the pickup contact areas on the backs of the wheels frequently. A service cradle is best for this, eg Peco PL70. We fitted a tiny socket to supply power to the motor for wheel cleaning. The body is easier to unclip if the rear coupling is removed.
This version does not have traction tyres or high speed gearing as in some other 0-6-0s from Hornby. The loco is really only suitable for electrofrog turnouts even with Stay Alive. The Stay Alive system improves slow running but doesn’t perform miracles. You probably need the Lenz version for that, but at the Lenz price this loco is not worth it!
Overall ranking
This review is partly based on comparison with seven other current Hornby DCC loco drive models I have tested, which include LNER A1, and Southern N15, Schools x 2, T9 x 2 and Q1. This is by far the worst, but maybe we got a bad one. Nevertheless it should never have left the factory in that condition. Don’t risk it! Quality control please Hornby, and probably a redesign. As bought, not merchantable quality, 0/10. After modification, 4/10, but only when it’s in a good mood!

Review Hornby Bachmann 
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