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Hornby LNER N2
Paul Johnson
Hornby N2 in BR lined black as 69506 R2178B 

A good looking and generally accurate model of the prototype, the paint finish and printing is to Hornby’s usual good standard. One or two features such as the front framing and rather visible motor in the cab space are not as refined as more recent model introductions.

What detail is fitted is good, is both strong and realistic. Some detail found on more recent models is not included, lamp irons and lifting holes in the frames for example; not too much of a challenge to add these. The cab is full of motor and gear train, none of the detail we have become accustomed to there as a  result.
Runs well after an hour or more to break it in at medium speed when new. Picks up on all the coupled wheels, centre axle is sprung which is always an aid to good pick up. Will pull the normal trainload for the type and can run at well over scale speed, in reality 60mph was the normal service maximum as they mostly ran all-stations commuter services.
Grease lubricate axles, rod pins and gear train. No provision to fit a decoder, the chassis has to be lightly modified to disconnect the motor from copper straps that carry current from pick ups to motor brushes. Mine has a Lenz silver which (predictably) operates Hornby’s good black can motor very well indeed.
This model was originally tooled thirty years ago by Airfix for their GMR range, and displays that company’s tooling expertise. Airfix GMR finished before the loco was launched, it transferred to Mainline unchanged. After Mainline closed the tools went to Dapol and more were produced. Both these versions have a large and powerful open frame five pole motor, which runs extremely well, has all the power required, and usually sounds like a coffee grinder. When this tooling came to Hornby, they put in their standard black can, so now it has excellent running and is quiet, thankfully.


The prototype was very interesting: limited in size, weight and axleload by the London underground tunnels they had to run in, and fitted with condensers which had to be used for tunnel operation. On the commuter services they had to start a 220 ton gross trainload form the ‘Hotel Curve’ at Kings Cross on a 1 in 39 and sharp radius curve. The operation was robust in the extreme, they were given all the gear, and the lever put full over within five yards of starting, with a really fierce ‘barking’ exhaust in the run to the tunnels (echoes of this can be heard on ‘The Ladykillers’). This was the sideshow to the parade of Doncaster pacifics at Kings Cross. Quite often as a suburban service passenger it was possible to get a ride alongside a pacific going up the Northern heights banks For forty years they ran with a standard pair of ‘quadarts’ purpose designed for maximum passenger capacity on the Metropolitan widened lines from Moorgate out into the air at Kings Cross, (or five BR mk1 suburbans in their final years) also used on goods, 15 to 25 wagons would be normal, and ECS in and out of KX over short distances when they could be seen on a full size mainline passenger set. BR did not attempt a replacement design even though they were already nearing end of life when BR was formed. There was no other steam loco design suitable for the work except the ex-GER N7 of similar age which was limited for top speed by its’ smaller wheels (the LMS had successfully used the Fowler’ Jinty’ on the similar run from Broad Street out onto GN suburban lines pre-WW11, that was similarly limited like the N7 for higher speeds, but otherwise might have done, the LMS class 3 2-6-2T had been tried and couldn’t hack it, apart from being oversize.) BR tried all sorts of diesels, (most of which broke down under the load) eventually settling on the Brush type 2 at nearly twice the size, in the process reducing the passenger capacity per train by a third.

Overall ranking
7 Decent model which runs very well, not quite up to modern standards of appearance and detail, but easy to improve.

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