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Hornby LNER O1
Paul Johnson.
Hornby Thompson O1 2-8-0 as LNER no 3755 catalogue no R3088
This was something of a surprise prototype for Hornby to choose, but makes a most handsome model. Fairly austere, but the combination of a fairly modern loco with the elegance of the pre-group design Robinson tender makes an interesting ensemble. I’ve measured it against the fairly basic drawing I have, and compared it to photos, and reckon it is right. It also makes an interesting contrast to the Bachmann O4 model, which class in reality provided the basis for this rebuild, the two types were usually to be seen together. (Don’t ever recall seeing one in reality, it was a Great Central and North Eastern allocated type and I wasn’t able to see very much of these areas as our family went up and down the ECML no further North than York, and usually only as far as Doncaster.)
Very well executed anyhow, just needs a top to toe coating of freight engine muck, streaks of water softening chemicals from leaks, and plenty of rust to make it fully realistic; also the moulded coal removed to be replaced by the real stuff, which should be the cleanest thing on the loco. Some might think it a shame to cover up Hornby’s excellent paint finish I suppose, but in my case this was an easy way of turning a cheap LNER liveried buy, into a BR locomotive on which the numbers are only just visible, and the whole machine hasn’t seen a cleaner since last works overhaul and looks like a moving dunghill.
Good here too. Pretty much all the practical detail is present and well applied, and nothing has fallen off despite regular operation. In Hornby’s usual style the glazing of the cab is very fine, and detail like boiler bands are realistically presented in very slight relief. All helps the realism of the model, very convincing.
As usual, the supplied user-fittable detail items like cab doors, front footsteps, cylinder drains and bufferbeam detail have to be tested against the layout curves and couplers as applicable to see if they are useable.
Very fine running straight out of the box, smooth from dead slow and up, and very quiet. I have not worked out the gear ratio Hornby have used, but it is well chosen for the low speed performance important for a loco mostly used in slow freight service. You can shunt very controllably with this loco, but it also has a top speed which is about right for the type, which did occasionally get a gallop. It’s too light for the full freight load these things would be seen with - this is a regular fault with RTR 2-8-0s - but there’s room inside for more ballast. I took the flywheel off to make more space for ballast since DCC fully takes care of the smoothness of running. Hornby’s tender pick-ups and inside bearing axles are as usual draggy, adjusted the wipers for minimal contact to cut the drag down which helps pulling power a little.
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, the expected very sweet running resulted.
I have replaced the supplied drawbar, to bring loco and tender to scale distance, and relocated it between the moulded representations of the drawbar slots in the drag boxes of engine and tender. This is a copy of what Bachmann have done as standard for fifteen years now, and which Hornby briefly used on models like their Britannia and Castle, before going back to hanging it underneath. I view my models at eye-level and don’t like this intrusion, and on this model the same securing screws could be used to fit the drawbar in the proper place very neatly. A very worthwhile improvement in appearance.
It’s a goodun, One of the ways I can tell that I particularly like a loco is if it gets rostered to operate rather more than it would have been seen in the area I model. My heavy freight drags should be overwhelmingly supplied with 9F or WD 8F power from the New England shed allocation. Somehow this O1 model puts in a fairly regular appearance.
Overall ranking
9 As good as anything Hornby have offered in steam loco models for appearance and general quality, but rather too light for an 8F (same fault as the Bachmann WD 8F, Hornby 8F) so cannot pull a full size freight load as supplied.
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