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Hornby SR N15
Tim Davies
Hornby R2836, SR N15 “Sir Valence”, 8 wheel bogie tender (Urie). 5 pole skew wound motor, loco drive. DCC ready. Made in China. 14 or 16 wheel pickup depending on tender. I fitted a TCS UK DCC decoder from new.
Perfect, unless you are a rivet counter, then almost perfect. Minor blemishes include unnoticeably small front bogie wheels, and colour of the reverse rod. It has sprung buffers and excellent cab detail. Paint finish and printing perfect. Note that this model also comes with various other combinations of name, tender, cab and liveries, each with its own product ID code.
This is a super detailed model, and items like lamp irons are easily broken. The front ‘doors’ on the tender might come off, they plug into the ‘floor’. For maintenance use a Peco service cradle or the like.
Starting and slow running (down to 1cm/sec) are perfect, as there is electrical pickup on every wheel except the front bogie. Insulfrog points are absolutely no problem, nor is not so clean track. Top speed is about right, depending on operating voltage. Running light or with a load, the motor is silent, all you hear are wheels on track. No derailment problems. I have hauled 13 free running coaches, and 9 up a 1 in 50 grade, with some slip on the latter. This is the best loco I have driven.
Careful oiling at 100 hours or six months. Check the electrical connection on the hook between tender and loco. Clean the wheel tyres and the pickup contact areas on the backs of the wheels. Use clip leads to the tender wheels to run the driving wheels while cleaning them. A service cradle is almost essential for this.
This won a best model award in 2007. The one blemish for me is the tender NEM pocket coupling, which is too low for Kadees. The uncoupling bar hits turnout rails. My Maunsell coaches are Kadee fitted and won’t stay coupled to the N15 for long. The truth is the coupling height makes for slight problems with tension locks as well, so Hornby, please fix this. Fitting a correct height Kadee is currently a serious operation. Installing the TCS (no wires) UK decoder requires adjustment of the decoder socket support, otherwise the body will not fit back on. Before buying a decoder, check that it will fit. Buying the DCC ready version allows you to choose your own decoder.
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 J83, and Southern Schools x 2, T9 x 2 and Q1. The N15 is the best, but some of the others come close. On an absolute scale I would give a 9.5/10, due to the coupling problem. If it were stolen, I would definitely buy again, so my final score is 10/10. Congratulations Hornby!
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