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Hornby Thomas 'Diesel'
Graeme Watson
Hornby Devious Diesel
R9050, 0-6-0 Chassis: NOT DCC Ready
Made in China
"Diesel" was based on a BR Class 08 Shunter, nicknamed the "Gronk". This model is based on an old moulding for a Tri-ang Class 08. Features Diesel's "Devious" face instead of the front grill! The paint is matt black, just as it should be, with red buffer beams.
This model has reasonably decent moulded detail. This body was used extensively in the Hornby Railways range in the 1990s and the current (~2010) Railroad Class 08, confusingly called "Thomas 1". As this is a fictional character, aimed to appeal to children (but not their wallets!), it is more than adequate for the job. The more recent super detailing on Hornby's high-end Class 08 would look out of place. Brake pipes are included, but were not fitted. There is no glazing in the cab, buffers are unsprung, and the couplings are the older Hornby style.
This loco is sometimes a little sluggish to start, and needs a gentle push to get it going. It has an OK response to the acceleration and deceleration effects as simulated by the Hornby four-function decoder that I hardwired to the motor The top speed is way out of scale for prototype, but would be entertaining enough for children! As such, it may be a little less useful in the shunting yard than the high-end Hornby Class 08, though mine has it's uses, predominantly in testing, track cleaning and fiddling about.
Wheel cleaning, +/- hair removal, as and when required (where does it come from!?). Maintenance instructions are included in the box. Access to the chassis is obtained by pushing the rear clip above the cab-end buffer beam, and then sliding out the tab at the "face" end. This was not too easy on mine. NB: use the pocket clip of a Bic pen lid or similar, rather than the screwdriver suggested by Hornby, or you could cause major cosmetic damage. I filed the retaining clip on the chassis so this would be less of a problem in future. This loco was converted for DCC operation. The simple soldering instructions are the same as shown for Thomas the Tank Engine, on the Hornby website; this was a simple task achieved within 30-40 minutes.
My original purpose for this model was to add a "Really useful engine" to my shunting team, and I always had a soft-spot for Diesel. It also provided me a great opportunity to solder my first DCC chip (a long while ago now); not as daunting as most may think.
I considered Diesel as a "sacrificial" locomotive, before attempting DCC conversion of the Hornby Class 06 blue Pullman Club loco, or more expensive ones. He's also destined for having cab lights fitted, flush glazing, and a little work on the contacts to improve operation.
Overall ranking
7/10 A good representation of a Thomas classic, but one which for its toy-based shortcomings affords good opportunity for the modeller to hone their skills.
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