Hornby Model Railway Locomotive Reviews -
Class 153 Central Trains
I must admit looking forward to this release more than the
usual. Up until the Hornby 153 the only members of the
“Sprinter” family available as models have been quite dated. The
release of the model also means that modellers wanting one for
their collection will no longer have to resort to conversion
using the Hornby Class 155.
impressions: The model comes packaged in a more
conventional fashion than that of models such as the Class 60
and 50 diesels. From the box it feels quite weighty, but not so
much as a locomotive. It comes supplied with the company’s usual
instructions, decoder sleeve and a pair of Tension lock
couplings to allow for multiple working.
Looking at the model the impression is immediately of a quality
RTR “Sprinter” to do the class justice. The odd cab ends (small
and large) are well captured and detailed with the motor bobie
at the small end. I particularly like the fine bracing around
the corridor connections and the fine moulded handrails. The
ends also feature NEM sockets, and authentic dummy couplings
above these that don’t have to be removed to fit the Tension
locks. Slightly more disappointing are the obstacle deflectors,
which, rather than being body mounted, are attached to the
bogies and swing with the turns.
I’d personally rather have seen body mounted versions that were
removable to allow for the NEM socket to be used.
The cabs have interiors (well ahead of the Lima 156) and the
motor bogie is well hidden behind the plated windows.
Body-wise the unit looks excellent in CT green. The rivet detail
is exquisite, and really captures the feel of the real thing.
The interior is moulded blue with seats and tables that appear
realistic from the outside. Passengers would be a great addition
and perhaps some painting to highlight certain features.
Moving down to the chassis the awful box that ruined the
otherwise good Lima/Hornby Class 156 is thankfully absent,
instead some nice moulded detail including exhausts, air tanks
and if you look closely, the drive shaft. None of this detail is
picked out (the exhaust silencer should be a nice rust streaked
silver) but would be an excellent detailing project. The only
thing I didn’t like in this area were the wheels, which appear
chunky and are bright silver. If Hornby had blackened the wheels
they would have looked much better.
track: Before I could think about running the 153
I had to install a decoder. Before I even go into detail about
the body removal I’d advise anyone wanting one to buy the DCC
fitted version. This not only negates the need for this migraine
inducing task, but might also eliminate the back EMF calibration
issues that turned up with my Bachmann decoder.
To remove the body, you need to ease it away from the chassis,
bearing in mind that the seam is so fine and well hidden that
you can hardly see where it is. I found it easiest to start at
the “small” end (where the motor bogie is) and apply pressure to
the raised ridges over the bogie mounts until enough of a gap
emerged to wedge in a small strip of plastic. Repeat on the
other side at the same end then lift out the chassis at that end
and slide the strips along to help prize it out.
Once you’ve done it once it’s easy to do again (or you could buy
the Decoder fitted version).
With the decoder (Bachmann 3 function) installed my sample ran
erratically at slow speeds, a back EMF problem. Disabling it
produced little result, so I adjusted CV’s 53 to 55 in order to
tune in the decoder. Once again, the DCC fitted version might
save you the hassle.
When it finally ran the unit was very impressive. The lighting
is both markers and one headlamp on the leading end and red tail
lights on the trailing end. The blue-white lights aren’t
strictly prototypical (white-gold) and there is no day/night
switch, however they still look fantastic. Another first for an
While it is a commendably smooth runner, the unit is highly
sensitive to dodgy track laying and doesn't quite seem at home
on 2nd radius curves (although make no mistake it will run
through them if your track is well lain). This is quite
disappointing, considering how many "space starved" modellers
would like the single car and how well older sprinters have
stood up on curves.
Overall, despite it’s sensitive running, bogie mounted
obstacle deflectors and shiny wheels this is a superb model, and
the first “Sprinter” that should satisfy most from the box. With
Bachmann’s Class 150 coming soon (or in 2145
) it’ll be an interesting comparison, especially since Hornby’s
rival seems to have both blackened the units’ wheels and fitted
body mounted deflectors. Rating- 9/10
- looks, detail, lighting, interior, decoration, much
- bogie mounted deflectors, shiny wheels, body difficult
to remove, doesn’t like tight curves.
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