Hornby - sign of the times

Discuss Hornby Model Railway products and related topics here. This includes (Lima, Rivarossi, Jouef, Electrotren).
GWR_fan
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Hornby - sign of the times

Postby GWR_fan » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:58 pm

I received a beautiful, mint 'BR' experimental blue Hornby A3 tender drive locomotive from 1994/95 (runs superbly). Upon reading the enclosed generic instructions, I read that the type 7 motor fitted to the typical 0-6-0 locomotive has a life expectancy of 1500 hours (surely enough for a lifetime of running). Fast forward to this century and your 'quality' Chinese-sourced type 7 motor has a life expectancy of exactly 100 hours. Have we lost something in our race to the bottom to sell the cheapest, nastiest product line? I know that my shiny wheel Margate made open cab pannier tank runs like a Swiss watch (traction tyres and all), yet my newly sourced open cab panniers are dogs that require tweaking and finetuning to get any performance at all. While tender drives are not everyone's cup of tea, I think Margate Hornby was at its zenith in the mid-1990s, before the financial decision was made to stop being a toytrain company and maximise profit returns.

Recently, I lashed out a small fortune as I wanted a loco drive King class locomotive. As a new King only came as a Royal Mail (do not get me started on Royal Mail) cover version, a premium was required. Every tender drive model that I have has better performance that this supposedly quality loco drive model. I had expected superb performance and was left with a lurching behemoth that cannot make up its mind whether it wants to run or not.

Tim

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby thebritfarmer » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:14 am

After buying a few Hornby items and being disappointed with them, I have now given Hornby a wide berth. I will stick with my Bachmanns and ViTrains thank you :)
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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby b308 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:55 am

Simple answer is that people aren't prepared to pay the extra for the quality... Load of old skinflints!

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby Bufferstop » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:17 am

Something inside me says that the 1500 hour and 100 hour figures represent something different. I suspect the 100 hours is continuous operation at maximum power output whereas the 1500 hours figure represents hours of typical use (a far more difficult figure to prove). I suspect it's down to the "bean counters" of an international company covering themselves against a worst case scenario rather than an attempt to engineer down what is a bog-standard product used in a model.
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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby Bigmet » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:37 pm

GWR_fan wrote:.... Every tender drive model that I have has better performance that this supposedly quality loco drive model ...

The King is actually a very dated design that has been repeatedly warmed over. Hornby are very adept at marketing, and dream up all sorts of presentation to conceal the fact that the model is not to current standard. If it is unsatisfactory return it, and instead get the newly tooled Castle: I would be outright amazed if you didn't find that a much superior item.

Hornby you have to buy very selectively. The items completely newly tooled over the past dozen years are generally very good. They have a few older items that are adequate and can be worked up into something decent; but they ain't worth a premium price, and quite simply you just have to know what these worthwhile items are. The rest, however well presented, leave it on the shelf.

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby GWR_fan » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:07 pm

By accident I have just found out that the loco drive King class was released around 2003, making it an old production. The old adage a mutton dressed up as lamb certainly applies. I do have a new Castle class from the latest 'Royal Duchy' set but am yet to run it (while a great idea, the new umbilical chord tender attachment is a little fragile if one simply wants to connect to test the loco).

So if Hornby is the king of model recycling, then firstly how is a newcomer supposed to get the low down on what is good and what is not so good? Secondly, a poor marketing exercise as newcomers are the future of the hobby and continued sales and yet another saying, once bitten twice shy will make the new buyer wary of returning to be taken again by an inferior product.

I see old 'Mammoth' Hornby diesels selling for more than one can buy a new Heljan version. Is this simply brandname loyalty or blind stupidity that prices for well known inferior products are maintained at high levels? Even old Mainline split chassis locomotives are as expensive as their later release Bachmann versions. Certainly a lot to learn for this simple hobby.

Tim

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby markS&D » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:01 pm

Bigmet wrote:
GWR_fan wrote:.... Every tender drive model that I have has better performance that this supposedly quality loco drive model ...

The King is actually a very dated design that has been repeatedly warmed over. Hornby are very adept at marketing, and dream up all sorts of presentation to conceal the fact that the model is not to current standard. If it is unsatisfactory return it, and instead get the newly tooled Castle: I would be outright amazed if you didn't find that a much superior item.

Hornby you have to buy very selectively. The items completely newly tooled over the past dozen years are generally very good. They have a few older items that are adequate and can be worked up into something decent; but they ain't worth a premium price, and quite simply you just have to know what these worthwhile items are. The rest, however well presented, leave it on the shelf.


Most, But Not All I emphasise this point (post 2000) loco drive models that I have purchased from Hornby have been good runners.

I own some older 'Rebuilt West Country Models', that have spent many hours running round my layout, and rarely give me any trouble.

However, the same cannot be said for the 'Railroad Jinty', which, is a real pain in the 'ass', has the short life motor, and spends most of its time getting nudged by my fingers because it keeps stopping for no apparent reason in random places, It will probably outlive the motors in the 'Rebuilt WC's' because half the time its stopped running!

I do agree about the 'KIng class', it still appears to be the old tooling, but at a high price, The new 'Castle' is a much better model, and looks superb

There are some good examples mixed in with the bad, as 'Bigmet' says, you have to be savvy, and make wise choices
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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby markS&D » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:10 pm

Having said all of this, Bachmann is not without its faults either!

I would not entertain an older 'split frame' Bachmann loco ever again! My Father has had problems with 4 split frame Bachy locos. A 'B1', 'V2', Standard 4MT' and a 'Rebuilt Patriot', all of which ended up needing new chassis.

The 'B1' never worked right from day 1
The 'V2' constantly had to be dismantled and have the chassis bearings cleaned
The 'Rebuilt Patriot' was the same as the V2
The '4MT's' valve gear fell apart!
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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby GWR_fan » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:50 am

I cannot fathom that basic locomotive engineering such as centre mount motor and geartower bogie drive has been around for fifty plus years and yet it seems Hornby have only this millenia 'seen the light'. Almost forty years ago I was putting very, very inexpensive Athearn drives under NSWGR outline Lima diesel bodies. This was a simple swap that gave a 1000% improvement in running quality and the Athearn drives were basically bulletproof.

Then along came Kato in the 1980's and a whole new ball game. These quality mechanisms made even the Athearn drive pale into insignificance. Kato still make a high quality drive and even Athearn got off their fat corporate behinds and produced a high quality drive, even in steam outline, with the Genesis series. Did hornby miss the boat or were they simply not interested? Maybe that movie slogan, "If we produce it, they will buy" is Hornby's motto (apologies to the movie "Field of Dreams").

I do like Hornby items (heaven forbid, I am a sucker for the Mk1 'Top Link' range coaches, even though Bachmann are better tooled and also for mid-1990s tender drives) but the problem is what is good and what is not? It is prudent to be market savvy, but to do so implies that one is forewarned to avoid the rubbish. One can only hope that Kader Industries sees Hornby as a takeover target and finally we will see an improvement. What is so difficult about producing a quality drive, the Americans and the Japanese have been doing it for a generation or more!!!!!! Maybe the problem is not engineering compromised but management compromised?

Tim

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby markS&D » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:01 am

I for one am grateful that Hornby finally dispensed with the 'dreadful' 'One size fits all' tender drive mechanisms, this was just a cost cutting excersise by Hornby, trying to fool us that we were getting value for money.

I cant stand tender drive steam loco's, They never seem to work properly and you can always tell.

Hornby standardised the same chassis blocks for both diesel model bogies, and tenders chassis from steam locomotives. Thankfully we are out of that era!
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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby GWR_fan » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:13 am

Quote: "Thankfully we are out of that era!"

Amen to that (but then there are still people who prefer Austin 10s and Ford Prefects and Ford Anglias and I did have a few Morrie Minors and Minis as well. Maybe Hornby are catering for those like-minded people?).

Tim

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby Bigmet » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:33 am

GWR_fan wrote:.... Maybe the problem is not engineering compromised but management compromised?

That's all it is. Until Bachmann broke the mould in 1998 with the first of their 'Blue Riband' product - which was and is to no more than what had been an 'average' HO standard for a good twenty years before that as you observe- the UK's OO models were dominated by competition between Hornby and Lima to churn out low price productions made in the UK and Italy respectively, with weak mechanism design and poorly detailed bodies. High grade models can be made in Europe, but it comes with a price tag the UK typically won't pay. Just look at the asking price for Marklin, Fleischmann, Roco, et al.

We had a few tastes from Mainline, Airfix, Replica of the better results that could be acheved for a similar price by manufacturing in what was then Hong-Kong by Kader in the 1970s and 1980s, but the first two didn't stay the course. Bachmann started their UK operation from some of this 'Mainline ' tooling and kept the cost down initially by continuing with the split chassis mechanism for the steam models. Despite its short life and other problems when new this was then a better steam loco drive than anything Hornby or Lima were churning out. But having determined there was a market for 'better' they cranked up the quality.

Hornby had to respond and finally abandoned the UK for model railway manufacturing, outsourcing to Sanda Kan (now also in Kader's hands) and Lima obliged everyone by going under. Even Dapol who made much of manufacturing in Wales until recently have quietly thrown in the towel, all their good new stuff is tooled and manufactured in China. Heljan continue to do plastic body tooling in Europe (the family hobby appears to be injection mould tool making) but the manufacturing of the chassis is in China.

The quality end of the market in the UK is probably barely visible from outside the country unless you are in the know. Since WWII ednded there have always been several outfits time quietly producing exquisite models, usually one or two man operations operating on a fairly low key basis. Fairly recently an example of this has moved to Korea, and even has a website. http://www.goldenagemodels.net/

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby b308 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:11 am

Quite a depressing post, Bigmet! It seems to boil down to "you get what you pay for"... Over on the Continent the quality has always been there, even in the 60s, but it came at a price which most people just won't pay over here so they get the rubbish mechs, certainly on OO... In gauge though things seem to be better, only the old Lima stuff was ****, even the early Farish weren't bad runners... It's strange that we used be known as a Country for the quality of our stuff and prepared to pay for it but then (in the early 60s?) we seem to have developed a liking for cheap and nasty... I wonder why...

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby b308 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:12 am

Sorry, second sentence should read " In N gauge..."

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Re: Hornby - sign of the times

Postby senorsenales » Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:52 am

b308 wrote:It's strange that we used be known as a Country for the quality of our stuff and prepared to pay for it but then (in the early 60s?) we seem to have developed a liking for cheap and nasty... I wonder why...


I think if you ever see any form of documentary of car building by BMC in the 60's then you might see the answer - fine tuning on the body work being done with a sledgehammer. No wonder they didn't last very long, and they all leaked and had inherent faults, electrical and mechanical, but there wasn't anything else.

I am one of the baby boomers, born nine months after my Dad came home from the war. We never had anything because there wasn't anything to have (anybody remember rationing? - I do).Things picked up in the early 60's, people had money to spend and the manufacturers had to step up production to cope purely because, in many cases, there wasn't the foreign input available, they were too busy coping with their own demand.

Model wise I always wanted Horby Dublo (3 rail in those days) but my Dad could only afford an early Triang black Princess Elizabeth so I had to make do with that. Cheap(ish) and cheerful, Hornby seemed to be only for the better off.

You are right though, European and more so the USA were producing models which put ours to shame. I have Athearn locos more than twenty years old and I would put up their slow running against anything of todays build.

As they said about the 70's if you weren't there you wouldn't know. Same for the sixties, the coming of the foreign holiday (£77 for two weeks in Spain, flight and hotel the same as being in Blackpool), washing machines for £55 (anyone remember the Royce Rolls twintub, my Mum thought she was in heaven), I was in a job in the 1970's where I was given a brand new Norton Commando to ride. Even at that stage the electric starter wasn't any good unless you were kickstarting it as well.

Just got left behind thats all. Traditional British values, but left in the technology of the 40's when they were building tanks, and it just wouldn't do, and British building suffered as a result.

I could go on, but don't forget we were paying back our loans from the American for their aid in World War 2 until just less than ten years ago, whereas countries which were devated by the war received huge amounts to get themselves back on their feet again and invested in tip top equipment and technology.

Then the Japanese arrived ..... and we got left further behind. In 1966 I changed my brand new 175cc BSA Bantam for a Honda CD175, and there wasn't any comparison. 12volt versus 6 volts, powerful lights against candles, electric starter against a kick start, four stroke not two, good chrome and paintwork, the list goes on, but no challenge from BSA, and they went out of business.

Not so much the cheap and nasty as a huge step up into a different era which we couldn't keep up with.


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