Hornby in shock horror steam engine fiasco…. Hornby today released pictures of the ‘new’ 42xx which they claimed was all their own design. We can prove this is a lie and we the ‘foamati’ demand to know why at £119 million each… We took secret sneak pictures of the GWR 52xx which was designed in 1836 by Mr Ian Wright (ex-Arsenal), which has exactly the same number of wheels, cylinders AND a boiler!
You could be forgiven for thinking this way if you’ve scanned the interweb regarding Hornby’s 42xx. It seems to herald the impending death of:
A/ The hobby,
B/ Hornby PLC,
C/ Simon Kohler, (who appears to have his own personal frothwah, thats a bit like fatwah, only foamier)
D/ Life on earth
But it isn’t really the 42xx price that’s preoccupying me, or a belief of aliens in Suffolk. It’s price does work for me. Shock horror again, yes it does!, you did read that right. PDK’s 4mm kit alone costs £110, makes up into a good model, but you have to have the skill to make it, the time to make it and the budget to make it. Don’t forget the wheels and motor too. Comparing the two together that Hornby model actually has a significant edge on detail on the PDK kit, so putting it simply, for a finished model, Hornby is better value for money. You may save money finding a K’s 42xx kit but it’ll be cruder than a short changed Ipswich tart, and you’ll still have the problem of finding a good one that’s not been opened and spread across the kitchen table or made a fist of.
I bought a Hornby model and yes it had some issues. The major one was unique I think, as its not been mentioned on any current foamathon, and it would be noticeable to anyone with eyes. I sent Mr Kohler pictures of it and he immediately offered a replacement, which I declined as I can fix it and am happy overall with it as a starting point.
I’ve stripped the chassis down and degreased it, I felt there was a bit too much grease out of the box, a not uncommon problem in my experience. Between the motor and the flywheel there is a plastic housing for the worm gear. Once warm there was a small amount of seepage from this housing. I reduced this by making a simple gasket from a film of canopy glue, before replacing the cover which means there has been no subsequent leaks with cold or warm running. One of the interesting design elements is the square axle holes, like others I feel this is not the best way forward, however having recently made over a Railroad Class 40, I noted that too has square axle holes, so the technique clearly works even though it seems odd to say the least. I doubt my loco and the majority of others will see enough use to find these axle mounts an issue in terms of wear, my primary concern is that dirt and dust has an easier access point to the drive train.
The running of my chassis is good, though like the Heljan Class 14 there was significant lateral movement of each of the driving wheel sets. An easy fix for this is the Peco 1/8 inch fibre washers. By fixing these to the driving axles the sideplay can be minimised with little effect on the radii of the curves that can be used.
I’ve used the following axle washer combination
Leading axle six washers
Second axle four washers
Third axle Nil washers
Fourth axle six washers
The application of these washers has reduced the sideplay and gives better running as a result, the chassis can still negotiate Peco medium radii points with no adverse effect. A very simple, easy improvement and well worth doing.
The next improvement made was fixing the rear guard irons, or rather making some and fixing them. An unusual omission from Hornby, and making/fixing then makes a big visual impact to the model, more on that soon. The front bogie is next on the ‘to do’ list, and a quick makeover of the cab area is another feature that will bring this engine into sharp focus. Looking at the body there are some excellent design elements that in my opinion are very clever. ‘Design Clever’ may partly be PR speak as part of a branding exercise but I was really impressed with the body chassis fit and body assembly, where it will pay dividends versus a kit alternative.
So, what is it about the 42? Well, as a number, it is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. As a toy train, the 42xx from Hornby is a good starting point for something very good indeed. Out of the box if you want a large GWR 42xx tank for a sensible price, its the only game in town, so this ’42’ is the answer..
By the time I’ve completed this makeover within a week or two I’ll have a cheap high quality model of a 42xx,
On the other hand, the foamers will have, well, more foam.