First Hornby train set

I was lucky. I grew up on a steady diet of British model railway books and magazines. Everything I know about the hobby is really viewed through this lense and I’m more than okay with that. Over the years I’ve built models in 4mm scale and 2mm scale, the British equivalents of HO and N respectively, and even built up some nice narrow gauge models too. Packed safely away I still have a Mainline Models 4-6-0 in the fine maroon colours of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and a pair of coaches to go along with it. I even have one of those ubiquitous Airfix brand GWR autocoaches in case I ever decide to build myself a classic Great Western branchline layout.

So with that background it’s kind of funny how I’ve never had a proper British train set. I’ve spent hours studying the pages of Tri-ang and later Hornby catalogues and planning which sets I’d like to have. So there I am gleefully spending hours, pouring over pictures. That sure is a fun mental image eh? Maybe not. Anyway, let’s do something more fun. Let’s hop into our TARDIS time machines and shoot forward to a more recent time and a particularly weak moment where I found myself with a little extra money in my PayPal account. Off to eBay I went and there I found the listing for a little Hornby set featuring one of the most famous Hornby engines and two of their classic four-wheel coaches. The price was right and I jumped into the bidding. A week and a bit later that same little set arrived here in Charlottetown. I knew it wasn’t brand new but it was actually a true British Hornby set made before their manufacturing shifted to China. The detail was terrific and I quickly got some power to the rails of my micro layout so I could see how well it worked.

“How was it?” I can hear you asking. I have always maintained that anyone starting with model trains here in North America starts with the biggest pile of crap they are ever going to experience in the hobby when sadly they are opening their first train set. Those Bachmann F7’s and GP40’s are such poor running models that only get worse with time. Train sets need to be made for beginners. The trains need to run and run nicely. The more fun we have with those first trains the more likely we’ll buy more and then think about building our own model railway layouts. I don’t know how any of us ever progressed to build layouts and stay in the hobby – thankfully we were stubborn enough to keep going past those first set models. Now, imagine the complete opposite and you have the little tank engine from Hornby. This thing will creep along the track and it’s easy to imagine properly switching cars at a scale speed. The boiler and tank are cast metal so it has lots of weight for a little extra adhesion and to help it on dirty track. The detailing wasn’t too bad either and certainly sufficient enough to look realistic while still providing some opportunity to add more if the interest in that part of the hobby occurs.

I had a blast running the model around and I was running this thing on my layout over code 55 rail without problem. I found the back-to-back distance on the wheels a little too tight but then it’s important for me to point out that my turnouts are built as tightly to the NMRA recommended practice for check gauges around turnouts as possible. I’ve since run these models through factory stock Peco and Atlas turnouts and had no problem. Since my micro layout isn’t scenicked I’m lucky enough to have some photographs my Dad took on his layout and it’s these that I’ll share here to show off this great set in all it’s glory on a very nice home layout.

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