Hornby ‘Big Four’ LMS Fowler arrives in the UK

19 February 2024
Having examined the OO GWR Castle and LNER A1 representatives of Hornby’s centenary celebrations of the Big Four, it’s now the turn of the LMS’ representative in the form of Fowler’s highly-successful 2-6-4T.

Hornby is in a bit of a quandary with regard to which loco they choose to be the LMS’ representative to celebrate the Big Four because, whereas the GWR Castle and LNER A1 (and the SR’s King Arthur) all were the top link express passenger locos for their respective companies in 1923, what did (does) Hornby make as an equivalent; the Compound? A very long-in-the-tooth model by today’s standards and nowhere in the same league as the others. Not only that, the 2-6-4T was not built until 1927, some four years after the Grouping, so it will have to do. The above said, the 2-6-4T is a fine model in its own right.

The type first appeared in Hornby’s range 44 years ago, but it featured moulded-on handrails (in part), a not very well-detailed body and crude wheels and motion. It was upgraded 23 years later with a much more-detailed body and vastly superior wheels and motion, as well as a far better motor. The current model is the same as that, with provision now for DCC fitting via an 8 pin connection.

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Despite its comparative lack of prestige when looked at with the same scrutiny as applied to those other three, it’s still a worthy representative of its mighty company. It’s accurate, the finish is beautifully applied and it runs well in terms of smoothness and quietness. We only found one problem with the running; that of the bogie jumping and derailing all too easily when under load – when the loco was running forward. The tension-lock coupling on the bogie (where no coupling should really be) caused the inner bogie wheels to snatch under load, in one instance snapping off a cabside step I’d fixed on as the loco took one route at a point and the bogie took the other! As for the front ones, though they’re supplied to be fitted, we figured they’d catch the pony wheels on tighter curves. Running in reverse, there was not the slightest problem, as will be evident from the moving footage available on World of Railways soon.

Limited (as with the others) to 500 pieces and priced at £189.99, it is likely to be popular, especially among the collecting fraternity, so getting your order in quickly is recommended.

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