14 May 2019
An 0-6-0 sound-fitted tender locomotive for less than £165? Howard Smith tests Hornby's latest budget sound locomotive, with budget-beating sounds.
If you're an enthusiast of the North British Railway (and its successors) and you collect or model in OO gauge, I'd be surprised if you haven't heard that Hornby's has been making a model of the J36 Class locomotive.
And, now that it has arrived, you'll be pleased to hear that its latest OO gauge model is a stunner. You'll be able to read the full review in the July issue of BRM, on-sale June 20, but for now, here's a video of the locomotive and its sounds being tested...
Perhaps I was a little over-enthusiastic with the use of the whistle, but there are so many available from which to choose. The Bachmann Dynamis handset I was using provides access to 20 of the 22 functions - eight of which are whistles! Though I only had access to six of these, the variety is audibly clear. A choice of long whistles, short bursts, long and two short bursts and 'fancy' ensure that the sounds are rarely to be repeated, even during shunting operations.
It's quite easy to overlook the fact that this is classed as a 'budget decoder' and forget its significantly lower price than other market competitors. The sounds are well-represented and crisp - there's no saturation of the lower notes, though the locomotive must be 'driven' to the sound to get the most out of the decoder. By that I mean it has two limitations, though in fairness, these are common to many non-synchronished DCC sound locomotives. Upon startup, the number of 'chuffs' exceeds the four expected per revolution. I counted six, but the same sound will repeat, as speed increases until the next sound speed step is reached. I found this could be hidden by activating F11 (Cylinder Cock) and F17 (Coasting/Chuffing toggle) functions. Flat-out, the chip struggles to emulate the sound fast-enough and some loss results, however I'd argue that this was at a speed that won't be seen on most layouts. In essence, the chip is excellent, though requires concentration to operate. I'm trying to keep an eye on where the locomotive is, playing a whistle, adding coupler clank as it departs, remembering to de-activate the cylinder cocks after departure, safety valves stop as the boiler pressure reduces, coal is shovelled and injectors are opened... all whilst looking at the instruction sheet, because I've no idea which button is which!
The locomotive performed fautlessly and looks excellent, though you'll need to pick up a copy of the July issue of BRM, on-sale June 20 to read our full review.
About the NBR C Class (LNER J36)
In 1887, Matthew Holmes, Locomotive Superintendent of the North British Railway, decided to stop building goods locomotives with 17in cylinders and replace them with a larger class than the previous Drummonds. Utilising the same wheelbase and firebox as the previous Drummonds with 17in cylinders, the first six NBR Class C locomotives were introduced in 1888. By 1900, 168 locomotives had been built. No. 673 Maude was built at Neilson & Co. in December 1891 and was rebuilt by the North British Railway in December 1915 using the new standard boiler. It was commandeered and sent to the Western Front during November 1917, returning in June 1919 and named Maude in appreciation of the locomotive's service.