Hornby ‘A1/A1X’ 0-6-0T
◆ GAUGE ‘OO’ ◆ MODEL Hornby ‘A1/A1X’ 0‑6‑0T ◆ PRICE From £89.99 ◆ PERIOD 1870s‑1960s ◆ REGION Southern ◆ AVAILABILITY Hornby stockists Tel 01843 233512 Web www.hornby.com
The new Hornby ‘Terrier’ 0-6-0T is somewhat controversial, thanks mainly to a TV programme in which it was portrayed as a ‘spoiler’ for an already-announced rival product. Hornby’s model is the first to reach the market, leading some to suggest that it has been rushed. Does the speed of its production indicate a compromise in quality, or was it already at an advanced stage, and the contrived contretemps with a competitor seen as a way to obtain primetime TV coverage?
We shall never know, but certainly there are a couple of issues with the Hornby ‘Terrier’ which detract from this otherwise keenly priced and cute little model. It is, of course, not the first time a ‘Terrier’ has appeared in the Hornby catalogue. The ‘A1X’ tooling acquired from Dapol many years ago has been in and out of the Hornby range ever since, but it was certainly due for the 21st-century re-tooling in evidence here.
The first examples to reach the shops were the ‘A1X’ models in BR lined black, but that was not the version I wanted. I went shopping – a little reluctantly – for a review model as I did not want a BR example. I was just about to part with my cash when the shop assistant at Trains4u remarked that “some blue ones have just come in the mail.”
On opening the box it is immediately apparent that this is a petite and exquisite little locomotive and its pedigree – from the same stable as the Peckett 0-4-0ST – is obvious. The ‘face’ has a certain rustic charm with its long ‘droopy’ handrail, very fine separate smokebox door handles and separately fitted ‘brassed’ lubricator pots. The elegantly tapered chimney has a neatly shaped coppered cap. Correctly, there’s just one separately fitted lamp iron front and back on this Kent & East Sussex Railway version.
The ‘A1’ had combined splasher/sandboxes and elegant wing plates and these are commendably thin. The whistle and the Salter safety valves behind the dome are really very fine. The tank sides
feature the correct number of bolt heads for the cladding, and the fine black handrail has knobs at the correct angle.
There are one or two issues, however, which for me are not deal-breakers but if you are seeking the perfect ‘A1’ they might just put you off. Firstly, the buffers which are correctly shaped and have turned and blackened metal heads (not sprung) should be recessed into the running plate, and they are mounted flush to the bufferbeam. More obviously, from the top-down viewpoint, the tank tops should be recessed below the curved cladding. This latter feature is obvious from normal viewing angles and certainly detracts from the overall good looks of this little model.
On the plus side, the cab interior detail of this little locomotive is exquisite. The cab door handrails are very fine and the detail of the boiler backhead and controls looks top notch. It is a pity that it can only be glimpsed through the small openings. One almost wishes for an open-cab ‘Terrier’ but there never was one! On the bunker the top coal rail is open and the rest infilled. There’s the classic Stroudley toolbox and the rear spectacles have protective grilles though, apparently, Rolvenden did not have such a luxury.
PRETTY IN BLUE
As usual it’s the quality of the finish which is Hornby’s icing on the cake. The KESR colour scheme with red lining on a mid-blue background was not an example of good design but Hornby has really made an excellent job of a difficult subject. The red lining is extensive and incredibly fine and the KESR logo and painted Rolvenden name appear exactly as they do in photographs. As with many of the Stephens locomotives, it carries no number.
Two screws in the underside hold the body in place and once these are released the body lifts off. The wheels are blackened metal with blue plastic centres and capture the look of the real thing. Hornby has tooled both the original wooden brake blocks and the later cast-iron version. Rolvenden has the early pattern, linked by very slim brake rods. Delicate plastic sandpipes pass behind the brake shoes. Disappointingly, the effect of the slender nature of the brake rods and the delicacy of the correctly jointed fish belly coupling rods is spoiled by oversized hexagon-headed crankpins. These look nothing like the round heads of the real thing and are larger than the coupling rod bosses. Indeed, the ones in the illustration on the box lid are smaller than those fitted to the actual model!
A totally enclosed motor, mounted above the bottom segment of the boiler, drives the rear axle through a worm and gearbox. For DCC users there is an ➤
easily accessible six-pin decoder socket at the front of the chassis, but there is no obvious provision for sound installation. Phosphorbronze wiper pick-ups bear on the backs of all six wheels. In short, the chassis is a neat, modern interpretation of a largely traditional 0-6-0 chassis.
As this review was being written, a sample of the ‘A1X’, as BR No. 32655, was received for review. Such are the changes from ‘A1’ to ‘A1X’ that this model is largely from a completely different set of tools. Among the changes correctly reflected in the model are the lengthened smokebox and sandboxes moved to below the running plate. The chimney and dome are the same, but the firebox top features the clack valves and additional pipework associated with the Westinghouse brake, for which the pump is mounted on the cab side. On our sample, however, the front of the pipe had not been located into the smokebox, and a poorly fitted middle lamp iron pinged into oblivion when I tried to correct it. Other variations include the tall LBSCR lamp irons, cast-iron pattern brake blocks and fully plated-in bunker coal rails. Both models have the one-piece rear spectacle plate, a late repair that is correct for No. 32655 but not for Rolvenden.
In today’s market an 0-6-0T for well under £100 is something of a bargain. Rushed or not, Hornby’s ‘Terrier’ is most welcome as it brings the company’s latest modelling standards to a locomotive which has been a popular model since it was launched by
the original Dapol organisation. While the detail compromises will undoubtedly deter some purchasers, others will welcome a model of this calibre at such a keen price. I shall be curious to see if any more tooling variants such as enlarged bunkers appear in due course, or whether the more esoteric detail differences are left for the competitor to cover.