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BR 4-6-0 Class N15 'Sir Gawain'

Hornby Railways R2581

Review & DCC decoder installation by Doug Teggin

click on the photos for larger images

Length: 270mm
Running No. 30764 'Sir Gawain'
Livery: BR green
Period Early 1950s
Finish: Weathered
Detail: Extensive, DCC ready, NEM couplings

Designer: Maunsell
Entered Service: 1925
Number Built: 54
Purpose: Express passenger

Suitable Rolling Stock: R4114B, R4115C, R4116A, R4117B, R4124D/E, R4125D/E, R4256, R4257.

Some nice photos to show off this great looking locomotive model. The factory weathering is about right. It gives the impression that the loco has driven through a dusty area as all the muck is below and the top is pristine. No grime on the top at all. Perhaps one day they'll work on that. My model did arrive with a couple of finger smudges in the paintwork of the tender though...

You can see the cab (above right) is very well made. The designer who produced that must be very happy with the level of detail in a Slartibartfast kind of way.

The socket for the front coupler (above right) is quite ugly and stands out a bit. I don't use front couplers on most of my locos, preferring to fit some detail to them. I may remove it at a later stage altogether.

The tender is very interesting on the N15. Double bogie, pickups on all wheels, substantial feel and quite a large size. You could fit a very nice sound decoder in there. Perhaps Hornby could re-release this as the first British steam loco with fitted DCC Sound...


Looking in detail at the model and opening it up:

The loco is nicely wrapped up in yet another new boxing concept designed to prevent the loco from moving about and getting damaged. I only realised this after I had removed the loco and saw the two metal tabs (see below) screwed onto the bottom of the loco chassis. The two halves of the box nicely support the loco top and bottom and there are polystyrene inserts to hold the cylinder boxes - no lateral or up and down movement. Before I removed the loco I did notice that it was moving in the box. It actually had a forward and back movement of about 4mm. Nothing was damaged as I suppose the tabs were taking the force of the movement and not the body parts and buffers - but why the movement in the first place? Not too sure.

The detail pack contains a crew, steam pipes, brake rods and pipe work with a spare coupler for the front or the more realistic looking hook and links. One of the tender brake rods was broken in the plastic pack. I really do like the steam pipes and the new way that the fit to the cylinder boxes. Much more sturdy than before and easier to fit too. The brake rods were easy to fit as were the other details. I found an extra set of steps, not sure where they are meant to go. Instructions didn't mention them.

The tabs are removed and the screws are replaced. For body removal, Hornby are trying our yet more methods to test our wits. This body hooks on to the front of the chassis and screws on at the rear, unlike virtually anything that I've seen in the last few years. The single screw holding the body on is found under the rear tender linkage bar. Once removed, the body hinged up and slides off. to the front.
Above, the chassis with the DCC ready NEM socket. There is a slight problem here though as the socket is incorrectly wired. Normally the red wire from the right wheels should be soldered to the #8 terminal and the black wire from the left wheels should be soldered to the #4 terminal. This model had them the wrong way around. I am asking around a bit to see if other models are wired in the same way or perhaps this was just a one-off fluke. It doesn't bother me too much as I can correct it by altering CV29 (by adding 1 to the decimal value), or I can rewire the decoder directly to the chassis removing the NEM socket altogether. There is not enough room in the remaining body cavity for my Lenz Gold.
I did remove the little suppression capacitor and blanking plug and I tested the loco with the decoder. It worked, but was very erratic. This is often the case with factory-weathered locos as there is quite a bit of spray paint residue on the back of the wheels and it clogs up the pickups. A good clean is required to solve that problem and get the loco running smoothly.
The Lenz Gold (above) is too big so I'm fitting a Hornby decoder. I don't really want to as it has a very limited feature set. Personally, I prefer more control over speed.

The Hornby (right) decoder fits into the little slot in the ballast in the firebox. I wonder why they made it just the right size for the little decoder and too small for my preferred Lenz decoder...

Getting the body back is tricky. This is where you are most likely to damage the loco. Any wires on the sides of the motor or NEM socket will cause the body to jam as it's a tight fit. Once in place, the fixing screw helps to pull the body and chassis together for a tight fit.

I really like the look of this loco. Somewhat older that many of the Pacifics that we are used to seeing. The proportions are good and substantial. The loco is heavy and once run in, I'm sure it would pull a good rake of coaches around the layout.

The detail is exceptionally good. Not too much danger of breakage like some other recent releases, but the body-opening process (and re-fitting) is where any damage will happen. Watch out for the delicate pieces on the rear of the cab.

A good model from Hornby. It would fit in well to any steam layout. The issue over space for any other decoder than the irritating little Hornby one should be addressed. I can't imaging that they have made a conscious decision to prevent people from fitting a good decoder like a Lenz Gold. Please make some more space available inside Hornby.

It will be on to the rolling road for a couple of hours of running-in and oiling. I'll report back on pulling power and running characteristics once that it done and the pickups are cleaned again.

- April 2007

Many thanks to OnTracks for giving us a good deal on this loco.



All text, photos & graphics (except where otherwise mentioned) 2007 Doug Teggin - All rights reserved.

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