I have only had the Oxford to 'fiddle with' on behalf of a friend, and it's a decent model. I will leave aside the detailed accuracy for
experts, it is clearly an Adams Radial, and the basic dimensions are correct. Ran very sweetly and quietly, the 50:1 gear ratio meant
that good slow speed performance was available.
It has a couple of problems which I was asked to look at and if possible fix. Firstly it was prone to losing traction. This is a problem
common to many locos with carrying wheels either side of the coupled wheels, if there is a slight dip in the track or at the foot of a
gradient, the model can be largely riding on the unpowered wheels and the driven wheels slip. That was easy enough, a little fiddle
with the rear axle for more upward travel sorted it. (This kind of thing you have to test for the layout it is to run on, as standards of
track laying are thought to vary from one layout to another...)
The other much remarked on problem was that part of the motor can be seen under the front of the boiler. The drive line can be altered
to move the motor out of sight, by deleting the flywheel from the drive line. Conveniently there are multiple screw attachment points for
the plastic cradle that holds the motor, so resecuring it out of sight was easy. (That's all from memory, I don't have it to look at as it is
now with the owner.) A little piece of curved black plasticard was formed and installed to represent the missing boiler underside.
I have only looked at the Hornby in a shop and it looks very good, in their usual style. I should think it is the better model of the two.
(That said, Oxford were unlucky to run into competition from Hornby with their first RTR OO loco; also I feel that the relatively tricky
subject of a small tank loco with many wheels wasn't the best choice. Had it been released when Chinese RTR OO was in its infancy my
feeling is that it would have been very well received. Arriving late to the party, the bar was much higher. I see improvement coming as
they gain experience, their N7 is quite classy in some respects.)
The Hornby one is the finer model, but was also dearer (you may be able to get them in bargain specials now, but that also applies to the Oxford model).
I have an Oxford one with no problems to report. The first models released had the problem of insufficient vertical movement on the front pony truck, which was not difficult for the purchaser to fix if they knew what they were looking for, but all subsequent models had this fixed right from the start.
Hornby have had a few problems with their model electrically, with cross-wired decoder sockets in some. That was usually OK on DC but would let the magic smoke out of DCC decoders.
I would go for the Hornby version - it's detail is finer and it doesn't look as 'chunky' as the Oxford version.
Being one of the first batch, mine had the decoder socket cross-wiring issue where one of the function outputs was connected to the wheel pickups. This did indeed fry a decoder.
I reconnected the socket and it has been fine ever since.
I would suggest that this problem has probably been fixed on current versions.
The loco was always OK on DC.
The Oxford model does not have the underneath of the boiler/smokebox open as the full size one does. The Hornby one has this correctly modelled. I have the Oxford one and to be honest it's not really noticable. Both are nice models but I would buy the Hornby version now if I wanted another.
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