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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK people, just got my Heljan O2/3 63952 so it was out to the railway and get the loco set up.

Firstly the loco is a very nice model, no question about it but it is well made, heavy and well presented.

To fit the decoder it takes a 21 pin decoder, getting the blanking plug out is trying the small printed board has a sticky back and is stuck onto the tender base, the tender top is held by 2 screws at opposite corners and is easy to remove, much better than many other locos.

The plug away then the decoder fits easily, I use a decoder ESU tester to program the decoder before fitment as this saves a lot of bother, turns out I had only one good one so that was set up and was fitted, be careful a decoder that is much wider than the 21 pin plug block will not fit into the slot not that this is a problem but it would not be so neat.

The tender has been designed to accept a sound speaker so that would be easy to fit.

Once fitted the question of running was dealt with next, the loco placed on my upper level on the outer loop and it promptly came off the track, it then ran a bit and stopped, this was repeated with associated shorts so some examination was needed, The loco has very fine scale wheel flanges, the front ones have a lot of allowance for sideways movement the next two axles are pretty fixed and the back axle has movement in all degrees.

So some careful observation shows that as it went round the right hnd outer loop at some places the front left flange climbed over the rail and at the next point the loco derailed, in once case it fell over.
The upper level being made up of bits then the levels are not perfect but it was soon clear that a change of gradient from flat to something else (even if a tiny bit) would cause the loco to lift. I did wonder if the loco sat flat but that is case so no problems there, the loco definitely dislikes tight curves and as this loop has some R4 curves then an R3 would probably not be well taken, R2 looks to be a step too tight.

On the lower R6/7 loop the loco performed very well.

The other problem encountered is that the front axle movement caused on tighter curves lock up between the front coupling rod and the connecting rod so some easing of this was needed.

Conclusion this is a loco for larger layouts, I suspect it is not much good on Hornby/Setrack curves and would be a problem, the flanges being finescale are very small compared with the Hornby O1, 8F and say the Bachmann 9F none of which have the slightest difficulty anywhere on my layout

Set on the lower flatter outer loop the loco behaved faultlessly and I am happy with it but there are places on the layout which it will not like and despite the reliability of the track I have already relaid one curve.

The loco is powerful enough to tow the CMX track cleaner.

Photos to follow when the camera battery is charged up.
 

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It is always interesting to see how a different manufacturer tackles the construction. I would concur with the above assessments. The visible mechanism parts are more finescale than is usual in RTR OO, and this means very careful handling so that the rods are not bent, and probably best on curves significantly easier than set track. Trouble free on my 30" minimum radius set up.

Passes the basic test of looking like the subject, and see the benefit of the fine flanges on the pony truck wheelset, these look as small as they should. The traction is the best of any current RTR UK 2-8-0 I have tried, thanks to its weight, knocking the Hornby O1 off the top of the heap. Take the massive weight out of the tender, and it is outstanding for traction (the weight is shaped to form a speaker mount, so unnecessary for those of us who play the soundtrack in our head.)

It has a few flaws: where's the fall plate? (easy to add) surely there should be a close coupling option between loco and tender (easy to arrange by DIY) and what's this, different length handrails either side of the tender? That was on the stepped out copings style tender; I solved all these problems by putting a spare Bachmann LNER GS tender behind mine.

Roll on the O2 parts 1 and 2 with the GN style of cab and tender, those are the ones I really want. Hopeful that Heljan might see their way to selling a run of the GNR pattern tenders as a separate item - that would be very useful indeed.
 

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There were some concerns about this model's likely longevity - especially the motor - following the well discussed difficulties with some unknown proportion of the Hattons/Heljan Beyer-Garratt production.

Well, so far so good. It's had a good pounding on my operation over the near six months from purchase and does exactly as it should.

Four different classes of ER's Southern Area 2-8-0 allocations available RTR. Who'd a thunk it? Hopefully we'll see the GNR cab and tender version sooner rather than later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes the Garrett has not been trouble free, mine went back when new and now needs to go again as the back half pushes the reluctant front half around the track, when I had this issue before I was able to get it working by messing with the nest of wires, I made the hole from the firebox which hides this spaghetti junction wider and this reduced pressure on the wiring but nothing I can do seems to have helped, with one decoder clearly working and no signs of motor failure it'll have to go back as I do not want to mess with the loco.

Meanwhile the O2 has been given a lot of running and as per 34c has been doing well - so far.

 

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Is it easy to remove the tender to access the cab of the Heljan O2?

I have found with my model 63948 that the front chain link needs removing as it fouls the coupling when fitted, also it is not good on Peco small radius points on a crossover, i.e. double left hand points. My model runs very well so far but the front pony truck wheels do not like uneven surfaces like uneven rail joints. I would give the model 8 out of 10 for performance. The Hornby O1 is a 10 out of 10 as an example. Both of my Bachmann 2-8-0s also are ten out of ten for performance. I am sure a little tinkering will improve the O2 but shouldn't be necessary on a £150 purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I like the O2 very much but yesterday the RHS expansion link assy fell apart and I lost the tiny pin which hold it in place, so sadly it is now out of action. so it'll have to go back to Hattons for repair, meanwhile I found the super sensitivity of the front axle flanges to be the cause of derailments allowing the front axle to lift so I found it easily clicks out and was able to place another axle in lieu, this was very similar but derailments are now a thing of the past. Like Patrick the front axle was too sensitive.

In comparison with the O1 it pulls better say 12 to 10, speed control is good and the loco is nicely finished I have been very happy with it thus far,until the valve gear gave up, in fairness it has seen a lot of running since purchase more than both my O1's together so good effort Heljan but make stronger vale gear and a deeper flange to the front wheels eh?.
 

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Kris
Seems to me a lot of money and time spent on a bit of a turkey.
I don't have DCC and from a lot of the stories I read on this forum and others,I'm glad I don't.As for a brand new model falling to bits....well,all I can say is I'm glad I went to US models 20 odd years ago-I've never had a bad one,no doubt there are some,but not in my experience.
Happy New Year
Steve
 

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I now have a problem with the left hand side linkage, it fell off ! This model is NOT strong enough and at £150 when I purchased it it has to be my worst ever buy. It looks good but too fragile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You may be aware that Hattons have a selection of O2's for sale at £89 which is nearly £100 off the list price of £184.95 so a bit of a bargain and worth a punt if you can cope with the characteristics of the model - save an O2/4 late BR for me as I save up some dosh for me to buy one before they go.
 

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Now look what you have done! Tempted by the price, bought a BR late crest O2/4, Doncaster's 63975 as the best fit on offer for my modelling scenario, as a small contrast to the 02/3 I had. The new one came out of the box a perfect runner on DC, creamy smooth and quiet, slightly better in this respect than the first which needed about 30 minutes running to reach that state. In all other respects perfect

Still really hoping for the O2/1 and O2/2 versions since these are that rarity in RTR, GNR designs still bearing the signs visible of ye olde bent tin cab and a GN standard tender. If Heljan don't oblige, I'll re-cab the O2/3 as a DIY job.
 

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The O2/4 is going well, trouble free to date. I am fortunate in being able to plonk my locos on layout and leave them there. These Heljan 2-8-0s would lose detail very quickly if handled
a lot, so not a good choice if boxing and unboxing is a necessity. (If you like the appearance but are put off by the fragility, the somewhat similar looking Hornby O1 would be a good
alternative, pretty robust all around.)

Amazingly we now have six models of eight-coupled goods types that worked for at least some period on the LNER; O1, O2, O4, O6, O7, Q6, so clearly there will be a P1 along any
minute now? (I'd much rather something more modest like a J6 0-6-0.)
 

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Dare I assume that the Heljan night owl 2-8-0 would have a similar inconsistent quality issue?
I was thinking of one before I saw this thread
 

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The reports of the 47xx are much the same. Heavyweight, traction is excellent. The weight is leading to some damage in transit. At the end of the day, this is the only choice for a
RTR OO 47xx, just as it is for the O2. Personally the O2 is good enough. Could be better, but I'll take it, much easier than a DIY build, and the running and traction is top drawer.
 

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My O2 has now had to be retired as the wires to the fender were shorting out. There is no feed from the wheels to the motor other than through these wires. This is a good looking model but the worst I have ever bought. I shall not buy Heljan again. I have never had so much trouble with any other of my locomotives in 60 years of railway modelling. I paid the full new price of£155. It will run now but it is a candidate for my display cabinet.
 

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QUOTE (patrick draper @ 13 Jun 2019, 00:53) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>My O2 has now had to be retired as the wires to the tender were shorting out... This is a good looking model but the worst I have ever
bought...
It's still well ahead of the horror which was the Wrenn N2 (and the Lima J50 which I was given rather than a purchase, and must rank
as about the worst RTR OO steamer ever made) lousy in all of appearance, construction and traction. The Wrenn did at least propel me
toward the world of kit building to obtain the locos I had known in decently representative model form...

The complex and somewhat delicate construction of their steam models contrasts strongly with those of their diesels on my layout. (This
is a limited selection, just a few examples of pilot scheme types that could be found in the KX area, TOPS 15, 16, 23, 26/0, and a DMU
mechanism that was very easily adapted to provide a powered LNER design BG. These twin bogie mechanism models possess the virtues
of simplicity, robustness and fine on track performance, and are favourites as a result. The NBL class 16 just hilarious, did NBL really put
the exterior design treatment into the hands of someone whose previous work had solely been ventilated steel cabinets?)

Heljan surely must have a better construction plan available for steam models, even if only obtained by taking a look at competitor's
schemes in HO and OO? It's not too late guys, move on to something better...

Now going to do a careful wiring inspection to make sure I don't have an incipient problem there. I wouldn't overmuch fancy having to
open up the loco mechanism for a rewire; and keep in mind here I am an enthusiastic 'take it apart' kind of modeller when it comes to
the mechanisms. But the O2 (and a couple of friend's Beyer Garratts) all say loud and clear 'more trouble than it's worth, leave well
alone until it is absolutely essential'.
 

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Yep I'll join you there a GN cab version is on my wish list
We are still wishing five years on, and now I see that Heljan have slid the date back a year from late 2021, so some time in 2023 at best I reckon.

Ironically , the GNR is perhaps the most significantly neglected of all the LNER constituents when it comes to smaller / goods tender locos. There simply isn't one available from RTR, whereas the GCR (3), GER (1), NBR (1) and NER (2) all now have something. It's almost as though the GNR's UK leadership in big engines which the LNER adopted, blinds the manufacturers to the smaller locos. The smallest GNR origin tender loco available as a RTR model, and at that only in LNER standardised form as the K3 2-6-0, is a 6MT. Something smaller like the J6 0-6-0 would be very welcome. (My old kitbash is pretty much worn out y'see.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
My kit fell apart but good whilst it lasted, I have to agree of all the mid sized pre grouping locos possibly J6 would have the most appeal, I would buy one or maybe two but if Heljan make it not so sure, Oxford too makes me realise how competent Hornby can be when 'on song.'
 

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Either of the J6 or K2 strike me as good choices for a smaller GNR design tender loco. Both classes long in service, and the K2 comes with the added benefit of a significant variation in the group sent to Scotland after the grouping. Both would be even better of course.
...if Heljan make it not so sure, Oxford too makes me realise how competent Hornby can be when 'on song.'
I cannot help but feel that Heljan must know how to do better in steam loco construction. The contrast between their really simple bogie traction mechanism template and the steam loco mechanism layout is current Ford vs 1960 Fiat.

As for Oxford, I have only minimally sampled their product. Happily the N7 is an overall good job, and the LNER 6 plank open also good. I now have the three N7's my operation requires and they all perform silently and smoothly with more than adequate traction, nothing has fallen off, and small superfluous detail is easily removed thanks to a very neat construction. I can forgive the inexperience that led to misjudged coupler mountings, it's easily sorted. One mechanism improvement I would like to see in future models is hinges in the coupling rods - and I may well eventually provide these on mine - but even with rigid rods they work well..

If they build on these standards, it's good enough for me. Looks like the J27 BR early crest is about to go on sale, so that's the next evaluation point...
 
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