Model Railway Forum banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,008 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well as some of you know I have been building a narrow gauge OO9 layout and this is going well based on the Lynton and Barnstaple the Lynotn and Minehead has some familiar characteristics.

In particular there are 2 Heljan made Manning Wardle Tanks, these have not been great quite frankly, beautifully made and decorated but terrible on the track, after some body surgery I find I can make them work and finally the locos would run around the loop without doing some suicidal motion.

Then one of the two had a failure of the pin holding the valve gear and link bar together and the loco went on a suicide mission.

Great so I looked for a return address on the internet and found out Gaugemaster were now undertaking this service, so boxed up and ready to go 'Taw' is waiting, write a letter and off it goes so I sit down to type;

Statement from Gaugemaster;

"WARRANTY/REPAIR - We do not offer a repairs service. If your Heljan item develops a fault and is under warranty, please contact the store you bought the item from. They will advise you of your next course of action."

so they seem to offer a spares service - be aware

Now I have the following Heljan locos
1. Garrett - sent back loads of times to Hattons, now awaiting a new batch of newer ones to be replaced (at a lot of cost)
2. 2 off O2's work OK once I changed a front pony truck wheels on the O2/4 the other has been better
3. 4709 is the best yet
4. 2 off Manning Wardle Tanks

However these locos have now turned me against the supplier, I do not want much but these are not a cheap product and I am fed up with them. I just want some service,
 

·
C55
Joined
·
2,457 Posts
Sad story Kris, an awful lot of bother which simply shouldn't happen.

It's very much the same story with the Hornby new Rocket. So many folks complaining about the wires between Loco and Tender just parting. I had one and it simply came apart, whilst the towbar was still connected. Kernow were very good and replaced it without question, but is stays in the box, lest it comes apart again. Just sloppy construction, not thought out I will now have to find someone who can replace the wiring with nice flexible stuff and reinforcement where it is soldered on. Like your little locos, it is a real disappointment.

Hey, ho, tomorrow's another day and worse things sometimes happen.

All the best
Julian
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,465 Posts
Thanks Kris, I've been following your 009 progress with interest, particularly with the Manning Wardles.

I have been very tempted by them, but I have observed yours and several other people's troubles with them that for the time being, I have decided not to buy.

I think the problem is that they are very small models and consequently struggle with all the difficulties of small dimensions, light weight etc. Maybe 009 is just a bit too small a scale for such a loco ? Maybe 7mm scale bodies on 00 track would be a better scale for them ?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've been dabbling in 7mm scale where none of these problems exist and you can really go to town on detail and it isn't too small!

Keep up the good work!
 

·
In depth idiot
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
QUOTE (kristopher1805 @ 1 Oct 2020, 14:20) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...However these locos have now turned me against the supplier, I do not want much but these are not a cheap product and I am fed up with them. I just want some service...
I do wonder how Heljan are rated in the HO market.

The observations I would make regarding the Heljan OO product I use.

BoBo diesels, of BTH and NBL type 1 and EE and BRCW type 2 classes, all very good for appearance, leading dimensions, and operation. Mechanism construction is ingenious and trouble free, comes apart and reassembles easily, motors run smoothly, adequate weight confers good pick up and plentiful smooth traction, the type 2's especially well filled with metal. All very pleasing.

Steam, I have regular experience of a friend's Garratt, and my pair of O2 2-8-0s. All these specimens run well and pull smoothly and strongly. I cannot really comment further on the Garratt. The O2, real curate's egg. Appearance acceptable overall, unmistakably an O2. Shower of relatively minor detail errors that needed correction, I can deal with those; but a really awkward pig in mechanism construction design, and some materials choices. Normally I have the first example of a new mechanism in pieces, but not these, way too fragile. Authentic 'putty metal' for all the side rods, crankpins screwed directly into plastic wheel centres, motor captive in a casting sandwich and no continuous structure enclosing the gear train. Hopefully they will go on for many years and not require any mechanical repair...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
QUOTE (34C @ 9 Oct 2020, 12:46) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I do wonder how Heljan are rated in the HO market.
Hi 34,
I used to have some actual Danish outline models from Heljan, back a few years now though, say over ten years.
You would think that Heljan would do their very best for their home market?
Not really!
The coaches and wagons I had were a decent representation of their prototypes but things like the close coupling mechanism and NEM pockets, wheels etc - just weren't as well made as say, Roco (itself well outclassed by higher end makers like ACME).
The locos again, looked reasonable enough but clearly had much cheaper mechanisms and simply didn't run much better if any better at all, than late model Lima continental (with central motor, not pancake!).

Only in the last year or so, Heljan introduced a new model of a European 0-8-0 diesel shunter and I was very interested in this model! Unfortunately, reading the German fora, it appears to be a bag of nails with numerous mechanical faults so that is another purchase saved for me.

To quote myself and coin a phrase, they appear to me, to be no better than old Lima - pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap (only they're not cheap).
HTH,
John.
 

·
In depth idiot
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
QUOTE (John Edge @ 19 Oct 2020, 13:48) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...Only in the last year or so, Heljan introduced a new model of a European 0-8-0 diesel shunter and I was very interested in this model! Unfortunately, reading the German fora, it appears to be a bag of nails with numerous mechanical faults so that is another purchase saved for me...
I assume that's a rod coupled machine. That outline of the German review would I feel pretty much apply to the O2 mechanism: it's a pity the UK mags never seriously appraise RTR mechanism design and build quality...

Thanks.
 

·
Chief cook &amp; bottle washer
Joined
·
2,919 Posts
QUOTE (34C @ 20 Oct 2020, 04:34) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I assume that's a rod coupled machine. That outline of the German review would I feel pretty much apply to the O2 mechanism: it's a pity the UK mags never seriously appraise RTR mechanism design and build quality...

Thanks.
Ain't that the truth. If you want a real review, ask other users.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,008 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Given that one of the remaining retailers told me he had been offerred a batch of Manning Wardle tanks 'cheap price' but had heard so many bad stories especially about the front pony truck that he declined, I can at least cure this particular problem, however the lack of a service outlet has me flumoxed so I have wondered if my local watch repairer might be able to replace the long gone valve gear pin?

It is clear from this thread that Heljan are building a dreadful reputation and this is a real shame, my O2's have the plastic wheel centres and dislike anything less than radius 6 - this leaves me the question - DO THEY EVER TEST ANYTHING?
 

·
In depth idiot
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
QUOTE (hoonsou @ 22 Oct 2020, 00:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...If you want a real review, ask other users.
Internet forums have served 'us' collectively very well in this respect, and conveniently came into being just after UK RTR OO dramatically improved 20 years ago.

The assets of review by owners are many; first is that they acquired the item retail, so the sampling is from dealer stocks. This sample is then combined with varying skill, technical insight and interest levels of the owners; rather than a very limited sample in the hands of a journalist who should be above average in all these respects: but are actually in my experience typically deficient in knowledge of mechanism technique; or worse yet, not prepared to document what is less than ideal.

And then there's the extended running experience that no mag review inspects at all. It has been the internet contributors that have identified mechanism weaknesses and defects that need running time to develop and emerge - and those same users have often suggested fixes or ameliorations - and efficiently picked up the incidences of mazak rot.

QUOTE (kristopher1805 @ 22 Oct 2020, 11:08) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...It is clear from this thread that Heljan are building a dreadful reputation and this is a real shame, my O2's have the plastic wheel centres and dislike anything less than radius 6 - this leaves me the question - DO THEY EVER TEST ANYTHING?
Dreadful is rather strong in my opinion. 'Patchy reputation' would be my suggestion.

That's primarily because I have some very good Heljan diesel models that have put in years of reliable running on the layout, that I would recommend to anyone, as they do all that one can reasonably ask in all respects. Seen some duffers owned by friends, and didn't buy their 47 or DP2 which suit my interest: because they are misshapen, just not good enough in basic appearance.

As for the OO steamers, I don't believe they are suited to a UK OO set track layout; they run beautifully on my 30" minimum radius set up ( about R7?) and the mechanism design and construction is as already mentioned in earlier posts, rather weak in several respects. I would put them in the same category as the K's kits of long ago. Better than nothing, but demanding skilled attention to maintain in good operating condition and repair likely to be tricky/expensive. But so far so good, on my operation.

I will continue buying from Heljan, subject to careful inspection of what is on offer; but to be frank that's my approach to all RTR OO. (Similar charges stand against their longer established competitors, they all manage a duffer every now and again. The newcomers - some of them much lauded - that have yet to stumble, but there's time aplenty... We have not long past seen a 'crash and burn' incident from a very loudly supported newcomer, who promised to exceed all previous achievements.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
QUOTE (34C @ 22 Oct 2020, 11:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The assets of review by owners are many; first is that they acquired the item retail, so the sampling is from dealer stocks. This sample is then combined with varying skill, technical insight and interest levels of the owners; rather than a very limited sample in the hands of a journalist who should be above average in all these respects: but are actually in my experience typically deficient in knowledge of mechanism technique; or worse yet, not prepared to document what is less than ideal.
HEAR, HEAR!
That is very well said, Mr 34C, thank you!
In another place (RMW!) during a conversation about magazine reviews, I happened to suggest the qualities that I consider ideal in such a review, this was based upon many years experience of reading American and European magazines.
Chris Leigh's response: "don't tell me how to do a review"!!! Ha! Such a response illustrates a very closed mindset towards what British outline modellers deserve and what they get in reality, in my 'umble opinion, of course (but I know that dear, late Adrian Swain was of the same opinion).

It is also rather telling that Mr Leigh's former sidekick is now working for none other than Heljan. Most of the fawning fanboys would have you believe that this is the best thing since sliced bread but I have a rather different opinion of that individual, however I hope I am wrong.
The hobby in this country has already been hurt by another 'Jones', I'd hate to see that happen again.
 

·
In depth idiot
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
QUOTE (John Edge @ 27 Oct 2020, 12:19) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>... I happened to suggest the qualities that I consider ideal in such a review, this was based upon many years experience of reading American and European magazines...
And got nowhere, I got the same reception! It was perhaps inevitable that the UK mags didn't 'move on' in their review content, when the RTR OO market was dominated by the death spiral competition between Hornby and Lima, to see which could foist the worst of very limited product ranges on the UK.

But from the moment that Bachmann kicked off with their 'Blue Riband' product and demonstrated what a modest injection of HO standards of fidelity, construction and mechanism technique could do for OO, you might have expected that at least one of the magazine journalists would have hitched his wagon to this phenomenon! Here at last was a chance to write a really sound critical review, which now for the first time would finish with a positive outcome: even though the grade on my normalised appraisal system would still be an 'acceptable' in the 50-60% range. (That would be the grade of the 56xx, 57xx and N class, which I believe were the earliest loco releases.)

My first awareness of this event was by dint of a friend who dragged me out of the office to see the newly on sale WD 2-8-0 and 16T mineral wagons in late 1999. I bought two WD's and examples of all the available Bachmann wagons. (Some of the latter turned out to be 'bad old, bad old'.) But the WD and the 16T and 13T minerals were immediately recognisable as a good match to 'proficient kit/scratch built and finished' quality; or in other words 'at last available in RTR OO what had previously only been possible by skilled DIY effort'.

The WD came in as 'good' when assessed, 63%, and near all the deficiencies correctable by amending absent and compromised detail, and substituting lead for mazak ballast to deliver adequate traction. There's been progress since and the best of my RTR OO purchases cluster at the top end of the 70-80% 'very good' zone, with a select few just in the 80-90% 'excellent' band. (The advantages of a standardised and normalised appraisal system: there's always headroom! )
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
I absolutely agree with everything you've said, 34!
At a slightly later juncture, maybe around 2006/7, a good friend had one of those very same WDs and I was pleasantly surprised by it's running qualities. I later had a Bachmann 9F and that was really nice too and they were definitely comparable to 1980's & 90's Roco and kin.
However by then I could start to afford to buy up to date versions of current European models and found they had moved on again.
Roco had moved from tender drive to tender AND loco via a cardan shaft, Trix (and Fleischmann prior to being absorbed by Roco) moved from properly engineered "ringfield" motors in the tender to high quality "can" motors and in Trix, mounted in metal boilers and chassis, getting the drive into the correct place.
Unfortunately, the price of these models is now astronomical! A forthcoming Trix model of a Belgian class 1 semi streamlined Pacific, reminiscent of a Bullied Spam Can is retailing in the box shifters for around €540 (full sound and everything) so such would be a very considered purchase. I like it, I want it but should I? Phew, probably not.
I have a Hornby Schools in Olive Green that cost around a fifth of that price and while the quality is lower, it is NOT one fifth the quality!
I also have some later Bachmann and Hornby wagons and coaches and there, the qualities and prices are much more comparable, the best of the European being twice the price but twice the quality - usually.
Anyway, back to Heljan - as you can see from the above ramblings, they have a very much more sophisticated and demanding market to satisfy on the Continent but they don't seem to attempt to raise themselves to the challenge.
A comparable company may be Piko who also manufacture entirely in China but they seem able to manage to challenge the established players, now if they were to attempt to hit the British market, that would stir up a real hornets nest! Pure speculation on my part, sadly.
I have very high hopes for the likes of Accurascale and Rapido and kin as there are some serious people involved there, kudos to them.
It is certainly an exciting but expensive time to be a railway modeller.
John.
 

·
In depth idiot
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
Indeed, HO manufacturers looking for continuing sales in an already congested market had nowhere to go but 'yet superior, more richly featured' and the like. Must admit that now RTR OO generally has the basic package of 'looks and measures right, well designed and constructed mechanisms that work well and all the practical detail well attached with a good finish, I am very happy. At this pitch they don't totally humiliate my - very necessary - home brew items! (The sage advice of Iain Rice is an influence here, look for a high degree of consistency for an overall convincing result.)

It's actually in RTL track that thankfully we are now getting better OO product, now that is very worthwhile. (Don't want on board sound, it's appalling by the high fidelity sound reproduction standard that is another major interest, nor gimmicks like unrealistic smoke, and there's little call for lights on UK steam and early diesels; so there's nothing for manufacturers to offer me there.)

And for my interest, Hornby are probably pushing hardest on the 'yet superior' front, with a slowly growing line up of cast metal body steam models. No need to install lead inside, they come very well judged in adequate weight for traction.

QUOTE (John Edge @ 28 Oct 2020, 12:31) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...Anyway, back to Heljan - as you can see from the above ramblings, they have a very much more sophisticated and demanding market to satisfy on the Continent but they don't seem to attempt to raise themselves to the challenge...
Back on subject! There is one general thing they do very well on their UK product that I don't think I previously mentioned: a much shallower than usual flange, I would like that copied elsewhere in RTR OO. Facing less strenuous competition in the UK, the twin bogie models are overall adequately competitive. That's my feeling, but then the serendipity of Heljan's BoBo offerings that suit me being examples of their best work has some influence!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,008 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well today my new Baldwin 2-4-2t arrived and it is the same length and width as the Manning Wardle and as a 2-4-2t I expect it will be a bit easier on tighter corners and this looks to be the case, it certainly takes the nearly 12inch radius 'N' setrack curve easily (N guage R3 at 300mm) but looks at the Peco 9 inch radius with disdain. This one may be the first to reach private hands but as before the finish is good, the loco looks right but even at a discount price of £203 beer tokens it better be good, I'll be unlikely to buy another, the loco is noticeably longer than the Bachman 2-10-12D and so far no issues with the bogies front and rear. Pulling power is good and no issues with the rear coupling. So a better first effort and it made it round the loop without trouble. Interesting to see if it will make R2 at 265mm whilst R1 is 230mm but these are not available in OO9

So we'll see hopefully some photos tonight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,629 Posts
Echoing some of what has already been said, my experience with Heljan large British diesels has been good, with their simple and robust mechanisms. In almost every case the electrical pickups needed tweaking. The smaller ones (classes 05, 07 and 14) have been a little less successful, with far too much sideplay on the axles causing the pickups to lose contact, even after tweaking. I have only one British steam outline model, the 1366 pannier, which also attracted some criticism on various forums for having their bases overtightened, causing the gear trains to bind. I was very lucky mine ran sweetly straight out of the box, with the same comments as for the smaller diesels regarding the soft pickups.

John Edge mentioned Heljan's Continental stuff: my experience with their Danish IC3 DMUs echoes his, with indifferent mechanisms on expensive but not well detailed roling stock - no seats at all. These are articulated units with a central motorised chassis, Heljan's typical large can motor and flywheels driving all four axles of the central car through cardan shafts. This should be a very smooth and powerful combination, and would have been but for Heljan relying on gravity to hold the driven bogies in place, and the weight of the outer driving cars to hold the outer axles of the driven bogies down. Result? They derailed frequently with the front and rear of the driven bogies lifting off the track. The guides for the artic bogies were little plastic dimples. After much frustrating work and experimentation, I found the solution was to drill out the plastic dimples and insert some self-tapping screws (the ones that hold Oxford Diecast models to their bases). The screws have to be carefully adjusted to allow a small amount of vertical movement, but not enough to derail. I now have several of these units running successfully and reliably, but I should not have had to do this work in the first place. I also passed on the tips to Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, because they had found the Heljan units too unreliable to leave running (several Danish visitors had asked why they didn't have these units running).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
Hello SR man,
Thanks for confirming what I said about some of HJs continental products, it is nice to know that I’m not the only one.
WRT their Danish IC3 unit, was this the very first item of rolling stock in any scale that they made? I understand the first attempt was terrible but to give them some credit, they did re-issue a better version a few years ago.

To 34C, you asked about the continental 0-8-0 diesel they made - yes! It was rod coupled!
However, I have virtually the same model by HobbyTrade (Kato) and also Weinert and they both run well, as I believe so do the newish Roco versions.
So it’s not that other manufacturers can’t get such a loco right, it’s just that HJ seem to keep missing the target.
Cheers,
John E.
 

·
In depth idiot
Joined
·
7,678 Posts
... 34C, you asked about the continental 0-8-0 diesel they made - yes! It was rod coupled!
However, I have virtually the same model by HobbyTrade (Kato) and also Weinert and they both run well, as I believe so do the newish Roco versions.
So it’s not that other manufacturers can’t get such a loco right, it’s just that HJ seem to keep missing the target...
The bottom line on Heljan's steam/rod coupled D&E has to be that for reasons known only to themselves they have made the choice of a poor mechanism scheme. Is this linked to Hj's expertise lying in injection moulding, and it is their Chinese partner's mechanism scheme? (I have never seen this scheme in any other HO product, anyone know more?)

It does let the side down when their twin bogie traction - as seen in the OO market - is overall solidly competent. (I have a 'poor technique' complaint on the class 16, which doesn't have their regular simple pick up mounting, but a misbegot variation which makes it an awkward cuss to adjust.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,629 Posts
Hello SR man,
Thanks for confirming what I said about some of HJs continental products, it is nice to know that I’m not the only one.
WRT their Danish IC3 unit, was this the very first item of rolling stock in any scale that they made? I understand the first attempt was terrible but to give them some credit, they did re-issue a better version a few years ago.

Cheers,
John E.
The first examples of the IC3 units they released had Tenshodo SPUD motor bogies, and no lighting, so were basic, to say the least. Needless to say, they did not have a good reputation for reliable running.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top