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Hornby Digital Mixed Goods Train Set

Review by Gary Leigh



Train Rolling stock Vehicle Railway Railroad car


Hornby announced
their move into the Digital model railway control age at the start of 2006
and the first of their new digital products has recently been launched.
The Digital Mixed Goods Train Set is a value package designed to introduce
modellers to operating with Hornby Digital and includes 2 locomotives, 4
wagons and the most important item the Hornby Select Digital Control
Console. The set has been designed with families in mind and is suitable
for those aged 4 and over although there is the standard warning that the
set includes sharp parts and small components. When you think about it a
train set with 2 locomotives is ideal for the family and on this basis the
set will have an immediate appeal. Notwithstanding the appeal to families
it also has a wider appeal as a value entry starter set for those wishing
to explore the new Hornby world of digital control.





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When you open the
box the first thing that you want to remove is the Select console as you
want to twiddle the knob and click a few buttons and generally get a feel
for the unit. Even though a budget unit it has pleasant feeling rubber
keys offering a good positive click and a control knob having a smooth
feel when turned. And it does look stylish and not out of place as a piece
of visible furniture alongside your layout.





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Hornby give you an
indication of what is possible with their promotional material and there
is a TrakMat included with a fresh design which permits the control
multiple trains from a single controller track connection. This is
providing that all points are of the electrofrog type and Hornby now
include electrofrog points with their digital sets. More on this below.
The 32 page Select unit manual covers every feature of the console
although some of the terms used such as "walkabout", "entity" and
"consisting" are a bit jargon and whilst some words are covered in the
glossary at the back not every word is.




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The two locomotives
you get in the set complement each other well and are possibly two of
Hornby's most popular set locos ever! Younger family members will take to
the Class 08 as it has "Devious Diesel" looks and is certainly tough
enough to cope with the rigours of being handled by a youngster. The Jinty
steam loco does has fine detail and is easily damaged if not handles with
care. The liveries are exclusive to the set.




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Take the body off
and you reveal a redesigned chassis! The modifications made improve power
pick up and permits the locomotives to run at very slow speeds which
should be acceptable to most railway modellers. The chip is fitted neatly
into a housing.




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The four wagons
included in the set are, like the locomotives, exclusive to the set and
include a useful mix. At this stage it was time to assemble the track and
power up the controller and get thinks going. The leads clip into the rear
of the console although I would have preferred the clip levers here to
have been metal and not plastic as they seem exposed and liable to damage.
They do hold the clips in place very well and in all the time I was
handling the unit they never came loose. The same can be said for the
track power clip however again this is another design that I am not over
happy with as you are stuck with having a great big box next to your
layout. No doubt Hornby have their reasons for this however could they
have not come up with something thats looks more prototypical or provided
some sort of building to cover it? Anyway these are minor points in the
context of the big picture and you can get to the point of loco action
very quickly.




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The factory decoder
default setting is 3 and this means that you can put either of the
locomotives on the track and have them running. To change the address of
one to permit both to operate at the same time you place one of the locos
on the track and change the address setting in accordance with the
instruction manual. Having done this I was able to operate both
locomotives at the same time on the same track. Further I took another
loco with a non Hornby chip in and programmed that and had all 3 running
on the track! There was a sudden need to use the big red emergency stop
button and it can be confirmed that this does exactly what it says on the
button. Therefore if you are running multiple locos there is little danger
of having a massive and costly accident unless you are full of the joys of
Xmas spirit! After this I had a go with the "0" setting which is used to
run standard loco without a decoder fitted and did manage to get all 4
running at the same time all be it not at full power. Hornby suggest a
maximum of 3 locomotives can be run at a time with the 1 amp power pack
supplied in the set and a power upgrade is available if there are more
locomotives to operate.




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The acceleration
and deceleration inertia settings work very well and you can have a loco
take up to 99 seconds to reach full speed. If you set the acceleration for
15 seconds and you turn the knob to half speed the loco will take around
7-8 seconds to get there so acceleration is pro rata the speed setting as
is deceleration. There is definitely no jerkiness when the locomotives
start crawling and accelerating and the modified chassis will have helped
here. Indeed the Class 08 motor has a resonant chug at low speeds and
almost sounds like a Class 08. Who needs a sound chip! Hornby have
introduced a clip which you insert into the points to make them electrical
in both directions at the same time and this works so you have the option
of having either electrofrog or insulfrog points by simply adding or
removing a clip from a Hornby point. The clip would look better painted
black and this is an easy modification. As for double and triple heading
Hornby provide a control facility for this and you simply link two loco
addresses up to a new address that you have created and this gives you
control over all linked locomotives at the same time. So for example to
create address 6 for double heading and link address 3 and 4 up to it. You
then control both locomotives with address 6 which makes this all very
easy.

Click on the
gallery images below to view a large image



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This is what its all about! Lets open the box. Hmm. Lots of
goodies to play with!



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You get the Hornby promotional
pack including the very useful TrackMat and the Select Console instruction
manual
The first sight that most
modellers will see of the new Hornby Digital Select Console is the picture
on the back of the box
Hornby give you an
indication of what is possible when you expand your layout.
An introduction to Hornby
Digital on the rear of the box
Its possible to expand the
Hornby set with track packs to create a large 6ft x 4 ft layout



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Hornby Digital 0-6-0 Chassis.
This has been redesigned to improve pick up and slow running.
Hornby Decoder front. Don't
worry it won't bite!
Hornby Decoder
rear. Even more boring than the front!
Hornby BR Class 3F Jinty Loco.
Nice detail for a set loco.
Hornby BR Class 3F Jinty Loco




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Hornby Class 08 Diesel Shunter
Loco. Tough and virtually unbreakable so just the loco for junior to play
with!
Hornby Class 08 Diesel Shunter
Loco
Hornby BR Class 3F
Jinty Loco
Hornby Class 08 Diesel Shunter
Loco
Wagons included in and
exclusive to this Hornby Digital train set. Surprised to see no brake van.



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Point showing the Hornby DCC
Electric Point Clips in place converting insulated points to electrofrog
points
Hornby DCC Track Power Clip
which can be a bit fiddly to poke the wires into
Hornby Digital
Select Console measuring about 120mm x 140mm x 50mm and weighing about
250g so light to hold in your palm
Console Rear showing
connections including walkabout connection which can be made to other
Select units.
Nice feel rubber keys with
solid click.



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Large Clear Display which
flashes when you are setting things up such as loco inertia and loco
address and other functions
Clear Directional Lighting on
Console. Click to change direction.
The 32 page
Digital Select Unit Operators Manual which contains all you need to know
about the console
Large Power Plug much lighter
than previous Hornby wall plugs
Double and triple heading is
possible with both locos under single control


Conclusion

This set offers a good low cost entry into Hornby Digital although the
locomotives included may not appeal to modellers who require higher levels
of detail. For families, those on a budget and those who wish to
experiment with digital control and who would like to have models that
bear some resemblance to British Rail prototypes of the 1960's, then the
Hornby Digital Mixed Goods Train set has a lot going for it!



- November 2006


Set purchased from
OnTracks. Many
thanks to the Ontracks team for their support.


 
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