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Hornby J50

2602 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  34C
I bought a Hornby J50 from Hattons in April. I had it sent by courier as sadly mail in this part of the world is abysmal. I tested it on DC and it was fine. I then fitted a DCC Concepts stay alive decoder. Without the body in place it seemed to work OK. Hornby advise moving a weight from the side of the loco if there is insufficient room for the decoder. I had originally thought of doing that but then decided there was probably room.

I put the body back on and fine the loco moved round part of my railway but then stopped. I got it moving again and decided to investigate another day. It was only today that I investigated! Basically the locomotive will not move. I have tried a new digitack decoder but still no response. There is also no response on DC with the blanking plug in place. Wheels are clean, pick ups making contact and track clean.

Trying to reprogram is not effective. Normally when programming the loco will move fractionally as you programme each step, but there is no movement. I can find nothing that is obviously wrong, all wiring is in place and nothing is disconnected

As I do not live in UK returning it for repair is a mission, but I guess that's what I should do as it is still under warranty. I am not sure if I should send it to Hattons or Hornby?

Before I do is there anything I may have overlooked?
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Hi Peter,

Does it work if you apply current straight to the motor terminals with the decoder out ? You probably have but it's worth mentioning. If it works like that, then it must be something you can fix yourself. I know it's a pain sending stuff back from here, but your predicament sounds a lot worse. I don't know this loco at all, but it really sounds like something in the current collection path. I'd work my way back from the motor terminals before sending it back.
In UK law the retailer is the place you send the item back to, also you can return it within 16 days if you change your mind however you have rather exceeded that already.
Caveat emptor applies, sometimes you can get a dud loco especially it seems with dcc wiring, I have 9 locos now needing some attention however Hattons are not cheap for nothing, I once sent back 5 locos to them but they allowed warranty on only 1, generally they are better than this having probably bought about 100 off them over the years I can readily testify.
In your case the J50 is a small cheap loco it depends upon the postage (return) you may be better off buying another one and leaving that first one aside until you next come back to UK, annoying but the trials and tribulations of living away, Hattons at my instigation did start in 2011 to offer DHL which to Oman I found was about half the cost of the VAT I saved, they told me it took 9 days to reach Tuavalu or similar and that was as far as they could send send anything, DHL are good but pricey when we as citizens use it, regular business gets it at about 20% of the cost we pay.

Good luck
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I have just fixed a hornby castle for a friend who had similar problem. As already stated try the 12v applied direct to motor.The problem I found was a dry joint where the motor lead had "attempted"to be soldered to the lead of the suppression capacitor. Resoldered and works fine now.

I had found similar problems on solder joints on the decoder socket.
Hope this helps.

Ian M
Removing the decoder, replacing the blanking plug and retesting on DC is the natural place to start as already suggested above. If it runs then it's decoder, but let us assume it doesn't, so there's an open circuit on the loco.

If I had to suggest a single top suspect for an 'open circuit' condition on a J50, it would be failure of one of the sprung contacts below the decoder socket, that bear on the pick up wiper strips. I have these marked down as 'first to go' at the earliest hint of anything less than reliable operation from my two. Fortunately the design will make this very simple, as the access holes in the chassis casting for the sprung contacts are equally suitable for wires, soldered onto the pick up strips.

I regard the use of sprung contacts in this way - commonly seen now on both Bachmann and Hornby product - as a production line expedient, as it eliminates the need for soldering during final assembly. That must effect significant savings both in not having to train final assembly operatives in soldering, and in keeping soldering irons away from many easily melted or heat damageable plastic components. Other than this on the basis of the three mechanisms I have looked at, I would say that the design and build quality is near as good as it gets in RTR OO. In design, only a sprung axle lacking, compared to the best models we have had; and the assembly excellent, nothing to correct on any of them.
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Many thanks to you all for your suggestions.

We have an unexpected public holiday here tomorrow so it will give me the time to look at the issue in more detail and try out the suggestions made.

I have already tried with the blanking plug in place and setting on DC but it is still dead.

I will report back in due course.

Thanks again

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Highly likely to be as 34C suggests.This seems to be a weak point on the J50.My local model shop has seen (and easily fixed) a few with this problem.
I was looking for the service sheet on the Hornby web site today. I found it but there was no R number against it, and the link does not work!

I had hoped to take it apart today but as other things got in the way it will have to wait until the weekend.
Many thanks Hoonsu. Opened and printed it. Strange that I could not open it yesterday.
Sitting in the UK - are the servers Hornby uses somewhere in this country? - it quite often 'hangs up' or has discernable 'slow motion' in the evening, which is probably when most users access it. This has been noticeable ever since Hornby started 'The Engine Shed' and their revised linked forum a couple of years past.

Side note. I believe they acquired about 40,000 registered to the forum in a matter of months, an interesting comparison to the nearing 30.000 built up on RMweb over about ten years. My guess is that's probably a good estimate of the ratio of 'Hornbyistas' to 'non-aligned' railway modellers. A majority still want it from a red box, with that magic name incantation on it...
One of my (Lenz Standard) decoder fitted J50's was afflicted with intermittent stopping, which responded to a tap on the body work to resume running, and after about four months of this I finally got around to taking it off the layout yesterday evening to be prodded at in the morning sunshine. Tyres clean and shiny, all pick up wipers in contact, but what's this? All the wheelbacks where the pick up wipers run, on one side only, were dirty, and it looked like normal railhead dirt. Wiped off very easily - like regular railhead dirt - and normal service has been restored.

I can only imagine there was 'something' in a location like a checkrail or point crossing gap that was 'picked up', as there was no grease on the wheelbacks. Never seen a problem like this before. I have quickly inspected the other traction that runs where the J50s mostly operate, nothing on any of these.

Hey-ho, another one to put down to experience. Simpler to deal with than my suspicion that a spring contacter to a pick up strip had 'gone soft' and become unreliable.
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