Model Railway Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 49 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone noticed how the quality of Hornby seems to have gone downhill since they went to China?

When I say quality I DON'T mean detailing. Their loco's largely have cheap disposable can motors, poor traction, bits that fall off when you gingerly take them out of the box, spare bodies are non exisitant other than factory seconds and a few end of production run items.

Even the current re-issues of the Lord of the Isles and Caley single have been cocked up by Hornby fitting a new chassis and a tiny disposable motor in the locos instead of the X.05 motor. This has made the lack of traction on this loco even worse.

My family own a model shop and we had 122 Hornby loco's ordered for the start of the holiday season(we normally shift that lot in a month during the holiday season) and 77 of the loco's had defects ranging from poor assembly to motors that just didn't work, to marked linning. The quality control seems to have gone to pot at the big H.
 

·
DT
Joined
·
4,794 Posts
We have noticed some problems, just take a look around here at other posts. I think that this sort of thing is to be expected by relocating an established factory to the other side of the world.

It had to be done though. It was either that or bankruptcy.

At least we still have Hornby.
 

·
No Longer Active.
Joined
·
13,319 Posts
QUOTE (Doug @ 4 May 2007, 07:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>It had to be done though. It was either that or bankruptcy.

But would it ?

Question I would really, really like to know is (& this does not apply just to Hornby) :
How much extra would it cost to have the products made in England (or Germany) ?

In other words :
If a locomotive is to have a RRP of say £120 to be made in China - what would the RRP be to have it made in England ?

Would it really be that much more ? The answer is there - if we can find it.

If the "premium" was in the region of up to 10%, making it around £130 would people be prepared to pay the extra - I certainly would & not just because I live in Margate either.

Maybe it's really all down to profits & keeping shareholders happy - all this talk of cheap disposable motors makes me think it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
267 Posts
Isn't it all down to the rising overhead costs in this country which forces companies abroad where its cheaper to manufacture?

As the saying goes you get what you pay for ... If the labour in China is that cheap i wouldn't expect 100% of whats produced to be perfect, But yes 77 out of 122 locos does seem very high for problems. Do you know if any of these locos were from similar batches (I.e Similar manufacture dates?)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,650 Posts
From the last set of Hornby accounts the cost of sales represented 47.2% of turnover. This is the pure production cost and excludes all the UK costs of marketing, admin, R & D, etc which are shown seperately in the Hornby accounts. So the production component of a £58 wholelsale loco before VAT is about £27.

You could probably double that at least for UK manufacturing taking into account all the extra detail now fitted less not having to ship the models halfway around the world less admin costs of monitoring production halfway around the world.

So allowing for a 15% retail mark up and VAT the effect of UK production adds about £40 to the discounted selling price of a loco to the customer.

So a discounted £85 Class A3 or A4 would have to sell for a discounted £125 if produced at the factory in Margate.

Now that simply cannot compete with Bachmann in the UK and that is why Hornby had to move to China or go to wall. Hornby said all along that it was competitive forces that made this move several years ago inevitable.

OK there may be production issues and if retailers do have certain feedback about this surely the correct approach is to contact Hornby directly and return stock that is deemed unsaleable.

If Bachmann produced in Europe the whole industry might not be going through the upheaval it is going through but they don't and it is/has!

Happy modelling
Gary
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
763 Posts
I have to say that on the diesel side at least , the move to China has brought a huge improvement in the standard of new models. The haulage capabilities of the new generation models with their centre drive to both bogies, massive weight, and 8 wheel pickup are light years ahead of the old stuff made before the move to China.

I've not heard any complaints in modern image circles about the running of the new stuff or the slightest suggestion that the motors burn out . In fact quite the opposite :

[from the Model Rail thread - Graham Plowman]
QUOTE FWIW I have two Lima 'Westerns' and a Hornby 'Hymek'. I spent much time on super detailing them to a good standard. But then I bought Heljan versions of the same things. Now I have the Heljan models, the Lima/Hornby versions are redundant.

And that's a very common story throughout D+E modelling, as the collapse in second hand Lima prices and the mountains of the stuff available testify. It is the inferior mechancal performance of the older models that invariably dooms them to be sold out of service at the first opportunity

I have a Triang Hornby 37 in a cupboard. Mayby it will be butchered into a Baby Deltic, maybe I will stick an Athern mechanism under it and rebuild it as a 37 . What's certain is that the original mechanism will go in the bin - despite the attentions of 2 model shops its barely able to haul 3 coaches

This is before we get onto subjects like the greater accuracy and detailing of the body, the crispness and definition of the printed finish etc

I've no doubt quality control is more difficult in China than it was in the UK, but I'm not personally aware of a high level of defects on Hornby models - it's not the impression I get from my local shop or at the club. (Bachmann kettles are the usual source of internet discussion on this one, but I've no particular evidence of problenms there myself).

Similarly the huge abundance of every kind of spare that used to be available from Margate has certainly reduced - but I don't think spares availability is any worse now than the availability of spares from other manufacturers in the past, and I'm not at all sure this can be described as an aspect of quality.

As far as the question of extra cost is concerned, one approach might be to contemplate the Rivarossi saga. This was a company that could not cover its costs and survive producing in Europe. I don't think there was any particular Chinese competition - it just collapsed under its inability to produce at a reasonable cost. Hornby , having bought the tooling and moved it out to China re-introduced the Jouef range at prices about 20% lower than pre-bankrupcy levels - and are clearly making a decent margin in doing so

Or compare the Lima and Bachman 20s. One was self coloured plastic , picked up from just 4 wheels, when fitted with all wheel pickup stuggled with a single VGA van and had serious inaccuracies in the body. It sold for £60 at the end. The Bachmann 20, with a super mechanism , runs beautifully , hauls well and is very accurate and highly detailed. Nothing has broken off. You can get them for £40

I suspect the economics of Chinese production for Hornby look pretty similar. Certainly the cost of producing tooling out in China seems to be dramatically lower, making shorter runs cost effective

The Caley single has not been reissued as far as I'm aware? In any case singles are inherently problematic - and both the Dean single and the B12 are 45 year old tooling. A complete replacement of the B12 with a modern model is well overdue
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,650 Posts
QUOTE Certainly the cost of producing tooling out in China seems to be dramatically lower, making shorter runs cost effective

That is a major point that should not be overlooked.

Prior to the move to China the Hornby model range comprised of 25 to 30 locos each of which had a large production run to make it viable.

The current catalogue features over 130 different locomotives each with shorter production runs.

The market has changed out of all recognition to what it was even 10 years ago.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
229 Posts
Must be a different Hornby to the one that produced my Merchant Navy and Q1 - I haven't had bits fall off them and the motors are very rugged. The only problem I have had is with my new Britannia model where I have found that a gear has split since I got it back in October. I am sending off an e-mail to Hornby in a minute or two about it so I hope that all the good things I hear about their customer service are true! Apart from that I have had no other problems with it.

Regards,

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
487 Posts
How long will the modest modeler buy the quality of models on offer, average £79, only to find that after only a few hours of run, the model starts to degenerate in performance. I personally have bought a few Bachmann diesels, that showed at first no faults in decals or motor management and only after few months of continual running, models begin to loose their control sharpness. In comparison to 1980's Fleischmann diesels that I have, these models operates today with high reliability as they did way back in the 1980s.
It is unfortunate that Heljan only produce a few replica models of diesels (GB) protocols, with no reference to DMUs and EMUs (GB). I definitely find for money value that Heljan produce a high quality model, good quality materials. Heljan models while handled, gives you that feeling of real satisfaction, all this for a few pounds more.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,151 Posts
I guess I have to "have a say" on the Hornby issue.

Pls take notice, I model HO and do not have a single Hornby item in my stock due it being OO.

However, there is another side of the story, which most of you already know by now (from different threads that I have posted in this very forum) that our club layout is, from A to Z, all Hornby products.

quote:
I have to say that on the diesel side at least , the move to China has brought a huge improvement in the standard of new models. The haulage capabilities of the new generation models with their centre drive to both bogies, massive weight, and 8 wheel pickup are light years ahead of the old stuff made before the move to China.

I fully agree on this statement.

What better place to test the loco's endurance, performance etc, than a club layout ? A club layout which was on display exactly 1 month and the loco's driving from 9 am till 10 pm non-stop, and I mean non-stop! ( 13 hrs x 30 days=390 hrs total.)

The locos were Hornby :R2641 BR class 50 + R2656 BR class 73 all fitted with the infamous Hornby decoder and run by the Select.

We took this layout to another (photo equipment exhibition) where the poor souls ran for another week!

Well today: they are still kicking.

Baykal
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
It's long been a question for British modellers: would we pay Fleischmann, Trix or Marklin prices for quality OO RTR? Er, no we wouldn't, so it was China or nothing for Hornby. Our market is very price sensitive, always has been, viz Meccano/Tri-ang in the 60s.

The part folks tend to ignore is that Hornby went East partly because of costs, but also because of capability. Sanda Kan can turn out better looking, better quality models than Margate even could - or ever would even with the vast investment that Hornby couldn't afford. That investment would have been wasted as H couldn't have matched the costs of the Chinese as they don't have their economies of scale. SK employs about 10000 people; Kader about 18000 (according to the recent BRM piece - which is a bit vague and contradicts some of the info on the Bachmann website, but never mind). H have pulled of a great rescue act, all credit to them.

Has anyone wondered why Dapol gave up on British OO? I think even their mechanisms come from the far east now.
 

·
Chief mouser
Joined
·
11,775 Posts
I did purchase a Terrier about a year ago with a view to converting it to an E (but in HO), the loco ran very nicely and smoothly, but I was a little concerned that the instructions seemed to indicate that after 150 hours the motor would be worn out and need replacing. This was not the reason I disposed of the model, but it did have a bearing as I have a converted Fleischmann "Black Anna" 0-4-0T, which was acquired second hand, and has done an awful lot more than 150 hours on it's, I believe, N gauge motor.

As you know I model HO, both European and British outline, but I still intend to buy the occasional OO model, namely Bachmanns 4CEP in blue/grey, and a couple of Bullieds - but not with the intention of running them very much.

I seriously think there is a problem with some of the far eastern motors and these must be addressed before very much longer.

Regards

John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
982 Posts
QUOTE It had to be done though. It was either that or bankruptcy.

At least we still have Hornby.

Yes but if the level of defects is as Triangman reports then they will be in difficulties anyway.

I have bought or been given Hornby and before that Triang since 1965. They always had a reputation for value and reliability . They designed locos that could pull trains . I have to say on all three counts todays Hornby is sadly lacking

Reliability: Covered by Triangman but I have to say is mirrored by my own experiences where my last three purchases (Duchess,8F ,Princess) have had to be returned and replaced because they failed.

Value for money? The old Lima models at £60 when Vitrains can produce a brand new 37 for £50. Whatever you think of the Vitrains model the spec is way ahead of the Limby stuff . £70 for a rehashed 156 (The strathclyde one is even the wrong colour) when the same price will easily buy a Bachmann 108 , superbly modelled with lights! £ 80 for an M7 when a Fairburn costs £60, £25 for a Stanier coach (with poorly fitted windows- going back to the quality issue) while Bachmann Mk1s come in at £18

Haulage power : reports of new 5 pole motored Limby stuff unable to pull full trains- even reported in Model Rail (73 and 59 reviews). GWR 4-2-2 with reported limited haulage power- The old Triang one was better!

Finally we seem to have a company thats become very greedy and margin obsessed. They chose to develope their own DCC instead of buying in tried and tested technology. They tried to force everyone to buy a chip with all new locos(increased margin for them). Their track prices are very high (compare the cost of points with Peco Streamline!)

Basically this company needs to do better or it will be caught out when people have to tighten their belts!

Russell
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
763 Posts
Hornby currently have a range of very mixed origin and we need to discriminate quite carefully before generalising.

Firstly, I do think the haulage qualities of Triang are being viewed with rose tinted spectacles .

I've just looked up Pat Hammond's books , which reproduce the original Rly Modeller reviews for many of the items.

Cyril Freezer's review of the Lord of the Isles (RM Sept 61 - Hammond, Triang p153) notes "the locomotive , once it was run in, could handle 4 coaches on the level and 2 up a 1 in 20 test grade" This was on nickel silver rail. The motor fitted was in fact the XT60. This model has never, with any chassis, been able to haul much

CJF's review of the EM2 (RM Dec 61 - Hammond , Triang p 155) says "on nickel silver rails it will comfortably haul 4 coaches without extra adhesive weight". This confirms my recollection of the Triang Hornby 6 wheel motor bogie as totally gutless. A Co-Co that can only manage 4 coaches is dire - new generation Hornby Co-Cos like the 50 , 31, and 60 will haul many times that

Of the original Britannia , RM had this to say ""the load haulage , however being limited by the adhesive weight. It will of course , haul the shorter trains that are normally found on proprietary layouts" (RM Aug 60 - Hammond, Triang p151)

In contrast , Doug's review of the new Hornby Britannia shows it hauling 15 coaches [Sticky , above]

Of the L1 "On test we found the usual trouble with 4-4-0s in model form was present to some extent and the adhesion was insufficent to enable the motor's full power to be usedHowever the locomotive could haul 5 coaches on the level and 3 up a grade of 1 in 25". (RM Sept 60 - Hammond p149)

No comments on the haulage of the B12 are given , but I do struggle to credit thetriangman's claim elsewhere of 25 coaches using a vintage mechanism

As far as the modern models are concerned, the Limby rereleases are open to a degree of criticism but it can easily be overdone. The new 4 wheel motor bogie runs very smoothly and is capable of far better slow speed running than the old Lima pancake. It's certainly better engineered . The DMUs (and I believe the 73) have all wheel pick up and running across pointwork and less clean track benefits accordingly. The rereleased models come DCC Ready

The seems to be an emerging view that power is not really the problem with this little motor bogie - the issue is adhesion , and that it needs more weight than it gets out of the box

(See Sol's thread on the 73:
class 73

I don't think it's especially suitable for locos such as the 73, though 50g is a pretty small amount of extra weight to add. As a DMU bogie its perfectly reasonable and I'm happy enough with my 156

But it is the same price as a Bachmann 108, the mechanism isn't as refined and it doesn't have lights

On the other hand the Limby 66 clearly won't pull the skin off a rice pudden , and actually costs more than the excellent Bachmann 66 which will pull anything you hang on the back of it . This is a model Hornby really should not have released

Then there's the Pendolino. Hornby don't have their own centre drive Bo-Bo mechanism so they've reused the old Eurostar motor bogie. It runs well enough , has 6 wheel pick up but there must be a question mark about the ability to shift 9 coaches. On the other hand , without this model the WCML post 2002 could not be modelled. There seem to be no real complaints about the mouldings or accuracy. It's the same price as a Bachmann Voyager , the mechanism is inferior , but if you want to model our most important group of main lines , you need a Pendolino and this is the only game in town

However the question is whether we should benchmark Hornby by their new stuff (eg the 60, the Gresley Pacifics , Britannia and the M7; or this year's Scot and 56) or by the Lima rereleases , which were more or less thrown in for good measure - they bought the Rivarossi tooling for the Continental stuff. Or by models developed a decade or more ago (like the 91, 86, 29, VDA) . Or by vintage stuff like the B12, Dean Single and 37 - all 4 decades old.

A bit of a curates egg, Hornby. But I would not accept that the newly developed Chinese stuff is worse than what they were producing a decade or two ago.

Their prices are a little bit higher than Bachmann, across the board - except for big new steam [ And how many times has it been said on here that British models are too cheap and that locos should be more expensive?]

As far as coaching stock is concerned the Maunsells will be priced at £20, and the Bachmann Mk1s are excellent value

Ref BritHO's comments - I believe the issue with the cheap can motor is that it is a sealed unit so there is no access to replace the brushes when they wear out. This is certainly fitted to the cheap 0-4-0Ts , and evidently to the Terrier. What they have fitted to the old chassis under the Single and B12 I don't know. But the prestige new steam engines use something completely different as do the diesels - all of them , whether pancake or centre drive or Limby. It's misleading to suggest that the disposable can is Hornby's standard motor
 

·
nickb
Joined
·
55 Posts
As an employee in the manufacturing industry, and somene who has travelled to China and visited several automotive manufacturing facilities, I would like to add a few comments.
1. Production Facilities
In general, in the areas of manufacturing injection moulded parts, most equipment is new, state of the art, and comes from either germany or america. Die manufacturing has always had capability, but the Chinese now have the skills and equipment to manufacture the tiny dies and tools needed to make our trains. Whilst in the 'rag trade' there are hideous sweat shops and terrible environments, factories making our models are modern, and have modern paintshops.
Process control is very strong - if you see the disciplines in their culture in the factories I have been to, and the focus on no defects, you would be amazed. Most organisations have European or American management present, as so many operations are joint ventures. This has enabled the introduction of Western style operation, but with strong Japanese dicsiplines.
2. Costs
Think about how many tools are needed to make a loco. Injection moulding tools are at least half the price to manufacture in China. Now to the whole value chain. Everything, and I mean,everything is cheaper. Consider that US$3 an hour is a high wage paid in the big companies. I have no data on wages at Kader etc, but say they get £1 an hour. At Margate, an operator probably in todays money would be on £8 per hour. But there are all the on costs we have in the Western world. So the real cost of the Margate worker would be £11. So, how many man hours does it take to make the whole of a loco? All the mouldings, painting, assembly, overheads for ordering material etc. I really don't know - say 1 hour. There's the first £10 saving.
3. Factory Overheads and Depreciation
We just said the tools cost half, therefore the amortisation per unit is half. Apart from the westerners working at the plant, everyone else is cheap. The transport to the dock is cheap, The boxes are cheap.
4. Quality
Workers are very focused on not making defects. In a lot of industries, poeple would simply be sacking after a few repetitive mistakes. On the other side, they have bonuses to meet targets. These people are hungry and work hard because they all want to own a car one day and their own apartment.
5. My Hornby Experiences
Absolutely no issues except for a noisy Cl08, which based on frequency of comment, suggests a design issue. All motors are superbly quiet, smooth and powerful. I have not seen any deterioration in performance. Paintwork is nothing short of incredible.
6. Price
We are driving up the prices - and we needed to. Imagine again when you actually get down to the costs of making all the minor variants of each model, and all the different paint masks, the training time and controls to manage the proliferation, how many of each one do they need to make to pay back their costs and make profits?
7. Margins
Whilst Gary indicated a profit of 15%, I would say based on comments in pat Hammond's books, and the abaility of shops like Hattons etc to always have 30% off, that the full margin would be 80% at retail. So a £100 loco, minus VAT is £82.5. Retail profit (gross, which they never make) takes the wholesale price down to £50. Now we start to see how the Chinese production costs become so critical. That one hours labour saving is 20% of the wholesale price. Who know how much the marketing costs are - but again, every month, every magazine, other advertising etc, reps going around to the shops in the UK - it really does all add up. So at the end of the day, if Hornby are left with a net between 5 and 10%, they have done well - because, their game is all about overall volumes.
It would be really interesting to know at the end of each year what the volumes of each model were -at wholesale and at retail.
Anyway, let's get back to the trainboard and enjoy, and be thankful Hornby (and Bachmann) have sufficient confidence to keep raising the bar and execute excellent new models.
 

·
No Longer Active.
Joined
·
13,319 Posts
QUOTE (Ravenser @ 4 May 2007, 22:22) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Ref BritHO's comments - I believe the issue with the cheap can motor is that it is a sealed unit so there is no access to replace the brushes when they wear out. This is certainly fitted to the cheap 0-4-0Ts , and evidently to the Terrier. What they have fitted to the old chassis under the Single and B12 I don't know. But the prestige new steam engines use something completely different as do the diesels - all of them , whether pancake or centre drive or Limby. It's misleading to suggest that the disposable can is Hornby's standard motor

Well, the Clan Line I bought , as my first (& most likely last) OO model purchased for decades had trouble with anything more than 3/4 free running FLM coaches on the flat !
I remember that the instruction leaflet clearly stated that 150 hrs was about the maximum obtainable running time with the motor fitted ! Maybe, they fit better motors now.
I think I'll stick to my overpriced German stuff, which, incidently I can easily obtain spares for, direct from the manufactures, even for locomotives approaching 30 years old.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
763 Posts
If it would only haul 3 coaches then there was definitely something wrong with the model. There should be little or no difference in performance between Clan Line and Dougs Britannia - same wheel arrangement , manufacturer, design of chassis etc. One pulls 15 , the other 3...

If Hornby Pacifics could only manage 3 coaches everyone would be up in arms , so I can only assume a defect somewhere
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
737 Posts
QUOTE So a £100 loco, minus VAT is £82.50
It is actually £85.10. This is a common mistake. £85.10 + 17.5% is near enough £100. The formula when taking off VAT is minus approximately 14.9% when the VAT rate is 17.5%
Sorry to be pedantic but errors like that can be expensive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
229 Posts
QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 5 May 2007, 07:20) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Well, the Clan Line I bought , as my first (& most likely last) OO model purchased for decades had trouble with anything more than 3/4 free running FLM coaches on the flat !
I remember that the instruction leaflet clearly stated that 150 hrs was about the maximum obtainable running time with the motor fitted ! Maybe, they fit better motors now.
I really can't believe that - I have a Clan Line from the very first production batch in 2000, it has done quite a bit more than 150 hrs as it has been used as the motive power for steam specials on a large modern image exhibition layout, where it hauled a rake of 9 coaches, latterly being all made up of the new Pullman cars. It has also been very active on my home layout as well as some of my friends layouts.

It is still going strong and can still do a slow speed crawl; that is quality


Regards,

Dan
 
1 - 20 of 49 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top