It's not been one of my better days today, which I'll talk about more in another thread, but for my DCC specific woes, read on...
Had a late afternoon 2 hour round trip to my favourite local(ish) model shop.
One of my purchases, which was not originally on my shopping list, was a Hornby R2625X 'DCC Fitted' Southern M7.
Initial impressions were promising. Coming in Hornby's standard red and yellow box, the loco appears rather understated for what is really a rather ground breaking move for Hornby, one of the first 'DCC Fitted' locos. I would have thought such a release would merit an outer sleeve, perhaps with the 'DIGITAL' logo like the Pendolino.
However, the loco is nestled in the now 2 part polystyrene box, so removal was certainly a lot quicker and easier than last years M7. Two instruction leaflets are present. The normal Locomotive operating instructions, incorrectly headed 'Locomotive and Tender', and what might you expect the second leaflet to be
Do I here shouts of 'An instruction leaflet for the onboard decoder'
Well, you would think so wouldn't you, but no, the second leaflet was entitled 'Fitting a Decoder'. I considered this a little odd, but now of course, I realise that this is in fact brilliant foresight from Hornby, an example of their excellent customer care. Because I can assure you that on running the locomotive for the first time, the first thing any discerning customer is going to want to do is this....
Pull out the pile of electronic
that Hornby have fitted, and follow the instructions in the second instruction leaflet to fit a proper and decent DCC decoder
Upon placing the loco on the track and swtching the power on, it buzzes. On gently applying the regulator for a while nothing happens, until you reach speed step 30 of 127, then the loco started reasonably smoothly, backwards
I double checked with my existing DCC locos, but it's true, in the land of Hornby Digital backwards is the new forwards.
Now remember folks, there are no instructions for operating or programming this loco whatsoever, but having a fair bit of DCC experience I correctly guessed that the address would be the default of 3. Now, because this is undoubtably an R8215 there is no way of reading the CVs, but on checking one of my earlier instruction leaflets it appears that you can at least set Bit 1 of CV 29 to modify the default direction. I tried setting it to 0...no change. Therefore I concluded that the decoder has been fitted the wrong way round into the 8 pin socket. The loco runs OK backwards, but forwards it is jerky and inconsistant. Sometimes there is a long delay before the loco responds after changing direction. No, all is not well with the R8215 decoder.
Things really take a turn for the worse at this point. UK outline DCC users will probably know that before launching their first 2 DCC sound fitted locos, Bachmann carefully modfied the chassis and bodies of their Class 20 and Class 66. So that both the decoder and loudspeaker had somewhere to fit comfortably. As those of you who have tried to fit a decoder into an M7 will know, there is nowhere to fit one, the only solution was to remove one of the weights from the side tanks. Sadly on the second release of the M7, this is exactly what the fitting instructions advise, and indeed, exactly what Hornby have done. So you now have a loco that weighs significantly more on one side than the other.
The instructions also advise that the weight is only secured with doublle-sided tape, oh fantastic, I can't wait for the other weight to drop out. More worrying is the fact that Hornby have fixed the decoder to the inside of the tank not with a sticky pad, but with double-sided tape
Top prize tonight goes to the reader who can tell Hornby exactly what is going to happen to the loco body should any poor unfortunate customer let one of these locos run backwards(or forwards) for long enough for the decoder to get a little on the warm side
I know, it's a tricky one isn't it.
By this time, I decide that at the very least I'm going to fit the decoder into the socket the right way round. So I carefully turn the loco over and find that one of the 2 prongy bits(Don't know what they are called) from the front of the chassis is snapped off and missing (not in the box). I'm guessing, but it looks to me like these decoders are fitted after, rather than during initial manufacture, and somebody damaged this trying to get the body off. Exactly the reason I was tempted to buy a 'DCC Fitted' one in the first place!!. So to top my day off nicely, my chassis is broken.
So it's a definite return now, and I won't be going for a DCC fitted replacement, but the non X version of this loco, as I'm now confident that there is no way on earth I could make a worse job of making this loco 'DCC Fitted'. And I certainly will not be using an R8215.