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MRF Nürnberg Report - Hornby

30311 Views 17 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Rail-Rider

To start the ball rolling on my Nürnberg reports, here is some info on the Hornby Elite DCC unit.

Simon Kohler kindly gave me a demo of the Elite and let me have a go myself. He said that the Elite controllers were ready for dispatch in China and would be in Europe soon.

After the issues that came up around last Christmas after the release of the Hornby Select DCC system, I was keen to address those problems and see if the Elite was any better. I think that you have to look at the two products as two different concepts all together. I saw them as a "little brother" and a "big brother", but in reality they are more like "cousins". There is a relation, but they are two vastly different systems.

The Select is fine by itself as a train set controller. The Elite is a full-spec command controller that does what 95% of DCC users would ever want. The other 5% of DCC users are going to have to look elsewhere as Hornby are not going to produce a top of the range "Zimo-like" system in the foreseeable future. Try and understand where their market is and where they have to aim for regarding pricing and market share. Note that these percentages are not based on market research, but are arbitrary and used to get a point across.

Hornby had a DCC layout with a few locos running around separate tracks:

This might have been cool for Hornby, but they need to go over and see the likes of Märklin and see what automation is all about. Märklin had a DCC layout with 10 to 15 trains running at once including a Big-Boy bulling about 50 wagons. Very impressive. But back to Hornby:

Whilst we were testing the Elite, a representative of Electrotren was testing a Spanish loco on the "British" layout. Diesel locomotive 316 of the RENFE:

This loco had multiple functions including separately controlled indicator boxes. Very smart.

The Elite unit on demo was fully functional. It was a final production sample sent from China to Hornby for the show. The buttons were easy to press, they had a positive feel when pressed. The rotary encoders were smooth with a slight ratcheted feel. The dials were used to cycle through the menu and the dial is also uses as a confirm button when pressed. Good action and movement. Very solid construction.

The Hornby Elite unit:

The display is large - with very big characters. It will appeal to those with bad eyesight. Two rows of alpha-numeric characters, 8 per row. Direction allows, loco speed and 12 function status indicators make up the rest of the display.

The test setup with two rolling roads, one as a programming track and the other to run the loco:

The Elite is multi lingual. It is perhaps an indication of the intended direction that Hornby wishes to go. Just beware of setting the device to some foreign language as you may struggle to navigate back to English. The 9th press of the Unit button will take you to the system reset and you can get back to the default settings (which hopefully are English).

Language selection:

A fast clock that can go up to 10 times that of real time is provided. This makes protypical timetable operations possible and fun to follow in a few hours of play. Perhaps someone who uses a fast clock can enlighten us to what can be achieved on a layout that runs one.

Fast clock:

Ok, I had to find out if the device could read a decoder's address (this is what happens when members send in questions). Yes it can. No the decoder was not the R8215 loco decoder, so it's address we able to be read. No problems there.

Read address:

Each programming step is followed by the device flashing it's red LED 8 times. It seems a bit long - especially if you are doing things in a hurry. Programming is straight forward, simple and logical.

Running the programmed loco:

The menu structure can be seen below. It shows the simplicity and depth of features of the device. I was able to get the loco up and running without even looking at this sheet by simply following the order of menu items that came up on the display.

The 'crib sheet' giving the structure of the menu system:


So as we know, the Elite has 3 amps down to the track and can control about 6 to 10 locos at once. The twin control dials help in that respect. We are going to see more Hornby XpressNet cables and connectors that will help to add the walkabout units and to extend the XpressNet network around your layout.

A computer interface is provided, but no software. Apparently it has been tested with Railroad & Co, not sure about JMRI but I assume it uses basic XpressNet function calls and can emulate a Lenz system.

I don't expect many problems to arise when this is released as long as it does what this demo model did. Home users are going to be happy with this. Are British modellers going to hold off for Dynamis? I'm not sure. I think it will do well though and it will raise DCC awareness in the UK - that can only be good.

As an end note to the Hornby DCC segment, I asked Simon about the new Sapphire decoder. It is not a Lenz Gold, but it has features like a Lenz Gold. It is not in the 2007 catalogue as it has been produced in part due to the demands of the modelling fraternity who are expecting Hornby to produce a quality decoder. No news on it's release date or price yet.
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Just out of interest what was the decoder in the loco ? Lenz ? TCS?

The Spanish loco is almost certainly brand new tooling . I seem to recall they announced a new Alco loco in the Electrotren range last year (while the British range got no new diesels at all)

Someone who knows about US prototype may be able to identify this , and say whether standard gauge versions ran in the US and whether Alco exported the same locos to other markets. I can't help wondering if this has been tooled up with future versions for markets outside Spain in mind (Possibly including the US?)

Hornby International

The Nürnberg show is very international so the accent on the Hornby stand was it's international nature with display cases showing each brand. What we see as a British company is now very much an international player in a growing international hobby market.


HR 2028 (prototype model). Italian FS Series Gr.740.108. Directional lights, DCC Ready. HR 2054 Gr.740.108 with digital sound (LokPilot decoder).

Front: HR 2020 Italian Train set "FNM" Steam loco Gr.200 and two coaches.
Middle: HR 2827 German Express train steam loco with tender class 10-DB. DCC Ready.
Back: HR 2028 (prototype model). Italian FS Series Gr.740.108.

Front: HR 2048 (prototype model) German Diesel motor coach, DB series 641. Interior lighting, lit indicator boxes.
Middle: HR 2046 German Express train, Electic loco, DB series E 03. Engine room lighting.

HR 2017 (prototype model). German Steam loco with tender. DB series 58. Metal boiler and tender. Inner cylinder movement.
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HJ 2003 Steam loco Class 141 P SNCF. High detail.

HJ 2017 (prototype model) Automotrice Diesel coach, SNCF series X 73500. Interior lighting. DCC Ready.

HJ 2014 Electric loco Class BB 26000 SNCF "En Voyage..." livery

HJ 2009 Diesel loco Class CC 72000 SNCF "En Voyage..." livery

HJ 2012 (prototype model) High speed TGV Sud-Est SNCF. Motorised power car, two intermediate coaches and dummy power car. Yellow and white original livery.

HJ 2034 Diesel loco Class BB 66400 SNCF. DCC Ready.

HJ 2029 Diesel loco SNCF series BB 66400

HJ 2006 Electric loco Class CC 6500 SNCF

HJ 2004 Diesel loco Class BB 67000 SNCF Freight

HJ 2005 Electric loco Class BB 36000 SNCF

HJ 2008 Diesel loco Class BB 67000 SNCF

HJ 2016 Electric loco Class BB 26000 SNCF
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A few of the more interesting locos on display:

HL 2007 German Electric loco Class E10 - DB

HL 2005 German Heavy Diesel-Hydraulic loco Class ML2200 Krauss-Maffei Prototype Class V300

HL 2008 German Heavy Diesel-Hydraulic loco Class V300

HL 2001 High speed train "Thalys" Motorised power car, two intermediate coaches and dummy power car. PBKA version (Paris, Brussels, Cologne, Amsterdam).
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Heico Modell

On September 1, 2006, Hornby acquired Heico Modell, a German company. They produce some stunning loads that give your layout loads of character. Who wants to run empty wagons around all day.

Some of the items have German writing on them, but these can be used by anyone who is looking for something to haul.

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Arnold produce N-scale 1:160 models. Locos are DCC ready with 8-pin NEM socket. Most have directional lighting. They are made to a very high standard.

I did as Simon Kohler if Hornby planned on producing any British N-scale. He replied that Hornby had no plans for N right now as the relatively small specialised market is well served by other manufacturers.

Red loco: German Electric loco, DB series 152 freight loco.
Steam loco: HN 2015 German Express loco with tender, DB series 01. Design with Wagner smoke deflector plates.

Middle: HN 2011 Railbus with trailer BR 798 DB "Chiegau Bahn" livery
Rear: HN 2004 Electric loco type E 19 for express trains - DB

HN 2002 Diesel loco type BR 323 open driver cab (no DCC socket)

HN 2009 Electric loco Class S252 - RENFE

HN 2018 Express electric loco DB seies E 03

HN 2006 Steam loco type 95 - DB.

HN 2003 Express steam loco Type 05 - DB.

HN 6014 DB open freight car. Functional simulation of the unloading mechanism
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QUOTE (Doug @ 5 Feb 2007, 13:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Heico Modell

On September 1, 2006, Hornby acquired Heico Modell, a German company. They produce some stunning loads that give your layout loads of character. Who wants to run empty wagons around all day.

Some of the items have German writing on them, but these can be used by anyone who is looking for something to haul.

The Czech company Albatross also do very good loads, did you see them at all Doug? However the Heico stuff is very good I have a couple of examples.


Very nice Doug.

I wonder why Hornby haven't released the loads over here yet? Would go down very well I think along with there Skaledale range.

Thanks for the piccy's.


ELECTROTREN, S.A. is a Spanish company with more than 50 years of experience in making model trains. ELECTROTREN is the largest manufacturer of RENFE (Spanish railway) model trains, and also makes models of the French (SNCF), German (DB) and Italian (FS) trains, among others. ELECTROTREN has been a company of the Hornby Group since 1 April 2004.

They are very well made and comprise of models from across Europe. High detail and multi functional DCC features.

Diesel locomotive 316 of the RENFE

Electric locomotive RENFE 7630

Electric locomotive RENFE 269.239

Self propelled ABJ-7 of the RENFE,silver and green livery

Electric locomotive RENFE 252.064. Renfe operadora

Self propelled Diesel car RENFE 592 in yellow and blue livery. Epoch 4

Diesel locomotive 354-005 "Virgen del Pilar" Grandes Lineas of the RENFE. Limited run

Train Ave 102 Talgo 350 of the RENFE

Electric locomotive 1301 (1302?) Alsthom of the NS

Electric locomotive 1307 Alsthom of the NS

Electric locomotive 7101 GRG Alsthom of the SNCF
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Hornby UK

This is just a selection from the 'British' display case. It was one the most interesting on the Hornby stand as it had a good selection of different models.

The famous tool kit that is sold together with the Live steam sets. Hornby need to release the wheel nut wrench as part of a DCC installation toolkit.

R 2524 GWR Railcar

R 2555 BR 4-6-0 'Ayrshire Yeomanry' Class 5. DCC Ready.

R 2490 Mainline CO-CO Diesel Electric loco Class 60.

R2523 EWS BO-BO Diesel Electric loco 'Queens Messenger' Class 67.

R9069 Stepney from the 'Thomas' range

One of the newer Skaledale models - R 8624 Corner shop.
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Some interesting stuff. Retooled TGV Sud Est is news - any sign of the TGV Lyra (double decker) previously announced? Thalys is new tooling? Will intermediate vehicles be available separately?

The SNCF diesels and electrics look the part, though I don't have the knowledge to attempt detailed comment . BB67000 would have hauled a lot of British Interrailers from Calais to Amiens in days gone by

Think you see the TER railcar locally?

I hadn't realised there was SNCF stock in the Electrotren range

Not sure they've put out their strongest hand to represent the British range. I'd have had an M7 and a Gresley Pacific in ahead of the Black 5

Very interesting , and many thanks
Thats an impressive set of pictures there Doug - I especially like the fact that Hornby have put the prototypes on show, minus decoration etc. I wish they would do this more with their British range to help us spot any errors before the design is committed to.

QUOTE (Doug @ 5 Feb 2007, 13:07) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Jouef

HJ 2003 Steam loco Class 141 P SNCF. High detail.

Did Simon mention when this one will be out? I have had my eye on it ever since a visit to France last summer


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QUOTE (Ravenser @ 5 Feb 2007, 18:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...
Think you see the TER railcar locally?
We have a few of those around here.

I saw this on Sunday morning (7am) at the Gare du Nord:
(btw, I'm not a trainspotter)

Autorail Grande Capacité (AGC) X.76500 triple-unit trains

We have 12 X.73500 type trains on our local network. See here.
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Some of the Electrotren and Joueff ones look pretty good.

Electrotren has a multi lingual website with quite an extensive range which is worth looking through.
Nice shot at Gare du Nord. Didn't realise there was much in the way of diesel stock working in there these days
I'm always interested to see what Hornby are up to with their continental acquisitions.
They have a hell of a lot on their plate but are making steady progress, it seems. I find it encouraging.

This caught my eye.
QUOTE I did ask Simon Kohler if Hornby planned on producing any British N-scale. He replied that Hornby had no plans for N right now as the relatively small specialised market is well served by other manufacturers..
With so much to reorganise already, this response is wholly understandable! Nevertheless, I hope they review the situation in time, because smart use of existing Arnold resources COULD turn that "relatively small specialised market" into a much bigger one. If Arnold quality could be injected into the British market, I think it would raise the bar for British N-gauge and entice many more hobbyists to give it a whirl.

I don't know how Doug managed to put this massive Nürnberg report together so quickly and so well - it's very impressive.
Tremendous dedication and skill - thank you
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