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Hi all,

I am wondering whether other Forum Members might care to share their opinions of the running qualities of Bachmann vs. Hornby 'OO' locomotives?

I'm probably biased as the result of my own experiences but for the last ten years or more, I have exclusively used Bachmann locos on three very different layouts, in different scales....

First - a USA 'logging' layout in On30 (Bachmann Porters, Shays, Climaxes, Mogul, etc).

Second - again USA based, the 'two-footers' of Maine (Bachmann Forneys, 2-4-0, 2-8-0, again in On30).

Currently - British 'OO' based on Eastern Region practice, for which I currently have a BR 3MT tank, BR 4MT tender loco, older J39 converted to DCC, K3, etc.

I can honestly say that I have never had any problems with any of them (apart from an easily rectified broken universal joint on an On30 Climax) - and all were/are excellent runners.

Conversely, I have recently bought 2 current Hornby locos for the ongoing British 'OO' layout (my first non-Bachmann types for over 10 years) ........and frankly, both run like absolute pigs, particularly the L1, which is for all practical intents and purposes completely unusable (and therefore currently in bits on a shelf).

I now have the forthcoming Hornby 'Sandringham' on order and frankly.....I am not particularly looking forward to it one bit as I fear it could be equally poor. But I need a B17.

Finally, I have recently heard that, sensational as the appearance undoubtedly is, the Hornby B1 doesn't run as well as the slightly less refined recent Bachmann upgrade of the same loco.

I just wondered whether I have just been unlucky with Hornby so far, or whether others can relate to this?

I would be very interested to hears other members views on Bachmann vs. Hornby - just from a running quality point of view (not from an aesthetic angle - where Hornby's latest models are obviously just as good, if not better).

Thanks
Don Mason.
 

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Unlucky I think. In getting close to a hundred RTR loco purchases, mostly Bachmann, but lately roughly equal purchases of Hornby since they raised their game, there hasn't been a single outright failure. I have had a Bachmann motor in trouble on a loco I was decoder fitting for a friend: turned out one motor magnet was not properly glued in.

Specifically I own specimens of the Hornby types you are experiencing trouble with.

I have a pair of L1s, they both came out of the box running well, slight gear noise which completely quieted after about a couple of hours. Two things adjusted: the pick ups on the bogie wheelsets impeded them turning, a little easing of the wiper pressure fixed that; the front pony truck has Hornby's camming arrangement which I simply don't like. Hacked off all the unwanted tackle, put a self tapper through a new hole in the truck to make a conventional pivotted truck which runs beautifully.

I have one each of the new B1s from Bachmann and Hornby. Both offered good running straight out of the box and have continued to do well. Had to add a spring to the Hornby bogie post is all. The Hornby is the better of the two for traction, adequate as supplied, the Bachmann chassis needed modification to get enough weight in.
 

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Well I recently bought modern dcc sound equipped locos from both companies, Clun Castle from Hornby, and a "peak" from Bachmann, and I have had no trouble with either model. Most of my troubles come from dirty track and bad electrics, which I mean to address. I have discovered that Hornby live steam locos tend to dirty up my track (I say that with tongue in cheek).
 

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Check that all the wheelson the L1 which should pick up current are doing so - have a Schools which gave all sorts of trouble until I realise d that only a couple of wheels had the pick ups bearing correctly on them.
 

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My L1 problem is different.

I bought the 'DCC on-board' version from a (supposedly reputable) supplier on eBay. As delivered (new) it would not run at all with the factory-fitted decoder, just lurched and jerked violently. I removed the Hornby decoder and put it onto DC - perfect.

I then plugged in a 'sound' decoder (from Keytes/Locolines) specifically configured for the L1 and it ran jerkily, OK for a second or two, then a big jerk plus loss of sound, then generally terrible. Tried on DC again - fine.

Then the return crank came loose on one side and nothing I can do seems to fix it (which doesn't help). Thinking it was probably be a decoder problem, it went back to Keytes (twice). They said 'nothing wrong with the decoder, then eventually hard-wired it - no improvement at all. Tweaked all the decoder settings (Loksound V4) but made no difference. Still jerks a couple of seconds into the run then runs very poor/jerky. Tried the original Hornby decoder again (hard wired this time, as Keytes have removed the plug), again, doesn't go at all.

The front and rear truck issues are simple to solve, but there seems little point, given that it will just not run. Which is irritating, as I particularly needed an L1.

- Don
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I agree - but hindsight is a wonderful thing ...and it's been hacked about so much now, fitting and unfitting decoders (that required mods to the cab), that there's unfortunately no way.
Can't even remember who it was anyway. As I said, retailer on eBay....and it was 9 months ago now.

I'm just reluctant to invest in another given my experiences with this one.

What really hacks me off as well is I'm still convinced the Ketes/Locolines-supplied decoder is faulty, and that cost significantly more than the loco - but there's no way he will accept it.
 

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Don, I know you know your way around this stuff pretty well, but maybe two heads are better than one. I've been having plenty of trouble with a hornby 4MT into which I fitted a Zimo sound decoder. It ran like a hairy goat. To cut a very long story short, it turned out to be decoder settings that caused most of the problems. Apart from that though, I'm waiting on a new set of gears (an idler slid along it's shaft) and a new motor (sounds awful) to come out from England. I also had to rewire the socket (with plenty of magnification) of the Loco' to tender connection because it had a broken wire inside the insulation.

The upshot is, that even with the problems it still has, it now runs and sounds very nice.

My L1 runs very nicely with a Zimo non sound decoder, but I did have to tweak those pick ups.

I wonder what people think if they decide to start this as a hobby and then maybe find that things don't work properly out of the box.
 

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A lot of issues.

I have one L1 67772, it does not see much use as small son likes tender engines, this loco has one main running issue and that is the short front pony truck movement, as a result it is sensitive to track 'anomalies' but it pulls well, just had it running last hour towing 13 Wrenn (therefore heavy) wagons round the upper level and did so perfectly but from time to time it will find faults on the track. Powerful and smooth mine is totally noiseless.I run Dc not DCC.

K3 I have 2 of these, they were a problem until I reset the back to backs, took a 1mm out of one of them then the derailments stopped and both have been pretty decent since then, quiet and pulls decently, not great but not bad.

J39 again I have 2 of these, biggest issue is the draw bar, any slight imperfection and the loco will leave the tender and train behind so it became a bit of a nuisance, I keep bringing them out and they still keep leaving stock behind but now I have ballasted with Gaugemaster roll the entire upper level that may have improved matters, a bit grindy, these locos are at the lower end of sophistication.

BR3 and BR4 no knowledge although I have a Fairburn which will have a shorter wheelbase, nice loco.

As to the B17 it should be good, some Hornby locos are outstanding namely;

Scot/Patriot, Black 5, B1, N15 and others, so the recent 4-6-0 type has been excellent B1 is a real belter and right now I place top of the pile for performance, I really love this model and hope Hornby can make a few more versions as there were 410 of them, Black 5 too is really good and must rate in second spot. (61162 from Gorton top link and 61349 last of Gorton built locos for instance)

On the whole Hornby on the middle and smaller locos has an edge for pulling power, they are a bit quieter and run very nicely, Hornby locos are more tolerant of bad track as they HAVE to work on Hornby setrack which is a bit more general toy like so they have easier back to back dimensions and I think wider tyres. The new drawbar is now better than the nasty small 4 wire plug affair and even some of the 4-4-0's are very good such as the Railroad D49, T9 is too small for a big motor so is a weak puller and the bogie pick up disintegrated on my Schools.

For me the biggest disappointment is the 'lack of spares' for even current locos such as the Schools (Haileybury), 9F, and the inability to supply replacement bodies even when the service department broke one in for repair!

Bachmann have a lot of issues too, mainly in recent years quality control faults from China, I guess little girls from a village somewhere have no idea about very much and so they have to be trained for everything (this is much needed away from USA/Europe as we take so much knowledge for granted) When setup correctly they are very good and some are nice indeed however a few issues here;

1. I have had a lot of worn rods, clearly a metallurgy spec defect, this may have passed now.
2. Some locos such as Austerity 8F bed iron, 9F spaceship etc can only work wide radius corners/points there is simply not enough lateral movement at the drive axle for them to be pinched up more so only for those with streamline points.
3. There are some poorer jobs such as the BR class 5, I have 4 older ones and a new one but this has taken to locking up the drive gear and runs a bit hot but usually it locks before getting too hot, older ones have weak motors.
4. Some of the 0-6-0's are a bit likely to rail climb if there is a small gap on a corner.
5. I have had some Bachmann locos emit real smoke such as the SDJR 7F (1 of 3) and another one? cannot recall.- ah yes a new V2
6. Some revised Bachmann models are much better the B1 and V2, both are now decent but the V2 is a good 'un except for the smoke issue replaced under warranty, the B1 too but it is just not as good as the Hornby.

So a B1 is a great buy from Hornby as is 4F, Q1, Scot, etc.

Just one other note, both suffer from weak Walshearts valve gear, most of my failures are now due to this issue, handle with care and ensure the con rod does not get kinked and then jam the valve gear when those with more powerful motors will put the gear apart. This may have influenced Bachmann as the new crop of models such as Wainright C, Robinson J11, Horwich 'Old Faithful', Robinson Director, Robinson O4, Midland 3F, Midland 4F, Fowler 2P, ALL have inside valve gear.

Finally some problems are self inflicted such as the awful drawbar still used by Bachmann on the Southern N class, father bought one lately, discovered the same problem I had and removed it and modified as I did. The big issue with B17 is not whether it will be any good, just as to whether any will ever appear on sale?

A bit of pot luck here because if you get a decent loco you will get great performance, shame I had a thread on all these matters which was shut down and gave details so you have to independently decide if I know what I am talking about or just made this up for your entertainment.
 

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QUOTE (Don Mason @ 1 Nov 2012, 00:22) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>IWhat really hacks me off as well is I'm still convinced the Ketes/Locolines-supplied decoder is faulty, and that cost significantly more than the loco - but there's no way he will accept it.
You have proved to yourself that the L1 is fine on DC: that isn't the product with the problem. The problem is all with the decoder supplier who does not appear to have the capability. Start a private small claims action against him (your local authority website should tell you how, and it is effectively a 'no cost' process) to obtain redress on the basis that what has been supplied is 'unfit for purpose'.

Hornby are typically very good about chassis repairs. Get onto them, explain the problems you have had, and they should sort it.
 

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QUOTE (34C @ 1 Nov 2012, 09:12) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>your local authority website should tell you how, and it is effectively a 'no cost' process
Hi
It is really a 'low cost' process rather than 'no cost'. There is a sliding scale of fees from £35 upwards in England and Wales which you will need to pay upfront. If you win your action these charges are paid by the defendant on top of the claim; even if you win your case enforcing payment is not always easy although perseverance usually pays off.
In Scotland the process and the fees are slightly different.
See you in court!

mal
 

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Hi,
I have had Hornby and Bachmann for years like most people. The problems of running are generally evenly spread across both ranges. I had a shocking Bachmann B1 that needed paint removing from the tread of the driving wheels, and my Hornby B1 ran faultlessly out of the box. The older Bachmann split chassis could be horrendous as could some of the Hornby Tender drive locos, I have a 5 pole Flying Scotsman that I have just given up on. Equally a good tender drive will last a lifetime.

Most of my modern locos are diesels and they seem to run forever even if the wheels are in desperate need of cleaning, that goes for both manufacturers from their class 08s to heavy haul diesels.

Of the modern design steam locos I have most are Hornby (11 and 2Bachmann) and of those only 1 is causing any issue.

It has been my experience that they can both produce a wrong'un and with their modern designs they are both capable of producing silky smooth performers.

Hope this helps although I have rather sat on the fence.
Simon.
 

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In design terms, most of what has been completely newly tooled in RTR OO by: Bachmann under their 'Blue Riband' brand*, Hornby since production started in China*, Heljan; is competent to produce a decent running result. (I leave the new return to OO from Dapol out of this from lack of experience of the new products, the examples I have seen appear to be in the same class.) Where it falls down is execution on the assembly line, and subsequent damage, from events like rough handling in transit and others. But broadly speaking, if the product is regarded as a decent kit of parts which may be suffering from slightly less than ideal assembly, there really isn't a problem. Having built a lot of kits and done some scratchbuilding, troubleshooting a RTR product comes naturally and generally only requires small adjustments/reassembly and perhaps a little soldering to optimise the build.

Now, some will argue that this assembly/degradation problem should not exist, and in an ideal world that would be true; but the fact is the product is made down to a price - the UK being very sensitive to pricing for hobby products - and the manufacturers are making a calculation on just how much we are prepared to pay for. On the evidence of my own purchases, the assembly quality is overall improving. A decade ago, every loco model needed adjustments to pick up wipers, lubrication and springing on receipt (and sometimes much more) simply to get it to run really reliably; from about five years ago I am pleased to say that an increasing proportion of models have been genuinely ready to run. What I mean by that is not that they were incapable of further improvement by some tweaks, but that the basic stuff has been done well, such that anyone simply putting the model onto powered rails is going to get reliable running.

* I am explicitly leaving out all the earlier designs. These are obsolete, big time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks all for the input.

Funnily enough having said I've never had problems with Bachmann (which is true), this week I had one. I recently bought a (brand new) 'old' J72 (if you get my drift) - the split chassis job, which is notorious for splitting axles and burning out motors.......but I actually rather like split chassis locos - wipey pickups being my pet hate!

Anyway, it ran like a pig in forwards gear but strangely fine in reverse.

Tweaking the rods, etc., didn't help much so I picked up a couple of additional second-hand ones on eBay, reasoning that I could probably make one decent one out of the three ...and have some spare parts to boot.

Well, in the end I made one decent one out of just two and whilst I was at it, I converted the thing to DCC and installed Zimo sound.

If anyone is interested - here's a short video clip on YouTube (usual appalling YouTube loss of quality from the original). I should perhaps apologise for the 'dead' horses and other clutter in evidence - but this is still very much a layout 'in progress.

Split frame Bachmann J72 with DCC & sound

- Don
 

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There really is no hard fast answer to this one. Hornby/Bachmann/Heljan and ViTrains all have good and bad. In the case of the Bachmann 9f, the Hornby Merchant Navy and Rebuilt Battle of Britain Class will run on the most part silky smooth whereas the Britannia Class can run rough but by no means in all cases, however I have noticed this to be an issue particularly in the second generation of the new Brits.
Running qualities I find are less of an issue in Diesel and Electric Locomotives as there are no problems to be had with valve gear. Particular smooth runners I have found are the Hornby Class 31 from the premium range which is almost silent, the Bachmann Type AL5 and the Heljan/Hattons Class 28 Metrovick. I wait with anticipation to see how my pre-ordered Bachmann Midland Blue Pullman will run when it arrives from Hattons.

However back to your initial question. There really is no one manufacturers products run better than others. If you get a rough runner the only advice I can give is take/send it back to the retailer.
 

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Hi all,

I am wondering whether other Forum Members might care to share their opinions of the running qualities of Bachmann vs. Hornby 'OO' locomotives?

I'm probably biased as the result of my own experiences but for the last ten years or more, I have exclusively used Bachmann locos on three very different layouts, in different scales....

First - a USA 'logging' layout in On30 (Bachmann Porters, Shays, Climaxes, Mogul, etc).

Second - again USA based, the 'two-footers' of Maine (Bachmann Forneys, 2-4-0, 2-8-0, again in On30).

Currently - British 'OO' based on Eastern Region practice, for which I currently have a BR 3MT tank, BR 4MT tender loco, older J39 converted to DCC, K3, etc.

I can honestly say that I have never had any problems with any of them (apart from an easily rectified broken universal joint on an On30 Climax) - and all were/are excellent runners.

Conversely, I have recently bought 2 current Hornby locos for the ongoing British 'OO' layout (my first non-Bachmann types for over 10 years) ........and frankly, both run like absolute pigs, particularly the L1, which is for all practical intents and purposes completely unusable (and therefore currently in bits on a shelf).

I now have the forthcoming Hornby 'Sandringham' on order and frankly.....I am not particularly looking forward to it one bit as I fear it could be equally poor. But I need a B17.

Finally, I have recently heard that, sensational as the appearance undoubtedly is, the Hornby B1 doesn't run as well as the slightly less refined recent Bachmann upgrade of the same loco.

I just wondered whether I have just been unlucky with Hornby so far, or whether others can relate to this?

I would be very interested to hears other members views on Bachmann vs. Hornby - just from a running quality point of view (not from an aesthetic angle - where Hornby's latest models are obviously just as good, if not better).

Thanks
Don Mason.
Having spent numerous decades running Hornby locomotives and rolling stock on Hornby track with no issues, I decided to "try" a Bachmann locomotive. I was curious, that's all; but, impressed too: so much so that the majority of my OO locomotive and rolling stock is now Bachmann (analogue, no DCC), although I still buy a Hornby every now and then. Incidentally, I also switched to Peco track but still have a preference for Hornby Scaledale buildings.

Anyhow, I find that Bachmann locomotives make for smoother running and are very reliable (although not 100% problem free). I should also add that my OO layouts tend to use R1 and R2 curves due to space constraints, although neither trouble any of my Bachmann stock to any great extent (other than certain locomotives slowing down slightly on R1 curves).

Being relatively small, my layouts tend to avoid gradients and multiple levels. Train length is also kept short (4/5 coaches max, 12 goods wagons + brake van) and locomotive power is generally 0-6-0 (ranging from 0-4-0 to 4-6-0 + tender) and twin unit DMUs. Hence, I can't comment on more powerful locomotives.

Finally, although I definitely prefer Bachmann, Dapol run well too; unlike Heljan which I'd rather not talk about, as I get f* upset, very f* upset.

Verdict: Bachmann run best.
 

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Have you sampled the more recent designs from Hornby? In small tender locos their J15 and J36 0-6-0's and B12/3 (petite) 4-6-0 have some of the sweetest performing RTR OO steam mechanisms I have yet seen. The exterior modelling is rather good too, largely cast metal loco bodies mean they pull well too. (All proven technique from HO, that should have made it to OO decades ago, here at last...)
 

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Very interesting re-reading my old thread, certainly I cleared out all my tender drives, split chassis and so on and then in 2013 I went DCC with my new railway layout with Roco Z21.

Some models that have come along since are really good, in terms of Hornby they are excellent such as B1, B17, B12/3, Black 5 (except shortage of X4026 motors) the L1 has had a front truck fix and has been Ok, my A2/2 has had front bogie wheels replaced with deeper flanges and is really good,
Meanwhile Bachmann are getting left behind, updates come through slowly I am waiting on the new V2 but the D11 Directors have been very good, O4 another good 'un and my 5 off SDJR 2-8-0's have been excellent the 9F is a champ - the one to beat.

Generally then both have upped the game but I give the better grade to Hornby as they have moved very steadily with better locos and Bachmann well the 10-12-D WD narrow gauge loco is how it's done and maybe the new Fairlee will be very good, as to Heljan - aaaahhhhhh!
 

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Everything to like about the five types of Heljan's bogie diesel traction that I have running on my layout, most of them from pilot scheme classes that were soon extinct, so somewhat unexpected as models. Simple mechanism construction that runs sweetly and pulls heroically, everything to like there. Their steam loco construction - and this probably applies to their rod coupled diesels too - a distinctly dated and flaky construction technique. My two steam models run and pull very well, but have been very carefully handled, and I have taken notes from those that have had them apart, against that need on some future day - it's a way less than ideal construction.

And of course there are yet more brands offering RTR OO locos now.

Oxford Rail, I have looked at three of their four loco productions, and the N7 and J27 are in operation on my layout and do well. The low price is welcome and little is lost, none of it in the running and mechanism construction which is very good. Looks like the J27 will be my nomination for new loco introduction of the year, as it is the one newly introduced loco I have purchased this year!

Dapol have yet to make a steam loco for my interest, but I do now have one of their BoBo models which is solidly in the very good category (another 'pilot scheme failure' class!).

Rapido - only have the Stirling single they produced for NRM/Locomotion. Nearly achieves an 'Excellent' rating for the fine fully concealed drive engineering which provides effective traction, and overall appearance and finish, on what is overall a very difficult subject. A clumsy loco to tender connector and off scale loco to tender spacing as a result the only flaws that keep it out of the excellent category..

In no particular order, I'll cheerfully purchase traction models from Kernow, Hattons, RoS, TMC, KR Models, SLW, Accurascale, Cavalex, Planet Industrials, should they produce an item that fits my interest, and there is no proven problem in the mechanism construction. (Will not purchase glue assembled split chassis steamers for example.) And the money's ready in my hand for the 'Sonic' Robinson A5 4-6-2T
 

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Anyhow, I find that Bachmann locomotives make for smoother running and are very reliable (although not 100% problem free). I should also add that my OO layouts tend to use R1 and R2 curves due to space constraints, although neither trouble any of my Bachmann stock to any great extent (other than certain locomotives slowing down slightly on R1 curves).
Locos and rolling stock will never run at their best on R1 and R2 curves because such tight curves create far too many opportunities for derailments. While manufacturers state that their models will run on such curves, the reality is that they are really pushed to their mechanical limits and tolerances and tend to suffer reliability issues as a result.

If I was in a position of having to use R1 and R2, I'd be thinking of and end-to-end 4mm layout instead or getting my 009 stock out. Or better still, building an end-to-end 7mm scale layout!
 
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