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In depth idiot
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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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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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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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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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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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It's the retail trade that are the 'gatekeepers' of minimum radius capability, as the customers of the RTR Brands. In OO, R2 is 'locked in' by the all pervasive set track point, thought to be present on 80% of UK layouts; the retailers want to make sales to that sector.

I'd like to see one of the 'aiming higher' outfits go for a better minimum radius standard; and was quite recently disappointed to see Accurascale adopt the tired old fudge of visibly underscale wheel diameter for their class 55. But, I have to accept that they will have made this decision to build in an inaccuracy, for the better sales potential of the resulting visually compromised but R2 capable model.

The next question would be 'what new minimum radius standard'?. In OO I believe that circa 30" / 750mm radius 'does the job' in the sense that models of the largest subjects can be externally correct, with a 24" / 600mm radius allowing the majority of UK subjects to run. Will any outfit punting its money on RTR OO ever be brave enough?
 

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...The smaller loco's seem to be a little more noisy...
Are the smaller loco models older designs? Hornby have perpetuated their Dean goods, pannier and 0-4-2T with very dated mechanisms; should all have been at least brought up to the standard of Bachmann's current 56xx and 57xx, which are knocking 25 years since introduction. Hornby so like to squeeze every drop out of the old stuff...

...in general my point is there is not much between them it will be interesting once the layout is running to see just how they run and last...
You shouldn't have much trouble with the 'newly tooled for Chinese production' models; owners with GW models can doubtless point out any weaknesses to look out for.

I have used the current style Bachmann mechanisms (of GW locos, from the 56xx and 57xx mentioned above) to repower white metal kits with long ago clapped out mechanisms. Despite now typically having far more weight to move around than they did originally with plastic bodies, they all still run sweetly fifteen years and more since installation. Plastics compatible grease on the drive line and axles, regular dabs of oil on the crankpins, done.
 

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...For the most part there so many types of locomotives and stock to model why do you need to out do another company...
What we have no insight into, is the effect on the two 'established' full range brands - that's Hornby and Bachmann - of the customer expectation that the 'full range' is maintained. A scan of model railway sites will reveal examples of complaints when items are not available. (The one that consistently makes me laugh is when Bach's selection of miniature tension lock couplers go unavailable. Complaints directed incorrectly: it's all the brands that have never produced anything of the sort in this line that should be subjected to the kicking.)

Maintaining a 'full range' will incur cost, and what profit does it deliver, relative to what can be obtained from optimum use of the manufacturing slot? Competitor brands carry no such obligation, and are free thereby to offer what's most profitable now, and given that their product is predominantly traction I think it is reasonable to assume that this is the most profitable piece. (I am pretty confident that the much increased price of both Bachmann and Hornby's rolling stock relative to traction can be attributed to this: it was once possible to accept smaller margin on rolling stock, because there was limited competition for the higher margin that could be obtained on traction. Now all the product has to make the target margin, no cross-subsidy possible within the range.)

What was tolerable when it was just Heljan and then Dapol nibbling market share, and much of it by supplying niche items; becomes a very different situation when there are a dozen more 'nibblers' active: some of them evidently well funded and going after subjects with sustained sales potential. Whether B&H have reacted wholly appropriately is a matter of opinion, that they had to react in some way an evident necessity...
 

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... (OO set)track ... we have no idea what the mark up is...
I should think it's a winner because manufacturing is low cost: small mouldings, shaping, stampings, plenty of auto assembly opportunity, into boxes and shipped; and quite likely the demand is predictable and steady on an annual cycle. In short the classic cash cow, make it on long amortised tooling, ship it, customers buy it, kaching.
 

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...The next question would be 'what new minimum radius standard'?. In OO I believe that circa 30" / 750mm radius 'does the job' in the sense that models of the largest subjects can be externally correct, with a 24" / 600mm radius allowing the majority of UK subjects to run. Will any outfit punting its money on RTR OO ever be brave enough?
'Talking to myself', I know; but now in possession of the new Bachmann V2, and they have specified 24" minimum radius as a requirement if replacing the flangeless rear truck wheelset and fitting the supplied flanged wheelset in the rear truck, if the loco is going to be operated in this condition. That's a positive step forward in my opinion, identifying a minimum radius requirement other than 'R2', for the 'alternative state' that the model offers.

Not having purchased every RTR OO model from the range currently available, I don't know if such a requirement has been attached to any other product. Anyone?

Hornby, which initiated the flangeless rear truck wheelset on its pacific models from 2004, has supplied a replacement flanged wheelset for those that want to install it [good], but with no guidance on 'consequences' [not so good] simply stating 'for display' [which I read as = 'not intended for operation']. On the Gresley pacifics, the consequences are circa 60" minimum radius, and on the Britannia 'doesn't fit'[!] as the flanges foul on the interior of the cast rear truck frames. The happy carver [me] found that on the Gresley pacifics removing material inside the rear truck enabled a 30" minimum radius, and on the Britannias cutting clearance sufficent for the flanges not to foul the casting was good for 30" minimum radius; in all cases the work is invisible with the model reassembled which is neat. CAVEAT: all these models were purchased relatively early after first release, quite possible that subsequent reissues and the newly retooled A3 will differ in some respects.
 
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