They are an interesting novelty, but it's up to the prospective customer to decide if it's worth the price. The track they run on must be totally isolated from any other DC or DCC trackage. It's difficult to control the speed accurately, and the loco is best run with a fairly heavy load. The loco must be refuelled and rewatered after 15-20 minutes of running. Hornby has an upcoming A1/A3 live steam model with exposed cylinders, which you might want to check out.
I received one of these for Christmas and after the 8th steaming i am beginning to get the hang of controlling it, this is not for the feint hearted! my first attempts ended up in several rail disasters!! :-)
I think that it is a well made and interesting model, you have to get involved with it ( i am used to electric locos), and because of that i am finding it very interesting to use.
I find controlling the speed easier now you just have think ahead and pay attention.........user-friendly it initially isn't, but i can see the pleasure to be had once you have learned how control this model.......so far these are my thoughts based on only 8 steamings........
as regards using it on my layout i just fitted a double throw switch between the two power controllers outputs to the track, so no problems there.
Is it worth the money, well yes i think so, Hornby have obviously put a lot of time and effort into producing this, it is well presented and nice product to own and it is only fair that they are paid for this.
In my opinion we live in a increasingly penny pinching and mean spirited world where people want everything for nothing .....and this attitude has forced manufacturers to make cheaper products so that quality and back up service suffer etc.......to me it is a sad state of affairs
So far that is my two penneth worth on the Hornby live steam.
I totally agree with you that we are in a WORLD where we have "commoditised" everything. We have lost faith (understandably) in the quality of products and after sales service seems hard on the extreme to find.
end of sermon
It sounds like you have had a world of fun with your loco - I imagine it is hard to control because it is more "real" than the good old electric trains. Tell me, does the loco have a brakes system?
As I watched the promo video I must admit it looked like spectacular fun..... the steam was enthralling as was the whistle. But it looked like work - good work though.
Why does there appear to be two controllers, or at least two black boxes? How long did you get until the oil and water needed replenishing? Is the model diecast or plastic? have you had it apart yet to see how it all works? :)
He he yes i have "fun" learning about this loco :-)
To answer your questions:
There is no braking system as such, but i found that if you need to stop the train quickly holding the control lever hard over in the opposite direction turns the steam valve to the "stop" position , you then have to reset the steam valve by flicking the lever so that the LED changes from red to green, you can proceed again
The two boxes consist of the main power supply box this converts the mains voltage down to the required DC voltage, this feeds the control box ( the second box with controls on it)
The body is made ( i think) of a sort of plastic but it appears to be of a different type used on the normal locos, which is just aswell as the body gets extremely hot....obviously.
I haven't taken it apart yet though i will at some point to just see the insides.
The basic control system is a small electric motor that drives the steam valve, the "control" is achieved by sending small pulses of voltage to the motor so that it turns only a few times, thus opening the steam valve gradually, these pulses come from you flicking the control lever on the control box, simple really, but that's where the learning curve comes in as regards controlling the loco
As regards running time i would say about 15-20 minutes at best, you can only use the whistle whilst the loco is stationary again this is achieved by holding the control lever hard over, you can hear the motor turning the steam valve, once the whistle stops the LED changes from red to green and the loco is ready to go.
hmmm i hope this all makes sense
i am going to try practising slow reversing etc today......i dare say more burnt fingers will be the price......but its worth it