I seem to spend a lot of time repairing old locos and trying to get parts
for them. This is partly for sentimental reasons, partly because I hate
throwing things into landfill sites and also because many new locos seem
rather fragile and won't go round my curves.
I have the impression that many of the current locos are pretty much
disposable once something breaks? Hornby parts seem to be much more
available than Bachmann ones, does it follow that they are more
No, it follows that Hornby locos are more likely to be defective. ;-)
But mostly it's an effect of how modern model trains are made. The loco
was jig-built to start with, so disassembling and reassembling it will
be beyond most modellers' abilities. Also, there just aren't that many
repairable or replaceable parts - many details are cast on or glued in
IOW, manufacturers do not stock repair parts, as a rule. Keeping track
of parts is hellishly expensive. The overhead of warehousing, tracking
inventory, and servicing and shipping small orders is amazingly high to
the uninitiated. (That's why a car built from repair parts will cost you
5 to 10 times as much as new one.)
Manufacturers try to have as many common parts as possible, eg, motors
and wheels, and these are the parts most likely to be available for
repairs. But they are also the parts least likely to break. However, if
it turns out that some part (such as a gear) fails too often too soon, a
manufacturer may arrange to have improved parts made. But that doesn't
mean they will be available to the few modellers who want to potter
about repairing defective equipment (I'm one of those, too, I speak from
Thus, when you have a defective loco, it may be cheaper for the
manufacturer to just replace it with another one, and do the repairs
in-house than to handle small orders. (The cost of handling small orders
is one reason most hobby shops no longer stock all those odd bits and
pieces of yore.) You get a replacement loco, and yours will go into the
"refurbishing" stream to be satisfy another customer's warranty claim.
Or, as you fear, it may just get dumped.
All that being said, manufacturers will from time to time just send you
a replacement part. Sometimes even at no cost, as it's cheaper to just
bung the thing into an envelope than to process a sale!
Hornby definitely support their products with the exception of bodies
but I have noticed that guys like Modelspares do break up some of
the new units. Bachmann themselves provide a surprising range of
spares but have reduced (rationalised) the number of chassis available
and of corse no bodies. Spares for rolling stock are the most
difficult to locate. The cannibal routine is the most successful
Certainly Hornby parts seem to be more available, and some might say
(have said!) that they need to be!
I've just gone through an exercise of getting about 40 locos up and
running for sale, dating from 1950s Hornby-Dublo through Tri-ang to
1980s/1990s Hornby. It's certainly the case that the older ones are
much easier to get running smoothly (or they never stopped running) than
the newer ones. My impression is that Hornby lost the way when they
started using plastic :-)
If I ever see an X-04 motor again though, it will be too soon!!
Indeed, it's taken over 40 years to get back to the smooth RTR locos
that we had with H-D back in the early '60s, and that was on those old
Hmm, in my opinion, whilst the X-04 motor needs regular servicing, it
is not so bad - that is compared to the abortion that replaced it,
namely the 'Ringfield' motor. (Triang-)Hornby lost their way when they
started to put the motor in the tender of their steam loco models...
My test track (I model P4, so had to knock up a length of OO) is powered
by a very cheap Hornby controller that is probably nothing more than a
resistance mat! I figured that if the loco would run smoothly on that,
it would run smoothly on anything.
I didn't mean to imply it was bad, it's just that I've seen rather a lot
of them lately! As you say, they are actually quite nice motors.
The X04 was an excellent motor, way ahead of everything else available
in Britain in 1948/50.
IMHO it's the reason the Rovex/Tri-ang range florished for so long.
(that and the excellent gears)
Hornby Ringfield was a straight copy of the successful Fleischmann drum
motor - even the parts were semi-interchangable.
A problem with copying German technology is that it doesn't neccessarily
work as well when you lower the quality.
Yeah, I guess that's a possibility.
From what I've read (including/particularly between the lines) the
German design was tailored for German conditions where high power,
relatively short dash running with continual maintainance was the norm.
If you were to put the V200s onto long distance continuous running
routes with less than Germanic maintainance, or heavy drag operation as
on the US Southern Pacific where there were high ambient temperatures
and maintainance consisted of checking the oil monthly, kicking the
tyres and flicking an oily rag over the radiator cap, the German design
wasn't up to the job. Of course the German designers couldn't conceive
of maintainance schedules that didn't include checking stress effects on
all cotterpins daily and the like, so failure was guaranteed.
Of course, the Webb Compounds sold to France and the USa also didn't
fare well either.
The hydraulics gave a better power to weight ratio than the diesel
electrics of the era.
So the D800 Warships were 2000hp on only four axles, dating from
All the other type 4 diesels being built at the time needed eight
axles. They were still building class 40s until 1962, and Peaks until
The original V200 gave 2200hp (PSi) but the engine manufacturer uprated
it to 2700hp with the same reliability in time for the second
Well, third batch really, if you count the seven prototypes as the first
batch and V200.008 on as the second.
I don't know what engines were fitted to the Western.
When introduced the spent a long time on Paddington- Wolverhampton
services as a stop-gap until the EE Type 4's were available.
Unfotunately the EE Type 4's weren't up to the job (they had to
have shorter trains to keep to time-table), so the Warships
carried on until the Westerns were ready.
I always hated the Warships when they were alive, but they
were actually remarkable engines.
I have become... comfortably numb
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