thanks for the help clearing up the AC/DC thing with DCC earlier,
I want to go with N gauge, and whilst there are a few DCC starter sets
out there, they all seem to have really naff looking controllers,
i like the look of the Trix 66920 controller, avoiding the maerklin
one that's identical except red, and uses the motorola format,
anyone here use/d the trix dcc system? is it any good, i like the look
of the mobile station, the big lcd is a big plus, and it looks to be
easy to use,
any issues using this on N gauge? for the time being i'd get ready
chiped loco's, and as the trix system seems to confirm to the NMRA
standard, i assume i can get any loco with a NMRA complient chip in
Thinking now of getting the controller/connector box and transformer,
then some track and a loco or 2 to make my own starter set, rather
than getting a starter set that dosent have what i want in it.
If it's N you want, I believe it's called Minitrix. Or have they changed
their name again?
Anyhow, Trix is a Maerklin brand, and its DCC is at this time AFAIK
still not fully NMRA compliant. (Correction requested.) This means that
if you decide to buy other brands of N scale DCC equipped locomotives,
there is no guarantee that you will be able to control all the functions
in them, and you may not be able to program them. Trix N is two-rail DC,
however, so other brands will run on it in DC mode (although there may
be issues with Trix DCC.) Any brand of wagon will run on it, however.
NB that you must program each loco to a different number. The factory
default is 3.
If you make up your own set, you must ensure that the DCC equipped loco
and the DCC control system are compatible. A good hobby shop will help
you make correct choices. You can buy all Trix if you wish, of course,
but I strongly advise you to buy only NMRA compatible equipment, as then
you will have the largest choice when you add to your layout. If you buy
Maerklin Digital, you may be limited to Trix/Maerklin and the few other
brands that cater to this system.
Besides, it would be good to put market pressure on Maerklin to build an
NMRA compatible DCC system. Rescue them from their own narrow vision of
the model train world, IOW. :-)
NB that in wagons.
I think you will find few (if any?) users of the Trix in the UK.
Main UK DCC systems are Lenz, Digitrax, Bachmann, ZTC, then a list of
others. Trix will be way after the others. Lenz and Digitrax have their
own handset communications protocols (ExpressNet and LocoNet) which means
that some other maker's handsets work if they support those protocols.
Of the main UK sources, for starting out, I suggest you look at the new
Bachmann Dynamis which got to the shops last week. Its fairly cheap (£95
list complete, somewhat less in some adverts). Its a lot easier to use than
many a previous system, and unlike a lot of others, it doesn't feel like a
badly designed 1980's VCR handset. ( I have used a Dynamis, though only for
30 minutes )
The other reasonably cheap entry system sometimes seen is the Roco LocoMaus,
though I prefer the older Mk2 to the current Mk 3.
The Uhlenbrock Daisy system is also very simple and pleasant to use, but its
not very common in the UK, and the design is now a bit dated.
For programming loco chips, it depends what you want to do. Some people are
happy with what they do "out of the box". Others want to setup all the CV
values to suit their needs. If the latter, get a copy of DecoderPro (free PC
software) and a computer interface. Then programming is a matter of dragging
around sliders, typing numbers into boxes, etc..
Often the cheapest and simplest computer interface is a £50 box called a
"Sprog" which is used as just a programmer of locomotives (it can be used to
drive a small layout, but the computer isn't a good interface for that
Yes. You can use any NMRA complient chip with a NMRA complient control
However, some chips are better than others, either in quality of control
steps, or in the addition of other functions (lights, auto-couplings, sound,
Chipping N gauge is not an issue, except for a few older designs from Farish
(where the brush gear has to be isolated from the chassis). Even then, the
problems can be easily overcome, and there are commercial solutions for the
Some older designs will require some hacking inside the body/chassis to
create enough clearance for the chip. However, your postings to date
suggest an interest in German/Swiss prototypes; in those cases the makers
have been adding digital compatibility for a lot longer than the UK market.
One or two very tiny models might cause some head-scratching to fit a chip,
though I am certain it can be done.
The smallest chips are from either CT-Electronik or Digitrax (who have a new
very small chip, arguably smaller than the CT-Electronic DCX74).
This would be wise.
Because its rarely mentioned in the circles I frequent. A whole list of
makers tends to be mentioned well before Hornby. So it goes into the "list
of others" and "some other maker's handsets work if they support those
Having quickly read the makers specs, it looks to be quite good value. I
would need to spend more time reading the specs and understanding its
operation before commenting further.
( Hornby also have a reputation of some digital products, both chips and
controllers, not meeting DCC standards. The Elite may well meet the
standards, but the "not really standards compliant" damage extends a long
where theres little or no use for extra functions during normal operating
its just the same as using a dual track DC controller although with the
control benefits of DCC.
Hornby have an unfair reputation on DCC, they produced something for a
particular set of customers and were slammed because others decided it
should be what they wanted instead.
Well done for checking the spec for yourself - wish more people did !
Hornby's stand at the Warley / NEC Show last weekend displayed a large
poster for the Elite which proudly showed the NMRA Conformance logo.
Apparently they do not intend to blow their trumpet about this until the
NMRA's website list has been updated to include Hornby, thereby avoiding
unnecessary correspondence on the subject.
Their is further evidence of the damage Hornby do to their reputation by the
release of sub-standard products in the latest ScaleFour News, which dropped
onto my doormat yesterday.
A very well known P4 modeller and very regular contributor to the magazine
has a Hornby 08, converted to P4 track standards, and tried to fit it with a
Hornby chip sold for the purpose; this being a "DCC ready loco" and the
Hornby recommended chip.
A long tale of problems because the chip can't reveal its settings to his
Lenz controller, so is unable to set the settings. Various correspondance
with Hornby gets half an answer. Chip eventually running acceptably via a
degree of guesswork until loco shorts out on a crossing (driver error).
Would expect that correcting the short and restarting would work, no the
loco has lost _all_ of its settings. Paraphrasing the end of the several
page article "this Hornby product does not appear to meet the intentions of
DCC interworking between makers and should be withdrawn.... I (the author)
will be very unlikely to buy another Hornby digital product".
My observation is that the author would not have had these problems with
(most) other maker's chips, that its unreasonable to expect the customer to
distinguish between products which "work correctly with other makers" and
"don't really interwork" within a single range, and that the reputation
damage now extends to the entire range, however unjust that may be.
Ever since Triang-Hornby, Hornby have a history of shooting themselves
in the foot. Remember those awful "Continental" plastic wodges they
tried to sell in Canada? What were they thinking????
Their basic problem IMO is twofold:
a)They don't pay enough attention to their competitors' products; and
b)they haven't understood that both the toys and the serious models must
be made to the same high electrical and mechanical standard. The only
difference between the toys and the models should be simplified and more
robust body moldings, locomotive motion, etc, for the toys. Mechanically
and electrically they should be the same.
My 2 cents worth. (That's 1p in your money.)
But despite the above (or becuase of it?), they have survived while
every one of their UK competetors has failed. There's an awful lot
of companies who would like to be in that position!
Well, Hornby's corporate history is such a tangle, that one would be
hard put to say that Hornby as such has survived. The name/trademark is
still with us, and the present owners are doing a reasonable job trying
to adapt to a shifting market. But every now and then they make a
grievous mistake, as with a DCC product that is simply not good enough.
Not even for the toy train market.
What competitors are you thinking of? If you're thinking Triang and
Wrenn, for example, keep in mind that both of these acquired the Hornby
mark. But the Hornby mystique didn't save them, and their marketing
errors actually harmed the mark. I note that Hornby is marketing
Rivarossi here in N. America. I'm not sure they will succeed - Americans
have a long memory for junk.
The Hornby mark has survived mostly because of toy trains and related
items, which was a large market in the past, and in which had a
deservedly good reputation: there are many who like me can recall when
Hornby clockwork set up to run all over the garden. That reputation is
helping present day Hornby, but you can' rely on a good reputation if
you keep making silly mistakes. In my eyes, Hornby lost its good
reputation a long time ago.
That being said, I don't reject Hornby out of hand. I bought an Oliver a
few years ago, when my grandchildren were still in the Thomas phase.
Good proportions. It's a nice little runner under the Christmas tree,
but a bit noisy. The traction tire doesn't fit properly, so that the
engine tips forward or backward, which affects its electrical pickup. If
I were to run this on my layout, I'd have to reduce the wheel flanges
and adjust the back to back, as well as removing the traction tire and
filling the groove with epoxy. 6/10 overall by my standards.
The Zero One system was quite well regarded at the time maybe a bit
crude by todays standards but ahead of the other manufacturers. I think
it sold quite well in the US as they made a US version. Maybee they
rushed into DCC as they are still playing catchup with Bachmann their
main UK competitor and a few things get missed to meet deadlines. Look
at the problems with early versions of the first generation Apple iPod
Nano's for instance.
dont know the person concerned.
But of course I will, even at the risk of getting flamed.
He seems to be a bit emotional, may not be very capable with DCC, may not
have read the product info fully - or not understood it, may have had a bad
day - and lots of other things.
I am more inclined to listen to a number of persons to get a more balenced
view, add that to my own experiences, consider my own requirements and
expectations and finally make my own judgment.
There are good and not so good products in the same line from many
manufacturers (and distributors). Sometimes I wait for a revision of a
product and sometimes accept the good and bad from the current version.
On another point if this person is writing a letter to the magazine as an
individual then thats good that he should do so.However any reviewer or
regular contributor that writes of his own oneoff personal experience using
his capacity as a reviewer or contributor then I wonder if he is not abusing
that special position.
The current Hornby is actually Triang, the "real" Hornby diasppeared
years ago. Although Triang/Triang-Hornby has been through a lot of
name changes (Rovex etc), the Margate site is still in effect the
original Triang for practical purposes, in as much as any company
is "the same" over such a time period.
I'm surprised you say Rivarossi are junk - not my cup of tea but
I was always under the impression they were quite good. I don't see
a change of ownership having any immediate effect. As for Jouef,
Lima and Arnold that Hornby also own I couldn't say, not being
into 00 any more.
Hornby have made mistakes certainly, as has everyone else, but they
have also innovated (Zero 1), and, as I say, kept going when the
others have failed, and that means they must have made a lot more
right descisions than wrong, even if some choices may seem a bit
bizarre to the customers.
The Hornby Thomas isn't intended to run on your layout, and I'd
bet is made to a tight budget as a childs toy for resale at a particular
price that the market will stand, so there shouldn't be any surprises
there. I doubt Hornby ever envisaged anyone wanting to do that!
Unfortunatley most Christmas present train sets just end up as
land-fill, rarely, if at all, used.
has some of the history from the point-of-view of other endeavours -
TT and Hornby-00 - somewhere on the web is a pretty complete corporate
history, but as ever I can't find it when I need it! ;-)
Hornby may not be perfect, but had they gone bust I suspect the UK
model railway scene would be a good deal smaller without them. If you
look at UK on-line toy shops (I've been looking for airbrushes!)
the number that are Hornby only tells you a lot about the UK model
railway market outside the "enthusiast" circles. In the UK
Hornby = Train Sets to most of the general public. I bet if I did
a staw poll of customers today they would all know Hornby, very, very
few would know Bachmann (I'd never heard of them until I got back into
modelling about 6 months ago) and the rest would be a complete unknown.
In fairness, I should say that that is lot to do with, in the most part,
of the very few high-street model shops that remain, most only stock
Hornby and even that rarely makes the shop window.
I think it's important to remember, as Hornby have done with the
"Railroad" series, that there are two almost completely seperate
markets - the "enthusiasts" and the public, and the two are for
the most part disjointed. The formet has completely different
expectation to the latter.
I have no idea what goes on outside the UK/EU, but I suspect that
Hornby, from their rather painful previous experiences, regard
sales of the Hornby brand as something of a bonus and have, sensibly,
decided that to get into oversea markets the best idea is to buy
a competetor that already has the expertise there.
Somewhat tounge in cheek - on past performance Hornby will own
Bachmann in about 3 years time ;-)
First, thanks for reminding me that present-day Hornby is actually
Triang. That explains a lot.
When Rivarossi was first sold in N. America, it was state of the art in
quality of the molding, scale accuracy, and fidelity to prototype --
except for the wheels. They used deep-flanged wheels, which just barely
managed to run on code 100 track, with some bumping through switches
(points.) Those deep flanges also forced the use of smaller wheels than
protopype, which made the Big Boys look weird, to put it mildly. The
mechanisms were not very good, using pancake motors and cheap gears that
didn't last very long. I bought two locomotives, and turned down the
flanges on both of them. Both locomotives are now stored in a box
somewhere. I also replaced the wheels on all Rivarossi rolling stock.
Then competitors caught up in quality, Rivarossi improved the mechanisms
a little, but persisted in using those horrible wheels. Sales,
deservedly IMO, fell, and the loss of the N. American market was cited
as one of the factors in its first bankruptcy. Eventually, a bankruptcy
or two later, Rivarossi in partnership with Walthers reissued its
locomotives and rolling stock with RP25 wheels, better mechanisms, and
upgraded details, etc. This apparently wasn't enough - bad reputations
die hard over here - and Rivarossi went bankrupt again (for the 3rd or
4th time - I've lost count.) Also, by that time Rivarossi was part of
Lima or vice versa, and Lima has an even worse rep than Rivarossi.
Lima-Rivarossi is the business that Hornby acquired AIUI.
Sure, Rivarossi made a good product in its time, but with fatal flaws
that it would not correct. In N. America it doesn't take long for a
manufacturer to get a bad rep, and it takes forever for it regain a good
one. In the meantime, other manufacturers have equalled and surpassed
Rivarossi, and at lower prices besides. It will take Rivarossi a long
time to regain market share, but I'm not betting on it. Hornby is
reissuing the Rivarossi 60ft passenger cars. The pictures indicate that
they are the original Rivarossi cars with interiors. I have always liked
Rivarossi's passenger cars. But they have been superseded, and at $35,
the price-quality ratio is not good enough IMO.
BTW, I just went to hornby-usa.com. Not a well-designed site. Under
'Dealers', I'm invited to search. That's silly. An ordered list with
hyperlinks to subsections is easier to search. I also checked Hornby
International's website. It's outdated (the 'news' date is 2005!), and
when I searched for a product, I got an error message. Not good for
Often when looking for Tri-ang on the net you need to put the hyphen
in the name.
The site at
is about the ride on garden
Rovex/ Tri-ang/ and successors as you say have never been shy to try
new endeavors even though their long term financial success must have
been questionable . The live Steam sets possibly being the latest
example of this. Second bite of the cherry at live steam as well.
ISTR that the live steam 3 1/2" Rocket may not have been alone in the
range if it had sold well.
Cannot actually think of another volume manufacturer trying so many
different scales over its history.
OO ,H0, TT3, 10 and 1/4" 3 and 1/2" N (in conjunction with
Minitrix) plus push alongs and gimmicks like the vibrating train set
found which can be found from the links above.
They did take over the busted Hornby and split the assets with Wrenn who
continued to make the Hornby-Dublo range until a few years ago. But as
you say their ancestry comes from the Rovex Triang linage than Hornby.
Interesting, What products did they/do they make in OO and is that UK
OO or US 19mm gauge OO? . Om and O surely class as the same scale
don't they? with the gauge to suit the prototype modelled.
Maerklin certainly in the scales it has produced in recent times
from 1 down to Z must be credited with some consistency in that it has
provided enough equipment in the various sizes to have some variety.
Without studying any catalogues I do not know if any items appear in
every scale they make but there must be some ,and that must have the
benefit that some costs of scaling down a prototype to a model is
mainly covered by say the HO one and others can adapted from that.
Rovex/Tri-ang only had that really for the OO/HO and TT systems.
The others tending to be one offs.
ISTR that some Tri-ang items were sold in both OO and TT ranges
the item being the same one. The Colour light signal was an example.
Caused some embarrassment to my mother as I got given one for my 10th
birthday and having seen the yellow side of the box with TT on said
it was wrong for my OO.She swiftly removed it from my grasp and
eventually took it back to the shop, whereupon the nice man with a
pipe and jacket on the train counter pointed that the other parts of
the box were red and had OO on them.