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Back in Black: Hornby L1
British Railway Modelling

Back in Black: Hornby L1

Posted Thursday, July 2, 2015   |   2066 views   |   Hobbies & Crafts   |   Comments (0) Tony Wright looks at the latest version of this superb LNER tank locomotive.

I gave this outstanding model a full review in December 2010 BRM when it fi rst appeared late in 2010. Over the last few years several versions have appeared, covering just about every variation. These have included original as-built in LNER apple green through to the contract-built locomotives with their open front foot plating and plate steps.

Outstanding attention to detail has included, as appropriate, open front steps, Westinghouse pump, ‘limousine’ cab doors (to obviate draughts), destination board brackets and the plate covering the top of the firebox. Thus, as far as I can tell, just about every variation has been covered by the numerous models.

This latest one represents No. 67777, built by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns in January 1950. It’s provided with a cover plate on the fi rebox (a feature of the North British-built L1s), but these boilers were moved around during shoppings. No. 67777 received a boiler with one between April 1954 and September 1955, which makes this model exactly right for this period – shedded at 51A (Darlington) and carrying the early style of BR emblem. Correctly, the limousine cab doors are not fitted, for these came later. There is a splendid photograph on the back of the model’s packaging displaying all the characteristics mentioned – except the real locomotive is fi lthy and shows signs of a heavy shunt at the front. There’s also a potted history of the class in general and a specific one for No. 67777, the only fault being that, though it’s stated correctly it was withdrawn from Ardsley at the end of 1962, by the early 1960s the code for that depot was 56B, not 37A.
Everything I’ve stated about this model previously can be repeated. It really is exceptional – the only thing missing being the tiny conduit on the right-hand side of the smokebox and the step below the buffer on the left-hand side at the rear. The cab ventilators move, two cinder guards are fitted to the cabsides both sides (for forward and backward running) and all the electric lighting equipment is displayed. Buffers are sprung, and the cab detail, though almost invisible, is incredible. The list goes on and on!

The differences in finish between this model and what has gone before are worth highlighting. The rendition of the lining is subtly different from the original BR black version of over three years ago. The boiler bands are less uniform in their red/red application and the red lining band on tankside/bunkerside/footplate is much less prominent. Indeed, it only shows up in my photographs. However, the bunkerside numbers are now the correct size, the earlier ones were a bit small.

The chassis is slightly different too, inasmuch as the return crank on this model leans the wrong way (backwards) both sides. When I tried to run it, it was very jerky, mainly because the motion resulted in a bit of (almost) locking up. I undid the bolts holding the cranks and moved them to the correct position, re-tightening as necessary. The result - much better running, though running-in will improve matters further. The illustration of the model on the packaging has the crank position wrong, but I don’t know if earlier pictures did the same. Certainly, I cannot recall having to alter the cranks on the earlier models. All the above, livery and chassis differences indicates that a different factory is now being used.

There are the usual extra bits and pieces for the user to fit. As usual, these didn’t fit and holes for cylinder drain cocks and bufferbeam standpipes had to be enlarged. The brake rigging is a real fight to fit as well and I had visions of damage being caused through excessive pliers force.

So, do look out for those odd-fitting cranks (though other examples might work perfectly) and take care when adding the extras. All that said, this is still an absolutely outstanding model. Yes, the price has gone up but it still has all the ‘bells and whistles’. In a way, does it represent the end of an era with regard to all that detail at a reasonable price? Thoroughly recommended.

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About British Railway Modelling

British Railway Modelling - the quality monthly model railway magazine. Established in 1993, British Railway Modelling (BRM) magazine provides exceptional coverage of the UK model railway hobby. We cover all eras and scales, giving readers quality content with superb photography. BRM is the ‘go to’ source for all news, events and developments in the hobby, keeping you abreast with innovations and modelling techniques.

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