New Computer

What’s that got to with Hornby Dublo?

Well I need a computer to write this and you need a computer to read it so I just thought that I would add some thoughts on my new one.

I had my first laptop in 1992, a Toshiba T 1200, which had 2 floppy disks one for the programme and one for the data. Many happy hours with Lotus 123 and Wordperfect as this was a business machine and no games were ever played on it. The most excitement was a programme called Sideways which enabled Lotus 123 to go sideways (Landscape) and thus allow more columns.

It started with MS DOS and progressed through all of the Windows programmes as each laptop was replaced with another. I have always had laptops not just because they are portable but because there is not a myriad of wires and connections – all so simple and  easy to set up.

Now retired I am in my home office and a laptop was not essential so I decided to go for a big screen All in One. I have never been into Apple although most of my family are so decided to stick with Windows but the one essential was a matte screen. My home office is a small conservatory type room with full glass on 3 sides and the reflections on a glossy screen are unacceptable and if I have a big screen I want to look at it not touch it so a mouse and keyboard is fine with me.

But to find an AIO with a matte screen. Rule out all of the iMacs (they will run Windows), rule out all with touch screens as these have an extra layer of glass for the touch making them very susceptible to glare and there is not many left. In the end I chose an MSI 24 inch All In One with a matte screen. The screen is full HD and full matte and has already proven its worth with bright winter sun not giving any problems – Winner.

Its fast, i7 processor, 128 GB SSD and 1TB HDD and a separate graphics chip for excellent iPlayer and You Tube watching but it came with Windows 8 which I was nervous about.

It is currently running W 8.1 Update 1 and with a few tweaks (easily available from websites) it is in my opinion better than the W7 which was and still is running on the old laptop which has been set up in the railway shed. So if you are a mouse person rather than touch don’t be afraid of Windows 8 just make sure that it has all of the updates and you will be totally at home and you never even have to see the Metro screen.

And my dublo pictures look really good an a big screen in full HD.




Stanier 2-6-4T

Initial running of this loco was fairly slow. Oiling etc did not improve matters much and the amps needle on the controller was showing 0.9 amps – too high for HD.

But I have done some more running and the amps are now down to 0.4 – much better – surely this is not a new loco being run in after some 50 odd years, possible as the pickups on the loco look very clean and little sign of running. Speed and pulling power is improving as well. A good addition to the fleet.

Picture of the 2 cylinder Stanier with the 3 cylinder version both by Wills Finecast on a HD chassis. The dreadful pink lining has been removedIMG_3308

Bo-Bo running problem

Thanks to Ron Dodd’s videos I am taking more interest in the mechanical side of my engines. I had a poor running Bo-Bo which on investigation seemed to need new brushes as they were very worn. New brushes were fitted nothing else was touched.

On test, upside down with crocodile clips attached to the pick up and earth it ran smoothly. I let it run for about 10 minutes to bed in the new brushes.

Put it on a straight bit of track and off it went but stopped dead at the first curve, push it and it starts but stops almost immediately. Pushing it around the half circle it came to the straight and off it went but after about 4 lengths it stopped again. Reversing the direction of the engine made no difference. Pick ups were cleaned including the inner sliding mech with a cotton bud and neither seem to be sticking at all.

All wiring checked and the earth was resoldered as it looked flimsy. Engine still runs without any problems on test bed.

There is no sparking that I can see when the engine stops.

As explained when on test upside down the engine runs perfectly but won’t run on the track around curves or even on some straight bits.

I set up a small test track with two curves and a straight. Cleaned the track and checked it with an N2 – track OK. Then the Bo-Bo stutters then stops. I left the front bogie on the track with its pick up and lifted the rear bogie to the side of the track and it ran well but when I moved the front bogie a little it stopped.

My theory is that the insulating washer on the front pick up which is very loose and when the bogie moves it produces a dead short as the pick up washer touches the chassis. So I need to remove the pickup and replace the washer although I will have to make one up from some plastic. The questions are – is this likely and how do I remove the plunger pick up to replace the washer? Is it in Ron’s videos?

This theory explains the upside down running as the insulating washer and the connector would not be able to touch the chassis.

More testing has indicated that my pet theory might well be wrong.

Engine on track, controller on – no movement. With screw driver put pressure on front bogie pick up piston – motor starts running. Take pressure off motor stops.

Seems that the pickup is not making contact with the third rail. Might still have to dismantle the pick up but will try cleaning etc.

White spirit and a cotton bud cleaned the pickups and they now drop down the full extent.

I then remembered that I had fitted a Neo magnet as well as new brushes. If things can be put in 2 ways I usually choose the wrong way first. So the Neo was taken out and turned round – it looked square to me but I turned it round anyway.

Net result is that the engine can now complete a circuit of the track without stopping. What was the Neo doing to make it keep stopping? It was one that was specially supplied for a Bo-Bo.

Final conclusion after all this work, including new tyres is that the engine runs no better than before and still hesitates occasionally just as before.

Put it down to experience


Stanier 2-6-4T

Recently purchased on ebay.

A 2-6-4T with a Stanier body rather than a 4MT. It is an exact fit for for the HD chassis. The body had been badly treated with an unsteady hand and pink? lining. The numbers and LMS seem to be complete stickers rather than transfers as per LHP productions. Any idea who made this body?


So off came the body for remedial work. It then become perhaps more interesting. The chassis is stamped Hornby Dublo and the couplings have the patent number on them so it is a genuine HD chassis but what is that strange way of holding the motion.


Although I presume that a previous owner was keen on black paint and painted the magnet and the screw holding it in matte black, the motion holder is gloss and even has a small white piece of insulation to stop the pick up wires from shorting on it. The rest seems to be standard HD

I have posted this on the HRCA site under Neverwazzas to try and find out who made the body. The initial discussion is about the Wills Finecast Kit 3 cylinder Stanier locomotive on a EDL18 chassis. I have 2 of them but this is a completely different body.

With a bit of research and a troll through the HRCA Collector archives I have sold the conundrum of the body – it is a Wills Finecast kit of a 2 cylinder Stanier tank made to fit an HD 2-6-4T chassis and came without coal as my one did.

The modified chassis remains a mystery


Slow Start Video

Some time ago Ron Dodds asked me to take a video of slow running with my new controller. The arrival of the boy and his new DSLR which takes videos unlike the old one he passed onto me which doesn’t. So here is a slow start up of a double headed oil train and a local passenger train. Probably more to come if this works. Not yet ready for YouTube but its a start.

Well it would seem that I can’t post it directly on this website so I have posted it here

It needs some editing but that’s for laters


New Photos

The boy was here over Christmas with his new camera so here are some pictures.

The first is a Wrenn unrebuilt Bullied Pacific, the second is a Maerklin Pacific showing through the trees and the last actually has some HD locos with Dorchester and Mallard but with a Hornby Schools Class as an intruder.






Why does the layout always look a mess when you take a picture but which you don’t notice before you take the picture.



Hornby Dublo Maintenance

I often have requests on maintaining HD locos and another was received very recently. Ron Dodds has produced a series of videos on Youtube which explains how to do just about everything you need to know to service and repair your locos. The videos have been mentioned on the posts before but now I have added links to each video in the Links section to make it easier to watch the video on the subject you need.

These are the most useful videos for anyone running HD 3 rail and so much better than words and diagrams as you can work whilst you watch pausing the video at the critical times.


New Pictures

For his significant birthday we bought the boy a new camera, body only and that was expensive, his lady bought the lenses and in return I got his old camera and some lenses plus a tripod. I have never had a dslr before so it was time to take some photos of the layout.

My first efforts are below, I need time to get used to the camera but at least they are in focus. Click on the picture to view it full size.

I think that there will be more posts like this as I play with my new toy.







Wrenn Bulleid Pacific with Trix coaches
Wrenn Bulleid Pacific with Trix coaches


September Update

GWR Running
GWR Running

Just thought that I would post a few pictures and update the latest activity.

The first picture is of a GWR scene features in the foreground a Graham Farish large Prairie. I have had this for a while but its always been an indifferent runner if it ran at all. I finally traced the problem to the commutator segments being filled with dirt and crud. A fine toothpick to clean out the grooves worked a treat and now its a reliable runner but not all that fast. The middle loco is a Gaiety body on a HD 0-6-0T chassis which has been 3 railed. The rear loco is another Graham Farish but this time an 0-6-0T.

Probably my favourite HD loco is the 2-6-4T and I have many variants on this theme. On ebay I spotted a repainted one renumbered as 80098 which is one that is currently awaiting overhaul at the Midland Railway after a long service on the railway. I won it with a low bid and when it arrived was mostly disappointed as the chassis was really rough with the wheels not being in gauge, the motion was broken on one side and it was a pretty grim runner. The repaint though was not at all bad despite the number on one side being a bit wonky. I worked on it and got it to run OK but was not really happy so I started looking for a chassis for it. Well that got me bidding on the low side for complete engines. Most I lost as I wasn’t prepared to go very high. But I did win an 80054 which was in good condition and ran well so I just added it to the collection. Then came another repaint this time in blue (Caledonian Blue?) and I won that at an even lower price. The blurb stated that it needed a repaint but that it ran well. In fact the paint job is not bad at all but it had no handrails and no numbers. The handrails have been added from an old body and I think that it looks OK and has been added to the fleet. 80098 remains as it was still running but without its replacement chassis. I had better stop bidding for complete locos unless the body is a basket case.

80098 with it unnumbered sister engine
80098 with it unnumbered sister engine

The pictures shows 80098 with its broken running gear alongside the blue version

There is a similar story with a Bo-Bo. Sometime ago I won a Playcraft Class 29 diesel which had been fitted with a Bo-Bo chassis. Now Playcraft is HO but in fact this fitted in well with the other diesels and was added to the fleet. It had been repainted with full yellow ends and with the Bo-Bo chassis runs very well and pulls 4  or 5 coaches with ease. When I won this it came with a “free” original Class 29 in two rail in original condition. So look for a chassis and fit it under this one as 3 railing it looked difficult. Now ebay people like to break up locos and sell body and chassis separately but with the aim of getting more for it than fo the complete engine. So lots of low bids on complete engines with most being lost but one came up. Low price nice repaint of a Wrenn body but the chassis is very noisy. I have got it running as best as I can but do I put the chassis under the Class 29? Currently its added to the Bo-Bo fleet.




Rolls Royce of Controllers

I started my 3 rail layout with 3 small ovals and 3 HD A3 controllers which worked fine. There was a great deal of correspondence on the web and the HRCA that these controllers should be handled with care as the mains leads could perish and cause problems with the controllers with the fabric covered mains leads being the most vulnerable. I added a mains trip.

When I started my extensions to two of the lines I switched to an H&M Duette being slightly newer but still behind the mains trip. This did not last that long before it had problems and this was changed to two H&M Clippers. These have the added advantage of being 12V and 1.5 amps allowing a little more oomph for some of the engines.

Over the years I have kept with these but they gave up fairly regularly and as they are sealed with rivets not screws I have been reluctant to delve inside. This came to a head over the last winter when one failed early on, was replaced and this one failed as well after a few months. Time to break out of the circle.

So to the Rolls Royce version. Why Rolls Royce – it does what any controller does, controls the trains, but it does it in an immaculate fashion, it’s hand built to order and its a work of art as well as totally functional. oh and by the way its expensive.  I never thought that HD trains did slow running but with this controller they will crawl very realistically. It has enough power 15V and 3 Amps to run the most reluctant of engines and with the separate amp and volt meters it is also possible to gauge the health of the engines by the amps they are pulling whilst running.

The controller is made by Allister Hughes of Superneomagnets  and although I always buy IMG_3108my magnets off him I have no other connection except as a very satisfied customer. We spend lots of money on engines and rolling stock and use very old controllers because we know no better. Now having a modern one I have smooth performance, excellent slow running and more power than I know what to do with. The transformation of the running experience is huge I just wish that I had bit the bullet before. It has a separate transformer which I have tucked away behind the control panel. I also ordered the optional hand controllers so that I can shunt in the sidings on both lines – very convenient.


IMG_3111It is very interesting that so far experimenting with some of my engines the Triang Winston Churchill pulls nearly 1 amp when pulling 3 coaches whereas most HD engines are below .25 amps when pulling normal trains. The 8F, which has always been a slow runner, shows that it needs some 13- 14 volts to run at normal speeds. All very interesting but not really sure what it means but you can never have too much information.

Now what do I do with the three ancient Marklin controllers and the A3 controller which still manages the small oval?