…And back to Hornby again, this time to look at something a bit more recently released.
Hornby Drummond T9 ‘Greyhound’ (R2690)
Introduced in 1899, Dugald Drummond’s T9 was designed for express passenger work on the LSWR lines in the South-West of England. The inside-cylinder 4-4-0 was an immediate success, living up to the confidence that had had 50 ordered straight from the drawing board without waiting for testing.
Happily, Hornby’s model also lives up to the hype surrounding it. Seemingly the most anticipated model of 2008, the Hornby T9 finally appeared at the end of the year, with the last model of the 2008 catalogue appearing at the end of the first quarter of 2009. It continues Hornby’s attempts to cater for the Southern Railway / Southern Region market, and it is an exceptional model.
This version (R2690) was produced in association with the National Railway Museum, as No. 120 is preserved as part of the National Collection. Although it is not in steaming condition at the moment, the model nevertheless depicts it in its current guise of SR olive green.
Hornby’s olive green is rich and is perfectly applied, as is the lettering and the lining. One nice touch is the representation of the red-painted inside cylinders, just visible under the boiler. As far as I know this is the only such feature visible on any RTR locomotive. The cab is almost unbelievably detailed, with gauges legible under a glass. The boiler is metal, rather than plastic, as Hornby had to concentrate as much weight as possible in the locomotive. This slim 4-4-0 is locomotive-driven – an astonishing achievement, of which Hornby should be rightly proud: 4-4-0 models, just like the real thing, are notoriously difficult to balance properly. Nevertheless, the T9 model contains a powerful and responsive 5-pole motor, realistically geared. The model also boasts phenomenal haulage power, due to Hornby’s decision to add traction tyres to the leading driving wheels. This decision was apparently made at a late stage in the design process, and seems to have been responsible for the model’s delay in appearing in shops. The tyre itself is not obvious, and according to some reports gives the T9 a phenomenal haulage capacity – 25 coaches, far more than the prototype ever had to deal with.
The addition of a traction tyre electrically isolates the wheel on which it is fitted, but the T9, as is standard Hornby practice, has electrical pick-ups fitted to the tender. However, unlike standard Hornby practice, the power is transferred through a small ‘plug’ as is sometimes found in computing and electronic devices. This is because, due to the minimal space within the locomotive body, the chip for DCC operations is fitted within the tender. All T9 models, incidentally, are DCC ready, with a DCC-fitted version of each model available. The plug is difficult to fit in, and the tender drawbar seems flimsy – although it offers adjustable coupling lengths, it also seems as though a single knock could break it entirely. In fact the model is covered with easily-broken detailing parts, and while Hornby is to be commended for their attention to detail the owner of the model needs to be careful when handling it. Couplings are of the slim tension-lock type in NEM pockets front and rear, although for modellers not intending to run their T9s tender-first there are a mass of detailing parts provided for the front buffer beam.
The tender is an excellent model in its own right, with both a 6-wheel and an 8-wheel watercart version available. The 8-wheel variant is particularly attractive, with the delicate spoked wheels on full display unobscured by the frames. Thus far, however, the NRM locomotive is the only one to feature the watercart in olive green. The locomotives, under BR ownership, were painted black. Unusually some of them ran with no logo visible at all, and these locomotives have been represented in Hornby’s range as well.
The T9 is beautiful model of a truly old-fashioned engine, a design both elegant and belonging to another age. As well as adding character to any Southern layout, it makes a refreshing change from the large number of pacifics and standards now on the market. But for the traction tyre and tender coupling design, this model would have received perfect marks.
Overall Rating: 9/10