A further review, again of a recent Hornby locomotive.
Hornby Urie N15 King Arthur -class ‘Excalibur’ (R2580)
Built to haul the heavy express trains to and from the ports served by the LSWR, the Urie-designed N15 two-cylinder 4-6-0 locomotive was a development of the smaller H15. The class eventually numbered 74 locomotives, built in batches from 1918 to 1926, and they were much-modified throughout their lives, with Urie’s original design being altered first by Maunsell and later by Bulleid.
The Hornby model of the N15 first appeared in 2006 as part of thcompany’s continuing rehabilitation of Southern Region modelling. It complements the same company’s M7, West Country, Merchant Navy, T9 and, most recently, Schools class locomotives. It is perhaps the very best of them all.
This model, 736 ‘Excalibur’ (R2580), represents the pathfinder for the class, the first one built in August 1918 to Urie’s design. It features a 5,200-gallon tender of the Urie’s eight-wheeled bogie type. The locomotive is DCC ready, with DCC-fitted versions available. It is locomotive-driven, with electrical pick-up on all 18 wheels. This makes for superb control, excellent slow-speed running, and smooth transitions even of ladders of insulfrog points. The motor is Hornby’s current favoured 5-pole skew-wound type, and it is both powerful and quiet. The model locomotive, like the prototype, is equally comfortable on long rakes of wagons or long rakes of coaches – it looks particularly good with Hornby’s new Pullmans or olive-green Maunsells.
This model features slim tension-lock couplings in NEM pockets both on the locomotive and on the tender, facilitating easy replacement with alternative couplings should that be the modeller’s choice. It also come with a ‘goody bag’ of detailing parts, including brake rigging and blast pipes, although owners of train-set type layouts should be aware that adding the pipes restricts the movement of the leading bogie, rendering it incapable of traversing 2nd-radius curves (and giving it difficulty with 3rd-radius curves too). Furthermore, the bogie is fixed to the frame with a bolt through the centre of the bogie (unlike the older Hornby design whereby the bogie was affixed to a swing arm), giving it relatively little vertical play: this locomotive will not run onto Hornby’s turntable without derailing, unless the turntable is sunk into the layout baseboard to reduce the gradient transition.
The livery of this model is second to none – the olive green being beautifully lustrous, and the lettering and lining crisply and perfectly applied. The interior cab detail is, frankly, astonishing, and at the time of its first release was probably the best of any 00 gauge model available. (Arguably it still is, although my personal opinion is that the T9 and Schools are fractionally better).
Other versions of this model are available, in BR green, with Maunsell-style cabs, with six-wheel tenders, weathered, or any combination thereof. This model is indispensable to anyone modelling the Southern Railway or Southern Region BR, and frankly one need not look hard for an excuse to buy one. This is probably the single finest 4-6-0 model available on the market today, and probably the best model of any type available for less than £100.
Overall Rating: 10/10