On the lookout for decent, cheap 00 scale models, I came across a Hornby GNR J13. At first glance it was obvious that it was streets ahead of the J83 so decided to give it a go, so here is it’s review!
Class: LNER J52 (GNR class J13)
Region: North Eastern
Era: 1897 – 1961
J52 No. 68846 (GNR No. 1247) – National Railway Museum
Motor: Type 7 motor
DCC options: None or DCC fitted – click here for DCC fitting guide for DC versions.
This is a model in it’s thirties now, but at least it has some basic details including (chunky) handrails, a cab backhead (with no details picked out), cab glazing and even some moulded rivets around the smokebox and chimney base. As with many elderly Hornby models, the moulded cosmetic coupling hook is an ugly lump of red plastic. Overall it’s not terrible on top, but the chassis is poor and lacks detail under the boiler, plus of course it has no lamp irons or the prototype’s distinctive railings on the frames.
As with all Hornby models that use the type 7 motor chassis, the model has some compromises, particularly having too long a wheel base. The chimney is too high, there’s no detail under the boiler (in fact there’s no gap under the boiler at all). That said, it captures the character well and is one of Hornby’s better efforts from it’s Railroad generic 0-6-0 range. Mainly Trains produce replacement chassis/body/complete kit to improve the model considerably.
The livery of the lined GNR examples is simplified but very nicely done. The model has legible worksplates too, which is a nice touch. LNER/BR versions are less ornate but pretty decent nevertheless.
The type 7 motor has been around for ages, as has the chassis, which is also used for the 2721 class pannier tank, J83, Jinty, Thomas the Tank Engine/E2 and Railroad class 08 diesel shunter. My experiences of this chassis in the past have been mixed, but it has to be said that Hornby have done a good job in improving it over the years. That said, do test your model if you can, as the quality is still a little variable. It isn’t the most smooth or quiet chassis, nor is it the most rough or noisy. Pick-ups are good too – so not bad all round for a cheap chassis.
As with the Hornby Jinty and J83, this model’s power doesn’t quite live up to the prototype’s. It just about copes with four bogey carriages on tight 2nd radius corners – which is probably more than enough power for most of us. Non-DCC versions have space in the smokebox area where a weight can be added, which helps a lot.
Massive tension lock coupling ‘s set the low-spec tone. Unlike Bachmann 0-6-0 Junior Models; basic versions are not DCC ready, although DCC fitted versions are around. If you are happy to use a soldering iron, DCC Conversion is not too tough (click here for guide). It does have a cab (unlike Bachmann equivalents), glazed windows and handrails, plus a nice finish.
This model can be relatively expensive and some retailers sell new boxed DCC fitted versions for £44, which (at that price) are best avoided. It costs a little more than the Hornby Jinty, but unlike the Jinty it doesn’t have a better ready-to-run version available elsewhere to drive sown the prices. GNR examples tend to command slightly higher prices, both new and used, but this is fairly justified as they do look very good. Fortunately second hand versions are common, as are unboxed new ex-train-set models and if you shop-around you can find a bargain. If you buy secondhand, go for a China-made version – the finish is a little better and chassis generally less variable.
Cheap and cheerful, this model stands on level ground with the Hornby Jinty and 2721 open pannier tank and is thankfully streets ahead of the terrible J83! Although it is slightly nicer than the Hornby Jinty, it costs a little more too. It’s one of the better budget 0-6-0 tank engine models, but it pays to shop around to get one for a good price and as with all Hornby 0-6-0 generic tank engine’s, check that it’s a good performer, if you can. It’s a good model for beginners and scores a fairly solid three out of five.
Detailometer 3, Outlineometer 3, Finishometer 4, Motorometer 3.5, Powerometer 3, Specometer 2.5, Valueometer 4, Locoyardometer 3.3
Do not forget to check out the many over model steam locomotive reviews that can be found here.