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Hornby Hobbies online and 7036 Taunton Castle – and the rear sandbox.

Silver Sidelines


There has been some correspondence of late about Hornby Hobbies online shop on eBay. Certainly their prices can be enticing and in some cases the longer you wait the lower the asking price.

Never mind I would investigate further and I bought R2986 “A Date with the Duchy”. It was cheap because 'the packaging was damaged’ and the whole set was on offer for less than you might expect to pay just for the engine.


“A Date with the Duchy” set number two.

The set arrived very well packed. However whilst the coaches looked untouched, the tissue paper around the engine was ripped where the locomotive had been taken out and run, confirmed by the black marks beneath the driving wheels. The metal packing pieces to hold the engine in place were missing (discovered later beneath one of the coaches), as were the two fixing screws used to hold the keeper plate in place. Without the fixing screws the engine did not want to run properly and without the packing pieces the engine had been free to bounce around inside the box and the smoke box dart was damaged. Hornby were very quick to respond to my concerns and the set was parcelled up and sent back for a replacement.


“A Date with the Duchy” set number two.

The packaging for set number two was as good as the boxes of other new items that come through the post. Again the coaches looked untouched whilst the engine had obviously been removed. This time the packing pieces were present and correct, although I think the screws were the wrong threads and had been sourced from perhaps the earlier Castle. The engine looked good, I would keep the set.


Slidebars – now re-attached

I am guessing that the set had been returned with a problem and I soon discovered that the slide bar assembly on one side of the locomotive was loose. I do not know how this was intended to be fixed but some spots of Super Glue on the end of the slide bars where they poke into the cylinder, and another on the end where it attaches to the metal underframe seem to have sorted this problem


I am perhaps too fussy about the running quality of ready to run items. Taunton Castle was a ‘lively’ engine. I would swap the wheels about and try some different rods. At the same time I would ballast the engine with a little lead to enhance its haulage capacity. (This was described here in a previous Blog).


Those of you who have spent any time going inside the new Hornby Castle will be aware that care has to be taken when ‘threading’ the rear sand boxes between the under cab pipework. I must have become too confident because suddenly one of the sand boxes had parted company with the chassis.


Self inflicted injury

Not only had I snapped the plastic fixing, I had also broken the filler pipe on the top.


Nail varnish remover (acetone) also removes Hornby paint

First attempts at repairing by reattaching with Super Glue were a waste of time. I would dig out the remains of the old plastic fixing and make a new ‘stub’. A little knowledge is dangerous, perhaps I could use nail varnish remover (acetone) to soften the old plastic. In the event the acetone removed some of the black paint and the remains of the plastic fixing were ‘dug out’ with the blade of a tiny screw driver.



The modified sand box and the new fixing

A replacement plastic stub was fashioned from the plastic back of an old CD case. After it had been tried for size in the chassis block it was given a wedge shape to match a cut out made in the original sand box. The two pieces were then welded together with Butanone (MEK). The pipe on top of the sand box was replaced using a section cut from a brass dressmaker’s pin, pushed into a 0.5mm hole drilled in the plastic. I used my usual technique of rotating the drill bit with my fingers.



The re-engineered sand box was reattached with super glue and any remaining bare metal was given a coat of Humbrol satin black.



Another view comparing old and new:


Finished – original left, re-engineered right

Finally a shot of the complete locomotive.


The finished product

I feel I should restate that the problems with the rear sand box were completely self inflicted.


Taunton Castle is a nice model but they do say that the camera never lies. It was only after taking the picture that I noticed that there is a small kink in the footplate over the cylinders. I have paired away ever such a small bit of plastic in front of the cylinders which might have prevented the foot plate from lying flat – other than that it is difficult to see what might be causing the unevenness. I shall have to wait and see if it settles down.

As to Hornby Hobbies on eBay I do believe that it is like any other ‘outlet’ shop selling returned stock. I would say that generally you only get what you pay for- and I for one would not be expecting them to be brand new and unopened. In Hornby’s case I have a theory, the price goes down every time the item fails to sell and is returned by a buyer.

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Hi Rob, I should have guessed that you might ask. For the present they are keeping the box and certificate company. They do not seem to be in the same league as my Bachmann Mk1s.





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  • RMweb Gold

Thanks Ray.That's exactly why I never bought this set when it was released and I'm a big fan of Freeman's work too.

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Yes Rob, exactly my thoughts. I did think long and hard maybe twelve months ago when Hattons were selling their stocks off but I still wasn't tempted. Circumstances change. Regards Ray

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