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Series 3, Super 4, System 6....

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I think that there was a last version of the Tri-ang turntable with code 100 rails...

 

But I could be wrong...I'll have to check!  ;)

 

Certainly the unloading bridge was finally changed to code 100 rails, after being supplied with the larger rails and two converter tracks for a time under Hornby Railways.

 

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4 hours ago, Butler Henderson said:

The Roco made track was simply a retooling, a bit like Peco have retooled their points, my 1980s Rocket ran through Peco points then, it will not run through todays. As noted above Roco did not tool up the entire System 6 range and conversely the turntable remained to Super 4 until it was replaced by the toy one.

The design was different in lacking the half sleeper and clip-fit, so it wasn't System 6. To my mind that wasn't just retooling, it was, arguably, a change comparable to the change from Standard to Series 3 - same rail profile, same track geometry but different in certain key areas. The decision to go to Roco was provoked by a problem being experienced at Margate in making System 6 points. That started a dialogue with Roco which ended in dropping the System 6 design and buying in what was in essence a Roco-designed product, probably not because it was better but because it was cheaper.

 

Turntables sell in far fewer numbers so will not be replaced so fast. The Super 4 version R.408 could be used with System 6, so it stayed on after 1969 as R 408U. It was replaced with the "toy" one. R 410 in 1976, which just happens to coincide with the replacement of System 6 with Roco-made track.

 

So, I don't believe it can be used to prove that Roco didn't do all the track. True, the inlet/outlet track might have been designed for System 6, but as they're removable then changing to pieces that were to the Roco design, even if made at Margate, wouldn't have been a big cost or production problem.

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3 hours ago, GoingUnderground said:

The design was different in lacking the half sleeper and clip-fit, so it wasn't System 6.

 

So, I don't believe it can be used to prove that Roco didn't do all the track. True, the inlet/outlet track might have been designed for System 6, but as they're removable then changing to pieces that were to the Roco design, even if made at Margate, wouldn't have been a big cost or production problem.

The Roco made track was specifically tooled to Hornbys specifications to accept the clip-fit accessories (source Pat Hammond in Vol 3 of the History of Rovex - page 401) , admittedly limited in location but nevertheless present. The isolating track is referenced earlier in the thread as not being made by Roco and I suspect the same is possible of the R621 flexible track . No where in Pats book is System 6 stated as being superseded. 

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4 hours ago, Butler Henderson said:

The Roco made track was specifically tooled to Hornbys specifications to accept the clip-fit accessories (source Pat Hammond in Vol 3 of the History of Rovex - page 401) , admittedly limited in location but nevertheless present. The isolating track is referenced earlier in the thread as not being made by Roco and I suspect the same is possible of the R621 flexible track . No where in Pats book is System 6 stated as being superseded. 

Pat talks about a new track plan book being released in 1976, saying "As if to wipe the slate clean, a new track plan book was released that year..." which comes about as close as you can get to saying that System 6 was dead. Yes, he does say that the Roco "...tooled-up track to Hornby's specifications using slide-in cores to provide the clip-fit grooves." But he doesn't say that Hornby we happy with the result. In fact he says the opposite "....The Company (Hornby) were also unhappy that the Roco track did not have a positive system for locking pieces together, a characteristic of all track made at Margate." Note he says "also" implying that they weren't happy with other features, presumably the way that Clip-fit had been implemented as that was in his previous sentence. He also says that the buying-in of Roco-made track was only supposed to be a temporary measure whilst they sorted out their manufacturing problems.

 

Reading between the lines, it's clear to me that Hornby had a fait-accompli on their hands, either they accepted the Roco-designed track for all its faults and deviations from their spec, or spent a lot of money to fix the problems with point manufacture, which someone referred to earlier in this thread, and disappointed their customers in the meantime. They went with Roco-made track, and dropped the System 6 logo because it wasn't System 6 any more, as anyone buying the new track and putting it next to System 6 could very clearly see.

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Posted (edited)
On ‎03‎/‎03‎/‎2020 at 00:21, GoingUnderground said:

Pat talks about a new track plan book being released in 1976, saying "As if to wipe the slate clean, a new track plan book was released that year..." which comes about as close as you can get to saying that System 6 was dead. Yes, he does say that the Roco "...tooled-up track to Hornby's specifications using slide-in cores to provide the clip-fit grooves." But he doesn't say that Hornby we happy with the result. In fact he says the opposite "....The Company (Hornby) were also unhappy that the Roco track did not have a positive system for locking pieces together, a characteristic of all track made at Margate." Note he says "also" implying that they weren't happy with other features, presumably the way that Clip-fit had been implemented as that was in his previous sentence. He also says that the buying-in of Roco-made track was only supposed to be a temporary measure whilst they sorted out their manufacturing problems.

 

Reading between the lines, it's clear to me that Hornby had a fait-accompli on their hands, either they accepted the Roco-designed track for all its faults and deviations from their spec, or spent a lot of money to fix the problems with point manufacture, which someone referred to earlier in this thread, and disappointed their customers in the meantime. They went with Roco-made track, and dropped the System 6 logo because it wasn't System 6 any more, as anyone buying the new track and putting it next to System 6 could very clearly see.

 

But they were compatible . As a boy building up my layout at the time I did notice the difference and the fact that the track had "Made in Austria" stamped on the back .  I also went through various iterations of points design . I remember at one stage the switching mechanism was in clear plastic with red and white components , never did figure out reasoning behind that . Would that have been when it moved to Austria , I think it was. The fact that it was no longer called "system 6" did not register at all at the time.

 

Sarah , I think the turntable R408 never got a system 6 or code 100 deck . That's why it was called R408U supplied with converter tracks . As has been pointed out  it was replaced by the spinning disc version R410 which first appeared in the 1977 catalogue . Fantastic shed scene in that years catalogue with most of the range round the turntable and the then new Duchess on it .  I was brainwashed and got the R410 to replace my good old R408 , but was never happy . Conductivity relied on flimsy brass strips rubbing against the outlet tracks . It was a pretty poor substitute for R408 but was no doubt cheaper to make . It certainly was pretty flimsy in comparison .    R408U is pretty hard to find on eBay, certainly ones complete with converter tracks.

 

I thought the new Track Plans book (Edition 4 out in 1976) had nothing to do with the change of track system but came out because Edition 3, announced in the 1974 catalogue and featured heavily in it but I don't think available until 1975, featured models that were culled in 1975, the most obvious one being the R408 turntable . This turntable featured in lots of plans but was no longer available .  Edition 4 (red cover) was a simple rework of edition 3 (blue cover) taking out the turntable and possibly other models I've forgotten about . Basic track geometry never changed and there were no new layouts in Edition 4.  Edition 5 that came out in 1978  featured the R410 turntable and was a complete revamp with many new layouts.

 

Sorry but the 1970s was my era . I lived and breathed the Tri-ang Hornby then Hornby Railways catalogues!

Edited by Legend
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9 hours ago, GoingUnderground said:

Pat talks about a new track plan book being released in 1976, saying "As if to wipe the slate clean, a new track plan book was released that year..."

New track plan books were pretty frequent in those days - I remember one did not work as printed - there was a high level branch which descended in both directions but at one end the 1st radius curves were too large (!) to make the desired connection but Beatties (RIP) did stock Rocos own system and a pair of horribly sharp Roco curves fitted fine.  Even with 1970s locos their was a limit on what would go round them and the high level was eventually truncated into a tunnel section which subsequently became the home of a Lima GW Railcar.

54 minutes ago, Legend said:

Fantastic shed scene in that years catalogue with most of the range round the turntable and the then new Duchess on it .  I was brainwashed and got the R410 to replace my good old R408 , but was never happy . Conductivity relied on flimsy brass strips rubbing against the outlet tracks . It was a pretty poor substitute for R408 but was no doubt cheaper to make . It certainly was pretty flimsy in comparison .    R408U is pretty hard to find on eBay, certainly ones complete with converter tracks.

Have Hornby missed a trick this year by not announcing a R408 like turntable?

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Ithought it was because  the name  System 6 has more marketing "snap" than Super 5

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8 hours ago, Legend said:

 

But they were compatible . As a boy building up my layout at the time I did notice the difference and the fact that the track had "Made in Austria" stamped on the back .  I also went through various iterations of points design . I remember at one stage the switching mechanism was in clear plastic with red and white components , never did figure out reasoning behind that . Would that have been when it moved to Austria , I think it was. The fact that it was no longer called "system 6" did not register at all at the time.

 

Sarah , I think the turntable R408 never got a system 6 or code 100 deck . That's why it was called R408U supplied with converter tracks . As has been pointed out  it was replaced by the spinning disc version R410 which first appeared in the 1977 catalogue . Fantastic shed scene in that years catalogue with most of the range round the turntable and the then new Duchess on it .  I was brainwashed and got the R410 to replace my good old R408 , but was never happy . Conductivity relied on flimsy brass strips rubbing against the outlet tracks . It was a pretty poor substitute for R408 but was no doubt cheaper to make . It certainly was pretty flimsy in comparison .    R408U is pretty hard to find on eBay, certainly ones complete with converter tracks.

 

I thought the new Track Plans book (Edition 4 out in 1976) had nothing to do with the change of track system but came out because Edition 3, announced in the 1974 catalogue and featured heavily in it but I don't think available until 1975, featured models that were culled in 1975, the most obvious one being the R408 turntable . This turntable featured in lots of plans but was no longer available .  Edition 4 (red cover) was a simple rework of edition 3 (yellow cover) taking out the turntable and possibly other models I've forgotten about . Basic track geometry never changed and there were no new layouts in Edition 4.  Edition 5 that came out in 1978  featured the R410 turntable and was a complete revamp with many new layouts.

 

Sorry but the 1970s was my era . I lived and breathed the Tri-ang Hornby then Hornby Railways catalogues!

We'll have to agree to disagree then. Because, to my aged eyes, Roco-made Hornby track is not the same as 6 because of the differences in the track base, which makes it look toy-like to me, unlike Margate made '69-75 System 6. Hornby track is "7" to me, and always will be, but it is the longest lasting Rovex track sytem, remaining virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1976.

 

Incidentally, I have next to me examples of Standard, Series 3, Super 4, System 6, Hornby-Roco, Hornby-China, Hornby Dublo 2 rail, Bachmann (with its two clip-fit slots, Sarah) Peco Code 100 Streamline, Trix Twin Bakelite and also Trix Twin fibre-base 3 rail track. 

 

Which looks best to me?  Probably the Peco Streamline because I'm used to seeing it, and the System 6, because the ends of the track sections/pieces cannot be seen, followed by the Super 4 and the HD 2 rail for the same reason. I don't like the Roco/Hornby/Bachmann track because of the toy-like look of the twinned end sleepers. The worst? Undoubtedly, the Trix Twin Bakelite, but that was a 1935 design. The sleeper spacing and size on the HD and Super 4 track are very similar, even though the HD is Code 100 rail.

 

The Bachmann Chinese made track of 5 years ago bears a very remarkable simarity to the Hornby Austrian made track that's at least 20 years older, including the mould impressions on the underside, but that's probably down to the constraints of injection moulding.

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10 minutes ago, GoingUnderground said:

The Bachmann Chinese made track of 5 years ago bears a very remarkable simarity to the Hornby Austrian made track that's at least 20 years older, including the mould impressions on the underside, but that's probably down to the constraints of injection moulding.

It used the same tooling,

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56 minutes ago, Robin Brasher said:

Does the track need to be made abroad? Peco makes its track in England.

 

Yes good point . I get why model trains are made abroad , all that manual assembly etc , even though labour is only a proportion of the end price.    But track is really a moulding and stamping . The manufacture must be highly automated . You would think that could make more sense to be made in UK. Shorter supply chain , more flexibility etc

 

They must make a lot of money out of track .  As Going Underground says its the same basic track since 1976 although probably retooled when it moved to China . Even so the tooling must have paid for itself over and over

 

Don't disagree with Going Underground in that track definitely changed in 1976 but I just viewed it as another iteration of System 6 . I didn't even note the name had been dropped.  

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Butler Henderson said:

 

Have Hornby missed a trick this year by not announcing a R408 like turntable?

 

Maybe , but I think compared to locomotives a turntable would be seen as risky . People buy lots of locos but only one turntable . The amount of engineering to make a good one probably would make it relatively expensive .   I've reverted back to the old R408U, but it took a long time to find one . That's partially because I like things from that late 60s early 70s era . Theres a big nostalgia part for me .

 

If a turntable were to be produced it might be more up Bachmanns line . Relatively low volume / High priced item , a bit like their crane .

Edited by Legend
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According to page 337 of The Story of Rovex volume 2 by Pat Hammond Hornby made 4,000 of R408U the System 6 turntable in 1970 and 1971 so it should sell reasonably well.  If you have an end to end layout you need two turntables.

 

Hornby Dublo made a splendid three rail turntable which was hand operated but a model railway club in Weymouth has electrified one.

 

The motor on my Tri-ang Hornby turntable broke down so I took it out. I bought a Fleischmann turntable for £150 which works very well and is compatible with System 6 track but you have to cut out a well in the baseboard. I bought some dreadful Sundeala board and I was able to carve a circular hole with a modelling knife,

 

My friend Mike Green from Swanage makes hand made turntables. These are even more expensive than the Fleischmann turntables but they work very well and are more realistic.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Robin Brasher said:

According to page 337 of The Story of Rovex volume 2 by Pat Hammond Hornby made 4,000 of R408U the System 6 turntable in 1970 and 1971 so it should sell reasonably well.  If you have an end to end layout you need two turntables.

 

Turntables, and the roads leading off, take up a lot of space. OK, Hornby made 4000 turntables within a two year period (figures for other years?), but how long it it take to sell them? I should think owners of one turntable are in the minority, let alone owning two! End-to-end layouts are often built as they don't require a great deal of space, and most layouts I've seen like that tend to run tank engines, or smaller tender engines, which were often run tender first. Put in turntables at each end and it reduces the amount of useable space for stock, or you have to increase the width, and length, of the 'fiddle yard'. 

Edited by Coppercap

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1 hour ago, Robin Brasher said:

Hornby made 4,000 of R408U the System 6 turntable in 1970 and 1971 so it should sell reasonably well.

 

But that was nearly 50 years ago and both the railway and the demographics of railway modellers has changed significantly in that time period.  Turntables were an important part of railway infrastructure in the steam era, but they are largely irrelevant to most of those who model the last half century.  The steam diesel transition era (in which turntables were still used) is still a popular time period among modellers, but the number of people who remember that period is declining and how many people of that age group are starting to build a new layout that is going to need a turntable.  I'd hazard a guess that many modellers interested in that period already have a layout.  It is therefore much easier (and less risky) to sell them a steam locomotive from that period than it is to get them build a new layout (which may or may not need a turntable).

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I have a layout set in 1959, it does not have a turntable, OK it's a colliery layout so any tender engine either arrive or leave tender first ....

 

My son's (he's 14) train set has to have a turntable and a roundhouse though ;)

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On ‎28‎/‎02‎/‎2020 at 19:21, BernardTPM said:

Definitely untrue as the original (and true) System 6 track had the same half-sleeper and full clip-fit under each sleeper space that Super 4 had - I know because I got some within the first year of introduction. Later track by Roco to the same geometry but without those features was imported, but the 'real deal' did exist for a while.

Design encompasses far more than minor detail features. T-H needed something better than Super 4, of proven manufacturability and adequately robust for the customer. You think T-H developed all that in-house? And then having obtained the new design T-H had sufficient difficulties with their manufacturing of the product that it had to be subbed out to Roco, which business had no trouble in producing it.

 

Essentially, you do not design something that your own manufacturing process struggles to make, if the production  management are half awake. When another manufacturer can just pick it up and manufacture successfully, what does that say?

It can be dressed up for public consumption anyway you choose, but these facts speak rather strongly: 'the lion is known by his claw'.

 

 

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Yes, I do think they developed that all in house. It was six years later they started importing the less featured Roco track. The clip-fit feature was more than a minor detail as they had used it for a whole range of accessories from signals to fencing, but with the less robust rail System 6 was more prone to damage.

"When another manufacturer can just pick it up and manufacture successfully, what does that say?"

What it says is that it's easier to make simpler track.

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Posted (edited)

 

 

Quote

 

omis

 

Trix Twin locos, would also run on true 2 rail track, I have several of their EM1/Class 76 locos that I run on Super 4. You just reconfigure the pickup shoes to collect from the running rails. For a time their wheel flanges were too wide to run through points on Triang or HD track. They truly deserved the epithet of "Steamroller wheels". Fortunately Trix changed to finer wheelsets with a removesble coarse scale collar - remove the collar and the locos run happily on Super 4 and code 100 track.

 

They could only do this with the British Trix locos of the late fifties. All the earlier ones used driving wheel flanges incorporating the final drive gear making finer wheels impossible. Seeing their crudity (only the 'Scotsman' is half passable*), this is not a great loss. One has to have them for a collection, but....

* The pre-war 'Princess' and streamlined 'Coronation' were very similar to the Tri-ang (Rovex/Hornby) efforts in short length and poor detail.

The original Streamline was designed to accept 'scale' (BRMSB*) to Tri-ang wheels. Later on (80s?), when Hornby had adopted the Dublo wheel standards, they tightened the flangeways a bit to make ir more compatible with 'scale' wheels.

* Now obsolete, but roughly similar to NMRA  RP25-110.

 

A serious disadvantage of the Rovex and Universal (which meant it could be connected both ways round) was being manufactured from cellulose acetate*. The one end only of Rovex was OK for a cheap (and nasty - sorry but it was) train set but no use for a proper system.

 

*I bought a large box of grey Rovex/Tri-ang track at a boot sale once (just to have it in the collection - well it was cheap). All of the early stuff was warped and unusable.

 

Edited by Il Grifone
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Posted (edited)

Back to the subject of System 6, I've been sorting out my track elements (yes, lockdown is making time for many a previously put off task....) and was able to photograph the curious re-engineering of the Hornby track system since 1993. 

 

The Austrian made post-1975 track was changed from coated steel rails to nickel silver in 1993. I can be sure of the date because I remember seeing new stock arriving at the Hobby Shop and noting the change. The image below is of an R607 2nd Radius Double Straight, nickel silver rail, made in Austria: 

 

 

IMG_20200417_182529.jpg

Edited by andyman7
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Hornby production was fully transferred to China in 1998, and a second piece of R607 shows that it is made from identical tools but has lost the 'made in Austria' engraving - these came in China made boxes:

 

IMG_20200417_182516.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Interesting...looks like a date code.

2 97

 

But your first photo was the same as the second one, until you corrected it. ;)

 

Date? Code on the Austrian made section is 1 something...

 

Edited by Sarahagain
corrections

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But later the track elements were completely re-engineered - although identical in specification it is clear that completely new tools have been made (again, an R607 piece is shown below), which now state 'made in China':

 

 

IMG_20200417_182507.jpg

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Now, it might seem obvious that the tools were worn, except that the original ex-Austrian tooling is now being used by Bachmann for it's lookalike track range which is sold through model shops at slightly cheaper prices than the Hornby pieces. I can only assume that Hornby was able to negotiate a better deal for track manufacture that involved new tooling and allowed the older tooling to be retained by the previous maker. I also assume that any patents or registered designs have expired, notably for the slots between the sleepers.

 

When the Hornby points were finally redesigned around 20 years ago the pattern they adopted was very similar to that originated by Peco so I guess all is fair in the world of industrial competition....

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6 minutes ago, Sarahagain said:

Interesting...looks like a date code.

2 97

 

But your first photo is the same as the second one. ;)

 

There should now be three pictures, and they are all different

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