BLOG: Best laid plans…


Occasionally, modelling projects don’t always go according to plan…

Take my recent experience while changing a diesel locomotive bodyshell, as an example. What should have been a simple task resulted in three locomotives being stripped down for repair!

Following a recent purchase of a spare Hornby ‘OO’ gauge Class 56 bodyshell, I planned to replace one of the duplicates on a pair of Digital Command Control (DCC) sound-fitted examples I had in my collection. Both of these had been standing idle for quite some time and only been test run.

To complicate matters slightly, you can’t simply remove one bodyshell and replace with the other, as the wiring within Hornby’s DCC sound-fitted Class 56s is slightly different to its DCC ready models. This meant the cab units of the DCC sound-fitted model also needed to be removed and inserted within the replacement body, prior to placing on the DCC sound-fitted chassis.

Once reassembled, the lighting circuits were checked – all was well and the lights worked as expected. Next, a quick press of F1 on the DCC controller fired up the diesel sounds. Again, all was well. However, as soon the throttle was increased, although the engine noise ramped up the locomotive remained stationary and emitted a humming sound from the motor. Before causing any potential damage, the Class 56 was powered down, body removed and an investigation into the cause started.

Having checked the wiring to the decoder socket and ensured nothing was trapped in the mechanism, the rubber band which connects the working roof fan was also removed, just in case this was creating a resistance. Still no joy. At this point I opted to try the locomotive with an analogue DC controller on a rolling road. Just to be on the safe side I also removed the DCC sound-decoder.

Interestingly, with DC power applied the locomotive began to move. With a little manual ‘jiggling’ on the rolling road, it gradually improved to the point where the problem appeared to have been overcome, but there was squealing from one of the bogies. This turned out to be down to the model’s gear train drying out in storage.

The securing clip was removed and a few drops of model lubricating oil were sparingly applied to the moving parts. I also noticed there was a build-up of grease too, so this was carefully removed. Thankfully, this worked and the mechanism was back to how it should be – near silent and smooth!

Just to satisfy my curiosity, I checked my other sound-fitted Class 56 and this appeared to be the same – as was my DCC sound-fitted Class 31, both of which had probably been sat on the same shelf without use for a year or more. This proved to be a wake-up call and has further fuelled the need to build a new layout so I can regularly run my fleet of locomotives, to mitigate against these issues repeating in the future.

An hour or so later and both models were similarly treated, now running smooth and near silently, although the Class 31 also jettisoned its sprung metal buffers in the process! That, though, is another project for another day…

I hope you enjoy this blog and if you have anything you would like to comment on, drop us a line to

The new series of blogs from the Hornby Magazine Editorial team give you an insight into the people, the projects and more. Hornby Magazine Editor Mike Wild’s next blog will be live on April 21 and you can expect more from Assistant Editor Mark Chivers on May 5 2017.

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