Bachmann 32-550C: Class A1 60163 'Tornado' BR Express Blue

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Bachmann Tornado vs Hornby!

The Ultimate Review!
The first thing which strikes me when viewing the models together is their paint colour. The shade of blue on the models is very different from each other, Bachmann's being conspiracy dark in shade, and Hornby's being light but being too plain for my own shade liking of express passenger blue.

Looking at my own footage of Tornado Bachmann's shade is closer to both Tornado and the original Peppercorn A1. The light to paintwork on the Hornby model is crisply moulded but very plain. A particular disappointment for an new 2013 example.

In contrast, the white and blue lining along the frames and running plate of engine and tender on the Bachmann model is applied slightly wider, and the result is that the white appears much brighter. A quick glance at a photograph of the real thing, and it seems as if Bachmann has the edge here with its much finer lining.

The white/black/white lining out on the locomotives and their tenders follows a similar pattern. Bachmann's lining out is marginally wider than that on the Hornby model, and the white of the lining out appears brighter as a result which is accurate to Tornado.

This is particularly noticeable on the cab and tender sides of the Bachmann model.

The nameplates and commemorative plaques on the smoke deflectors and frames are neatly applied on both, but the darker shade of the “brass colour used for the nameplates is better on the Hornby model, making the nameplate more legible as a result.

The white lining on the cylinder sides is missing on the Hornby model. The Bachmann model does contain this ling and is crisply applied.

Neither of the two models appear to have the correct shade of cream for the cabside numerals, and the size of the lettering and numbers on the Bachmann model appears to be OO, the Hornby model's shade is smaller and strangely being whitish in in its overall shade.

The worksplates and RA9 numerals on both are well applied and legible, although it is something of a surprise that the plug on the lower part of the cab on the Hornby model is printed as opposed to moulded, as on the Bachmann model.

On the tenders, the builders plague and dials on the cabinets are excellently reproduced on both models, but Hornby's tender includes the extra warning flashes on the rear of the tender, which as far as I can see from my own prototype photographs, the real 60163 Tornado does not have.

The smokebox door of both models are very convincing; the shade of silver for the smokebox door straps, handrail and door dart are in both cases, crisply applied. The upper lamp bracket is moulded on the Hornby model, and a separately fitted item on the Bachmann model.

The Bachmann model has the upper hand with regards the distinctive chime whistle, which is a separate item, and painted in silver shade: the Hornby Tornado's whistle is moulded into the deflector, and remains unpainted.

In addition, only the top electric light on the Hornby model is painted, the rest (which are not factory fitted as the Bachmann model's are, and are in a detailing pack) are left as unpainted black plastic.

The shape and size of the front bufferbeams are very different, the Bachmann Tornado's bufferbeam being harder than the Hornby model. There's no doubt in my mind that theHornby Tornado falls down in this area, Bachmann nailing the diagonals at the edge of the beams being better in the overall moulding. But the Hornby model has its footsteps moulded neatly into them, avoiding the self-fitting nature of the Bachmann Tornado's steps.

However, the Hornby model is let down by having plastic moulded buffers, instead of sprung metal ones, as on the Bachmann Tornado. This was the first modification I made to my Railroad Tornado model, as seen here in its new guise as 60163 when first completed at Darlington works. The model as delivered had damage to its right hand buffer, indicative of the extremely thin plastic heads that have been utilized by Hornby for this model.

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The piping around the smokebox area – which is different on Tornado to the original Peppercorn A1s – is correctly represented on the Hornby model, on both sides, Bachmann's portraying the original arrangement, and therefore is inaccurate in this respect to the real Tornado.

The valve gear is finer on the Bachmann model although the connecting rods and coupling rods are chunkier. This overall is the better of the two representations of Tornado's motion, Hornby's setup using much thinner metals overall, and looking decidedly flimsy.

This in stark contrast to the cylinders, where Bachmann's are better moulded, and slightly shorter in length to the Hornby cylinders, which appear rather larger overall. However, the positioning and incline of the cylinders is better on the Hornby Tornado than the Bachmann Tornado.

However, curiously there are two holes for attaching, presumbly, the cylinder drain cocks underneath the Hornby Tornado's cylinders – but no cylinder drain cocks are provided in the detailing pack.

A spare set of cylinder drain cocks could be fitted on the model quite easily.

The deflectors are, curiously, different lengths and heights from each other. The Bachmann Tornado has separately fitted handrails, whilst the Hornby Tornado has moulded plastic handrails. The Hornby deflectors are bigger overall. From delving into my photographs of the prototype, it seems the Hornby deflectors are a better match overall, whilst having a lower level of detail.

It's a similar story with the cabs – the Bachmann model has more separately fitted detail, including glazing on the cab spectacles and side windows, and separately fitted handrails, but the cab roof (as to be expected) is a representation of the original Peppercorn A1s, and not reflective of Tornado's different roof profile.

The roof profile of the Hornby Tornado – as stated in the Railroad Tornado review – captures the profile of the real locomotive's roof perfectly. Neither of the two models has opening roof vents or similar details compared to other Pacific models on the market (notably, the Hornby A4 and A3 Pacifics).

The whistle on the Bachmann A1 is on the correct side of the cab (leaving a hole for placement of a whistle in the original design specification), but is mounted too high, and too close to the safety valves. The Hornby Tornado's whistle is not only better shaped, but it is in the correct place.

Inside the cab, the Bachmann Tornado's boiler fittings are well painted, and stand out with a few separately fitted details such as the pull out regulator handle. The Hornby model is a one piece moulding which captures the overall look, but seems plainer in unpainted black plastic. Both models feature the cabinets under the bucket seats in the cab, as on the real Tornado.

Bachmann's Tornado features a lovely etched metal fallplate, which is not modelled on the Hornby Tornado, and cab doors too, as part of its detailing pack.

The rimmed chimney is crisply moulded on the Bachmann model and is a separate . This overall is the better of the two representations of Tornado's motion, Hornby's setup using much thinner mould craftings overall, and looking decidedly flimsy.

On the boiler, the Bachmann Tornado's washout plugs are not particularly well moulded, although the overall quality of the moulding and its paint finish is excellent. The Hornby Tornado's boiler, including its washout plugs, seems much more convincing in over shape and detail, but the lower handrail is moulded on, as opposed to being separately fitted.

The tender bodies are both well moulded, but the Bachmann model edges out the Hornby model with its separately fitted details on the tender footplate, and with its standard fitted handrails. The printing of the dials and other painted detail is superior on the Hornby tender as a whole, although the added overhead warning stickers is something of a puzzle. It is a shame that, like on the front bufferbeam, the tender buffers are moulded in plastic as part of the frames.

The Hornby tender is a better representation of the real thing, incorporating some excellently moulded roller bearing axleboxes throughout, and there is a significant difference in “look when the two tenders are stood side by side. But the Bachmann model edges out Hornby because of the paintwork.

Finally, both models are equipped with NEM pockets, allowing for changeover of couplings from tension lock to kadees if required (as demonstrated on the tenders).

Overall, the two models are impressive in their own rights, for different reasons. The attention to detail of the Hornby Tornado by far outstrips the minor modifications Bachmann made to their tender bodyshell; in contrast, the separately fitted detail of the Bachmann model is vast.

The decision to buy one over the other will come down to, I think, price - the recommended retail price for the Hornby Special Edition Tornado model is is £122.99, whereas Bachmann Tornado's recommended retail price is £128.01. These models are not yet available as of March 2013. Hornby set to be stock at May 2013 while Bachmann has yet to be announced.

If you want the best model OF Tornado in express passenger blue, buy the Bachmann model with all the separately fitted detail that comes with it. If you want model of Tornado that is perfect but plain, then buy Hornby's model with all the separately fitted detail that comes with it.

Until Next Time-Thank You for Reading

30-40 year old model railway hobbyist from United Kingdom

29 March 2013

Overall Rating5.0 stars
Looks5.0 stars
Build Quality5.0 stars
Value for Money5.0 stars