Hornby quality takes a dive as Class 67 problems escalate
RAIL EXCLUSIVE is disappointed to report major problems with the new Class 67 model from Hornby. Despite obvious quality control issues and plenty of feedback to the manufacturer, the Margate company seems to think the faults illustrated and described here are 'acceptable'. What do you think?
LIKE MANY diesel and electric modellers, we welcomed the recent arrival of Hornby's brand new 'OO' gauge model of the GM Alstom Class 67 diesel locomotive, having waited eagerly in anticipation since it was first hinted at over two years ago. However, our joy has quickly turned to disappointment for the reasons given below, especially so because many customers had placed pre-orders with us. If you had to wait a little longer than normal for delivery from us, then read on. If you bought your model elsewhere, we suggest a close inspection is in order...
The first delivery, R3038 in Wrexham & Shropshire livery as No. 67012, looked promising enough, and you will have already seen our mini-review elsewhere on this website. One of the first surprises was the new packaging format and size, almost identical to that used by Bachmann and, in our view, a retrograde step compared with the half-split yellow expanded polystyrene used on the Class 60.
We noted a few issues on the sample model we selected to photograph, particularly relating to the fit of the plastic body on the die-cast metal chassis but we put this down to production variation within the production process. As despatch progressed we recorded a higher than normal number of scratched, dented, deformed or torn boxes – something that didn't bode well.
Just a day or so after the first models were sent out, we got a call from a customer saying he had noticed a crack in the bodyshell at the front corner. Conscious of previous problems with degrading alloy chassis starting to expand and causing damage (Hornby Class 31, Heljan Class 47), we set about an immediate investigation into the rest of our stock. And that was where the problems began...
Clearly there was something wrong with the design of these new Class 67s with no account being taken of the properties of different materials at the plastic body to metal frame joint. We found that not only did many bodies not seat properly, but also a significant number had cracked at the corners. Better than that, it was obvious they had been crudely superglued together (with the glue oozing out to form blobs) and then painted over! To us, this indicated that an attempt was being made to disguise a known production problem.
A casual inspection over the rest of the loco revealed further decoration problems including poor finishing, chips, dents and very poor attempts at retouching, all of which we regarded as making the models unsaleable. A number of locos had bowed out/deformed bodies, at least one of which had been glued internally meaning the body could not be removed! Around 50% of our stock was returned for exchange and even a number of these replacements (having been checked by Hornby) had the same faults prevalent.
The next locomotive to arrive was No. 67001 in EWS maroon and gold. Time consuming visual checks seemed to indicate that the cracking body issue had been resolved. Generally the fit was better, although a number of issues were apparent including glue spots, rotated buffers and a worrying attempt to tidy up the maroon/yellow vertical join on the cab front with some form of sharp implement leaving scratch marks.
With the hope that the issues were decreasing, the final DB Schenker 'Maple Leaf' loco was delivered. Having been assured by Hornby that it was fully aware of all the problems (which had been communicated along with supporting images) and that extra checks were being carried out at Margate the R3039 consignment was opened with trepidation.
"The stock though checked was deemed acceptable to send due to the product being a mass produced item, obviously items that have paint scratched or rubbed is not acceptable however it is inevitable that the paint work may be subject to the odd blemish." - Hornby Sales Department
Unfortunately over 50% exhibited problems, principally extremely poor retouching of the chassis to cover numerous chips and dents. The attempted corrections were simply far too numerous and clumsily made using a translucent gloss paint 'blobbed' on, making the problem worse. It was also noted that some DCC labelled boxes contained non-DCC fitted models!
In summary the following problems have all been noted on the new Class 67s:
- Cracked/repaired lower cab corners
- Bowed out bodysides
- Scratches and glue spots on cab roof
- Excessive glue on RCH cable and MU socket
- Scuffed and scratched windscreen
- Mechanical looking dents at bottom body edge
- Badly finished chassis casting with file marks evident
- Scratches and poor retouching on chassis
- Crushed packaging (on opening sleeve)
- Twisted buffers
- Paint smudges and fingerprints
- Bubbled paintwork on chassis
- Non matching paint on body/chassis
We have now exhausted our supply, with all 'acceptable' items sold or held back for pre-orders yet to pay. Unfortunately because of this we are no longer in a position to take any new orders or offer any exchanges to our customers and can only direct them to the Hornby Customer Service Department (which we will support). We suggest all existing or prospective owners of new Class 67s examine the models very closely, and if you are not satisfied with the build quality or finish then please take it up with your retailer and the manufacturer.