In this post I’ll be considering Hornby’s DCC (Digital Command Control) sets – see Part 1 for details of their DC (analogue) train sets, and also some general advice on choosing a train set.
I’ll cover a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of DC versus DCC in a later post, but in brief:
DCC works by supplying a constant 15V AC voltage to all of the track, with digital commands superimposed on that. Each locomotive has an individual ‘address’ and only responds to commands sent to that address.
- DCC gives you greater flexibility – you can ‘park’ locos anywhere on your layout, and control more than one at the same time;
- DCC lets you control other functions as well – the main ones being lighting and sound: steam whistles, diesel horns, brake squeals, etc.
- DCC wiring is (in some ways) simpler: no need for switches to isolate sections of track.
On the downside, DCC controllers and locos are more expensive, because you’re paying for the cost of the DCC chips.
So let’s have a look at the Hornby DCC train sets currently available (roughly in order of ascending price):
Hornby “Western Master” Digital Train Set
[Hornby Item Code R1173]
This set includes a GWR Class 2721 0-6-0 tanl locomotive, three wagons (a ‘Lowmac’ low loader wagon, with a load, an open wagon and a brake van), an oval of track, Track Extension Pack A (which includes a point, some extra track and a buffer stop, so that you can add a siding), plus the ‘ELink’ control unit and ‘Railmaster’ software, which lets you control the layout from a connected Windows PC or laptop.
The GWR livery of the loco set this in ‘Era 3’, the ‘Grouping’ period, so this set would be suitable for a layout set in the period 1923 – 1947, anywhere in GWR territory.
The “Western Master” train set is (at the time of writing) available direct from Hornby for £174.99.
Hornby “Somerset Belle” Digital Train Set
[Hornby Item Code R1125]
This set includes an 0-6-0 tank locomotive, three wagons (an open wagon, a tank wagon and a brake van), an oval of track, Track Extension Pack A (which includes a point, some extra track and a buffer stop, so that you can add a siding), and the Hornby ‘Select’ DCC controller.
The loco is the 0-6-0 3F ‘Jinty’ tank, in the attractive blue ‘S&DJR’ livery.
S&DJR was the ‘Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway’ which existed from 1875 to 1930 (when its coaching stock was was transferred to the LMS and SR), although the lines continued to be operated by LMS and SR, and then BR, until 1966).
The ‘Jinty’ tank (S&JDR No.24) was one of a batch built by W G Bagnall Ltd to a standard LMS design, and delivered in 1928/29, so this set would be suitable for a layout set in about 1929, located somewhere in Somerset or Dorset.
(The S&DJR is popular with modellers because, although it was mostly single track and so had some of the characteristics of a branch line, it also carried main line trains.)
The Somerset Belle train set is (at the time of writing) available direct from Hornby for £199.99,
Hornby Mixed Freight DCC Train Set
[Hornby Item Code R1126]
This set includes two goods locomotives: an 0-6-0 steam tank loco, and an 0-6-0 diesel shunter, plus a mixed freight train of four wagons: a red tank wagon, a ‘private owner’ wooden-sided open wagon in the livery of “Breedon & Cloud Hill Lime Works”, a metal-sided ‘iron ore tippler’ open wagon and a closed ventilated van in BR bauxite livery. It also includes an oval of track, with a siding, and the Hornby ‘Select’ DCC controller.
The steam loco is a BR (ex-LNER) Class J83 (No. 68478) in BR Black livery with the early BR crest, and the diesel is a Class 8 shunter (No. D4174) in BR green livery with ‘wasp’ (black and yellow) stripes on the ends and the later BR crest. D4174 was introduced into service in 1962, so that would place this set in ‘Era 5‘ in the period 1962 – 1966, and probably somewhere in north-east England.
The ‘Hornby ‘Mixed Freight‘ train set is available direct from Hornby for £249.99. (This might seem steep, but you are getting two DCC locos, and the Select controller which is capable of controlling up to 60 locos (up to 10 at any one time), and can also operate up to 40 accessories such as points, so it is a good foundation for a start in DCC.
Hornby “The Majestic” DCC Train Set
[Hornby Item No. R1172]
This train set is the top of the range, the biggest and best of Hornby’s train sets. It includes two complete trains, and a twin oval of track plus sidings and a buffer stop. The first train consists of the ‘Pacific’ type (4-6-2) ‘Peppercorn’ Class A1 passenger express steam locomotive “Bon Accord” in the BR ‘Express Blue’ livery used on express locos from 1949 to 1952; plus three BR (ex-LNER) Gresley ‘teak’ coaches (two composite coaches and a brake coach). The second train set consists of a Class 47 Co-Co diesel, in BR livery and four assorted wagons (an Esso tank wagon, an open wagon, an SWB (Short Wheel Base) wagon, and an LWB (Long Wheel Base) closed van. This set also includes the ‘ELink’ control unit and ‘Railmaster’ software, which lets you control the layout from a connected Windows PC or laptop.
“Bon Accord” (BR No. 60154) was built in 1949 at Doncaster, to the design of Arthur Peppercorn, the last Chief Mechanical Engineer of LNER (The London & North Eastern Railway). The ‘Express Blue’ livery places this in ‘Era 4’ (early BR), but the diesel’s livery places it in Era 8 (BR Sectorisation, 1982 – 1994). Of course, you could set your layout in the 1980s or early 1990s and run the other train as a ‘preserved steam’ special! (Although sadly, in real life Bon Accord did not survive into preservation, she was withdrawn from service in 1965.)
The “Majestic” train set is (at the time of writing) not currently available direct from Hornby.
These are all of the current Hornby DCC train sets, although you may find other older ones still on sale in some retailers, or of course some may be available second-hand on the internet.
I hope you found this useful! Don’t forget, if you’re interested in DC (analogue) train sets rather than DCC, have a look at Part 1 instead; and as always, please feel free to add a comment below!