Your Guide To Buying Model Hornby Locomotives

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Your Guide To Buying Model Hornby Locomotives

Collecting and building model railway sets is a hobby that has existed for over one hundred years. Although model locomotives were originally intended for children, it didn't take long for train enthusiasts to start enjoying their fine details and scaled representations.

Hornby are one of the most successful model railway companies, and are revered by both newcomers and hobbyists. eBay is a great place to search for models, but the countless makes and models can make searching for one seem like an intimidating task. This guide is here to successfully help buyers find an adequate locomotive on eBay.

A Brief History Of Hornby Locomotives

* In 1907 Frank Hornby started up the Meccano Company. Meccano created toys for children during the First World War, and the company was so successful that he was given the opportunity to introduce his Hornby Clockwork Model Train. This model used a strong clockwork motor to give it movement. However Hornby really came to the attention of the world in 1925 with its first electric train.

* Variations of that train and its style helped sales, and at one stage the Hornby was the most famous model train in Europe. In the years since the models have maintained their popularity with hobbyists while gaining new fans along the way.

Hornby Locomotives Scale

The quickest and most common way to differentiate model locomotives is by their scale. The scale directly relates to the track that the model can run on. Scales, ratios and gauges are classed depending on country of origin. For now we shall review the scales used in Britain.

OO Scale

* 4mm in scale.

* 1.76 ratio.

* 16.5mm gauge.

* Most popular size in Britain today.

O Scale

* 7mm in scale.

* 1.43.5 ratio.

* 32mm gauge.

* Popular with and recommended for younger children interested in model locomotives.

HO Scale

* 3.5mm in scale.

* 1.87 ratio.

* 16.5mm gauge.

* Introduced in the 1920's.

* Only used by a small number of hobbyists.

N Scale

* 1.148 ratio.

* 9mm gauge.

TT Scale

* 3mm scale.

* 1.102 ratio.

* 12mm gauge.

* Introduced in 1957 as British adaptation of American TT scale.

EM Scale

* 4mm scale.

* 1.76 ratio.

* 18.2mm gauge.

There is a large number of different sizes of locomotive available, and models won't work on tracks too big or too small from them. Read up on the different sizes especially if purchasing a model from a different country.

It is advised that children under the age of six be given wooden train sets for safety reasons. If the locomotive if a gift for a child be sure to check for the model's recommended age of use.

Types of Power Source

Today model trains are available with a number of different power sources. Take this into account when choosing a model, as the locomotives power source may need to be connected to a mains to run it.

Electric DC

* Comprises of a transformer and a control box.

* The transformer reduces the voltage from the mains to a safe level.

* The control box is used to adjust the speed of the train.

* As the power source is Direct Control, the electricity is following in one direction.

* A power clip is used to connect the source to the track (between certain sleepers and special points of the track).

* Locomotives using this power source will only be able to complete backwards and forwards functions.

* Only one locomotive can be used on a track while using Electric DC .

Digital Command Control (DCC)

* Locomotives directly controlled by an internal chip.

* Chip also controls light and sound from the model.

* Uses a more sophisticated control box than the DC.

* Allows for more functions.

* Allows for two trains to be run on the track at once.

* DCC Generally contains less wiring than a DC powered model.


* Original form of power for all model locomotives.

* Power is converted from wound up spring, which in turn moves the clockwork gears.

* Still available although many manufactures produce less each year.

* Slowing and stopping tracks give control over the locomotives movements.

* Early models are often very sought after by collectors.


* Originally used in trains in the late 19th century, as many homes were without electricity.

* Used today in toy and smaller models.

* Generally avoided by hobbyists, but batteries are still an option.

* Can be beneficial for outdoor tracks that have restricted access to a power source.

AC Electric Current

* Similar to DC powered models, but the alternating current can cause accessories like light and sound to operate independently of the controller.

Live Steam

* Original carpet trains used live steam back in the 1840's.

* Less popular than electric powered models.

* Often quite large due to power source.

* Earlier models are highly sought after.

There are a number of gasoline electric powered locomotives available, but fumes from the engine means that these types of models are only suitable for outdoor track use.

Choosing a Locomotive

Picking the right locomotive can take time and research. Consider the following before starting a search.

* Who is the locomotive for?

* What age is the intended driver?

* Is the locomotive intended for use or for show?

* If for show, then where is the track based? Is it indoors or outdoors?

* What type of power source will be available for the model?

* Will the model fit with the size track?

Searching For Model Hornby Locomotives on eBay

* To start browsing, visit

* Click the All Categories tab located on the left of the page.

* At the Collectables section, click more and scroll down to Trains/Railway Models.

* On the following page enter Hornby locomotives into the search bar and press enter.

* Next is the listings page for Hornby locomotives on eBay.

* Under Product Type click locomotives.

* Under Brand click Hornby.

* Under location click UK only.

If buying locomotives from outside the UK then be sure to double check that the size will fit with the track. If looking for a specific model, enter any additional information into the search e.g. colour, name, date of creation. The more details about a model, the quicker and easier the search will be. If you're searching for a Hornby locomotive but cannot find it on eBay, use the Wish List feature to let other users know about it.

Listings Page

* The amount of listings shown can be changed at the bottom of the page. eBay supports 25, 50, 100, 200 listings per page. Simply click on the relevant box to change the amount.

* The filters on the left give greater control over the search. These include the Method of Power, Condition and Scale. There is also a filter for models that require some assembly.

* The Sort By drop down menu allows for control over how the locomotives are listed. Sort By allows to list by price, condition, location and time left on the auction. The Sort By menu is located to the right of the page.

* Locomotives are listed as Buy It Now, Bid Now or Best Offer. Items listed as Buy It Now are not auctioned and instead sold at a set price.

Product Page

* Clicking the title of a listing links to its product page. The product page contains all information about the model train or track, the seller, the price and the postage.

* Nearly all eBay users will include a picture of the locomotive to give buyers an idea of its condition. It the page is without a picture then it is advised to ask for one using the Ask A Question function. Additional information about the locomotive can be requested through this feature and it is a quick way to get in contact with the seller.

* To the right of the picture there is information regarding the current bid, availability and the location of the seller.

* The description box contains information from the seller to the buyers.

* The post and package box contains information about the delivery times and costs.

Purchasing With Confidence

* Take the time to research into the different model locomotives for sale on eBay. Be aware of scales, power sources and any other requirements. Contact the seller with any queries about a model, or if there is information missing from the item page.

* The item page also contains a brief summary of the seller's past transactions on eBay. Read back on other buyer's comments and check for negative feedback. This is a quick way to make sure that the seller's models are as described and delivered on time.

* Search for the locomotives current retail price. This can be compared to the prices offered on eBay to see if the seller is selling at a fair price.

* eBay's Resolution Centre deals with any discrepancies between buyer and seller. The Resolution Centre's page is found by clicking the link in the Customer Support drop down menu at the top of the page.

* All of eBay's online transactions are handled by PayPal, and all eBay users are protected by the Buyer Protection Programme.


* Finding the right Hornby Locomotive can take time and research, but it is a good idea to spend a while reading up on the trains. Be informed of the engine, scale, ration and track needed for it to run on.

* eBay is one of the best options for buying model locomotives, and people can find a variety of new and used models. Remember to ask the seller any questions you may have, and take note of postage times and costs.

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