Warnings on converting the Hornby T9 to EM

Members Forum RTR Conversions Locos Warnings on converting the Hornby T9 to EM

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    • #246943
      John Cutler

        I managed to buy a cheap T9 on eBay a few days ago. Various bits had fallen off, as expected for the price. It is also a non-runner. As suspected, it suffers from Mazak rot of the 2 motor saddle components. I am amazed that Hornby’s design engineers used such a material for this. Fortunately a replacement brass motor mount is available from Peter’s Spares along with a bronze rear motor bracket. Cost is £16.98 +post.

        However, what I did not anticipate is that the T9 drivers run on 2mm diameter axles. I have a propensity to produce wobbly wheels at the best of times so using Alan Gibson wheels, as per the EMGS conversion set, the likelihood of wheel wobble on a smaller axle is much greater. For my forgiving eye this may not matter much, although wobble is more noticeable on bigger diameter wheels. Unfortunately wheel wobble does matter a lot on the narrow cab version of the T9. It seems tolerances inside the body are extremely tight so a wobbly wheel is very likely to mean contact with the body once or even twice per revolution resulting in jerky running. The recommendation seems to be to go for an Ultrascale drop-in set of wheels which are supposedly wobble-free. As well as a possible 8-month wait for delivery, the cost is around the £90 mark.

        This, together with the other spares required, pushes this project into the expensive bracket. Whilst the body is good, the chassis design leaves a lot to be desired. To get traction onto the drivers Hornby resorted to the dreaded traction tyres. They do not seem to have bothered too much about weighting the chassis or balancing it. There is a cast weight inside the boiler but this is not as long as it could have been. This can be replaced with a denser and larger lump of lead but it means digging the factory weight out of the boiler somehow. The bogie is crudely sprung so will probably need a lot of work (trial and error?) to optimise its track-holding yet transfer front-end weight to the drivers. 4-4-0s and 0-4-4Ts are notoriously difficult to balance and get good track-holding. I could only get my 2 Gibson 02s to run tolerably by compensating them. This one looks to be difficult. I am not surprised there is no conversion sheet in the EMGS Manual.

        In short the Hornby design is pretty awful and for the effort and cost involved I doubt the end product will satisfy me. Especially as I have an excellent EM T9 kit-built for me many years ago by the late Martin Brent with which it has to compare for running qualities.

        Moral of the tale? Do lots of research on the conversion practicalities before buying that apparent bargain!


      • #247018
        Stuart Firth

          Hi you might be able to get an etched chassis kit from S.E. Finecast, which would probably be easier to build than sorting out that dog’s breakfast?

          • #247020
            Paul Tomlinson

              That thought had occured to me, too, and is the route I’d be going down if I were faced with this task – though I fully understand that not everyone thinks the same way. There’s an old thread on RMWeb (Google finecast T9) which includes the pic below, showing the less-than-full frames provided. At least you’d then be able to use the superior 1/8″ axles, and choose your own motor, etc.

            • #247022
              John Cutler


                I agree. It looks like that SE Finecast chassis is compensated or at least amenable to compensation. If you are going to the effort to build a chassis for the Hornby T9 it is not much more work to compensate it. For a 4-4-0 or an 0-4-4T it makes a big difference. It gets complicated if you want a split chassis as well though.



            • #247078
              Mark Lancaster

                I agree with the point that chassis replacement is the only way to go.
                There is nothing wrong with the SE Finecast chassis but I would like to also suggest that a call to PDK may also prove fruitful. They do not list the T9 chassis as seperately available but polite requests are dealt with sympathetically by very pleasant staff.
                The PDK chassis is designed to be bult in EM gauge as well as OO and is designed with beam compensation.

              • #248380
                Stephen Smith

                  Just a note that the coupled wheelbase of the otherwise splendid SEF T9 chassis is 9’9″ to match the old Wills/SEF whitemetal ‘Bodyline’ kit rather than 10′ of the prototype Hornby (and Westward) T9.  When I asked the ever helpful Dave Ellis if there were any compromises in the T9 kit he said ‘no’!   I know this because I built the SEF chassis and it very obviously didn’t fit the Hornby Body.

                  My solution was to build the Perserverance T9 chassis reduced to carry just the coupled wheels to retain the correct ride height – something that would also be necessary for a Westward kit build.  As I had the lovely SEF bogie already built I used that.  Clearance under the splashers is non-existant, and by the time there’s room for even AG wheels there won’t be much more than paint left so scrape carefully – measuring as you go.   Although the Wills kit is for a superheated loco, the brake arrangement in the SEF chassis is more like that of a saturated engine.  The Perserverance brake gear isn’t so clever either, so I scratchbuilt my own.

                  The OP has commented on the fragility of the Hornby body fittings and that is so true! The small Hornby cab cutout is really only correct for the later wide splasher version, but the difference is only about 1mm and I may well be the only one that’s noticed.

                  Another issue is weight.  I packed a lot of lead between the frames and in the body, but adhesion with the thinned down Romford build wheels (Nickel/Slither tyres) is a bit average even with twin beam compensation.  Once painted with the AG steel tyres wheels fitted, though I am expecting it be up to haulling eight Bulleids or Mk1s.

                  The SEF chassis was eventually used on a build of the Wills kit for a friend so he got the spare Perserverance bogie – waste not want not!  That build used Hornby cab fittings in the Wills cab and what a difference that made!

                  Both builds can be found on Western Thunder for anyone interested, though to see full size pictures you’ll need an account there.

                • #248463
                  Geoff Stenner

                    Just on the point about SEF chassis’ and their fit to kits, some years ago I made a Wainwright SEF D with their chassis. The distance between splashers was longer than between driving axles, and I had to cut and shut the loco footplate and also shorten the firebox to get the fit correct. I don’t know which was wrong, but it set me back at the time. Thanks for the warning on the T9 which I’ve just acquired from Ebay.

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