Collecting Hornby Train Sets

Model railway sets have huge collectible value in country’s all around the world. In the USA, the biggest manufacturer is Lionel Trains. However, in Europe and the rest of the world the railway set of choice is Hornby Train sets. Both train sets have the same gauge but have very subtle differences. This article will consider the beauty and joy than can be had in collecting Hornby train sets.

Hornby was founded in 1900 and began manufacturing train sets for children as toys. These sets were expensive and were therefore only bought by wealthy families. They were also fragile and therefore many were broken by children. When this happened the parents of the child often became and engineer by trying to fix the train to its full working potential. Hornby spotted this in the late 1930′s and began to align their train sets to grown-ups as an adult toy. This is when the Hornby train set first became a collectible item for adult collector enthusiasts.


The most collectible items are those they are modelled in O gauge. This means that the Hornby train is a replica at a scale of 1:48. Hornby have also release OO gauge which are twice the size of the originals and although these are still popular, it was hard for collectors to have a range incorporating both sizes. Signal boxes, platforms, stations and cars are also modelled at the same ratio.


Originally, trains were aesthetically modelled to look like steam trains. The first Hornby train was had a clockwork mechanism on board which enabled the train to self-power itself. There are only a handful of these trains left in existence and a working model with the original working parts is the ultimate collection piece to a Hornby Railway collector. Hornby soon discontinued this type of train and the developed an electric system by whichthe trains were powered around the track by 20V of alternating current. The current was kept very low at levels of less than 50mA in order to keep the user safe even with direct contact with the running rails.


These early electric trains were pretty unreliable and required the collector to turn mechanic in order to rectify the internal issues. In turn, this meant that Hornby had a market in which to sell tool kits and spare parts. Finding one of these early models in pristine condition is very rare but extremely exciting to the collector. It is these models that fetch the most money when they are sold at auction. Early models such as this that have been refurbished, i.e. had a new motor or internal parts, do not fetch as much money at the auction house but still generate nostalgia and huge popularity.


Steam trains started to be replaced by diesel trains throughout Europe in the 1950′s to 60′s and Hornby modified its range in order to reflect this change. Diesel trains were smaller and could pull much more carriages than steam trains could. This was also reflected in Hornby’s collection by fitting more powerful motors to the model trains. Special editions of diesel trains include royal motor units and coaches and replicas of some of the most infamous train journeys known.


Modern trains are now powered by electricity which is picked up from either a conductor rail lying next to the running rails or through overhead wires that are suspended over the route. Hornby does not replicate the method of current collection but does produce exact replicas in 0 gauge of modern high speed electric trains.


Most train collections have a variety of different types of train. For example, a typical collection will include a diesel passenger train, an electric passenger train, a steam train, a modern high speed train and a freight train. Hornby workshops and fares occur all around the world where Trains can be swapped, compared and admired.


One of the newer Hornby trains is the “real steam” train. Now this piece is the ultimate product to complete ones collection. It falls into the O gauge category and is powered by the electricity in the rails but will actually produce puffing smoke that is blown up and out of the chimney and undercarriage. This is a remarkable feature to have installed on a product that is so small.


Simple layouts are easy to create with Hornby track which can be laid out on a dining room table or in a loft. They will bring endless fun and create quality time with your family and friends. The children will love to design and layout the buildings and scenery as they wish and you will simply love running trains around at your command.


This collectible item is truly one that the whole family will enjoy and will only get better and better with time. As new models and trains are released, the older models hold more collectible value and therefore more joy when they are run around a track.