Why Three rail?

Because even though Hornby Dublo three rail was long discontinued when I was a kid and we had a modern two rail system, we had so much more of this around back then and played with it so much more often. The sight, sound & even smell of tinplate is a very strong childhood memory and nothing beats the sound of an A3 controller being overloaded! (CLUNK….. DOING)

Most of this stuff belongs in a museum / should be kept in a display case / not used

No way! – It’s a testament to the build quality of this stuff that 50+ years later it’s still running. As a kid I had no concept of scale speed and I still don’t! There’s nothing more satisfying than bringing back to life a 60 year old loco that’s been sat in a loft for decades. It deserves to be run.

Toy trains or model railway?

Definitely, absolutely, 100% TOY TRAINS!

This isn’t a model railway, there is no scale speed here, no timetables and stock will be mixed up. There will be Southern Region locos hauling LMS coaches etc.

Are the old controllers dangerous?

It’s fair to say that 1950s & 60s rubber cabling isn’t renowned for is longevity and has a habit of perishing. The controllers should ideally be fully checked out and PAT tested by a suitably qualified electrician. If your property isn’t RCD protected then a portable device is a good idea. I’d advise that any remaining round plugs or plugs with non-insulated plug pins (the little black bits on the pins) be updated, the wiring can also be updated but again don’t attempt this unless you know what you’re doing.

Boxed & looked after vs playworn?

Definitely playworn! – They were designed to be taken out of the box, put on the track and run as fast as possible without derailling. Whilst I have got boxed items in my collection, they’re mostly presents from others and they get used just as much as everything else. However if there was a loco that was still in its boxed, unused still with its original rings & packaging it would be rather silly to take it out of the box & use it. But I’d never invest in items like that.

Favourite item?

Would probably be my 2-6-4 loco “80054” a loco I had as a child and my first repair when I started collecting again. The experience I gained when I repaired it is what gave me the confidence to start collecting items in need of repair, thus making it cheaper for me to collect.

Most expensive item in the collection?

City of Liverpool – even after making my own version on the cheap, I had to have the real thing when the chance came along.

Do you do 3 rail conversions / can you repair my loco?

No, sorry. I’m not a pro and I’d hate to ruin someone else’s pride & joy. It’s my risk, if I wreck something of mine then it’s my loss and no one else’s. I’ve taken some big risks with some of my purchases and wouldn’t be happy doing it with other people’s prize possessions!

There are plenty of people out there who offer these services at reasonable prices. The HRCA is a great resource if you’re struggling to find someone who can do this for you.

Why bother converting modern stock to 3 rail use, why not just add some 2 rail loops?

1. Because I don’t want to add 2 rail track! 2. Because there is so much 3 rail track it would be a shame not to use it. 3. The Bachmann EMUs sounds fantastic on jointed track, I’ve received some comments already about the “lovely noise” they make and you can only get that with the tinplate track. 4. I like to be different to anyone else, especially when someone tells me that something either can’t or shouldn’t be done!

Do you exhibit the layout?

The previous portable layout was shown in public twice but was never designed with that intention. “I ‘ad that” has been built to a much higher standard so that it will be less delicate to transport, easier and faster to setup and with public displays in mind. The layout was constructed for the Weymouth Model Railway Club exhibition in November 2014 and we’ve been exhibiting around 10 – 12 times each year since then.

Where can I find out more about Hornby Dublo and the three rail system?

The Hornby Railway Collectors’ Association is a great place to start. A reasonably priced yearly membership will furnish you with regular journals, spares directories and notifications of upcoming events and auctions. There are lots of regional monthly meetings also and the HRCA website and forum is also available to members. In addition there are also a number of other blogs throughout the internet and some fantastic Youtube “how-to” videos posted by one of the HRCA members which are well worth a look.