new Southern Electric Group logo

Hornby 4Vep

If you know your Veps one does not have to look closely to notice other things amiss. Contrary to some published reviews I do not think the cab front looks right. Measuring against scale drawings and scaling against head-on photographs of Vep and Cig fronts, the corridor connection is too narrow causing the cab windows to be too inward and thus the side pillars overwidth by about 0.8mm. Furthermore the corridor connection protrudes too far.

(below) Compare the cab front of 3417 on the left with Hornby's model on the right.

Full size Vep cab front Model Vep cab front

On the unpowered bogies the damper suspension has been moulded the wrong way round. As these bogies do no have couplers or pickups attached they can easily can be rotated through 180 degrees by first removing them, however on the leading and trailing pickup bogies the guard irons will have to be relocated (so it is NOT merely a case of the bogies being fitted the wrong way round). Incidentally, the artwork on the boxes show the dampers correctly orientated.

(below) Compare the corresponding B5 bogies on the TSOs of 3417 and Hornby's model.

B5 bogie on 3417 B5 bogie on Hornby's model

Whilst on the topic of bogies, the brake shoes are not moulded in line with the wheels and the flanges on the wheels are approaching miniature pizza-cutter dimensions. On the DTCOs the brake rigging stops short of the bogies at last vertical support so it does not look attached, whereas on a Bachmann model it is extended into the bogies' arc of swing.

My only significant criticism of Bachman's 2EPB model is that the luggage racks, which are the most visible aspect of the interior from the outside, are not modelled, but on Hornby's Vep they commendably are. The supports are moulded as part of the seats but the racks themselves are part of the ceiling moulding and there is a noticeable gap between them, which again is not so visible on units with curtains. The cars are close coupled by a body mounted system which also connects the electrics for the lighting from the pickups on the MBSO, but there is no getting away from the fact that these are fiddly to connect and disconnect. I found it easiest to assemble the four cars whilst on their roofs and then carefully to rotate the whole formation through 180 degrees and onto the track. At least this handed system ensures correct orientation of the cars, provided you also use the correct DTCO on each end. I note on Bachmann's new Class 350 Desiro each car is numbered underneath to assist with assembling the formation correctly.

Finally the jury is still out on whether the roof ventilators are too small or we have scale size ventilators for once? The more I look at it, the more I think they are right.
The roof on the DTCO

To put this appraisal into perspective, by any modelling standards to date these are two good models. However, they are good, followed by a "but....". In my opinion these design decisions and lapses result in this model - overall - not reaching the very high standards set by Bachmann's 4Ceps and 2EPBs, or even their own Class 395 Javelins. My fear is that should these models not sell well because of this Hornby will think the Southern EMU market is not worth pursuing further. Our message, as customers, has to be that we will buy well designed and constructed accurate models in viable quantities. I desperately hope Hornby will correct the shortcomings before releasing further versions because, for both Hornby and Southern Electric modellers, I want for this model to succeed - and for Cigs, Reps and TCs to follow.


DTCO of refurbished NSE  Vep 3500


A BR blue and grey version R3143 (no DCC version is on offer) was announced as part of Hornby's 2012 range, however we did not see it until just before Christmas in 2014. Have Hornby improved the "curate's egg"?
DTC 1st compartments nearside
Well windows and doors have now been put into the partition between the first class compartments and the side corridor and visually it is a huge improvement. Well done, thank you Hornby.
DTC 1st compartments offside
Correctly oriented bogie Furthermore the bogies are now oriented correctly, albeit with the loss of the guard irons on the bogies under the cabs.
Hornby blue & grey Vep DTC
However, the incorrectly dimensioned cab front has not been rectified and perversely another internal error has been introduced - the motor brake second saloon has been fitted with a refurbished unit's interior so a bulkhead and seating can be seen where there ought to be a parcels cage (represented by a solid partition on the all blue version). Compare the two pictures below.
Parcels compartment with seats in the DMBSO
A corrcet version with a parcels cage
There are still a fair number of later liveries that Hornby could produce with their refurbished version, however this is still sadly a middling model. Will Hornby ever bite the bullet and correct the squinting cab front, move the motor bogie into the guard's van/coupé compartment where it will be less visible and ensure the MBSO interior is correct? Many of us would really like a spot-on later design BR Mk1 unit.