New knowledgebase is now available

We’ve launched our new knowledgebase answering a whole host of frequently asked questions, and providing product datasheets!

You can now find everything from advice on wiring and retro-fitting locomotives with DCC decoders; information on Hornby guarantees; datasheets for a range of products and a link to answers to commonly asked questions.

Some of the answers come directly from Hornby, while others come from customers and our own in-house experience.  We’ll try and update it as often as we receive a relevant enquiry, but from September 2019 everything will be posted there instead of here.  This includes any attachments such as PDF manuals and drawings too…

Click on to it now at and see for yourself.  If you have a question you would like answered on the new section, please contact us.

Hornby R8206 vs R8241 power straight – What’s the difference?

Hornby R8241 power straight piece

We are quite frequently asked what’s the difference between a Hornby R8206 and R8241 power straight.  In a nutshell, the first is for analogue, the latter is for digital layouts.  But why?


Hornby R8206 power straight

The Hornby R8206 standard power straight is designed for analogue layouts and replaced the old power clip (R602) and wire system.  While providing a better and more reliable connection, it also features a component to reduce interference.  With older layouts you could generate interference and that is reduced using this power straight.

In a similar way, the original R602 power connecting clip and digital power clip from Hornby have the same type of components…


Hornby R8241 power straight

Now the R8241 digital power straight does not feature these interference reducing components.  This is because the digital DCC system can be impacted by them.

While we have had customers use the analogue power straight when the digital is unavailable, it isn’t recommended for DCC layouts.  All Hornby digital train sets come with the digital track piece as standard, and replacements are usually always available.

As we said earlier, you can use the Hornby R8242 digital power clip, particularly if you are looking to fit your power connection on curved track.  It is also common that people prefer the appearance of just the clip as they can hide the cable on permanent model railway layouts.


Model railway track design

We offer a track design service, and at your request can produce versions with or without the power straight track piece or clip.  This can be done to your taste, and can almost prove the theory of the layout you are trying to build without wasting track parts.

If you need any further help or advice, please get in touch with us by phone on 01305 820048 or email us at…

Explaining the Hornby Era system…

The Hornby Model Railway Era system

The operation of the railway network in the United Kingdom has evolved greatly since the 1826 Liverpool & Manchester Railway Act, which engendered the ‘railway mania’ of the pioneering local regional companies in the Victorian era and their eventual consolidation that occurred towards the end of the19th century.  Then came the emergence of the ‘Big Four’, followed by Nationalisation, Sectorisation, Privatisation and finally, the modern day Franchising arrangements.

In an effort to clarify these changes for model railway enthusiasts, the model railway industry adopted an ‘Era’, or ‘Epoch’ system; the idea being to group models into a defined time bracket, so that locomotives, coaching and wagon stock could be reasonably grouped together.


Modern era issues

The trouble with such a system is that as model ranges expand and evolve, boundaries between eras become blurred, a situation not helped by the national railway network changing greatly since the system was adopted during the 1990s.  Since 1995, motive power and rolling stock investment has increased, leading to new locomotives, coaches and wagons, while new Train Operating Companies have filled the void left by British Rail.

Traditional mineral freight has declined in some areas, while in others it has been resurrected, being joined by new types of freight movement.  Passenger numbers have increased to their highest ever numbers, leading to new coaching stock being developed, along with new multiple units that have been designed to operate on both diesel and electric power.

As a result, Hornby, in conjunction with other partners and competitors in the publishing and retail trades decided to adjust the era system they use.  The idea being that it clearly reflects the time periods covered, especially when taking into account the ‘grey’ areas that have arisen as one period blurs into the next.


The Hornby Model Railway Era system
The Hornby Model Railway Era system



The table below provides the full details of the Era system timeline:


Era  Description Date range Example locomotive
1 Pioneering 1804-1869 Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’
2 Pre-Grouping 1870-1922 Peckett W4
3 Grouping 1923-1947 Wainwright H Class
4 Early British Railways 1948-1956 Gresley B17
5 Late British Railways 1956-1968 Standard 4MT
6 British Rail Pre-TOPS 1957-1971 Class 71
7 British Rail TOPS 1971-1986 Class 87
8 BR Sectorisation 1982-1997 Class 50
9 Privatisation 1996-2008 Class 67
10 Network Franchising 2006-2017 Class 60
11 Present Day 2014 on Hitachi IEP