My choice for the March random train of the month is the ever popular, Hornby Smokey Joe. Here’s my review, rating and where to get it cheapest.
The loco has been in Hornby’s range since 1983 and has proven to be a simple reliable model, no doubt contributing to its solid reviews and huge popularity for both beginners and more experienced model railway enthusiasts.
According to a 2011 Hornby handbook, it is inspired by a Glaswegian engine which had “Smokey Joe” scrawled on its tank in chalk. The engine number, 56025, is from an early 264 0F class locomotive that was built in 1890 and based at St. Rollox railway works, where it was the works shunter until its withdrawal in 1960.
The livery of the model is based upon the mixed traffic livery of British Railways, black with red and white lining.
- Name: Hornby Smokey Joe
- Price: Typically around £40, best price found (below) around £30.
- Gauge: OO (compatible with Hornby railways)
- Livery: BR pristine finish
- Average Amazon rating: 4.5/5
Model Railway Engineer Review
Other the years I’ve noticed that of my ever-increasing collection of trains, there are some I always seem to end up running again and again. Don’t ask me why, I can’t tell you but some are just more fun. And the Hornby Smokey Joe is one of these.
It’s not the fastest, the biggest or the most detailed in my fleet. Neither is it a recreation of one the railway greats like my Mallard or Flying Scotsman. And it doesn’t have the bells and whistles that the latest digitally equipped models literally have.
But with it’s distinctive ‘smokey joe’ lettering scrawled in white along the side, I can’t help but smile as it hurtles around my track. As a reviewer on Amazon put it, it’s “adorable little train” and I totally agree.
Perhaps the reason I keep using is that it just works. There’s no fiddling, it works every time, its couplers – the Hornby standard bar and hook – easily connect to Hornby wagons and passenger coaches with a 0-4-0 wheel configuration it can negotiate the tight curves on my small play track without derailing.
It’s also fast but able to pull a surprising load for a loco of this size which adds to the fun. Its real-life counterpart would have been used for slowly moving loads around the railyard but this model version can hurtle along and pull 3 passenger coaches without a problem. “cute, small, powerful” is how another reviewer summed it up.
The only negative is that as one of Hornby’s budget Railroad Range, it lacks some of the extra fine detailing found on their more expensive models. Things like handrails aren’t there but for the audience, this is aimed at – children, beginners or those looking for a cheap little loco to play with – this won’t be missed.
Summary: A delightful, reliable, fast and fun little locomotive that children and adults alike will appreciate and like me will turn to again and again.
Where to buy for the lowest price
The Hornby Smokey Joe is available from most model railway dealers for around £40. At the time of writing, however, the best price I’ve found is on Amazon.
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