GWR Pannier engines are the best. They’re my favourite locos and I have quite a few, in both OO and N gauge. The Hornby versions are great little incarnations and with a few upgrades, they can be made even better.
The Hornby R041 57xx class is one of my top model trains and I’m always on the lookout for additional good priced secondhand models to join my collection.
And when getting new ones there are a couple of things that I always do to improve their running quality.
The first thing is to replace the motor.
The R041 was originally fitted with a 3-pole X03 or X04 DC motor. These have proved reliable but swapping them out for five-pole versions gives smoother operation, better low-speed control and improved pulling power. If you’re unfamiliar with the workings of DC motors, there’s a good introduction here.
Suitable five-pole variants of X03 or X04 motors are available on eBay for around £20 to £39. (The X04 differs in having a brass worm gear instead of the nylon variant in the 03 version).
Fitting these is time-consuming but straightforward.
First, the body shell is removed. On the R041, this is achieved by undoing a single screw under the water tank, on one side and towards the front. The plastic shell can then be slid back (clear of two plastic tabs at the front) and removed.
With the shell off, the existing motor can be extracted.
At the rear of the motor is a screw that holds it in place. Locate this and remove it. The motor should then pop off – it needs lifting off diagonally so the worm gear can come from of the cog to which it connects.
The wires from the wheel pick-ups can then be unsoldered to detach the motor in its entirety from the chassis.
A much better magnet
Before swapping the new motor in, extra oomph is be added by upgrading its magnet with a Neodymium replacement. (Suitable magnets for the X03/04 can be purchased from first4magnets.
The magnet is a metal cube located at the rear of the motor. Usually, this is held in place by a screw on the top that passes through the outer frame, through the centre of the magnet and secured in place by a nut underneath. Undo this and pull the magnet free. Position the new Neodymium magnet and put the screw back in.
Back to the replacement motor. Position the new 5-pole motor in place and reconnect the rear screw before soldering the wire from the pickups into place.
With this done, I use a toothpick to clear out any debris in the worm gear and then lubricate the lower cog, worm gear and wheel rods with my preferred oil.
I then give it a test run to check everything works as it should.
Assuming this is the case, the body shell can be reattached and the loco set off with its new improved pulling power and slow-running capability to join its brothers and sisters on my layout.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.