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Hattons Class 66


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I was sceptical about this when I first heard that Hattons were to produce their own model of the class 66 locomotive. The class 66 is already available in model form from both Hornby and Bachmann and depending on your needs and finances I would think there's a version to suit just about everyone. I already have a number of Bachmann class 66's, some with factory fitted DCC sound, and my currently under-construction attic layout with its focus on block coal trains will certainly be making use of them. But why would I be tempted by yet another version when I already have as many as I need? 

My biggest bugbear with the Bachmann class 66 is the lack of proper lighting. I just hate seeing my model class 66 approaching with just the 2 lights illuminated and no sidelights. My first recollection of a class 66 was seeing one approach with the triangular lighting effect at the front, something completely lost on the Bachmann version. Everything else I could live with so it's just a minor point that Bachmann could and should have addressed.

The factory fitted sound isn't great but I found it acceptable at the time. There's always the possibility of having the sound chip reblown and with such a variety of alternative sounds available there's ample choice. But the sound system itself could do with addressing too in order to take advantage of superior recordings. There's little point in spending £20 or more to obtain decent sound if you still retain inferior speakers.

I could spend money and update my models with the correct lighting, enhanced sound and higher quality speakers but there's work required to fit all this and in the end would the cost be worth it.

Hello Hattons Class 66, available in a multitude of liveries (how on earth have they managed to produce so many from the outset?) with fully operational individually controlled DCC lighting and with a dedicated high quality sound system installed. Of course I've only seen the videos and read the current reviews but it really does look to be at yet another level.

In my opinion there have been very few really excellent models released in recent years. The SLW class 24 was the first high quality model I obtained on my layout complete with a far superior sound system to anything I'd previously heard. The rest would have to work hard to keep up with that. I'm hard pressed to think of anything else that has offered such a complete package since then. I've had excellent models and I've had models with excellent sound and drivability but never really the two combined in one package.

Hattons class 66 has the renowned Legomanbiffo sounds on the latest Loksound V5 soundchip with its multi functions enabling any combination of lighting. Even in its analogue form there are switchable options for setting the desired lighting. It's really everything the modeller could want and to be honest, it's everything the modeller should expect these days.

We've seen a lot of newcomers to the model manufacturing scene in the past couple of years at a time when things were beginning to look bleak for railway modellers. Now there are proposed models of even the most obscure locomotives and items of rolling stock and the quality just seems to get better and better.

Yes, I've placed an order for the Hattons class 66 but I'll be hanging on to my Bachmann versions for now as they'll probably look just fine shut down in the sidings.

I'll post a link to the Hattons class 66 video, which is rather lengthy but very informative and well worth a view if you've not yet seen it.

 

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Great looking loco Deano. I'm not really familiar with all the later class 66 liveries - in my time they were predominantly EWS & Freightliner though GBRf had started making an appearance. These days there's a bewildering array of liveries and who would have ever thought we'd see a pink loco? 

All my class 66's are Bachmann so I've no experience of the Hornby model but it really does look the part and I believe they are way cheaper than Bachmann versions?  Do the Hornby versions have working lights or not? 

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Hi Mick, No sadly no working lights on my locomotive but at the price it was a bargain. I purchased the loco brand new from Hattons at £67.50 great to see Hornby and hattons doing trains for people on a budget.

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I agree - at that price they offer a really good deal and the fact that they quickly sold out is evidence of a market for similar loco's. It's a shame about the lights but I wouldn't worry too much as it looks just as good running without any lights than running incorrectly with just two as per the Bachmann versions. Outdoors in decent light it's difficult to tell when lights are working anyway. Visually the Hornby version is more than adequate for a garden layout and when you consider that you could get two Hornby for the price of one Bachmann it's something for serious consideration.

I noticed that you can get a lighting kit for the Hornby/Lima version from a couple of suppliers but one at least only seems to offer the headlights and top light which would bring it more or less into line with the Bachmann version - still minus the marker lights which doesn't look correct at all.

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You're not alone there Deano - it's been much the same for the majority of us with record levels of rainfall. I've not been able to do anything outdoors for a few weeks now.

I doubt I would ever turn my back on the garden layout because it's what I enjoy most. The only reason I've gone ahead in the attic is because it's the only way I'll ever get to run some of the stock I've collected. I'm more than happy with the layout outdoors and I've learned that there's going to be long periods of time where it's not possible to use it or even to work on it due to the weather. But the sun will come out again and when it does you wouldn't want to be cooped up indoors!

If you're really suffering withdrawal symptoms then there's lots of ideas to be had for small shunting layouts or depot layouts that wouldn't take up too much space inside the home, garage or outbuilding.

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Oh dear....after placing my order I do hope the Hattons' OO gauge class 66 turns out better than their current attempt at an O gauge A3 and their forthcoming O gauge class A4!

From what I've seen and heard of the larger scale models so far from those who have obtained them I would be extremely disappointed if I'd spent that sum of money only to discover so many faults and shortcomings. How on earth could they have overlooked the vertical cab handrails on the A4 among other things? And typically the response on another forum is the usual "if you really want one then just fit the handrail..." as if we should just accept these things. They may only be 'toy trains', as someone referred to them, but it's not 'Monopoly' money people are handing over.

Hopefully the O gauge concerns will prove to be nothing more than just another 'Heljan' problem and isn't something that will affect the imminent arrival of the Hattons class 66 but if it is then I will have no hesitation in returning them.

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  • 4 months later...

Today, after a lengthy delay, I received my Hattons class 66 loco and my initial impression was one of disappointment.

I'd read about a problematic 'wobble' but hadn't expected it being quite like this. 

I'm not sure what the problem is/was but I have to say that after running in for a good couple of hours in both directions, it does appear to have settled down. The loco has 'shed' 4 axle box covers, three of which I have located but to date one of them is still missing.

I've also read reports that the sound is too loud and that others are suggesting turning down the volume - well I don't think it is, in fact it's not quite as jaw dropping a sound as I'd hoped it would be. It sounds a bit muffled to me, as if the 'earth mover' speaker isn't quite the right choice with too much 'boom' or bass. I really haven't had much chance to ponder today, or to compare it against the Bachmann version, so hopefully over the next day or so I'll be able to do so.

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I can see why you are disappointed. I've got an old Lima 66 and it's wobble is much smaller. The rotating axel box covered were one of the selling points, not much good if they rotate themselves onto the ballast. 

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Well apparently the axle box covers are an easy fix just by gluing them back in. Seems such a simple remedy that it makes you wonder why they hadn't been glued in properly to begin with. And after the hundreds of reported cases since the models first release I find it hard to believe that this hadn't come to their attention during testing and appraisal. 

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When Hattons announced that they were making their own 66 the justification was that the models already out there were dated. They were going to set a new benchmark for the class. This was a questionable claim, because Bachmann produce a fine 66. It was therefore important that they actually do deliver and produce a model that is head and shoulders better that what has come before. This doesn't appear to be the case. 

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It is definitely the axle boxes that cause the loco to wobble. That's most likely the reason why, once I'd lost a few, the model suddenly began running normally having lost its wobble.

Here's one of the offending axle boxes...

20200327_173817.thumb.jpg.8cc46f183c4dc905b237376fa05d9250.jpg

...and here's the hole in the bogie where it slots in to.

20200327_173742.thumb.jpg.20d5e715aa9147a95f45e1ae103e734e.jpg

And once inserted it needs pressing onto that small extension of the axle and fixed in place with glue.

20200327_173754.thumb.jpg.eb84c0af5aaae8242e26e3396bf8e32b.jpg

The trouble is that if the axle box isn't positioned absolutely central to the end of the axle it doesn't run true and causes the loco to wobble. It's not easy getting it perfectly centred.

In my opinion the easy way out would be to forget about rotating axle boxes altogether, cut them short and glue the covers firmly in place in the bogie.

It's a shame because it overshadows the entire model - I've done hardly anything but watch it wobble down the track since I got it or spend hours looking for the darned axle boxes. Is it so important to have rotating axle boxes I wonder? They're obviously more trouble than they're worth.

And speaking of worth, is this model so much better than the Bachmann version? I've run them both today and in a train formation there's very little between them. My Bachmann model is just as loud as the Hattons' though the Hatton's does 'boom' a good deal more. I've always missed the omitted marker lights on the Bachmann but the Hatton's marker lights are so dull that it's barely noticeable either. It still looks like there's only two lights instead of the triangle arrangement.

It promised so much but delivered slightly less than I'd hoped. I just need to decide whether it's worth keeping - I am just so undecided.

 

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I'd forgotten that the Bachmann 66 has missing marker lights. I've been back and read how I added them. 6 years ago, turns out it was a pain in the backside. But I've been enjoying the fruits of that work ever since. 

 

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17 minutes ago, chris said:

I'd forgotten that the Bachmann 66 has missing marker lights. I've been back and read how I added them. 6 years ago, turns out it was a pain in the backside. But I've been enjoying the fruits of that work ever since. 

 

I was looking back through the above topic of yours a few months ago Chris and trying to work out if it might be a project I could manage myself. It's the only thing missing from the Bachmann model in my opinion and it's one of the most obvious omissions they could have made on an otherwise pretty decent model, especially as it's now a good number of years old. In the end I decided that I'd struggle and I'd probably swear a lot! The answer would be to get the Hattons' class 66 and all my problems would be solved.

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Another annoying problem with the Hattons class 66! The NEM coupler is thankfully at the correct height for the Kadee coupling and this matches perfectly with the Kadee on the leading wagon. The trouble is that when the loco starts hauling there's too much free play in the class 66 coupling mount resulting in the height of the Kadee dropping out of line which has so far led to several unwanted and totally unexpected uncouplings.

I now need to keep a careful eye on it when it's hauling the HTA's because the first time this happened I didn't notice quickly enough and the loco circled the layout 'light engine' and smashed into the rear of its stranded train!

Maybe not such a problem when hauling a lesser number of wagons but it makes me wonder just how much actual layout testing went on before these models were put in production. I've had mine only a few days and managed only an hour or so decent running time to discover things that could be improved.

Why is it, I wonder, that manufacturers spend so much time adding finer detail and the latest technology to model locomotives but fail to address the basic coupling issues? There can't be any other part of a model that causes so many problems and operating issues than the little bit of plastic that connects it to the adjacent vehicle.

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I'm also wondering whether I have a problem with the sound on my class 66 but it isn't easy to compare. I'm still reading about people having to turn down the sound on their loco's, some stating that a CV setting of around 45 is ideal. At that setting I can barely hear anything at all! Even when set at full volume I'm hardly able to hear it when it's trundling down to the other end of the layout. Everyone appears to be 'blown away' by the sound quality but I'm somewhat underwhelmed by it all.

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I've decided to request returning my class 66. I'm not happy with it and I certainly don't think in its present state that it's worth £265. I've been trying to convince myself that it's okay but it really isn't and if it had been I would have been chuffed from the moment I placed it on track and turned on the sound. Perhaps there's a fault with the soundchip or the speaker and if there is then that might make me feel differently but the way it is at the moment I much prefer my 9-year-old Bachmann model.

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Just a brief update to record that Hattons were very helpful and understanding with regards to the problems I experienced with the class 66 and accepted the return without question. Unfortunately as all class 66 sound fitted models are sold out there isn't an option for a replacement but perhaps that's just as well as the model certainly didn't do a great deal for me. It was suggested I could hang on to it until after the Coronavirus lockdown when staff would become available again to take a look at it but I decided to accept a full refund instead. I was emailed a pre-paid label for the models return.

It's amazing how an experience like this can totally change how you feel about making any future purchases. I used to keep an eye on ebay and on Hattons' pre-owned but I think this has felt like the last straw and it's really put me off buying anything. I'm even concerned now for the pre-orders I have placed with Accurascale on the assumption that they are going to meet the high expectations everyone has for the forthcoming Deltic and class 37's. I have no experience with any previous Accurascale locomotive, just as I had no previous experience of Hattons' products but I guess only time will tell and I'm sure the option to return for a refund will similarly apply.

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