Hornby USA was having a father's day sale, and even though I am not a father, I bought myself the Flying Scotsman starter set in OO scale. Now, most time, the equipment in a starter set is of lower quality then most of the equipment one can buy piece by piece, but the set looked so nice, and I always did want a British outline locomotive.
The locomotive was DCC ready, so I took a DCC decoder with the 8 pin NMRA plug on it, and installed it in the locomotive. The shell comes off with one screw, and the decoder just plugs in, it was very simple install. I noticed that the locomotive's tender does not have power pick ups. This did cause the locomotive to stall on switches (points) at slow speed. But the motor does have a brass flywheel mounted to it, a feature I have not seen in a steam outline model before. The flywheel would allow the Scotsman to coast a bit, so when running at a decent speed, she would coast over the switches.
An odd feature of this model of the Scotsman, is the trailing truck is part of the frame casting. So the trailing truck does not pivot side to side. The wheels in the trailing truck are extra wide, and do not have flanges. They ride on a axle mounted in a vertical slot. So on flat track, the wheels are either just barely above the rail-head, or just barely touching the rail-head. I could not tell which. With this arrangement, the trailing truck will not derail, and it took me quite a while of running it to notice this feature. So its not glaringly obvious that the truck doesn't pivot.
The passenger cars in the set do not have the NMRA recommended wheel profile, so on some of the club track-work, the cars would chatter and bounce a bit. The club track is code 83. The track in the starter set is code 100. The wheels on the locomotive have smaller flanges, more to the NMRA standard, so the locomotive didn't have that issue. I might be able to change out the passenger car wheels, if I can find some of the proper diameter.
This past weekend our club set up for a train show, and the Flying Scotsman was on the rails and running for most of the 2 day show. Even with the wheel issue, there were very few derailments of the set. The locomotive runs very smooth and quiet, and pulled the 6 cars I tagged behind her with ease. The set comes with 3 cars, but I managed to purchase another 3 cars to make a respectable train for her. I did not try and run her at full speed, but I did manage to run the set for a while at a scale 90 MPH. Since the Flying Scotsman is famous for going over 100 MPH, and for being the fastest steam locomotive in the world, so scale 90 MPH isn't unreasonable for her. I am sure that the model can go much faster, track-work permitting. Usually I try and run my trains at around 35-45 scale MPH, but this is an express locomotive and its supposed to go fast.
All in all I am happy with the set. The couplers are European style hook and loop couplers, and while that may bother some folks, I am fine with them. The British didn't use knuckle couplers on their trains, they used a sort of chain and binder set up. So the hook and loops look quite acceptable to me. And with those couplers, the car diaphragms are almost touching each other. Having the diaphragms that close together, looks a lot better to me then having a large gap between them.
I would like to someday add power pick ups to the tender, so she quits stalling on the switches, and I would like to change out the passenger car wheels so they play nicer on code 83 track. But other then that, there isn't anything else I would change. The set is darn pretty, and runs very well. Even though its scaled to 1:72nd scale (OO) scale, it doesn't look out of place with the 1:87.1 scale (HO scale) equipment I was running her alongside.