Not really into model trains - I used to play with real ones which were much more fun but a bit trickier to get back on the track if they came off - but thinking and applying my Virgo/Vulcan logic............ how about removing the motor from the chassis and, by dint of some direct wiring to the transformer ascertaining in the motor works/turns. Then checking the chassis to see of the wheels turn....I'm insulting your intelligence now - sorry.
from memory weren't the 81 and 77 models made by Triang, not Hornby? If yours are labelled as Triang-Hornby they'll simply be Triang models made post take-over. It should mean spares are easier to get as more Triang models were made over a longer period - much later than the Hornby Dublo stuff which vanished, until Triang licensed the Dublo tooling to Wrenn who got SOME of the models made out in China for a few years
That's right Milo, the boxes say Triang-Hornby on them. I'm on the track (no pun intended) of a couple of replacement motor bogeys.
I'm away with work now for the week but will update on progress next weekend and get a couple of pictures up.
Interestingly the class 81 has a switch on top which suggests it can draw current from an overhead line. Under the covers there is a wire from the pickup on the top to the motor so this looks like it would work. I didn't know you could use overhead on hornby stuff. Another thing for me to explore. I'll be buying an anorak next..
"a switch on top which suggests it can draw current from an overhead line"
Correct Triang had a live catenery system which clipped to the track, both the class 81 and 77 should be able to use it. You could even run two locomotives independently on the same track: one postive overhead, one positive from one of the rails, with a common return feed. You'd need to make sure they were separate transformers though - not simply two windings off the same transformer otherwise you may get problems if you reversed power on one...
Also I think from memory the caternery masts came in two forms - one each for the Super4 and System6 track. The Super4 was heavier/coarser stuff (System6 was based on the thinner Dublo wheel and rail profile) and the clip-fit holes between the sleepers were different sizes
Thinking about it, the rail profile may be part of the problem you have getting them to run. A locomotive with the coarse "Super4" wheel sets may well pinch the track and junp or stick when run on newer System6 or other thin profile track
The Cateary is now almost impossible to find. If you want to run under the wires you'll have to splash out on Somerfeldt and that ain't cheap although IIRC Heljan are producing a dummy overhead. I don't know if it has wires or is just the masts
Milo's on the money if you want to run them on 'new' track. They will possibly work on current Hornby track and Peco Set Track and or Streamline Code 100 which is equivalent ( I think) to Triang Hornby System Six.
I found on 'tinterweb this addy New Page 1
Never used them or know anyone who has but they just might be able to help for spares. An option with the wheels in your current models if you want to run them on new track, if the hobby bites again, is to get the wheels lathe turned to finer profiles. This will mean you can run the locos on newer track with newer stock.
There was a chap on eBay selling replacement wheels for the Tri-ang Blue Pullman a while ago; I purchased two sets to rewheel my own Blue Pullman, the difference after fitting these is remarkable. I seem to recall that these wheelsets can also be used for the EM2 and Class 37. The Class 81's wheels (I think) are a larger diameter.
EDIT: Found one eBay seller who has them in stock; they are rather expensive - I certainly didn't pay that much for both sets of mine!
Dapol's catenary masts are available, Hatton's of Liverpool has them in stock. They do look pretty good, see here. There is a thread on RMWeb about those catenary masts here. Lon More - I've not seen Heljan's offering yet, I just hope it will be better researched than their model of DP2...
BadgerGrowler - The same set is just under £100 at Modelzone; yes, they are expensive, but the detailing and performance has vastly improved over the years.
P.S. Groundbased - I'm still looking through my spares boxes...