Up­grade old wag­ons

Ge­orge Dent shows you how to trans­form a cou­ple of 1970s wag­ons.

Model Rail (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Ilived rather fru­gally as a newly mar­ried twenty-some­thing and had to make do with cheap mod­el­ling projects. Older, sec­ond-hand mod­els of­fered much po­ten­tial, es­pe­cially in the days when de­cent pre­owned rolling stock could be ob­tained for just a few pounds. While the pre­owned mar­ket has boomed in re­cent years, prices, like those of new mod­els, have risen too but there are still bar­gains to be found. Fur­ther­more, if you choose care­fully, there are many mod­els dat­ing back to the 1970s and 1980s that can still hold their own against con­tem­po­rary, ‘high-spec’ prod­ucts. A pair of typ­i­cal ex­am­ples are fea­tured here, namely the Lima 12t box van and an Air­fix seven-plank open wagon. In­tro­duced in the late 1970s, the Air­fix model has re­mained avail­able for decades, un­der the Main­line, Hornby and Dapol brands, with only mi­nor im­prove­ments to the wheels and cou­plings over the years. Cur­rent is­sue mod­els re­main fairly cheap in com­par­i­son to more mod­ern ready-to-run four-wheel wag­ons, but older ex­am­ples can be found for even less. With a new set of wheels, cou­plings and a quick dose of weath­er­ing, it looks very much at home on a mod­ern lay­out. I’ve had a soft spot for the Lima van since I was a kid. I had one in my first train set, but with its strik­ing red liv­ery and Typhoo Tea logo it wasn’t ex­actly re­al­is­tic. In­deed, the Ital­ian firm went through a phase of brand­ing gen­eral goods wag­ons with house­hold names, in­clud­ing Homepride flour, Stork mar­garine, Miche­lin tyres and St Ivel milk. Hornby did a sim­i­lar thing (the tank wagon that looked like a Du­ra­cell bat­tery was a par­tic­u­lar favourite). Hav­ing bought a hand­ful of Lima box vans back in the late 1990s, I com­bined them with su­pe­rior un­der­frames and wheels from Park­side Dun­das and Rom­ford, re­spec­tively. The im­prove­ment was pretty amaz­ing, tak­ing what was es­sen­tially a toy and trans­form­ing it into a more ‘se­ri­ous’ model. As with much of Lima’s out­put, the vans fea­tured some finely moulded de­tail on the plas­tic body shells, but the bombproof un­der­frames and enor­mous wheel flanges were a real draw­back. Tricky to mod­ify, the tough, rub­bery plas­tic chas­sis was best dis­carded, with Park­side’s chas­sis kits re­main­ing a very eco­nom­i­cal up­grade op­tion. Re­peat­ing the up­grade more re­cently, the cost of the Lima vans hasn’t in­creased much, in rel­a­tive terms, with good boxed ex­am­ples avail­able for around a ten­ner. As we’re only in­ter­ested in the bodyshell, it’s worth look­ing out for less pris­tine ex­am­ples at lower prices. Tak­ing into ac­count the econ­omy of scale in­volved in buy­ing paints and trans­fers to treat at least a dozen sim­i­lar wag­ons, the en­tire up­grade of this Lima van project came to about £20, in­clud­ing the cost of the donor model. Con­sid­er­ing the qual­ity of the fin­ished model, I think this is ex­cel­lent value. Plus it was great fun and brought back some very happy me­mories…

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.