Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Project 31

This project has been brewing for a little while however life has been very busy of late - thankfully part of this was preparing for an interview! Waiting to hear on this, but it was nice to be able to speak to someone and not just go through online applications.

So back to modelling for a little respite and to start by being a little controversial; I don't like the Hornby 31! There's something about the body that just doesn't do it for me. I'm not sure what it is, but the overall shape just doesn't seem right - maybe the sides are too flat? The mechanism, however, is rather better than Lima's standard motor but the Lima body looks so much better to me. The curve of the bodysides look 'right' to my eyes. I must say at this juncture that if you're happy with your Hornby 31, then you'll be saved all this aggro!

When the Hornby 31 first appeared I bought one immediately, I had ordered it once it was announced but it sat in the workshop because I just wasn't happy. A new project can justify a model of 31 171 in Railfreight grey; a photo of the loco on the line provided the impetus for this model. I had Lima model which would provide the basis, but what to do for the mechanism?

Well I decided to sell the body and use the mechanism; good idea I thought, but the Lima body is just under a millimeter short than the Hornby one, so the Hornby chassis isn't a direct fit. Even with the ends filled down the buffer beams wouldn't be right relative to the cab fronts. I considered using just the main Hornby chassis block this - I even cut the buffer beams off chassis! The only thing was I thought about how about how to locate the chassis block and then thought that since the Lima chassis frame locates perfectly within the body I'd save myself a whole load of work! The lost weight can easily made up using lead. Therefore I began to cannibalise the Hornby chassis for the bogies, motor, drive shafts and the battery box details and use these with the Lima chassis frame.

The set up is very simple - the total time is about an hour, allowing for any extra ballast to dry. The work was very similar to that of 37 219 which appears at the top of my blog. Very simple cut outs at the former non-powered end and simple bearing pieces from 60 thou Plastikard with 1/8" holes to take the bogie pivots. I also fitted the Hornby battery boxes and once they were in place filled them with lead and added a flat piece of Plastikard over them to provide a seat for the motor. This was secured with silicon sealant.

The chassis was very quickly wired up using the original pick up wires to test it. The loco has now a much better mechanism (though a good Lima loco is still very useful!) and will no doubt improve further once it has new Gibson wheels. The other advantage is that the bogies have finer detail too which can only enhance the overall look.

Which brings us nicely up to date!

The rest of the work will be quite a standard detailing project, well within the capabilities of most modellers! Just a little care and the result should be very pleasing.


For those who wish to see a little more of the project, it is currently being discussed on RMweb and Jim Smith-Wright has a variation on the same theme too.


  1. Ian Penberth or Justin Newitt may design all sprung bogies for the 31 in future......who knows?

    1. Ian is working on it for the Hornby chassis!