Way back in the late 1970s class 40s were my favourite locos and I fondly remember seeing them working freight trains past my school in Norton and passenger trains through Darlington. Even trips to Scotland to visit relatives would have me spotting them passing Carmuirs West on trains to the North.
Back then I had a Jouef class 40 which I can charitably say was challenged in both looks and performance. Next came along the Lima 40 which although being many times more accurate than the Jouef model was still fairly compromised, mainly around the cab area, but in a couple of other areas too, and with the usual Lima pancake motor performance wasn’t brilliant either. I had the version that represented the small batch of disc fitted locos converted to centre headcodes during the 1960s (D260-D266) and also along the way picked up a centre headcode and three disc fitted bodies. When Bachmann had a stab at producing a model of the 40 you got a model with a nice powerfull chassis but the body was arguably worse than the Lima one. The cabs undoubtably looked better than the Lima ones but between the cabs things had gone quite badly wrong. The cantrail grills were too low which meant the height of the bodyside was something like 1.5mm too shallow. The talk amongst the finescale fraternity back then was that the Lima body could be used on the Bachmann chassis to get somewhere towards a reasonable model so I acquired a cheap Bachmann 40 and sold on the body. Further chat on the forums then suggested that the Bachmann cabs could be grafted onto the Lima centre section to finally get something approaching a decent model so I bought another Bachmann body and set about converting the Bachmann chassis to P4 with Black Beetle wheels. Sadly, no matter what I tried the rewheeled chassis just wouldn’t stay on the track on Longcarse West so I put all the bits back in the drawer and got on with converting more secondhand Heljan 26s and 27s.
Fast forward to the begining of this year and with the new, revised, Bachmann 40 being imminent my thoughts turned back to class 40s. One of the new locos was going to cost me 88 quid from Hattons and it would still need to be converted to P4 and have the windscreens and radiator fan replaced with the Shawplan etch. Total outlay would be about £130ish which is an awful lot to a cheapskate like me. On the other hand, I had five Lima bodies, one Bachmann body and a chassis already badly converted to P4. With a bit of outlay on some Shawplan bits, a new saw blade and another crack at the chassis I could have the ultimate 40 for a lot less cash then the new Bachmann effort. Bachmann cabs onto Lima centre section and if I couldn’t get the chassis to work I could splash out on a Runmey Models sprung chassis. Bish, bash, bosh, job done. Or so I thought.
With the Bachmann cabs cut off the body and screwed to the chassis one of the Lima bodies had it’s cabs removed and had it’s length trimmed, mostly from the boiler end as it looked a bit long compared to the drawings I had available, until it dropped nicely into place. To make things complicated for myself I then decided I would model one of the Scottish centre headcode conversions so I chopped the noses off the appropriate Lima body and the Bachmann cabs. The Lima noses are about 1mm too tall so they were cut just below the headcode box, reduced in height to suit the Bachmann noses, and glued on. I also cut some cantrail grills from one of the spare shells to change the cantrail grills at the no.2 end to the Clayton pattern of long-long-short.
As with most projects the deeper in you get the more work you realise is going to be involved and as I read other peoples forum threads on class 40 conversions and studied books and photos it became clear that there was a lot to do and a fair few different opinions on where the hybrid body needed more work. Some suggested the cab sides needed deepening to match the depth of the Lima centre section while others suggested the nose and side windows were too low and needed raising. At this point the wife, with a bit of prompting, bought me a sparkly new Bachmann 40141 for my birthday so I came to the conclusion that I would do what was necessary to make the hybrid loco as close a match to the new Bachmann one so that they could work together on my layout without looking obviously different. The result of this is that I will be turning a blind eye to a couple of issues which a keener modeller might like to put right. The not very comprehensive list of issues with the hybrid body are as follows
Lima Centre Section
- Body height to cantrails needs to be reduced to match Bachmann cabs
- Bodyside radiator grills wrong size and in wrong position – This will be left as is
- Shawplan roof fan and Clayton boiler panels required
- One of the bodyside windows is in the wrong position – This will be left as is
- Pillar between cab side and cab front windows is far too thick and need to be filed back before adding Shawplan cab front window etch – This has been corrected on the new body
- Secondmans cabside grill is far too wide – Lima got this correct but Bachmann haven’t corrected it on the new body
- Guttering above cab side windows and doors in wrong position
The chassis of both locos will be upgraded and detailed with reference to the excellent article on class 40s by the Mostyn crew in the December 2005 issue of Rail Express Modeller. Bachmann have left off a lot of detail here between the body and bogies to allow the loco to go round trainset corners but for a finescale model it can safely be added without any fear of it getting in the way. The hybrid loco has had it’s inner sandboxes and multi working gear removed as per the prototype while the new Bachmann one, which will become Haymarket allocated 40142, will need attention to the oversized bogie side MW gear.
Further updates will follow as the project progresses