Bachmann chassis for the Lima 94xx

by Mikkel Kjartan

Lima 94xx body on Bachmann 57xx chassis

The 94xx Class were introduced under Hawksworth in 1947. The first 10 were built before nationalization, with a further 100 locos made for BR after nationalisation. Though hardly good-looking engines, they were functional locos which covered a range of the less glamorous railway duties.

For an early model, the body of the Lima model captures the overall outline of the prototype reasonably well. When placed on a scale drawing, the body comes out fairly close to the prototype dimensions. The overall length of the loco is 1 to 2 milimeters (3 to 6 scale inches) too long, but I can live with that. The model is now discontinued from Lima, but remains fairly easy to obtain on the second-hand market. If you are lucky, it may also be possible to purchase a new model from a shop with good stocks.

So much for the good news. Bad news are, this model has as a very poor excuse for a chassis, a feature shared with the other British Lima steamers. Moreover, the motor fills up most of the cab space and is very visible when the model is viewed side-on. To me, these features ruin the overall appearance entirely, and I therefore decided to have a go at replacing the chassis.

CGW numberplates have been added since this shot

Items used

  • Lima 94xx, ref 204815A6
  • Bachmann 57xx chassis, ref 35.900
  • 20 thou (0.5mm) Slaters Plastikard
  • Bits of plastic rod and two small chassis screws

The Bachmann chassis is available separately as a spare part, and is an excellent runner. Moreover, the motor is mounted over the center of the chassis, giving a virtually free cab on the 94xx. The prototype 57xx and 94xx both had 4' 7½" wheels, and shared an identical wheelbase.

The only major compromise in using the 57xx chassis is that it reveals incorrect spacing between the splashers on the Lima model. Because of this, the splashers will not be exactly centered over the wheels. This is really only noticeable when the loco is viewed directly from the side at a low height (as in the photo below), and is still a vast improvement over the original model.

Note that the recent 8750 class loco from Bachmann has a different chassis from the 57xx. This can also be fitted but will involve more hacking about, as the chassis block is wider and does not fit the 94xx body so well.

The compromise: wheels don't quite align with splashers

Main steps

  • Preparing the body

    Having dismantled the 94xx body and rid myself of the chassis, I opened out the space inside the Lima body. This involved carefully trimming the inside of the firebox to accept the new chassis. The inside of the splashers also needed trimming, in order to clear the coupling rods. The footplate comes off as a separate part, so this is fairly easy work.

  • Cab floor and frames

    Once adapted, the 94xx body sat snugly on the new chassis. However, with the original motor gone from the cab, one could see straight through to the tracks below. I therefore fitted a cab floor, cut from Plastikard and painted matt black. Next up were the outer reaches of the frames, which are quite clearly visible on the real thing, given the overhang of the footplate. Again, these were cut from plastikard , and fixed to the chassis with superglue.

  • Fitting body and chassis

    The original Lima body is fitted to the chassis with a plastic lip at the rear end, which locates into a rectangular hole in the buffer beam. This system could be maintained by packing plastikard to create a new lip, but I chose instead to fill up the hole in the bufferbeam and fit the two parts together with a couple of the usual small screws. This was done by fitting two large chunks of plastic rod between the outer reaches of the frames that I had added earlier. This serves to locate the screws, and gives a good tight fit between the body and chassis.

  • Detailing

    Finally, I added a set of new numberplates from CGW, and painted the chimney all black – the real things didn't have polished brass chimney tops as portrayed by Lima. At this point I got lazy and decided to leave it at that. More worthy modellers would have replaced the handrails and the slightly overscale "GWR" lettering. Still, it's a nice little runner as it is, and makes a pleasant change to all the 57xxs we see so often.

Thanks to John Nutall and Ian Wales for input on the scale dimensions.