Chassis Swap

 Chris replaces the old Lima chassis of his Craftsman Models '120' with the chassis of a Hornby Class 121. CHRIS LEIGH

Chris replaces the old Lima chassis of his Craftsman Models '120' with the chassis of a Hornby Class 121. CHRIS LEIGH

I guess we all have favourite models in our collection... 

I’m a big fan of first generation DMUs and for my 'Black Dog Halt' ('BDH') layout, I built a Craftsman Models Swindon 3-car Cross-Country unit (Class 120). One of my favourite photographs is a shot I took of just such a unit coming into 'BDH', (on the Calne branch) so naturally, I had to model that unit. Although I no longer have the layout, I do still have all the rolling stock, and the Class 120 was recently pulled out of the cupboard in order to help Joel and Andy from Dapol to find the correct shade of green for one of their upcoming models.

It was then that I realized the Class 120 could have a new career on 'Polwyddelan' - the Cornish Harbour project I’m building for Model Rail. The Craftsman etched brass kit fitted onto a Lima Class 117 chassis. There’s no easy way I could convert that Lima mechanism to DCC but it then dawned on me that I could swap the old Lima chassis for a more recent DCC-ready Hornby chassis from their Class 121 DMU. Hornby used the old Lima tooling but upgraded it to accept a DCC socket so the dimensions and the mounting lugs are all the same.

Swapping the Class 120 body and interior onto the Hornby chassis (£69 on Ebay) has proved remarkably easy. Now I just need to remove one coupler and add some buffer beam detail and my ‘120’ can come out of retirement. I’ve several other DMUs which could have the same treatment. (CJL)

If a brand-new green Hornby 121 body on an old Lima chassis is any use to you, drop me an e-mail at my office e-mail address.