About twenty years ago I was faced with the problem of how to try and model the West Coast Main Line in N, but with only the Farish 87, and the Lima 86 available? The only solution was to try and fill the gaps by scratch building all the missing items. This had started as a project to run them on the exhibition layout 'Kings Park'. The first three attempts were at class 85s built round some secondhand Fleischmann continental AC locos. However these were a bit overscale in width, topping out at a scale twelve feet. Something had to be done to produce a more true to size model.
This was the first attempt to produce an early 81 built around an Arnold continental chassis.
The basic construction was made up from 1mm plasticard, with the cab front and side windows made from 0.5mm plasticard. The bodyshell was made as a solid box first, with the windows and grill apertures drilled out and filed. (As I had done with the EMUs and Underground stock.) The grills were made from P & D Marsh whitemetal corrugated sheeting. Cut to size and inset into the bodyside.
The following couple of pictures show the first few production locos under construction. Unfortunately the original images have been lost, and these are reproductions from my remaining hard copy.
The cab roof was made with a small off cut of carriage roof, with space at the front to insert a lot of body filler which could be sanded down to shape.
After about five locos were completed on a mixed bag of motorised chassis the next step was to build some locos with some leftover Farish 87 bodyshells, leftover from pinching the chassis to power some Multiple units. After talking to Richard Dockerill at an exhibition he told me he had started building some AC Locos using a Minitrix Class 27 chassis, but with Minitrix Class 42 bogies. I found this to be extremely useful, as I had hoarded my own Minitrix locos and they were still available. In fact I then went around the exhibitions picking up more bargain secondhand Minitrix locos to convert. As the Farish 87 body was too long for the 81-5s I removed a section of the original body, so that it would fit the Minitrix 27/42 combo chassis.
The Minitix 42 bogies had no side frames, so sticking some other ones (from my leftovers box) on the side was quite easy after filing off a bit of surplus metal to the Coupler pockets.
Bit of a fuzzy picture in early digital camera days, showing how the Farish 87 body was shortened. I used a small saw at first, but as I got more proficient with a slitting disc, I started using that.
The shortened body put together with liquid poly glue and allowed to harden, then sanded off. Cab front and windows removed.
Finished bodyshell with a slightly thicker end of plasticard to allow profiling, and thinner plasticard for the front windows drilled and filed out. Route Indicator box also drilled and filed. The original bodyside detail was infilled with filler and sanded flush.
The bodyside windows and grills were then done in the same was as the early scratchbuilt version.
To produce some class 86s, this was before the Dapol 86 was introduced, a simple expedient was to modify the Farish 87 by just altering the front end, with some replacement plasticard windows, and removing the 87 front detail and drilling out the Route Indicator Box.
At this time I also had some old Lima 86 bodyshells, which were too short to be an 86. So I lengthened the body by cutting it into three bits, and inserting odd bits of plasticard to pad it out. Next photo shows roughly where the body was cut, and the pieces inserted. The length was made to fit a standard Farish 87 chassis, freeing up more 87 bodyshells for conversion to class 81-5s.
One more item to add was the converted gas turbine loco which became E1000/E2001. This started out as just an Ultima coach roof, with shaped plasticard sides and ends in the same way as the early scratchbuilt locos, but with some etched brass grills.
The loco was built around a standard Farish Class 47 chassis. Note the buffers have had the outer edges filed down. This was done on the actual loco to fit the London Midland Loading Gauge requirements.
That about wraps up this little story. Next episode to include building the Mark 2 Manchester/Liverpool Pullman stock.