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Who are Vitrains ?


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Hi all,

I have seen on Ebay several class 37 diesels that purport to be Vitrains Lima class 37s. I might even have one though it was just bought as a Lima class 37. It has all the Hallmarks of a class 37 from them Lots of extra detailing and the coupling removed from one end and a complete set of pipework put in its place. The coupling at and the drawbar at the other end were left as original for the model. This is it. I reinstated the missing coupling and adjusted the pipe work to fit.

Lima-Hornby class 37.JPG

Edited by cypherman
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Vi-Trains were effectively born from the ashes of Lima, they produced just two models for the UK market before disappearing again, a Class 37 and a 47.  Both decent modern spec models but the purchaser was required to fit all the external small parts themselves which led to some grumbling amongst some of the modelling community at the time.

 

Supposedly, the two models produced for the UK market were actually derived from work in progress new models originally intended for Lima before they went bust but that as far as I know was never formally confirmed, it was a theory that fitted the facts.

 

The two 37's I can see in your photo, the split headcode one on the right is definitely Lima, the underscale windscreen apertures are a dead giveaway, D6944 on the other hand looks suspiciously like a well detailed up Triang Class 37 shell on what is definitely a Lima chassis.  Not a bad job either, I have seen a lot worse.

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Vitrains is an Italian company that was set up in May 2005 and still trades (https://www.vitrains.it/#scopri-vitrains).  I believe that their original staff were former Lima employees.

 

When Lima went into Administration in 2003, Hornby ultimately acquired "certain assets of Lima", but with production of the acquired models moving to China, some of the Italian workforce would have been made redundant.  I'm not clear what happened to the assets that Hornby didn't acquire and as @John M Upton has highlighted, it may be that Lima had plans to improve their Class 37 and Class 47 but this didn't get as far as tooling / production before they went into administration and perhaps Hornby only took the Lima tooling, leaving the redundant staff with the plans / prototypes for improved models, which became the models that Vitrains released before they withdrew from the UK market.

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The reason for Lima Vitrains products being listed on eBay is probably due to the fact that vitrains sold chassis specifically designed to fit old Lima 37 bodies for anyone wanting to upgrade.

 

the vitrains chassis is like modern Bachmann with a central can motor and drive shafts to each bogie- this distinguishes it from old Lima or more modern Hornby Railroad where a single bogie has a pancake type motor mounted onto it. As such the Vi chassis is far superior in haulage and runs well, if a bit slow. Spotting the chassis type in an eBay photo… probably the couplings are easiest give away with the vi having a cam type arrangement behind the buffer beam whilst Lima derived has couplings onto the bogies.

 

Vi class 37 bodies are pretty good though not quite up with Bach. They have a far better tumblehome which is  first thing to look for vs Lima derived body where the lower body side is relatively flat and doesn’t curve inwards. Window area is the other with Lima windows quite angular - vi did a much better job of this area. The other thing is that Vi never did a split head code 37 - only centre head code 37/0, 37/4 and they did do refurbished ex-split head code 37/5 and i think 37/7 too.

 

M

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The "history" of ViTrains as already mentioned is, AFAIK about right.

 

They made some HO models for the European market - they were as good as anybody else's. As per the UK models there was a lot of detail to be added by the end user but quite a bit of that was very fine & a fair amount of etched parts.

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9 hours ago, Matt said:

more modern Hornby Railroad where a single bogie has a pancake type motor mounted onto it

I think the Hornby Railroad locos that have ex Lima tooled bodies actually have an improved motor bogie and run much smoother than the original Lima type.  They no longer use pancake motors. 

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16 hours ago, cravensdmufan said:

I think the Hornby Railroad locos that have ex Lima tooled bodies actually have an improved motor bogie and run much smoother than the original Lima type.  They no longer use pancake motors. 

 

I never tried a Limby* 37 but did try the 73 and 33 with the  remotored chassis.  Yes they were quieter than the old Lima chassis but the haulage capacity was woeful.  An old Lima chassis with some attention and some extra weight could haul the world if you got it right.

 

[* Limby - The generic name given to the former Lima models re-released by Hornby with new motors]

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I don’t think Vi were planning to enter the U.K. market, it was hobbyco of Milton Keynes that commissioned the 37&47 from them as their own try to enter the U.K. market.

 

It wasn’t a success - as John mentioned the bits were a tad poor and fiddly to fit , and whilst the mechanism was a world better than Lima, the price differential with the Bachmann 37 wasn’t enough to win. They eventually ended up in many bargain buckets 

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On 30/05/2022 at 10:55, John M Upton said:

 

I never tried a Limby* 37 but did try the 73 and 33 with the  remotored chassis.  Yes they were quieter than the old Lima chassis but the haulage capacity was woeful.  An old Lima chassis with some attention and some extra weight could haul the world if you got it right.

 

[* Limby - The generic name given to the former Lima models re-released by Hornby with new motors]

Hi all,

It is odd that you mention the Limby remotorised engines  as I have a Limby class 33 as well. It is truly dreadful runner due to moving of the engine/bogie mounting point to the top of the chassis it continually derails when stopping by tipping the motor bogie chassis forwards and twisting off the track. I am working on rectifying this problem. This one to be precise.

Hornby class 33.JPG

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20 hours ago, rob D2 said:

I don’t think Vi were planning to enter the U.K. market, it was hobbyco of Milton Keynes that commissioned the 37&47 from them as their own try to enter the U.K. market.

 

It wasn’t a success - as John mentioned the bits were a tad poor and fiddly to fit , and whilst the mechanism was a world better than Lima, the price differential with the Bachmann 37 wasn’t enough to win. They eventually ended up in many bargain buckets 

Indeed I picked up an allegedly limited edition pair of 37s brand new from a shop for £50… I wonder now why I stopped at 1…

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Vitrains were without a doubt the best Ready-to-Run locos available in Kit-Form 😀

 

Seriously though, the mechanisms are good, I have quite a few Lima 37s & 47s that I detailed and repainted decades ago that now sit on Vitrains chassis and hold their own with the Bachmann, Heljan & modern Hornby locos.

 

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On 30/05/2022 at 10:55, John M Upton said:

 

I never tried a Limby* 37 but did try the 73 and 33 with the  remotored chassis.  Yes they were quieter than the old Lima chassis but the haulage capacity was woeful.  An old Lima chassis with some attention and some extra weight could haul the world if you got it right.

 

[* Limby - The generic name given to the former Lima models re-released by Hornby with new motors]

 

I think the answer with these is to go for dual motoring, though it does take some effort to hack about the trailing end of the chassis.

 

Lendons of Cardiff often have the power units for sale at a reasonable price. As with the Lima ones they replace, they are generic for two and three axles bogies, rather than correct wheelbase for each class of loco.

 

John.

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