Tuesday 4 September 2012

How to upgrade an Airfix Class 31

 How to upgrade an Airfix Class 31
 Part 1 - The engineering bits. 
Mrs. F's father was a modeller (he's not dead he just doesn't do it anymore) mainly R/C battleships, a few large scale trucks and as I'm finding out the odd bit of railway. He's gradually clearing stuff out and bit by bit it's coming my way, initially in the form of two Airfix 31's which are both 'well loved'. One barely ran and the other had a limp where the bogie levelling peg was missing. They sat in the drawer for quite a while, but as I'm sorting Rhiw out for next week and because I tripped over Monty Wells' article in MRJ 11 yesterday I thought I'd see if I could get one good one out of the pair. The last thing Rhiw needs is an Eastern Region Type 2 running on it's ex GWR South Wales metals, but a few second on t'internet threw this up for it's number 31 401 : http://www.hondawanderer.com/31401_Paddington_1986.htm

You can't get much more western than Paddington, so maybe...

Both models were taken apart and the motor bogies greased and oiled, this made the runner a tad quieter, but didn't really improve the dog. Then I cracked the bogie frame getting it back onto the five(!) mounting clips (overkill or what?) The plastic is very brittle, which bearing in mind that it's probably 32 years old is not that surprising - my old lady is a little fragile. Nothing would stick it, from Mek to Daywat, so I resorted to brute force and welded back together with the rude end of a soldering iron. Everything was then clipped together and the wires re-soldered using the dog's main chassis frame that didn't have lugs missing. Thus two old ladies are now one.

Monty's article suggests that the corner body mount lugs be removed and the long cylinder lugs that take the central self-tappers be beefed up. I sanded a slight taper on each and forced  a washer on each with a little UHU as recommended.

The Airfix 31 as I already mentioned is 30+ years old, and while outstanding when it came out looks pretty rough compared to the new stuff. Though Ian Futers had a P4'd one pottering around on the influential Lochside  so why couldn't I? I reasoned that there was no point in splashing out on flush-glaze and etched grills as however much work I did,  it would  still be a country mile from even the current cheaper end  Hornby Railroad offering. Instead, I thought, a little aesthetic work to brighten it up and get it running would be the order of the day. If someone comes up and says ' Ahh, an Airfix 31, that runs nicely.' then that would be just fine.


  1. Horray for looking at an old article and having a go. My experience is that most people can't tell the origins of a model train once it's out of the box anyway. Then they just see train in scene and as long as this looks right, it is right.

  2. Always rather liked 31s.......I must look out the photos I took of them top & tailing Wessex Trains' services along West Coastway in about 2004/5. I do remember seeing them at least as far west as Didcot in the '70s on freight so I supppose it's not inconceivable the odd one could have made it to south Wales. I'll have to ask a work colleague who used to drive them out of OOC on both ECS and freight; if she doesn't know she'll probably know someone who does.