Collecting Lima Model Railways
Many people love model trains, especially those who played with them when they were little. However, model trains are not just a hobby for the young. Adults often love to collect these trains and construct elaborate railways. One popular brand of models were the Lima Model railways.
Lima trains were made in Italy for close to half a century. The company began in the 1950s and continued to produce popular trains until 2004. They produced trains and railway material in many different countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, South Africa, Australia, the United States, and Germany. Most of their trains were 00 or N gauge, though they also produced some H0 and 0 gauge material.
The assets of Lima are now owned by Hornby Railways, which purchased them for eight million euros in 2004. Hornby now produces a line of Lima Model railways under its Hornby International brand. The material has been retrofitted so that it is compatible with DCC decoders and has NEM couplings.
In the 1980s, Lima was primarily focusing on the British market. After British Rail was privatized under Margaret Thatcher, this produced ample opportunity for expansion. Since Lima produced material in much smaller runs than its primary competitor, Hornby, it was able to produce models very quickly.
Unfortunately, this rapidly led to too much expansion and too many different models. Lima had produced more than 300 different trains by the 1990s, and they were not all of the highest quality. In an attempt to clear their stock, Lima held a massive sale in 1995 on all of its items.
This drove up demand for Lima items, though only for a short period of time. Before long, the interest among collectors had shifted to the second-hand market. Fewer new models and materials were purchased since the company had flooded the marketplace with so many different items.
Lima attempted to keep going by introducing a new Class 67 engine in 2000. It did not impress buyers and proved to be the company’s last gasp. Within a few years, Lima had folded and its assets were, as mentioned before, purchased by its longtime rival Hornby.
In North America, Lima primarily focused on H0 models. The quality of these was considerable at first, but as the competition improved, Lima was unable to keep pace. Before long, the company’s offerings were primarily seen as toys or suitable only for beginners. Despite some halting attempts, the company was never able to make much of an impact in the United States.
There is still demand for Lima products among collectors. Many of these can be found online on auction sites such as eBay, or on specialized collector’s sites. Hobby shops and model shops may also have Lima material for sale. It can pay to shop around.
Lima Model railways played an important role in the model train market for many years. They are still interesting to collect. Fortunately, a good deal of material is still readily available if you know where to look.