Lima Warship to 3 rail

William would like a Warship to run on his 3 rail layout. The easiest but not the cheapest is to buy a Trix 3 rail version although the scale is not 00 (slightly smaller) and running is just OK – see my previous posts on this.

I also have a Lima one which I acquired as a 3 rail conversion back in 2007 and he would like to have a go at his first conversion on one of these.

The Lima Warship is very simple, relatively cheap to buy and it would not be a financial disaster if it all went pear shaped. To match with HD it should be green or maroon as mine. Rail Blue came after HD was bought by Triang so my layout avoids this timeframe. Examples are available from ebay for around £40 as a BIN but bidding might get you a cheaper one. There are usually plenty available.

Lets just review what has to be done before we look at my conversion.

(1) The 2 rail pick up wire to the motor has to be disconnected

(2) A new centre pick up has to be installed and wired to the motor

(3) The insulated wheels have to be de-insulated to allow them to run over HD points without faltering

Now lets look at how my one was 3 railed.

First take off the body. Carefully as it is held on by plastic lugs which are easily broken – mine are but the body sits on the frame OK but you have to remember to pick it up by the chassis.

Power bogie, large weight, non powered bogie, One wire between the two. On the left extra lead weight to put on top of the weight, but it needs some more.

Pick up

The pick up is the ultimate bodge. Probably 2 paper clips or even drawing pins soldered onto springy copper. It works but it won’t last that long and I would recommend using a Marklin skate. Everything on this bogie is plastic so there are no insulation problems that you can get with metal framed locos.

as on this conversion of a tender drive loco. Marklin pickup here

Current from the pick up is transferred by the bolt drilled through the bogie to a connection in the body

I think that the clip that locks the nut came from the original 2 rail pick up. This conversion uses the original wire from the 2 rail pick up and therefore there is no need to solder a new wire to the motor, as this would be difficult unless your soldering is pretty good.

So apart from ensuring that you are careful to ensure that you drill the hole in the correct place, lock the bogie that it swivels but is not too loose everything should be OK.

That completes action (2)

So how were the wheels de-insulated. Well on my loco this is bodge number two. He has turned one of the non powered bogie wheels around so that non insulated wheel is on the other side resulting in 3 insulated wheels and 1 non insulated wheels on one side. Amazingly this works very well and the engine does not hesitate over points or X crossings. A more conventional method is to use conducting silver paint on the insulated wheels, as this bridges the insulation. Check after that the wheels really are de-insulated and then paint over the silver with matt black.  The silver paint is available here  and will last you for hundreds of conversions.

As this loco came already converted you can get some idea of the 2 rail set up here but unfortunately there is no detail on the wiring

It’s also good to know that if your drill slips when making your hole in the non powered bogie spares are available on ebay at a very reasonable cost.

I hope that this diatribe helps, good luck and send me some pictures. I will try and help if you have problems.

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3 Responses to Lima Warship to 3 rail

  1. William says:


    What can I say! Step by step, even I can understand it. Thank you
    for all your help, I’m now off to the next Toy Fair in search of a Lima.


  2. William says:


    I am endebted to you for the conversion information, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask
    you to clarify two small points please and they are:
    One: if turning one set of wheels around on non – driven bogey works “very well” then
    I’ll run with that, on the assumption of course that this operation is painless and can
    be performed by a ‘ham fist’.
    Two: Looking at various non-powered bogies for sale I noticed a brass stud, pin or shaft
    protruding above the bogie, I guess it is this I’m drilling out or does it pull out of the
    bogie? You warn about drill slipping.
    Once again thank you for the great article.


  3. David Usher says:

    In a case of practicing what I preach I have started the conversion of a similar Lima chassis. The wire from the empowered bogie is attached to a pin that goes to a pick up arrangement on the axles. As one wheel is insulated from the axle this picks up from one side only. Naturally the powered bogie picks up high the other track. I too reckoned that reversing one axle would give a pickup from both tracks together.

    However the picture suggests the third rail pickup is using the centre pin. For the wheels to be used as pickups as well there would be two wires from the vogue to the motor. This means wheel pick up is on the power bogie only. Reversing an axle on the empowered bogie would help power distribution. Even so pickups for all wheels on the power bogie.

    Regarding the paper clip versus Marklin pickup debate. I do not have a Marklin pickup to check but I suspect it would be too big to fit under a bogie. In practice it could be possible to fit paper clip collectors under both bodies.

    This is now as far as I have got with loco. All stages so far recorded photographically so will post details when finished.

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