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The Nth Degree

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  1. Hello all. Could I quickly inject some facts to quench the speculation. For personal reasons that I would rather not go into, I am unable to continue to run the company, at least on my own, and therefore I’m offering it for sale. LLC is not in administration. Of course, I will try to secure a positive outcome for all of my customers, whether they have committed financially or not, and it is with you that my priorities lay. Regarding communication briefly, outside of my family and one other person I have not communicated with anyone, so I have not been selective or biased or tried to conceal anything. I have simply been unable to. Nobody has lost anything yet, but I concede there has been a significant delay and I apologise sincerely for it. Updates will appear here in due course. Steve
  2. Dear all. Over the past few months I have been unable to progress any Little Loco Company projects due to personal reasons. I have now come to the realisation that I can no longer continue to operate LLC and I'm inviting offers among the model railway community for the sale of the business in whole or part. Please feel free to share this statement. Offered for sale is a complete tooling set (injection moulding and die-cast) for the Ruston 48DS in two styles ready for production, costing over £140,000 in total for machining, EDM on all parts, and developmental testing. In addition, the Class 22 is fully developed and ready for tooling, incorporating many novel features and systems that have been designed to be marketed separately and feature in future models. Tooling costs can be considerably reduced by removing this system-level approach. I am open to offers for the business as a whole or just the rights and tooling for the Ruston, along with the Class 22 development work. Serious offers or request for further information to [email protected] – I am happy to act as a free consultant to ensure the sale and project continues as smoothly as possible. I have received many emails and messages recently, and I have read them but I've not had the wherewithal to respond. Any personal messages can be sent to [email protected] please. I may not be able to respond to all but I will read them. My sincere apologies and kindest regards, Steve
  3. Sorry all, I don't really like communicating no news. I've been ill over Christmas and January, almost ended up in hospital. A bacterial infection followed immediately by a viral infection. I was just too beat up to do much at all I'm afraid. I'm better now, thankfully. As Nikki kindly conveyed for me on FB (she's not a member here yet) we had confirmation from the plastics factory that the superstructures of the open cab Ruston will be here in no more than 8 weeks, very possibly sooner. From there they go straight to decoration and sub-assembly. Likewise with the die-casting, we are looking at approx 8-10 weeks for delivery. These are supplied pre-painted so we move straight to sub-assembly on these. The electronics are mostly off the shelf or already in stock at LLC. The only outstanding issue we have is with the machined parts. Four separate UK companies have agreed to produce them and then pulled out, so we are now looking at overseas production, unless anyone knows somebody with a sliding head CNC lathe? Everything is looking better than it did last year. Originally one factory was going to produce everything but gradually pulled out of producing part after part and then finally assembly. I've now found new suppliers for all the parts they pulled and have a small assembly team based in the UK waiting to receive parts. If necessary I will chisel these models from raw material to get them out so one way or another they will be released. Apologies again for the lack of comms.
  4. Season’s greeting to our customers and followers. As the new year gets ever closer I’ve been reflecting on this current year – and what a tumultuous one it has been. I’m not ashamed to say my continuing desire to be a model railway manufacturer has ebbed and flowed to some dramatic extremes this year. The primary concern has been bringing the Rustons to a quality position that I can approve and be proud of producing. The fact is that I could have approved it much earlier this year, but it would not have met my standards and, most importantly, not yours either. Each time a part or series of parts is rejected for tooling amends it takes on average three months to resolve. The unfortunate situation is that this has happened several times, and often to the same parts. While this has been going on, we have had the opportunity to test a few completed sample models. I’m absolutely delighted that, even though these are pre-production samples and not nearly to the same standard as the final models, they have performed impeccably. By now we are likely over the 10km point of testing – that’s real distance, so several hundred scale kms – and not a single failure of any part. This will undoubtedly be the most thoroughly tested model ever! Happily, tooling was approved recently. I won’t go into specific details here, but we did have a minor legal wrangle with our plastics factory, but this has now been resolved and we are both determined to produce the parts so we can start assembly as soon as possible. Delivery of plastic parts won’t be until next year, despite having many other parts in stock and waiting. The Class 22 is patiently waiting for the Rustons to be released so they can enter production tooling. We continue to make minor refinements to the design, especially with ease of assembly and customisation in mind. I hold my hands up in taking the blame for not realising how delays elsewhere would impact this project – it has been crippling, and I apologise. Looking forward into the latter part of 2019 I have to evaluate the business strategy as it currently stands. After the release of the 22s no other product will be announced before the first stage of tooling has been completed and samples produced for evaluation. It is our strong desire to have at least some production facilities in-house or through our sister company, Kitpart Ltd. Our in-house priorities will centre around producing smaller plastic parts, decoration and assembly. Little Loco Company will be closing for Christmas on Friday 14th December. I can still answer urgent emails when I’m available and I’m sure Nikki will keep an eye out for questions posted on social media. I sincerely wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. Steve, LLC Ltd.
  5. I have been observing this thread for a while now and have worried a little about some of the posts' content. It is only fair that the record be set straight before any real damage is done to either company. Instead of posting here I have posted it in LLCs section, the direct link for the post is here: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/135191-class-50/?p=3338403
  6. I’ve been reading the thread concerning another manufacturer’s Class 50 model on and off for a while and so to correct some inaccuracies mentioned in it I’d like to put our version of events forward. Most will not be aware, and it will prevent some unwarranted criticism of our competitor. A new Facebook group was started for LLC (this was not asked for) by an individual (let’s call him Mr X) who did customer decoration and repaints for us. One of the first posts in the new FB group was a poll started by Nikki (our design engineer) asking what we should produce next. The Class 50 won the poll. Mr X contacted me and asked if we should crowdfund the model, knowing it was not in LLCs foreseeable production plan. He then posed the question on his own FB group and it was obvious to see there was very strong support for it. Nikki and I were too busy to manage the project so I told him he has to put some hours in finding the drawings, looking for other investors and stakeholders, etc. Producing a model this size is very expensive and time-consuming. Mr X could not find the drawings (he did this by using Messenger on FB…) but he had heard that somebody had the entire file and set about messaging him. I have heard through a friend of this person that the messages started congenially and ended up with a copious amount of swearing, all in the name of LLC, and all in a single day. The person with the drawings doesn’t use FB that much, so when he did eventually see the messages I can imagine his reaction and I don’t blame him. I have tried to contact him since to apologise and I can fully understand why he wants nothing to do with LLC if ‘we’ communicate like that. So, at that stage we had no drawings. I eventually found them by paying for researchers at the NRM – the result of a simple email. Another task for Mr X was finding further investors, which he did. Two friends of his were willing to put in quite a big chunk of cash. Unfortunately, by the time we needed it the funds were no longer available. One had bought a new house, which is fair enough, and another had disappeared completely. Fortunately, after taking more time out of our planned projects, I found a very generous person willing to step in. His final task, and the most relevant in this case, was to find partners to work with. The Fifty Fund was the perfect partner, with plenty of resources to call upon. I made initial contact with Jonathan Dunster and then Dave Redbourne and handed over to Mr X to follow up. It turns out that Dave immediately told Mr X that another manufacturer had been consulting with them for about two years already and were well advanced – obviously, he didn’t say who, but one can guess. Mr X chose not to tell me this. Had I known, I would have stopped development immediately. It turns out that Mr X was on a one-man crusade against our competitor using not one penny of his own money and not much of his time either. I eventually found out months later as a series of forum posts at the Fifty Fund was drawn to my attention. It was at this time, when LLCs name was being implicated very negatively over there that I decided to cancel the project. I had hoped that the bitter words about our competitor would have stopped. So, with a couple hundred hours down, a few thousand pounds out of pocket and a chunk out of our reputation, we find Mr X totally blasé with not a hint of blame or responsibility owned. In fact, he’s blaming it all on us with his band of loyal FB buddies in tow. I’ve been angry about this for quite a while now, and up until now have chosen to say nothing. This catastrophe has added time onto both of LLCs current projects and taken funds away from them. The facts of the failure of our Class 50 project are above – and it’s now plain to see our competitor was not to blame, it was Mr X. When our competitor announced two days after we did I thought all’s fair in love and war, let the competition begin. But this was not the true case, as they were already far in advance of us, which Mr X knew and said nothing. The reality is this person has claimed to be part of Little Loco Company but never has been, he has claimed the credit for for LLCs achievements but has contributed absolutely nothing, and he has claimed to have ‘built our reputation’ to his followers but done nothing but sap our reputation and goodwill to a certain following on FB – and continues to do so. Whether ours or theirs would have been the better model is irrelevant as had I known all of the facts from the beginning this project would not have gotten off the ground. I can only wish our competitor the best of luck with their model. Steve
  7. Thanks for the compliments and Paul's help in answering questions. The tail lights were deliberately left non-working because they were never allowed to be used during its operational life, so it would have been silly to invent a lighting mode. As Paul said, a working tail lamp was planned and designed but the factory refused to make it so it was left out. A shame.
  8. During the summer holiday season when most of our production partners were closed for the summer, we took the opportunity to revise some of the model and increase detail levels even further. As the cabs will be removable (to add a crew or detail even further) we took the opportunity to revise some elements of the design of the cabs. We have also been working with Detailed Miniatures who will be producing a bespoke crew just for our model. The figures will be fully detailed and painted and available exclusively from DM (prices to be determined). We are also having a look at illuminating the control panels for that extra realism! I'm personally not sure which circuit to splice into – either the directional lights or cab light, or perhaps something else? We are at the limit of adding extra functions on the decoder so preferably I wouldn't like to have this as an option, but if anyone has a preference please do get in touch. We will be attending Hornby Magazine's Great Electric Train Show this coming weekend in Milton Keynes, so if you are attending please pop by. We will have a test print of one of the cabs so it would be great to get your input and comments. Attached are CAD images of the cab we are bringing. Please feel free to share this post to interest groups and anyone you feel would be interested. As always, thank you for your support and interest. Steve
  9. The bogies on the 22 are very open, so a traditional gearcase within the frames would have been very obvious and not very attractive at all. In fact, it would have been a pretty major fault. On this model we had no choice but to produce a fairly accurate bogie. As we had spare capacity on the toolset we added in a few more parts to make it almost an exact replica. It only added a few extra hours onto CNC time and a few pence on the materials cost. We thought it was worth it.
  10. With larger storage facilities I won't need to create space any more. The new space is more than 50% larger than our current space, and is more convenient too. The Rustons will be available through retailers but the 22 won't be. Direct sales only for that one.
  11. An absolute bargain! We're offering full support for these, including spare parts shortly, so fill your boots. This is not normal LLC practice, but we needed space in our warehouse for the anticipated arrival of the Rustons and Hattons generously obliged. We move into a larger warehouse in the middle of next year.
  12. I know a commercial landlord. When I say know, we simply have a mutual friend and see each other at the occasional bbq. At one of these events we asked why so many of his lock-up shops were empty, when he proudly boasted it was to eliminate his tax liability, while still increasing his asset value. He intentionally keeps 15-20% of his commercial portfolio empty specifically to offset his tax bill. Everyone went quiet staring at him with open mouths.
  13. Thank you to all of those who came along for a chat. It was really good to meet you and showcase some of our developments we are working on; the Rustons, Class 22, some of our electronic technology and the Z gauge test track display. For those who couldn't make it, a couple photos. The Rustons are a whisker away from production. All machined and die-cast parts are approved, electronics and drive systems have also been approved, there are just a couple more tweaks to do on the mouldings. We also had a test print of the Class 22 bogie. This is a very complex structure containing 103 individual parts so we commissioned a test print as it would be moulded to test assembly and fit. We're very pleased with it, as were all of those who saw it.
  14. Hello David, yes, progress is being made all the time. I don't have much time to post about it and the progress is sometimes very small or not very interesting. New samples from the injection moulder have arrived, a new die-caster has been sourced and samples 'should' be here in time for Telford. The machined parts supplier has come up with a machine tool small enough to create knurls on the axles to prevent the possibility of slippage (has not been evident, but is theoretically possible). The new electronics factory have provided samples of new interface boards and capacitor boards with solder joins that stick! Testing the printed lining will start soon, along with building the jigs for fixing the badges. Packaging supplier being sent updated artwork after Telford. Individually these are not worth talking about, but together as above and you can see it's been busy. That's not counting the work on the 22, research on the following model and also further technical investigations into Z gauge. Plus, organising a demo of the precision injection moulding machine we hope to purchase as soon as funds allow. It's coming together, but everything seems like it's moving along in treacle with lead boots!
  15. Apologies, but I'm off to France on holiday in a matter of hours. I'll be back next week. If you do not require sound, simply purchase the standard model and sell the cap board and speaker driver. They should net you about £20-30. Fit your batteries and receiver depending on the requirements of your chosen supplier, replacing the feeds from the pick-ups with those from your battery. The common interface board can stay, and if you choose a solution that can utilise the decoder, keep it. Otherwise sell that too for another £20 or so (non-sound). The decorated option has all decals applied to your chosen loco specification. All numbers, logos, plates, etc are applied as in a fully finished model. As standard the models come with a decal sheet for you to customise your model yourself. The web people have not yet implemented the Pay Later (via PayPal) option on the Class 22 reservation page. I will get to this when I return from holiday. You can guarantee a reservation by selecting another payment method (cheque, for example), where all your details will be taken and your chosen model allotted to you, but payment will not be taken. Au revoir! Steve
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