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Toms LNER Workbench - Experiments in Teak and Lining


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Hello Everyone,

 

Following on from my Coronation build, I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread for my builds so they're all together in one place.

 

On the workbench currently, I have my London Road Models J69. Its my first loco kit and went together very nicely. This morning, I soldered on the connecting rods, and its being run in as we speak. 

 

Here's a video of it on the test track, copied over from Tony's thread:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqW9KjEVoz0

 

I made it hard for myself though, so the decent running is despite my workmanship, not because of it. Because I made the chassis slightly out of square, to get the wheels to turn freely, I have had to open up the bearings too much allowing slop to creep in. This makes the wheels move too much. However, and this is the big however, it still works well, and actually, once the body is on, its impossible to see the wheel movement. Anyway, that's all my excuses out of the way! I'll take it with me to Nottingham, and will let Tony and the Grantham boys cast their scorn opinions over it. Here it is as of this morning. Doesn't digital photography make things look dreadful? Anyway, detail has been added, all I need to do is attach the smoke box door, fit the cab roof and add some liquid lead to give it a bit more weight. The 1428 motor is a real squeeze but it gives it a bit of oomph. 

 

j7.jpg

 

The next projects are also starting to come to fruition.

 

IMG_8965.jpg

 

Two lovely red boxed from Dave Ellis at South Eastern Finecast. Dave gave great service; from ordering on the Friday to delivery here in HK on Tuesday. Thank you! 

 

The plan is to build the C12 with some form of High Level gearbox (not sure which one yet) and the biggest motor I can find. I'll probably add a flywheel too due to the short wheelbase. I may source replacement buffers as the ones provided are white metal and I would like sprung. The W1 is a little more of a challenge. Now, I could have just built the W1 kit, but alas, that's too simple. I heard the shape was a little off, so that ruled out that option. Next was to get a Hornby A4, do a cut and shut job on it using Graeme King's resin conversion. However, I really wanted a nice, home made chassis, with big powerful motor, smooth gearbox and nicer wheels, so that ruled that option out. In the end, I decided to get the W1 chassis and tender, the A4 body from Hornby and the resin parts and do a hybrid version. More work, of course, but more fun, and I have the satisfaction of building the chassis. Gearbox will be a High Level High Flier at 30:1. Motor will be a Mashima 1626 or 1628, giving a top speed in the region of 95-103 MPH. That should do! 

 

So, I just need to finalise the arrangements for the drive trains, and figure out the additional parts I need, and I will be almost good to go. As an insurance measure, I've purchased a Poppy Jig for the chassis construction, as I want really tight square chassis from now on. 

 

Thanks for looking in, hope the thread will be informative, but please don't expect rapid updates, I'm a slow builder!

 

Tom

Edited by grob1234
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I would invest in a chassis jig if you're planning to build locos regularly. I use a Masterchassis, but there are others available and Tony W seems very taken with this wooden one he has. They make producing a square chassis a much easier and quicker proposition.

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I would invest in a chassis jig if you're planning to build locos regularly. I use a Masterchassis, but there are others available and Tony W seems very taken with this wooden one he has. They make producing a square chassis a much easier and quicker proposition.

 

I just made a payment to Poppy Tech for one of their jigs. I agree, it takes some of the guess work out of the whole operation, and really, a square chassis is the only way to get decent running.

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I thought it easier for the C12 conversation to be in your thread.

 

Yes the live chassis with DCC is a bit of an experiment for me, I also have a Klondike to wheel & motor and for that one I have some fully insulated wheelsets and will probably put pick ups on the tender too.  

As you say, so long as the chip is wrapped up and insulated, and there aren't any stray parts that can short what can go wrong..... :scratchhead:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, not much to report of late, except to say the Coronation set is packed up ready for its 5500 mile journey to be repatriated on Friday. Hopefully, at some stage it will appear on Grantham; it'll be an honour if it does, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing that excellent layout. Amazing, I found, how much time it has taken to fine tune the running of the carriage set. I must have spent several hours ironing out little niggles that seemed to appear. I hope they are all sorted, and that they won't fall off the rails too much.

 

 

On another unrelated note, I must mention customer service from suppliers in our hobby, which is rapidly becoming a bug bear of mine. I have recently been acquiring (at no small cost) parts and tools for my forthcoming projects from at least half a dozen suppliers. I don't want to turn this into a slanging match, my intention is to call for improvements in how smaller suppliers market and sell their goods, ultimately so that we buy more of their goods, in turn making them more successful.  

 

 

First, let me mention by name those who I felt gave excellent customer service, and the reasons why I feel their service was excellent. Dave Ellis at South Eastern Finecast was absolutely first class. He responded to my initial order promptly, processed it quickly and from initial ordering to delivery in Hong Kong took about a working week. Very impressive. I also had a couple of questions regarding the kit, and a missing part on the chassis of the W1. Dave made me up a replacement part and sent it out that afternoon. To me, his approach to customer service is the model to where this hobby needs to go, polite, courteous, and knowledgeable, Dave made sure I will be a returning customer. Good for his business and good for me as I have a supplier I can trust. The only point I would make, and this is a recurring theme, is the website. Unfortunately, it is rather basic, and could easily be improved, the ultimate being to add full online shopping, but more of that later.

 

 

Fox Transfers do have a fully automated shopping website, enabling users to click and add items to a cart. I have used Fox a few times now, and they have delivered orders very quickly with no fuss whatsoever. Their website is really the template that others should follow. Simply sitting at home, browsing items and adding them to a shopping basket surely encourages more sales. Customers are in a relaxed environment and can add as much as they like to their basket probably including things they wouldn’t have ordered if they had to place orders in the old fashioned way. Eileen’s Emporium have a similar setup, and I received my goods very quickly, again all processed automatically from the comfort of my own home. Chris at High Level kits is a another example of a trader who wants his customers to be satisfied, sadly, again the website doesn’t offer online shopping, but on the phone he is as helpful as they come.

 

 

Now for an example of what I think summarises what’s bad about this hobby. I placed an order for some sundry parts, a small order but my first with this particular company, the name of which is unimportant as the problem has been resolved. The order was placed by email, as instructed on their PDF catalogue. I listed the part numbers and quantities, and simply asked for a total price, which once known to me, I would call up and give my card details. The response I received left me baffled, particularly as a first time customer. Essentially, I was told that they don’t offer invoices, and that I should follow the instructions for ordering. Now where on earth did that leave me? My response having grown tired of chasing other suppliers went along the lines of ‘fine, if you don’t want my business, I’ll shop elsewhere’. A few back and forth emails ensued, and I deduced that I had to place the order and give my card details and wait to be charged whatever the seller deemed necessary. I found this odd because when I go to the newsagent and buy a mars bar and a newspaper, of course I can work out the total cost, but the vendor always confirms that cost to me before I pay. So, a very strange way of doing business in my opinion, and the nature and tone of the emailed responses indicated to me that my business wasn’t particularly valued. Now, the company in question do sell a wide variety of products, so actually my choice to go elsewhere is limited, but this is not an excuse for poor service.

 

 

With other companies, I have found myself chasing them to finalise sales. I send emails, and rarely get replies, for example three emails to one supplier and no response, yet from calling them I know they have received them. Companies who do not acknowledge emails when orders are placed or do not communicate if an item is out of stock is both frustrating and a waste of time, as I feel obliged to find out what is happening. Surely if I am spending my money they should be keen to finalise the sale, not the other way round!

 

 

Overall, having come into contact with quite a few different suppliers, I can say in summary that customer service is patchy at best. Some are no doubt very good, but many leave a lot to be desired, and I wonder if they operated in more mainstream sectors if they would survive at all.

 

 

One element that crops up time and time again is the issue of websites. I read on these forums people bemoaning the fact that companies do not have websites that offer online ordering, or simply do not have websites. We also hear that the average age of modellers is increasing and that in order to continue to grow the hobby we need to encourage younger modellers into the fold. How do we think younger people go about things? Their first port of call is a Google search. They will look for suppliers online, they will look for suppliers with websites that contain relevant information and that offer easy online shopping. Hattons offers just such a service, easy convenient online shopping, but their main focus is RTR. What of kit manufacturers? Where are their websites? Even more of a minefield is the little bits and pieces we need for making models. When I first started out in model railway kit building, I found it almost impossible to find what I needed. It seems many companies are still firmly rooted in the past where magazine advertising and sending off for a catalogue was the normal way of doing business.

 

 

My reason for posting all of this is not to slam down our smaller suppliers. Quite the opposite in fact, and thank you, by the way, for reading this far. I want to encourage our smaller suppliers to sell more of their often excellent products, and to increase their presence on the net. Internet shopping and browsing are now huge parts of our society, very few of my peers (25-35 years of age) would consider phoning an order through, or filling out an order form and sending it off. They would simply expect to do it all online. Some websites prove it can be done, I believe DJH have a fully operational internet shopping enabled site (though have not used it). Good for them. However many do not, and those that do often contain out of date information.

 

 

On the flip side I do understand that these businesses are often ‘one man bands’ and simply sell a few items as a hobby, but if they are selling goods to the public then surely they have some sort of moral duty to offer decent customer service. One way to improve this would be to have the online shopping I refer to. Although there is an initial cost to setting up such a website, orders would essentially be processed automatically, the seller would simply haver to pick and send the goods, therefore improving efficiency, and probably improving sales.  

 

 

So my plea is simple, get online, get people buying off your websites and remember that we, as customers are giving you our hard earned money in return for the goods or services you supply. Email is the medium many of us communicate with, so please, respond promptly to them or answer your phone. Good customer service, good communications and reasonable delivery would ensure customer satisfaction, and hopefully encourage repeat business and recommendations. Personally, I want to buy the products that are out there but recently have felt quite a lot of resistance in doing so. Complete newcomers to the hobby could easily be put off by this poor approach, so I hope some of my observations will be taken on board. 

 

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Tom

 

100% agree with you re smaller suppliers. It's certainly put me off ordering from some of them. I agree High level has a good and informative website.

 

I can understand why a one man band may not want to have a web set up, payment system etc. It has struck me that there's an opening for an enterprising, web savvy model shop to act as a bit of a broker and to provide some of these services to bespoke kit manufacturers.

 

David

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Well, not much to report of late, except to say the Coronation set is packed up ready for its 5500 mile journey to be repatriated on Friday. Hopefully, at some stage it will appear on Grantham; it'll be an honour if it does, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing that excellent layout. Amazing, I found, how much time it has taken to fine tune the running of the carriage set. I must have spent several hours ironing out little niggles that seemed to appear. I hope they are all sorted, and that they won't fall off the rails too much.

 

 

On another unrelated note, I must mention customer service from suppliers in our hobby, which is rapidly becoming a bug bear of mine. I have recently been acquiring (at no small cost) parts and tools for my forthcoming projects from at least half a dozen suppliers. I don't want to turn this into a slanging match, my intention is to call for improvements in how smaller suppliers market and sell their goods, ultimately so that we buy more of their goods, in turn making them more successful.  

 

 

First, let me mention by name those who I felt gave excellent customer service, and the reasons why I feel their service was excellent. Dave Ellis at South Eastern Finecast was absolutely first class. He responded to my initial order promptly, processed it quickly and from initial ordering to delivery in Hong Kong took about a working week. Very impressive. I also had a couple of questions regarding the kit, and a missing part on the chassis of the W1. Dave made me up a replacement part and sent it out that afternoon. To me, his approach to customer service is the model to where this hobby needs to go, polite, courteous, and knowledgeable, Dave made sure I will be a returning customer. Good for his business and good for me as I have a supplier I can trust. The only point I would make, and this is a recurring theme, is the website. Unfortunately, it is rather basic, and could easily be improved, the ultimate being to add full online shopping, but more of that later.

 

 

Fox Transfers do have a fully automated shopping website, enabling users to click and add items to a cart. I have used Fox a few times now, and they have delivered orders very quickly with no fuss whatsoever. Their website is really the template that others should follow. Simply sitting at home, browsing items and adding them to a shopping basket surely encourages more sales. Customers are in a relaxed environment and can add as much as they like to their basket probably including things they wouldn’t have ordered if they had to place orders in the old fashioned way. Eileen’s Emporium have a similar setup, and I received my goods very quickly, again all processed automatically from the comfort of my own home. Chris at High Level kits is a another example of a trader who wants his customers to be satisfied, sadly, again the website doesn’t offer online shopping, but on the phone he is as helpful as they come.

 

 

Now for an example of what I think summarises what’s bad about this hobby. I placed an order for some sundry parts, a small order but my first with this particular company, the name of which is unimportant as the problem has been resolved. The order was placed by email, as instructed on their PDF catalogue. I listed the part numbers and quantities, and simply asked for a total price, which once known to me, I would call up and give my card details. The response I received left me baffled, particularly as a first time customer. Essentially, I was told that they don’t offer invoices, and that I should follow the instructions for ordering. Now where on earth did that leave me? My response having grown tired of chasing other suppliers went along the lines of ‘fine, if you don’t want my business, I’ll shop elsewhere’. A few back and forth emails ensued, and I deduced that I had to place the order and give my card details and wait to be charged whatever the seller deemed necessary. I found this odd because when I go to the newsagent and buy a mars bar and a newspaper, of course I can work out the total cost, but the vendor always confirms that cost to me before I pay. So, a very strange way of doing business in my opinion, and the nature and tone of the emailed responses indicated to me that my business wasn’t particularly valued. Now, the company in question do sell a wide variety of products, so actually my choice to go elsewhere is limited, but this is not an excuse for poor service.

 

 

With other companies, I have found myself chasing them to finalise sales. I send emails, and rarely get replies, for example three emails to one supplier and no response, yet from calling them I know they have received them. Companies who do not acknowledge emails when orders are placed or do not communicate if an item is out of stock is both frustrating and a waste of time, as I feel obliged to find out what is happening. Surely if I am spending my money they should be keen to finalise the sale, not the other way round!

 

 

Overall, having come into contact with quite a few different suppliers, I can say in summary that customer service is patchy at best. Some are no doubt very good, but many leave a lot to be desired, and I wonder if they operated in more mainstream sectors if they would survive at all.

 

 

One element that crops up time and time again is the issue of websites. I read on these forums people bemoaning the fact that companies do not have websites that offer online ordering, or simply do not have websites. We also hear that the average age of modellers is increasing and that in order to continue to grow the hobby we need to encourage younger modellers into the fold. How do we think younger people go about things? Their first port of call is a Google search. They will look for suppliers online, they will look for suppliers with websites that contain relevant information and that offer easy online shopping. Hattons offers just such a service, easy convenient online shopping, but their main focus is RTR. What of kit manufacturers? Where are their websites? Even more of a minefield is the little bits and pieces we need for making models. When I first started out in model railway kit building, I found it almost impossible to find what I needed. It seems many companies are still firmly rooted in the past where magazine advertising and sending off for a catalogue was the normal way of doing business.

 

 

My reason for posting all of this is not to slam down our smaller suppliers. Quite the opposite in fact, and thank you, by the way, for reading this far. I want to encourage our smaller suppliers to sell more of their often excellent products, and to increase their presence on the net. Internet shopping and browsing are now huge parts of our society, very few of my peers (25-35 years of age) would consider phoning an order through, or filling out an order form and sending it off. They would simply expect to do it all online. Some websites prove it can be done, I believe DJH have a fully operational internet shopping enabled site (though have not used it). Good for them. However many do not, and those that do often contain out of date information.

 

 

On the flip side I do understand that these businesses are often ‘one man bands’ and simply sell a few items as a hobby, but if they are selling goods to the public then surely they have some sort of moral duty to offer decent customer service. One way to improve this would be to have the online shopping I refer to. Although there is an initial cost to setting up such a website, orders would essentially be processed automatically, the seller would simply haver to pick and send the goods, therefore improving efficiency, and probably improving sales.  

 

 

So my plea is simple, get online, get people buying off your websites and remember that we, as customers are giving you our hard earned money in return for the goods or services you supply. Email is the medium many of us communicate with, so please, respond promptly to them or answer your phone. Good customer service, good communications and reasonable delivery would ensure customer satisfaction, and hopefully encourage repeat business and recommendations. Personally, I want to buy the products that are out there but recently have felt quite a lot of resistance in doing so. Complete newcomers to the hobby could easily be put off by this poor approach, so I hope some of my observations will be taken on board. 

 

Yes I can understand your frustrations and some model railway suppliers do not perform as well as they should. I have had excellent service from Fox Transfers who kindly made up a GWR numberplate with a red background at no extra cost. High Level Gearboxes are another example of great service. With the demise of "proper" model shops we have to rely on the internet but some of the "one man bands" probably do not have the knowledge to set up a website, I know I certainly couldn't. Perhaps we're asking to much of older people who may be very good at making patterns for casting or etches but don't have the knowledge of the internet. Is it any coincidence that the companies with the best websites appear to be those with better marketing ideas and, I assume, younger staff more used to today's world.

 

I am quite grateful though that for all the minor problems that we experience there are still people around who are prepared to go to the effort of supplying us with those parts we require, it must be a thankless task that is never going to make anyone a millionaire. Sometimes I think these small manufacturers take on too much and provide a wider range of products than they can cope with and the price we have to pay for a more comprehensive range is slower delivery times than we would like.

 

The concern I have is that with the advent of incredibly accurate RTR models that the hobby is changing direction from scratch and kit building to buying items off the shelf. Any number of kits that were freely available maybe 10 or 15 years ago are now discontinued and I can see this trend continuing.  We can still build from kits prototypes that no RTR manufacturer would take on due to the lack of demand. I often cite the example of the Peter K, superb etched kits of the most outlandish prototypes and still (just) available. How long will this continue though, can a manufacturer afford to produce a kit with sales of maybe 200 or less? Will we still be able to model in EM (as I do) or P4? Why bother to change from OO when the Bachman locos as an example have such superb chassis detail? I'm writing here as someone who has been modelling (on and off) since the early 1970's.

 

It would be very interesting to hear from some of the small manufacturers and also maybe those younger modellers. Do those currently buying "off the shelf" see a time when they will be making kits with all the additional time that entails and would they consider changing to a more accurate track gauge?

 

Grob1234, you have raised some important issues and I hope others will respond.

 

John Daniels

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Tom

 

100% agree with you re smaller suppliers. It's certainly put me off ordering from some of them. I agree High level has a good and informative website.

 

I can understand why a one man band may not want to have a web set up, payment system etc. It has struck me that there's an opening for an enterprising, web savvy model shop to act as a bit of a broker and to provide some of these services to bespoke kit manufacturers.

 

David

 

For many years Mainly Trains was almost a one-stop web-shop for bits and pieces.  I could order Markits drivers, Gibson tender wheels, Mashima motors etc all at once with very prompt delivery.  Sadly, Dave Cleal is running down the business prior to retirement.  Of course, the manufacturer will lose some commission on his sales with such a system but then he is relieved the chore of processing many small orders.  But time is money and he can concentrate his time on the manufacturing process which is probably what he most enjoys.

 

I feel there is a need for a replacement for Mainly Trains.

 

Mike

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I've just read through your piece about suppliers, and have to say I couldn't agree more.

 

As someone who's just started their seventh decade, my reaction to the internet et al when it first arrived was that it was a gimmick, a toy almost, for kids and people with very small brains - ditto social media. Having actually seen the benefits that can come, if used sensibly, my view now is almost entirely reversed. In our hobby, especially for those who are into detailing and kit building, the ability to sit at home and browse an on-line catalogue is wonderful - no more random chance of having picked something up at a show, or the faff of sending a letter and SAE, only to find you need to do it again a bit later because a range has changed or there's been a price revision.

 

Its telling that two long established suppliers, East Kent for railways, and Mabex for general transfers, have recently closed or are closing, and neither offered on-line catalogues or ordering.

 

There must be huge benefits to the supplier as well, once the website has been set up. The ability to show the full range of your products to any and all prospective customers, without any marginal cost or admin. No more vague orders as people didn't get the right code - or perhaps there wasn't one, or a wrong cheque because the prices have changed. No reliance on catching a 'phone call, or having to 'phone back to get an order. And these are comments from a 60 year old. No one under 30 would entertain not being able to operate in this way, which is now part of their lives, just as most younger folk wouldn't dream of physically going into a bank or writing a cheque.

 

Like it or not this is the future, and those that can't or won't adjust are on borrowed time.

 

Lovely models on this thread by the way!

 

John.

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There must be huge benefits to the supplier as well, once the website has been set up. The ability to show the full range of your products to any and all prospective customers, without any marginal cost or admin. No more vague orders as people didn't get the right code - or perhaps there wasn't one, or a wrong cheque because the prices have changed. No reliance on catching a 'phone call, or having to 'phone back to get an order. And these are comments from a 60 year old. No one under 30 would entertain not being able to operate in this way, which is now part of their lives, just as most younger folk wouldn't dream of physically going into a bank or writing a cheque.

 

Like it or not this is the future, and those that can't or won't adjust are on borrowed time.

 

John.

There are both benefits and downsides.

 

The latter are rarely consider by the customer, but can include an increased amount of time spent dealing with, on occasion, quite exhaustive enquiries relating to the prototype variations for a particular kit, handling "how to" guidance where the purchaser isn't sufficiently skilled or lacks the right tools to build a model, an expectation of an immediate response and annoyance when it doesn't happen (part of today's "I want it now" society"), etc.

 

For people whose business is secondary to their main occupation and which probably developed out of a desire to see particular kits/items available for their own needs, an excessively demanding customer base is more likely to make them give up than continue.

 

It should also be remembered that some of the improvements suggested in preceding posts will  all cost extra outlay, in terms of time and/or money. That isn't always practical and any increase in final product pricing to cover it will be unwelcome with customers and may reduce, rather than increase sales.

 

Sales of specialist products will also be limited by the size of the market, something the small supplier can't markedly influence. How much demand is there for etched Cambrian carriages or dumb buffered 1860's wagons for example? 

 

It is right to seek a reasonable level of service and if the supplier in question can't provide it, walk away. Otherwise try to make them see the error of their ways through friendly, direct contact (even if it means writing a letter!). If that fails and you still desperately need what they produce, then why not do what they did and go into business yourself. As I said earlier, that's how many of the small specialist suppliers started. They had to learn how to make patterns, design etch artwork, etc. fro scratch so it cant be too difficult.

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Sadly, Dave Cleal is running down the business prior to retirement.  

 

Really? If so he is either very bad at it (running it down that is) or not in a huge hurry - that rumour about his retirement has been around for almost 10 years now!

Yet his site is still running and full of stock which he is continually replenishing. Sometimes I think it's a case of if a statement is repeat enough times on the internet, it become "fact".

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Really? If so he is either very bad at it (running it down that is) or not in a huge hurry - that rumour about his retirement has been around for almost 10 years now!

Yet his site is still running and full of stock which he is continually replenishing. Sometimes I think it's a case of if a statement is repeat enough times on the internet, it become "fact".

 

Well - there have been announcements concerning retrenchment directly from Mainly Trains; opening times have been significantly reduced; and the range on offer is by no means as extensive as it once was.

 

It certainly isn't a 'we're shutting tomorrow' situation, but modellers would be wise to stock up on items which are not available elsewhere.

 

Regards,

John Isherwood.

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I've already done my stocking up a couple of years ago.  ;) I know there's a lot of stuff been through the clearance section and ranges reduced but his core products still seem to be readily available.

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Thank you all very much for your informed replies. I'm relieved that this hasn't turned into a small suppliers bashing thread. Certainly not my intention, so thank you for taking the time to read my points.

 

Tom

100% agree with you re smaller suppliers. It's certainly put me off ordering from some of them. I agree High level has a good and informative website.

I can understand why a one man band may not want to have a web set up, payment system etc. It has struck me that there's an opening for an enterprising, web savvy model shop to act as a bit of a broker and to provide some of these services to bespoke kit manufacturers.

David

 

David, I think thats a superb idea, for example an online shopping arcade whereby suppliers can have an online shop all under one easy to find umbrella. Would this be feasible?

 

Yes I can understand your frustrations and some model railway suppliers do not perform as well as they should. I have had excellent service from Fox Transfers who kindly made up a GWR numberplate with a red background at no extra cost. High Level Gearboxes are another example of great service. With the demise of "proper" model shops we have to rely on the internet but some of the "one man bands" probably do not have the knowledge to set up a website, I know I certainly couldn't. Perhaps we're asking to much of older people who may be very good at making patterns for casting or etches but don't have the knowledge of the internet. Is it any coincidence that the companies with the best websites appear to be those with better marketing ideas and, I assume, younger staff more used to today's world.

 

I am quite grateful though that for all the minor problems that we experience there are still people around who are prepared to go to the effort of supplying us with those parts we require, it must be a thankless task that is never going to make anyone a millionaire. Sometimes I think these small manufacturers take on too much and provide a wider range of products than they can cope with and the price we have to pay for a more comprehensive range is slower delivery times than we would like.

 

The concern I have is that with the advent of incredibly accurate RTR models that the hobby is changing direction from scratch and kit building to buying items off the shelf. Any number of kits that were freely available maybe 10 or 15 years ago are now discontinued and I can see this trend continuing.  We can still build from kits prototypes that no RTR manufacturer would take on due to the lack of demand. I often cite the example of the Peter K, superb etched kits of the most outlandish prototypes and still (just) available. How long will this continue though, can a manufacturer afford to produce a kit with sales of maybe 200 or less? Will we still be able to model in EM (as I do) or P4? Why bother to change from OO when the Bachman locos as an example have such superb chassis detail? I'm writing here as someone who has been modelling (on and off) since the early 1970's.

 

It would be very interesting to hear from some of the small manufacturers and also maybe those younger modellers. Do those currently buying "off the shelf" see a time when they will be making kits with all the additional time that entails and would they consider changing to a more accurate track gauge?

 

Grob1234, you have raised some important issues and I hope others will respond.

 

John Daniels

 

John, I totally agree with you when you say that the smaller suppliers do go to great lengths to provide the parts we need. I aslo understand that many do it as a hobby, and as a side line as oppose to a profit making business model, but in my opinion if they do choose to sell to the public then there has to be a level of customer service attached to that. The decline of kit building is certainly not helped by traders with poor attitudes to customer service, and perhaps some of the declines could be stopped by utilisting the internet more, and increasing levels of promptness and service.

 

For many years Mainly Trains was almost a one-stop web-shop for bits and pieces.  I could order Markits drivers, Gibson tender wheels, Mashima motors etc all at once with very prompt delivery.  Sadly, Dave Cleal is running down the business prior to retirement.  Of course, the manufacturer will lose some commission on his sales with such a system but then he is relieved the chore of processing many small orders.  But time is money and he can concentrate his time on the manufacturing process which is probably what he most enjoys.

 

I feel there is a need for a replacement for Mainly Trains.

 

Mike

 

 Agreed Mike, I looked at mainly trains site briefly, and they do offer on line shopping which is great, but the range of products is patchy at best, and I fear a consumer would still ahve to visit a number of shops to get all the bits they require. The model business idea shows it could be done.

 

I've just read through your piece about suppliers, and have to say I couldn't agree more.

 

As someone who's just started their seventh decade, my reaction to the internet et al when it first arrived was that it was a gimmick, a toy almost, for kids and people with very small brains - ditto social media. Having actually seen the benefits that can come, if used sensibly, my view now is almost entirely reversed. In our hobby, especially for those who are into detailing and kit building, the ability to sit at home and browse an on-line catalogue is wonderful - no more random chance of having picked something up at a show, or the faff of sending a letter and SAE, only to find you need to do it again a bit later because a range has changed or there's been a price revision.

 

Its telling that two long established suppliers, East Kent for railways, and Mabex for general transfers, have recently closed or are closing, and neither offered on-line catalogues or ordering.

 

There must be huge benefits to the supplier as well, once the website has been set up. The ability to show the full range of your products to any and all prospective customers, without any marginal cost or admin. No more vague orders as people didn't get the right code - or perhaps there wasn't one, or a wrong cheque because the prices have changed. No reliance on catching a 'phone call, or having to 'phone back to get an order. And these are comments from a 60 year old. No one under 30 would entertain not being able to operate in this way, which is now part of their lives, just as most younger folk wouldn't dream of physically going into a bank or writing a cheque.

 

Like it or not this is the future, and those that can't or won't adjust are on borrowed time.

 

Lovely models on this thread by the way!

 

John.

 

Thank you John, I'm learning the craft and its very enjoyable. 

 

The two suppliers you mention that are closing down, I have never heard of. Why? Well, I use the internet and would have no way of finding their businesses. Its a great shame to see such concerns shutting, but they really do need to move with the times.

 

I'm also glad that a modeler of your generation (if I may be so bold to use the term without offending) feels the same way I do. The convenience of online business is superb. 

 

There are both benefits and downsides.

 

The latter are rarely consider by the customer, but can include an increased amount of time spent dealing with, on occasion, quite exhaustive enquiries relating to the prototype variations for a particular kit, handling "how to" guidance where the purchaser isn't sufficiently skilled or lacks the right tools to build a model, an expectation of an immediate response and annoyance when it doesn't happen (part of today's "I want it now" society"), etc.

 

For people whose business is secondary to their main occupation and which probably developed out of a desire to see particular kits/items available for their own needs, an excessively demanding customer base is more likely to make them give up than continue.

 

It should also be remembered that some of the improvements suggested in preceding posts will  all cost extra outlay, in terms of time and/or money. That isn't always practical and any increase in final product pricing to cover it will be unwelcome with customers and may reduce, rather than increase sales.

 

Sales of specialist products will also be limited by the size of the market, something the small supplier can't markedly influence. How much demand is there for etched Cambrian carriages or dumb buffered 1860's wagons for example? 

 

It is right to seek a reasonable level of service and if the supplier in question can't provide it, walk away. Otherwise try to make them see the error of their ways through friendly, direct contact (even if it means writing a letter!). If that fails and you still desperately need what they produce, then why not do what they did and go into business yourself. As I said earlier, that's how many of the small specialist suppliers started. They had to learn how to make patterns, design etch artwork, etc. fro scratch so it cant be too difficult.

 

You are right of course to mention the extra costs entailed, and also I think knowledge is also a barrier to entry. EG: how do I set up an efficient trading website? 

 

With regards to walking away from suppliers, quite often there is no alternative so one has to come back tail between legs in order to get the parts required. 

 

I suppose in many ways its a double edged sword, and where does one draw the line between a hobbyist who makes a few parts for general sale to one that advertises as a 'proper business'? The main issues that I have had have been from established names in the railway community, small concerns of course, but big enough to know better and to be better.

 

Thank you all once again for contributing, maybe some of our small suppliers might happen to read this, and maybe if we talk about it enough word will get around and improvements will be made.

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One does not even have to be involved in manufacture long term or in a big way in order to become familiar with some of the snags that LNWRmodeller mentions in post 13....

 

I fully endorse his suggestion that those who don't like a current product ought to have a go at setting up to manufacture something that they consider to be "better", and I bet very few would consider it "their job" to take up the challenge.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, after a very nice break at home, its back to HK.

 

Having seen some great models at the Nottingham show, and also a visit to see Tony at LB, I was chomping at the bit to get on with my models.

 

I decided the SE Finecast C12 would be a good starting point, after completing the soldering on the J69.

 

I got the chassis up and running. It needs a little tweaking, I suspect the coupling rods are at fault at this stage, but I have decided to get on with the rest of the body. I'm not entirely convinced that running a chassis in the air or with no weight is truly representative of how it will run. Whilst on the subject of the chassis, does anyone have a method for easing out the B2B's on Romford axles? I see 247 developments do a spacer, has anyone used this?

 

Here is the current state of play with the chassis (its a High Level gearbox and Masima motor.

 

IMG_9009.jpg

 

The front. I have subsequently soldered the front footplate and smokebox in place. The cab is just placed on at present as its a bu**er to get to sit right (probably my own fault in construction!)

 

IMG_9010.jpg

 

The rear. Added lamp irons and another hand rail stanchion in the center of the bunker. 

 

IMG_9011.jpg

 

And on its chassis:

 

IMG_9012.jpg

 

A great looking little loco, and a nice kit, although of course I'm not making it easy for myself! You'll notice I removed the boiler bands, I felt they were a little over scale, and I'll replace them with black insulation tape.

 

I have also got a Hornby J52 with rear springs that need removing, and traction tyres which need removing as well. These two improvements should make it a better runner.

 

The W1 conversion may start soon, and I'll begin with the chassis for it. Hoping for a smooth runner first time!

 

As soon as the C12 body is complete, it, along with the J69 will go in for primer and then paint, and we'll start bringing them to life.

Edited by grob1234
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Hi Tom,

 

Pleased you made it back safely. I'm surprised you have a B2B issue with Romfords - I've only ever had that with W & T wheels and even then only certain sizes.

 

What I did was punch a hole in a piece of paper with a common or garden hole punch then stick the resultant disc onto the back of the wheel centre, making sure I soaked it thoroughly in superglue. Once it's thoroughly dry and hard you can cut and file the square hole into it and it will space the wheel out by about 7 thou. You can file it down gently if that's too much.

 

Most people in OO work to 14.45mm - what gauge are you using to check against?

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Regarding the axle spacers I take it from looking at the 247 list that you mean item G30 - you've shown me something new there. I suspect those could be very handy if you don't fancy JW's reliance on hardened paper. Filing square holes in even the thinnest metal washers is certainly a pain!

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Hello chaps, between you, you've both understood immediately what I'm on about, thank you!

 

Hi Tom,

Pleased you made it back safely. I'm surprised you have a B2B issue with Romfords - I've only ever had that with W & T wheels and even then only certain sizes.

What I did was punch a hole in a piece of paper with a common or garden hole punch then stick the resultant disc onto the back of the wheel centre, making sure I soaked it thoroughly in superglue. Once it's thoroughly dry and hard you can cut and file the square hole into it and it will space the wheel out by about 7 thou. You can file it down gently if that's too much.

Most people in OO work to 14.45mm - what gauge are you using to check against?

 

I did indeed make it back safely, I trust the payment reached you satisfactorily? 

 

I'm working to 14.8mm B2B finescale, so they just need easing out a touch. Its really not the end of the world if they are at 14.45 or whatever, but I was intending to have FS track built when the time come to start making something.

 

I got the gauge of these people:

 

http://www.doubleogauge.com/shop.htm

 

Regarding the axle spacers I take it from looking at the 247 list that you mean item G30 - you've shown me something new there. I suspect those could be very handy if you don't fancy JW's reliance on hardened paper. Filing square holes in even the thinnest metal washers is certainly a pain!

 

Correct, I will give them a call and see what they are all about, because I haven't the patience to make round washers square! I think they would be very handy.

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Well, further to the earlier discussion about pushing out the B2B's on Romford axles.

 

I just spoke to a very kind gentleman at 247, who explained that they are indeed square on the inside, round on the outside and are specifically to push the B2B's out to finescale standards on Romford axles. I promptly placed an order for 4 lots, and a few other bits too. A seemingly well stocked website and a very nice pleasant owner. Tom likes this! Lets hope the delivery is quick, and if it is, I may have found a very handy little supplier. 

 

When they arrive, I'll review accordingly. 

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Hello,

 

I got fed up of messing about with the cab of the c12, so I decided to move on to the W1 chassis.

 

This is my third chassis, and I really wanted to make sure it was a good-un right from the off. I replaced the supplied axle bearings with Romford ones, as the fit of the supplied bearings was sloppy. I carefully reamed out the holes so that the new axles were a really snug fit. I cleaned up the frames and removed 3mm from the rear of the frames as per the instructions. I also reamed out the holes slightly larger than recommended for the frame spacers. I figured that by using my poppy jig, that the axles would provide the alignment, so the frame spacers were only fully tightened once the chassis was aligned. I doubled the thickness of the connecting rods, and reamed the holes out so they were a tight fit on the small end of the axle jig. You'll notice I'm using different bearings on the center axles. These give more surface area by having a larger shoulder, with the additional benefit of less sideplay in the driven axle, and also no need to file the bearings on the inside to accommodate the motor frames.

 

Here you can see the side frames, with frame spacers attached and lightly tack soldered on to prevent them rotating. After this stage I assembled the chassis on the jig.

 

IMG_9015.jpg

 

The soldered chassis. I didn't have to ream the axle bearings at all, nor did I have to ream the connecting rod holes, maybe I was lucky but the wheels all turned without a trace of bind, either on the axle bearings or connecting rods.

 

IMG_9018.jpg

 

Now the motor and gearbox is fully assembled. The mashima 1628 round can is by far the smoothest, quietest motor I have come across to date. The gearbox and chassis are running in on my sophisticated holder:

 

IMG_9027.jpg

 

I am astonished by how smooth this chassis is running already. No fettling, no reaming, no adjustments, just a tiny drop of oil on the gearbox and axles, and this is how its running... I think its gonna be a good one! :)

 

http://youtu.be/4dyktE8poyE

Edited by grob1234
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  • 2 weeks later...

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