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The Stationmaster

Where is British outline model railway manufacturing heading?

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6 hours ago, Jeff Smith said:

This is an oft cited argument for OO.  The outside face of OO wheels, particularly noticeable in steam locos, is only slightly underscale.  It's the large flanges and tyre width that brings it to 16.5mm and the narrow gauge look.  This in turn means a relatively easy conversion to EM or P4.

 

American standard gauge O scale runs on 5' track, great if you are modelling railroads of the 1860s!

If you go back a bit, there's a lot of stuff that scales to something like 6'8" gauge (3/16" scale on 11/4" gauge). I've some lovely lithograph Marx freight cars that are as good as anything "serious" companies like LMC or B-L were offering the UK market at the time, but which would make Brunel happy. 

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3 hours ago, Steamport Southport said:

 

And where is the ViTrains range now? I think I saw it next to a Dodo.

 

All what happened was a few people got reasonably priced models to detail. The average "modeller" didn't buy them as they didn't like having to add the parts. They bought the Bachmann version instead and the ViT models were dumped in the bargain bins for £30.

 

Not a good idea to follow ideas that have failed. What next? Models with no numbers? Always suggested, but has failed every time it's been tried.

 

People want finished models not half finished. If they want to build things themselves, they are usually already doing so.

 

 

Jason

 

Hi Jason

 

1/ I don't think Vitrains have an outlet in the Natural History museum but I haven't been there since lockdown.

2/ You can easily pay over £100 for a model that is frequently faulty

3/ If Vitrains' UK models are so bad how are they commanding over £80 on eBay - I'm certainly not buying them all. Other people are happy with them even if you are not!

4/ and don't bother trying to buy Vitrains models in Europe - still highly sought after, nice attention to unusual prototypes and very good detail

 

 

Edited by letterspider
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2 hours ago, Mel_H said:

 

And in Australia Accusion Models is doing a nice line in high quality items too (modern traction)

 

Not only Auscision though  - all the Australian manufacturers supply "high end'  products. But because of the size of the Australian market they have prices that UK modellers would gag at.

 

Craig W

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15 hours ago, letterspider said:

 

Hi Jason

 

1/ I don't think Vitrains have an outlet in the Natural History museum but I haven't been there since lockdown.

2/ You can easily pay over £100 for a model that is frequently faulty

3/ If Vitrains' UK models are so bad how are they commanding over £80 on eBay - I'm certainly not buying them all. Other people are happy with them even if you are not!

4/ and don't bother trying to buy Vitrains models in Europe - still highly sought after, nice attention to unusual prototypes and very good detail

 

 

 

I didn't say they were bad. Just that nobody bought them as they were incomplete.  Most people don't even apply things like nameplates as they think it's too difficult.

 

I used to visit Hattons on a weekly basis. Hundreds of them in the £30 bargain section. Same as the Heljan class 47s with no numbers. People don't buy unfinished models.

 

If they are so in demand then why hasn't somebody else took them on since Rail Exclusive gave up on them? Because they aren't worth the hassle.

 

I also thought this was about British models so how well they are doing in Italy is irrelevant.

 

 

Maybe worth reading what I actually wrote rather than what you think I wrote....

 

 

 

Jason

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One of the things I rediscovered over the past year or so, is the value of O Gauge as a “train set” gauge. Just before the onset of Coronavirus, I had just been introducing my grand-daughter to the game of “running a train around the table”, putting Lego men or Smarties into the open top hoppers, loud cries of disgust from Nana at the smell of the smoke oil, penetrating whistles from the tenders... O27 will fit anywhere OO will go. The wagons are light, and easier for little fingers, and they survive being dropped on the floor. The locos aren’t light, but they don’t come to any lasting harm from being dropped. 

 

Trains swerving around the legs of the chairs was a great success with one of my young nephews, too. 

 

What I need now is the equivalent to a toy No 1 Son still remembers, the Hornby TPO! 

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1 hour ago, rockershovel said:

One of the things I rediscovered over the past year or so, is the value of O Gauge as a “train set” gauge. Just before the onset of Coronavirus, I had just been introducing my grand-daughter to the game of “running a train around the table”, putting Lego men or Smarties into the open top hoppers, loud cries of disgust from Nana at the smell of the smoke oil, penetrating whistles from the tenders... O27 will fit anywhere OO will go. The wagons are light, and easier for little fingers, and they survive being dropped on the floor. The locos aren’t light, but they don’t come to any lasting harm from being dropped. 

 

Trains swerving around the legs of the chairs was a great success with one of my young nephews, too. 

 

What I need now is the equivalent to a toy No 1 Son still remembers, the Hornby TPO! 

 

Great stuff! After lockdown,  I got the LGB out. Just an oval of track, 0-4-0 tank and 2 open bogie wagons.   This has slowly been assembled by buying vintage stuff off ebay.  Anyway, grandchildren (6 and 4) were very impressed and we had a good time playing. They could move a variety of toys around in the wagons, stood over the track to form a tunnel and soon got the hang of the controller.  They told me the loco needed a driver so a lego figure went in the cab. My granddaughter pointed out that the bunker was where coal would go and the chimney was where the steam and smoke would come out  so she's getting tech savvy about these things...

So, the "trainset" type railway may not be dead yet for the next generation.

 

p.s. The  Hornby Dublo TPO  was a good gadget, particularly as you could control whether the mailbags were exchanged or not.

Edited by railroadbill

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4 hours ago, Steamport Southport said:

 

I didn't say they were bad. Just that nobody bought them as they were incomplete.  Most people don't even apply things like nameplates as they think it's too difficult.

 

I used to visit Hattons on a weekly basis. Hundreds of them in the £30 bargain section. Same as the Heljan class 47s with no numbers. People don't buy unfinished models.

 

If they are so in demand then why hasn't somebody else took them on since Rail Exclusive gave up on them? Because they aren't worth the hassle.

 

I also thought this was about British models so how well they are doing in Italy is irrelevant.

 

 

Maybe worth reading what I actually wrote rather than what you think I wrote....

 

 

 

Jason

 

We may be playing trains in the UK but on the whole they are not manufactured here.

 

And regarding your last comment...

Rocks...glass houses....etc

Edited by letterspider

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1 hour ago, letterspider said:

I didn't say they were bad. Just that nobody bought them as they were incomplete.  Most people don't even apply things like nameplates as they think it's too difficult.

 

Most people is presumably a wild guess.  Some people perhaps.  Some people actually do modelling that involves more than just sticking on items that come in RTR boxes.

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It is a guess Jeff.  I have no idea about Vitrains specifically but looking at the number of eBay offerings for models where the add on package is still unopened, it looks generally like a good guess.  Many perhaps most purchasers do not seem to open let alone fit the add on details.  

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Wow there’s some very long paragraphs in such a short time in this thread.

 

I’ll keep mine simple.

 

Theres a gold rush,

Everyone wants a slice of the action.

The only way to pan for gold is to buy tools to do the panning.

The one supplying the tools makes the biggest profit and is the one who can cash in your golden nuggets... more people..longer queue, price of gold fluctuates.

 

So regardless how many companies enter the UK market, they are constrained by a dozen or so production lines, that supply the world’s model railways on a per slot basis.

 

More players in the market, expect longer lead times, unless they have deep enough pockets not just to fund toolings, but to build factories.

 

Beyond that it’s just ants climbing over the pile looking for crumbs in their own niches.
 

Where will it end up...

1. we’re already seeing longer lead times from new entrants who’s ambitions and pockets are not the issue, but resource and supply is.

2. Money talks.. the deepest pockets can move the needle to get their supplies first. The toolmaker is in demand.

3. Paying more reduces margins, increases prices, and therefore risk, but not to the toolmaker.

4. someone will come a cropper.. bad tooling, duplication, bad seller, poor quality or some other black swan. It’s not the toolmakers problem, he just shouts for the next customer.
5. Consolidation, the toolmaker still has the tools after the gold rush ends and the prospectors leave town. He just needs a vehicle to use them.

6. Ebay.. after the party is over, and the money is spent, there’s always a mess to clean up, and ebay is the river that collects it all.
 

regardless how many people might be on the hillside panning for gold, If you don’t have your own tools, your at someone else’s mercy.


The winner is the ones holding the tools, not the deepest pockets, the biggest imaginations or even the biggest revenue achiever.. All that can disappear in an instant if your access to tools is taken away.

 

Where is British outline modelling heading... to the Toolmaker and one or two emperors maybe left exposed without clothing on the way. Those who find a nugget, will do well to cash it in and move along before the mountain is fully harvested, as mountains don’t grow, and if it is, then it could be a volcano.
 

 

 

 

Edited by adb968008
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1 hour ago, Andy Hayter said:

It is a guess Jeff.  I have no idea about Vitrains specifically but looking at the number of eBay offerings for models where the add on package is still unopened, it looks generally like a good guess.  Many perhaps most purchasers do not seem to open let alone fit the add on details.  

Makes you wonder why they were bought in the first place!

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... to follow the analogy above, the best chance of actually making money in a gold rush, is by selling tools and supplies. 

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13 hours ago, rockershovel said:

One of the things I rediscovered over the past year or so, is the value of O Gauge as a “train set” gauge. Just before the onset of Coronavirus, I had just been introducing my grand-daughter to the game of “running a train around the table”, putting Lego men or Smarties into the open top hoppers, loud cries of disgust from Nana at the smell of the smoke oil, penetrating whistles from the tenders... O27 will fit anywhere OO will go. The wagons are light, and easier for little fingers, and they survive being dropped on the floor. The locos aren’t light, but they don’t come to any lasting harm from being dropped. 

 

Trains swerving around the legs of the chairs was a great success with one of my young nephews, too. 

 

What I need now is the equivalent to a toy No 1 Son still remembers, the Hornby TPO! 

The great thing about 0-27, from my perspective, is that all those old CJF beginner plans that presuppose Triang S3 or Dublo 3-rail points suddenly become buildable (if faintly ridiculous) in 0.

 

I wonder if there would be any mileage in one of the coarse scale 0 manufacturers developing an entry route for beginners that would lead them from train set, not to scale 00 as seems expected these days, but to coarse 0 instead.

 

Or, if coarse 0 is a step too far back, I wonder what might be achievable if Dapol, Gaugemaster and Peco cooperated to put a Gronk, a handful of wagons, a controller and a besidinged oval of set track in a box to get people started in 7mm.

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I don’t believe the modern coarse-O producers have a sufficiently robust product. Older O Gauge 3-Rail locos are HEAVY, but very robust. That’s the great thing about die-cast metal. The rolling stock is big, but it’s either strong (older pressed steel chassis items) or robust and light (later all-plastic items)

 

Plus, there are the operational advantages of 3-Rail, or stud contact AC operation. Reversing loops pose no problems, and it’s pretty much impossible to create a short circuit. You can operate accessories using a DC offset in the traction current, or by isolated outer rails controlled by train wheels. 

 

Another handy thing about older 3 rail, is the 3-position reverser switch fitted to most locos. This puzzled me at first, but then I realised its function - to allow the loco to be switched “out” so it remains stationary, allowing another loco to be operated in the same power section.

 

 

It hadn’t occurred to me that those old CJF plans used S3 or Hornby Dublo points, but I suppose that makes sense in context. 

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11 hours ago, adb968008 said:

...regardless how many companies enter the UK market, they are constrained by a dozen or so production lines, that supply the world’s model railways on a per slot basis...

Compounding that might well be the case that some of these operations have developed sufficiently to take on other more profitable products than model railway? (I don't know, but it is a natural development.)

 

If so, it's time to move on to the next location for model railway production.

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10 hours ago, Jeff Smith said:

Makes you wonder why they were bought in the first place!

 

12 hours ago, adb968008 said:

Wow there’s some very long paragraphs in such a short time in this thread.

 

I’ll keep mine simple.

 

Theres a gold rush,

Everyone wants a slice of the action.

The only way to pan for gold is to buy tools to do the panning.

The one supplying the tools makes the biggest profit and is the one who can cash in your golden nuggets... more people..longer queue, price of gold fluctuates.

 

So regardless how many companies enter the UK market, they are constrained by a dozen or so production lines, that supply the world’s model railways on a per slot basis.

 

More players in the market, expect longer lead times, unless they have deep enough pockets not just to fund toolings, but to build factories.

 

Beyond that it’s just ants climbing over the pile looking for crumbs in their own niches.
 

Where will it end up...

1. we’re already seeing longer lead times from new entrants who’s ambitions and pockets are not the issue, but resource and supply is.

2. Money talks.. the deepest pockets can move the needle to get their supplies first. The toolmaker is in demand.

3. Paying more reduces margins, increases prices, and therefore risk, but not to the toolmaker.

4. someone will come a cropper.. bad tooling, duplication, bad seller, poor quality or some other black swan. It’s not the toolmakers problem, he just shouts for the next customer.
5. Consolidation, the toolmaker still has the tools after the gold rush ends and the prospectors leave town. He just needs a vehicle to use them.

6. Ebay.. after the party is over, and the money is spent, there’s always a mess to clean up, and ebay is the river that collects it all.
 

regardless how many people might be on the hillside panning for gold, If you don’t have your own tools, your at someone else’s mercy.


The winner is the ones holding the tools, not the deepest pockets, the biggest imaginations or even the biggest revenue achiever.. All that can disappear in an instant if your access to tools is taken away.

 

Where is British outline modelling heading... to the Toolmaker and one or two emperors maybe left exposed without clothing on the way. Those who find a nugget, will do well to cash it in and move along before the mountain is fully harvested, as mountains don’t grow, and if it is, then it could be a volcano.
 

 

 

 

 

Nice analogy - I hope you don't mind if I carry it further

 

Rich seams of Gold are used up but the demand is still strong, so the suppliers look elsewhere.

Phytomining (using plants to absorb Gold from soil) and reclamation of Gold from old electronics are two examples. Small companies have appeared and making healthy profit margins - no longer dependant upon the suppliers of mining equipment. The only danger to them is if the big companies decide to knock them out of competition - for example they may have a monopoly on electrolysis needed for purificiation of Gold - or the company decides to float on the Stock exchange and they are bought up and shut down.

 

The same is no doubt happening in railway modelling - new niches have already appeared BUT only if there is still a healthy customer base and good profit margins. 

So it is looking good if you want to buy cheaper HO scenery items - who wouldn't want ten LED lampposts for £7 delivered?

Perhaps not so good if you expecting high detailed locomotives in OO gauge at under £100

 

 

 

Edited by letterspider

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On the coarse-scale subject, I have recently been wondering if there's a market for "coarse-scale" OO - something like Dublo, but built to run on modern track. I think there is potential for a range that prioritizes durability and reliability above all else.

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Then again there's a heap of s/h Dublo and Wrenn available that's perfectly happy on code 75 Streamline at modest prices, which suggests to me that demand for such characteristics is not that great. Bought a ringfield 8F earlier this year, externally tidy and with no evidence of wear from running which performs superbly, and it cost just £40; and several of what are still useful wagons from these ranges at an average of £6 each. Under £90 for a heavy freight unit that will pull the side out of a house, and eight wagons to run behind it.

 

My proven reliable 20 y.o. Bachmann WD 2-8-0 isn't as durable, (it wouldn't survive undamaged if I was still running it on a floor level board, and stubbed my toe on it) but would probably cost the same circa £90 s/h, just for the loco. The market is 'honest', it values what the customer base wants...

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On 15/09/2020 at 11:28, SD85 said:

The time to introduce British HO would have been in the 70s TBH, Airfix and Mainline missed a trick there. If they'd concentrated on the higher end of the market with more detailed HO models then Hornby might possibly have switched scales eventually, particularly when they moved production to China. Then again they might not have done, so who knows.

 

Peco are already making EM gauge track aren't they?

 

RTR P4 would be possible, although I think it's unlikely to happen. (Actually, don't SLW offer their Class 24 in 00, EM and P4?) On a related note the main problem with P4 seems to be the hair's width wheel flanges requiring careful track laying and running to avoid derailment. I've often wondered why you can't just compromise a little by having slightly coarser 18.83mm gauge track and EM/00 wheel flanges, so stuff doesn't derail. I've heard that this leads to clearance issues in wheel splashers etc (less of a problem in diesel and electric outline modelling, though), but if the Americans could do 19mm gauge with no problem....

 

The game changer for me, though, would be practical radio control for 4mm scale. The only problem is that the battery packs would require charging, and where do you store them in smaller locos? But the idea of just doing away with conventional layout electricity supply would be very interesting.

 

Hi - search on Acc+Ess Protocab - they have practical RC already ... and there's is always DelTang - regards, David

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On 15/09/2020 at 06:28, SD85 said:

RTR P4 would be possible, although I think it's unlikely to happen. (Actually, don't SLW offer their Class 24 in 00, EM and P4?) On a related note the main problem with P4 seems to be the hair's width wheel flanges requiring careful track laying and running to avoid derailment. I've often wondered why you can't just compromise a little by having slightly coarser 18.83mm gauge track and EM/00 wheel flanges, so stuff doesn't derail. I've heard that this leads to clearance issues in wheel splashers etc (less of a problem in diesel and electric outline modelling, though), but if the Americans could do 19mm gauge with no problem....

 

I sort of answered this earlier but here's another.  The whole point of P4 is that it is as close to scale as practical and achievable in 4mm scale....so of course the flanges are small, relative to OO.  Likewise the crossing gaps - it's what makes P4 track look so good and perform so well without any wheel drop through crossings.  What you are actually proposing is EM which although being a closer to scale gauge still uses OO flanges and crossing gaps, or a refinement thereof.  For example Gibson wheels are slightly finer than OO but still used for both OO and EM.

 

P4 normally requires compensation to prevent the flanges riding up on top of the rails however some simple conversions of RTR 0-6-0 locomotives and D/E bogie locomotives are possible with drop in P4 wheelsets that then rely on wheel slop to keep them on the track.....

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17 hours ago, Jeff Smith said:

...P4 normally requires compensation to prevent the flanges riding up on top of the rails however some simple conversions of RTR 0-6-0 locomotives and D/E bogie locomotives are possible with drop in P4 wheelsets that then rely on wheel slop to keep them on the track...

The all important caveat there, is that the P4 track isn't feasible in a cheap, quickly push it together to run on any reasonably flat surface, 'sectional track' format. So this aspect isn't by any stretch of the imagination 'RTR accessible'. Unless some heroic RTL track manufacturer wishes to demonstrate otherwise...

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10 minutes ago, 34theletterbetweenB&D said:

The all important caveat there, is that the P4 track isn't feasible in a cheap, quickly push it together to run on any reasonably flat surface, 'sectional track' format. So this aspect isn't by any stretch of the imagination 'RTR accessible'. Unless some heroic RTL track manufacturer wishes to demonstrate otherwise...

I'm sure if you measured the gauge and crossing gaps of Peco Streamline, and possibly Setrack, you'd find remarkably consistent dimensions.  Streamline points are very rigidly constructed and I'm sure would hold the gauge for at least one laying - even Setrack may be able to do this.  However P4 is generally assumed to have a minimum radius of 48" or even 60" for long wheelbase locos.

 

But the notion of RTR P4 would not attract the lounge carpet Setrack opererators anyway!

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