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American Kits/Materials Suppliers in UK


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Hello all,

 

I’d like to ask for some help on sourcing HO scale parts in the UK. The main kind of things I’m looking for would be American-type plastic brickwork sheets and window details, as I’m planning on doing a little scratch building of typical industrial buildings. I’d also look at kits if I think they could be used or adapted for use (I’m thinking Walthers, Pikestuff and the like). Could anybody point out some suppliers to me please?

 

I would also like to ask for a little help on finding other smaller detail parts such as road vehicles (around 1950s - 60s era). I’m not averse to ordering directly from the US but of course if such things can be found in the UK then that would be quite handy. After having a go at American modelling for the first time in N I thought I’d give HO a go too but it does seem a little challenging to find some things.

 

 

Cheers

 

Josh

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Gaugemaster are the UK importers for Walthers and associated ranges and will get items in on request all be it with a long wait for them to arrive (I recently ordered Proto 2000 replacement geared wheelsets which took four months to get here but I don’t mind having to wait).

 

Rails of Sheffield are now starting to stock US HO although it tends to be more RTR locos etc rather than kits and bits.

 

Ordering direct from the US is now prohibitively expensive.  I originally looked at ordering my wheelsets from the US but was looking at 25 dollars postage plus whatever import tax, VAT and collection fees would be hauled on at this end, the same problem also applies to pretty much everything else from the US as well.

 

If anyone knows of anyone who is stocking the full range of Details West parts in the UK I would appreciate it!

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Hi Josh, you’re right that sourcing bits isn’t as straightforward here in the UK these days: I thought about it carefully before deciding to jump in last year - the key thing I needed to get my head round was to appreciate the ‘hunt’ as part of the game!
 

I agree with @John M Upton that Gaugemaster can be a source for Walthers: I’ve only bought Cornerstone building kits from them and while they’re not cheap they’re substantial (and compared to some European, laser cut or OO ready-to-plant resin models, not that different in price these days).

 

Mech-models.com near Burton-on-Trent stock Tichy Group products, which include pieces such as window frames.  I’ve not bought from Mech myself, but I know people who’ve been happy with them.  I think they may have some Pikestuff kits too, which have the advantage of a modular approach.

 

Hattons stock Oxford Diecast American HO road vehicles and have the advantage of a very good website and Online business (search their website by country then scroll down to find HO).

 

Hope that helps, and have fun.  Keith.

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The trouble with the retailers in the UK, (which are getting fewer) non of them stock the details American modeller need, switch stands ,derails, loco detailing parts etc, there more into the big buck things like loco and freight cars, i called in at Mechs models last week as i was in the area, he had plenty of Tichy windows and Walthers kits, a few freight cars and a dozen or so £300+ SD what ever, but not a lot else, a bit pricey, but that's the way American stuff seems to be going.

 

 Good look with your search, i've been modelling American for a long time and have learned to adapt, like using 4mm brick instead of trying to find 3.5mm sheets, i use a lot of OO detailing stuff in my builds, never had anyone say it's out of scale at exhibitions (they will now) it's the overall illusion where after.

 

 I use a lot of card and brick paper with good effect, free downloads of the web, resized Scale scenes, have a look around the web there plenty stuff out there for free.

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Many thanks for the replies, they are all very helpful.

 

I looked at Mech Models and I can see that I can get the industrial windows from there and I can get the Walthers brick sheets from Gaugemaster so that’s all great. I’m very happy about the Oxford HO cars. I haven’t seen these before - are they new? It’s also much cheaper than buying American-made vehicles.

 

 

Regards,

 

Josh

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One thing I have noticed is that the UK retailers of US HO stock such as Athearn, Atlas, Walthers, etc only ever seem to sell the all bells and whistles DCC sound versions of many locos, hardly any of the vanilla (and considerably cheaper) DCC ready versions ever seem to make it to these shores which is annoying for an old analogue dinosaur like me.

 

I guess I will have to stick to resurrecting piles of spares/repair Proto 2000 GP's and scrounging around for Details West parts for now...

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48 minutes ago, John M Upton said:

One thing I have noticed is that the UK retailers of US HO stock such as Athearn, Atlas, Walthers, etc only ever seem to sell the all bells and whistles DCC sound versions of many locos, hardly any of the vanilla (and considerably cheaper) DCC ready versions ever seem to make it to these shores which is annoying for an old analogue dinosaur like me.

 

I guess I will have to stick to resurrecting piles of spares/repair Proto 2000 GP's and scrounging around for Details West parts for now...

I too am DC-only John although I’ve found some locos and stock on a well-known auction site. I got myself an Atlas/Roco S-4 and a couple of ancient Roundhouse boxcars and that’ll do for me for now. If a Roco loco can run as well as this despite being 30-odd years old then recent models must be absolutely superb.

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I agree, the Proto 2000 models that I am hoovering up when the chance arises are approaching twenty years old now but as long as you are prepared to sort out the well know cracked gear issues (Walthers still sell the drop in replacement wheel sets) they still look good with a bit of work, demic examples are readily available quite cheaply as a source of spare parts or to allow some cut and shut specials.

 

Case in point, I am just putting the finishing touches to this, a parts bin job which I used to test a new spray paint.

 

20210622_165700.jpg.c491914ece3f4dc9daa34f9c4ea37cb5.jpg

 

Even some of the Athearn Blue Box models with a bit of work still look good, their mechanisms back in the 1980's put the dire Ringfield stuff UK outline had to put up with at the time to shame.

Edited by John M Upton
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What about Kittle Hobby? They are located quite close to me (Swansea) and they always have an eye-catching two-page ad in Continental Modeller but I’ve not been there and it seems to be some sort of almost secret location such as somebody’s house, not quite the grand Hatton’s-esque shop I always thought it would be.

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3 minutes ago, josh_will said:

What about Kittle Hobby? They are located quite close to me (Swansea) and they always have an eye-catching two-page ad in Continental Modeller but I’ve not been there and it seems to be some sort of almost secret location such as somebody’s house, not quite the grand Hatton’s-esque shop I always thought it would be.

 

Just tried getting on their website, seems to be down.

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11 minutes ago, John M Upton said:

I agree, the Proto 2000 models that I am hoovering up when the chance arises are approaching twenty years old now but as long as you are prepared to sort out the well know cracked gear issues (Walthers still sell the drop in replacement wheel sets) they still look good with a bit of work, demic examples are readily available quite cheaply as a source of spare parts or to allow some cut and shut specials.

 

Case in point, I am just putting the finishing touches to this, a parts bin job which I used to test a new spray paint.

 

20210622_165700.jpg.c491914ece3f4dc9daa34f9c4ea37cb5.jpg

 

Even some of the Athearn Blue Box models with a bit of work still look good, their mechanisms back in the 1980's put the dire Ringfield stuff UK outline had to put up with at the time to shame.

Looks great, these are the only paint schemes I’ve been brave enough to try so far…..

7CD0E499-FC1F-45C7-91C7-A5A884910E1F.jpeg

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I did email them a while ago about getting a price list from them but it never came. Maybe I should call sometime. Anyway I can tell you that this place is halfway up the Tawe valley and basically in the middle of nowhere. How strange….

3886E38D-F89C-4380-8764-3770BD2ABBA7.png

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1 hour ago, John M Upton said:

One thing I have noticed is that the UK retailers of US HO stock such as Athearn, Atlas, Walthers, etc only ever seem to sell the all bells and whistles DCC sound versions of many locos, hardly any of the vanilla (and considerably cheaper) DCC ready versions ever seem to make it to these shores which is annoying for an old analogue dinosaur like me.

 

I guess I will have to stick to resurrecting piles of spares/repair Proto 2000 GP's and scrounging around for Details West parts for now...

Sophie at Anoraks anonymous is only a phone call away, plenty of dcc ready, dc locos in numerous road names, plus loads of freight cars.

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Ah yes Anoraks Anonymous, I think that’s where I first really thought about changing to US modelling. I was at TINGS a couple of years ago, and everybody was wrestling to get at AA’s British stuff, whilst all the American stuff was dismissed with utter contempt :rolleyes:

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3 hours ago, josh_will said:

everybody was wrestling to get at AA’s British stuff, whilst all the American stuff was dismissed with utter contempt :rolleyes:

They do the same with American layouts, too. Their loss. :blum: ;)

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On 21/06/2021 at 07:54, John M Upton said:

If anyone knows of anyone who is stocking the full range of Details West parts in the UK I would appreciate it!

 

There is always the 3d printing option, if you know what and how to draw...

PXL_20210623_131546511.jpg

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In these days of interweb and Paypal the actual ordering of parts from the US is not difficult but the killer is the postage charges of course plus customs and Royal mail ransom charges to collect the customs. I recently ordered $8.25 of etched parts from Plano in Texas and had to pay $15.00 in postage. Luckily I escaped the customs issue and it dropped straight onto my doormat.

 

With so many parts available from so many companies it would be unreasonable to expect someone to stock them in any significant quantity here in the UK but if some friendly trader could send a monthly order to the likes of Microscale etc. we could pre-order with them and share the postage costs etc.? 

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I think..[dangerous at my age, I know!]......much is down to the 'size' of the US supplier, and what sort of shipping contracts they can secure? If indeed, they are that bothered about securing a reasonable contract, for such a potentially small [international] market?

 

I often buy automotive parts from the US, specifically Rockauto.

This firm are firmly in the 'support the blasted foreigners' camp.

To the extent, all [mechanical, mostly] parts for my '67 Ford are, in the main, cheaper than an equivalent part for an equivalent British car! Or even better, one of today's modern panzervaagens!

They have contracts with the likes of Fedex, which makes delivery a doddle, to the UK.

Indeed, on June 1st [a Tuesday!] I ordered, online, a set of brake pads for the above car...They arrived several days earlier than forecast [and the forecast was 8 days!], dropping on my doorstep lunchtime June 4th.  Price, all inclusive? £32!!!!  [These were the 2nd most expensive set I could order, too!]

 

[Quoted £118 plus postage by a UK specialist parts dealer!! No contest!!]

 

Other major US parts dealers have different [and more costly] delivery contracts.....even with Fedex!

 

Even looking at parts for an old UK made car, their prices seem comparable to those within the UK?

As an example, I  may need a starter solenoid....the separate item, which is a heavy duty switch....Lucas made them....prices in the UK are in the main, around the same as if I ordered the same part from Rockauto, which includes VAT and duty.....! 

 

So the shipping costs are largely down to the dealer, and their priorities.  Nothing to do with politics or whatever at all!

 

I suspect the shipping costs, and shipping choices, reflect how much effort a US dealer is prepared to put into  international mail order?

 

Even Bachmann US are hardly cheap when it comes to shipping US spares to the UK [Having purchased, and had the price nearly doubled, on a On30 B/mann tram power truck!!]  

 

HAs anybody on here sought out 'advice' from the NMRA British Region, at all, in this matter?

 

I do miss Victors, and MG Sharp!  

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I did manage to find one Ebay seller in the US who charged reasonable postage on a selection of Details West parts but they were the exception rather than the rule and made it more cost effective with a number of items on the one order provided it didn't go over a certain size/weight.

 

I don't know yet if I will get hit on import tax and fees or not, it should just be an envelope so hopefully not.  Were it a big old box I would understand.

 

There was a UK based seller of parts on Ebay but they seem to have been cleaned out of most of their detailing parts stock now and restocking seems unlikely.

 

As said above, the loss of Victors and MG Sharp, also the slow death of Model Junction Slough seems to have badly affected availability.

 

Fortunately I have enough parts for the moment but the moment another project loco comes to mind, the hunt will be on again!

Edited by John M Upton
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There is a US-based seller called something like “Soo Much Stuff” who seems to have almost any kind of spare or part you could want, so if you placed a big order it might justify the shipping costs.

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On 24/06/2021 at 15:46, John M Upton said:

I did manage to find one Ebay seller in the US who charged reasonable postage on a selection of Details West parts but they were the exception rather than the rule and made it more cost effective with a number of items on the one order provided it didn't go over a certain size/weight.

 

I don't know yet if I will get hit on import tax and fees or not, it should just be an envelope so hopefully not.  Were it a big old box I would understand.

 

There was a UK based seller of parts on Ebay but they seem to have been cleaned out of most of their detailing parts stock now and restocking seems unlikely.

 

As said above, the loss of Victors and MG Sharp, also the slow death of Model Junction Slough seems to have badly affected availability.

 

Fortunately I have enough parts for the moment but the moment another project loco comes to mind, the hunt will be on again!

There appears to be no logic with the Royal Mail and Customs charges. I copped for them on an old 2nd hand loco that I had paid about $35 for (£4 for the tax and £8 for the Royal mail to collect the £4...) but then got away scot-free with a Highliners body kit that cost about $100 with postage. In terms of the postage it seems that most suppliers always choose The US Postal Service's parcel rate which starts at about $15, but a letter is only $1 and many small things fit in a envelope.

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