Author Topic: Loco Builders?  (Read 8098 times)

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Offline John Candy

Loco Builders?
« on: April 07, 2014, 09:22:59 AM »
Rapidly reaching the conclusion that I don't have the time to build all the locos. on my "wish list", ranging in size from 2-4-2 and Atlantic tanks up to 0-8-0s and 4-6-0s.

Who builds good quality (battery locos) at sensible prices (I know about the LSWR "Greyhound" T9  for £5K and that is not what I have in mind)?

Top of my list is a GNR/LNER Mogul (either K2 or K3) for express freight and passenger excursion services, followed by a small LNWR/LMS Push-Pull passenger tank (Webb 5ft 6ins 2-4-2T and/or a Webb "Coal Tank" 0-6-2T).

I am "geared up" to build my own GNR/LNER C12 Ivatt 4-4-2T and am hoping that the LNWR/LMS G1/G2 0-8-0 will follow.


Others on list include the GCR/ROD O4 2-8-0, GCR "Glenalmond" 4-6-0 and LNWR 19in. Goods 4-6-0.

Regards,
John.
My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.

Offline andrewfoster

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2014, 04:11:29 PM »
So much depends on what you mean by sensible prices - it can be a sensitive issue!  Do you have a price point in mind that makes sense to your budget?

I often have to justify my prices, and it depends on whether a product is commercially based i.e. makes a little money for the builder, or is a labour of love that just covers the builder's costs.  The difference can be as much as a factor of three.  For my own stuff the factor has to be small, because the market generally won't bear anything higher.  When you add up the cost of design hours, bought-in parts, fitting and assembly time, overheads, and something left over for the builder, the T9 for £5K probably wasn't really unreasonable.

But I haven't answered your question, and will be interested to hear the recommendations that come in.

Andrew

Offline AllWight

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2014, 07:33:19 PM »
When I have built the GRS. Kits for others I have charged the time only as they supply the kit and all relevant parts. Once you start saying its a ground up job from design to fabrication then the time constraints and subsequent costs will then mount up. The T9 for 5k is at the same price as a kingscale Britannia. Whilst this seems poor value for money the Brits were produced on a production line rather than a one off. I suggest you focus on the models that are appealing to the masses.

Mark

Offline John Candy

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2014, 08:03:47 PM »
Mmmm....

Bearing in mind that one can purchase a RTR live steam 5inch gauge GWR 94XX pannier for 5995GBP from Maxitrak (or a LMS 4F 0-6-0 for 6995GBP) then 5K for a battery-powered 2.5 inch gauge loco. looks to me to be poor value.
If I were to pay 5K for a loco and "expire" the next day.... I imagine my estate would be lucky to get 1K on resale?
Guess that is a penalty of opting for a "minority" scale/gauge where there is little demand.
I do often regret following G3 when I see what is available in other scales and having experienced some very poor quality G3 offerings.

The answer (in economic terms) seems to be to concentrate on building my own locos and find other people to make the other things I need.

Regards,
John.

My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.

Offline 454

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2014, 08:48:16 PM »
John,

After seeing & reading your articles & comments & reviews you do set quite high standards which would be difficult for others to live up to at a reasonable cost. I seriously do not believe you would be happy with their output at a lesser price & can see that the £5K would be realistic considering possibly your expectations as to accuracy. From my perspective my objective is to achieve a loco that is a runner. If it is a good representation, then so much the better, but when it is out in the garden, a huge amount of detail is largely irrelevant. It is only when you place it on a mantlepiece or in a cabinet for display that it needs the embellishment & accuracy to stand up to close scrutiny.
Close scrutiny is not something that is required on a railway in a garden the size of your's. So John, economise on specification, lower the cost & concentrate on making it an impeccable runner rather than a stunning looker.

Hope you don't mind my assessment but it was a decision I made when undertaking Gauge 3 many years ago.

Dave
454

Offline MikeWilliams

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2014, 08:50:11 PM »
I can't answer your question John except to help YOU to build some of the LNWR locos (will speak to you about that).  But, I guess you must have half a dozen finished locos, probably enough to run your railway, so if you get the others all built now, what will you do with your spare time for the next ten years?

Mike

Offline Geoff Nicholls

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2014, 08:12:35 AM »
I think the locos you mentioned are already available as 'O' gauge kits. You may be able to reduce the cost and time by having the kit producer 'blow up' his artwork for the etchings. For more recent kits the castings may be from 3D printing, which can also be blown up.
Obviously gaps, holes and tab slots would be bigger, but a well designed kit won't be degraded too much by the blow up, and  the person you commission to do the building should be able to deal with that.
Geoff.

Offline John Candy

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2014, 01:29:26 PM »
Dave,
Your suggestion is the practical solution but I have got into the habit of making my models as accurate as I possibly can and that is the consequence of having read too many MRJs!

Mike,
Thank you, I look forward to chatting about the North Western possibilities.

Geoff,
I noticed a couple of weeks ago that Gladiator Models are selling up and inviting offers for the rights to individual products.
It occurred to me at the time that, assuming they are "digitised", it might be worth enquiring about G3 possibilities....particularly as their range includes almost all the locos on my wish list.
I have no idea as to the quality of their offerings so it would be a leap in the dark.

Regards,
John.

My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.

Offline MikeWilliams

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2014, 05:57:02 PM »

That's a good idea Geoff.  The Gladiator kits I've had anything to do with have been OK.  Now might be a good time to approach them as they'd get some cash from you with no comeback and unlikely to effect the sale of their range.  I know who did some of their artwork, but I don't know who is behind Gladiator.  Suspect Richard Thompson knows and can advise?

Mike
 

Offline Richard T

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2014, 10:06:08 PM »
Geoff Stratfords contact details are on his website
http://www.gladiatormodels.com/contact.php/

Sounds easy, blowing up a 7mm kit, knock out a few castings with a bit of 3d printing.
Good luck, the artwork will need some work, bend clearances, slots, tags hole diameters, the retooling to fit it onto standard sheets would be quite expensive for small quantity production
A complete set of patterns either making them in the conventional way or 3d printing would be quite an investement in time and cash.
The other problem, depending on the original artwork, is the magnification of any errors.

I have looked at quite a few existing kits with the thought of producing them in G3. Apart from all the above problems, the likely sales could no where near cover the financial outlay and effort involved.

Bearing that in mind, and then finding someone to build, fit drive system, batteries and some form of control maybe and paint, I think 5K is a bargain.

Richard

Offline John Candy

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2014, 08:01:45 AM »
The question is often asked, "What can be done to encourage more people to convert to G3?".

It is often argued that it is not the high cost of components and that space is not a real issue.
"People just don't know about G3 and not enough is done to publicise it", is a frequent excuse.

Well, this forum has just publicly announced to the World that if you want a G3 RTR battery-powered locomotive it will likely cost you 5K+ GBP and that is considered "reasonable"..... a great encouragement for anyone thinking of converting to our scale!

For a live steam loco that may be reasonable but for a model involving "plonking" a commercially made (circa 150GBP) motor/gearbox in situ between the frames (takes minutes rather than the hours involved in precision engineering of boiler and steam control construction) it is, to me, excessive and (as a purchaser) a bad investment.
If I am to spend 5K per loco on 10 locos, it would be more economical to rip up all my track and switch to Gauge 1!

Live steam, coal-fired, locos in 5 inch and 7.25 inch gauges can be bought RTR for around those sorts of prices ..... and that is "real" engineering.

Returning to G3 battery-powered steam outline.........there is available an off-the-shelf RTR LNER J39 0-6-0 tender loco. which was recently advertised in the Society newsletter at around 2K GBP (in fact on the website of the constructor, Malcolm Mills, the same model is currently advertised at just 795GBP). There are some deviations from prototype...the steam chest and front frame shape is wrong and the running plate arrangement beneath the cab does not look right in the photos but that may just be the angle from which the photo has been taken but, overall, the impression is good.  It does illustrate that a hand-built G3 loco does not have to cost 5K ..... the constructor in question runs a business, so it is not a "labour of love" situation.

I am curious to know why was it advertised at 2K but is available for just 795 from the website of the constructor
( http://www.rpmmodels.co.uk/RPM_Models/Gauge_3.html ).

Perhaps lack of interest has forced down the price but it does illustrate my point that paying 5K would not be a wise move from an "investment" angle? Did anyone take a close look at the sample which was on display at the 2013 AGM? I wonder what materials were used in construction?

So what can be done to bring down the cost of battery-powered locos?
Casting major components in resin (after the fashion of GRS kits) is an obvious possibility, if done on the "Flexikit" principle.
As I understand the situation, laser cutting of steel plate is relatively low-cost and a properly designed chassis should quickly bolt together.
Yes, perhaps an oversimplification but building models is not "rocket science" and need not be as expensive as 5K if some thought is put into streamlining and simplifying production.

The big problem with G3 is choosing a prototype which will sell.......and that may be where the J39 has tripped up.

Plenty there for you to take "pot shots" at, so I shall sit back and watch with interest (while plotting the possibility of a first "Flexikit" loco.)!!

Regards,
John.
My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.

Offline Geoff Nicholls

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2014, 08:57:33 AM »
personally, I would never consider paying £5000 or even £1500 for a RTR loco, and no more than £800-£900 up front for a loco kit. I'm lucky in being interested in smaller locos without complex external valve gear. If GRS were not selling kits at those prices I would have started modelling in gauge 3. After fitting RC and getting a professional paint job the price creeps up, but still much less than £2000. And I would never consider it to be a financial investment.
A flexikit sounds a good idea, but of what? how do you choose a prototype? that J39 was a bit obscure.
Geoff.

Offline John Candy

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2014, 09:18:16 AM »
Geoff,

I don't look upon my current "fleet" as an investment BUT if I were to have spent 50K on locos, then I would feel obliged to consider the potential re-sale value for the benefit of my estate.
The re-sale value of a G1 loco is likely to be a far greater percentage of the original cost, simply because of the larger following and consequent greater market for a particular class of loco.
The re-sale value of G3 locos is depressed by lack of competition at auctions/on Ebay, etc.

"Flexikit" prototype : Logically, something like a Stanier "Black 5" should be a safe choice BUT GRS declined to introduce it because (according to Michael Adamson) the G1 model was a "flop" in terms of sales.

In any event, such a large and complex loco would not be a good choice for a "starter" Flexikit and something with inside cylinders and no trucks/bogies would be better. Choosing a class which has survived into preservation might also widen appeal.
The GNR 0-6-0ST (LNER class J52) might "fit the bill".

John.
My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.

Offline 454

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2014, 06:33:47 PM »
John,
The J39 in question in an earlier response in this thread at £795 is I believe the very same model which was test run on my circuit & is on my YouTube hauling a reasonably sized freight consist. I agree that things are not quite right with it visually but there are some things that are spot on, it is a good runner which to me is important. When running it was using track pickup which I had rigged specially using a small LGB controller.

Close examination would suggest that some G1 bits have been used in the absence of G3 bits in order to get the prototype rolling. I obviously cannot speak for the maker but the production locos will be very much more accurate and more brass than plastic. The price will of course reflect this probably.

Yes 5" gauge is "real engineering" but at the price you are talking about at around £5K for a 5 incher in live steam I am afraid that visually your 4F is far more accurate. For your discerning eye & meticulous appraisal any RTR 5 inch gauge model in that price range would frustrate you beyond measure.

Kingscale informed me that they decided NOT to produce a Gresley A4 because their Gauge 1 A4 did not meet sales targets. So they went for the Coronation class instead. A fine machine at £5.5K. NO I am not acquiring one!
Perhaps a Duchess in the guise that most of us would have been familiar with would have wider appeal.

Geoff,
I think it is unfair to state that a J39 is "a bit obscure", they were all over the place. Merseyside on the GCR, East Anglia, Yorkshire, widespread on the eastern side of England where the ER reigned supreme in it's various guises.
They were to be seen on freight & passenger so were very useful locos.
You just have to get your Ian Allan spotters book "shed allocations" out of mothballs to prove the shed allocs.

Generally:
If I am incorrect with what I have stated I apologise to affected parties but it was meant to be helpful to all in good faith.

Dave
454


Offline John Candy

Re: Loco Builders?
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2014, 07:41:26 PM »
Dave,

Thanks for your comments.
I agree the J39 is not "obscure" (it was the LNER equivalent of the 4F and a more powerful loco with a BR 4P5F classification) but is not particularly "good looking".

At 795GBP, I could live with the looks, if it were a simple matter to correct the inaccuracies!

Malcolm Mills produces a wide range of locos and I am tempted to ask at what cost he would scale up (as an example) the K3.

John


My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.