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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here we go again with another question thread.

Recently I've been cooking up a little idea for a manufacturing company that would make ridiculously detailed locomotives in HO Scale. It is only an idea, but it is always fun to wonder. If you'd like an idea of what I mean by 'ridiculously detailed', try imagining all these things on one locomotive:

Dynamic Steam & Cylinder Steam

Besides that, of course, they would have functioning marker lights, headlights, number boards, etc. As for sound, it would be quite high fidelity, with three speakers on larger locomotives (two in the locomotive itself and one in the tender).

Some more outlandish ideas I've had include moving fireman and engineer figures (engineer that looks back and forth, fireman that moves between coal and firebox) and a coal load that gets lower over time.




Anyway, the question I'd like to ask is this: what kind of features would you like to see on an HO Scale locomotive? What kind of features do you enjoy the most on HO Scale locomotives?



Further, what types of HO Scale Steam locomotives would you like to see? I'm thinking of focusing on previously unmodeled locomotives, especially non-Northeastern locomotives, since that market is already quite saturated.



EDIT: Another idea that LateStarter had was company policy ideas. What kind of policies would you like a company to have? If you want an example, he submitted Company Loyalty Vouchers.


Thanks for any replies.

Dreadnought
 

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Although the primary certain outcome of detail accouterments is higher manufacturing and consumer cost, I'll submit an outrageous list...

STEAMERS:
• Periodically opening firebox door, rendering an LED bloom in the cab.
• Whistle steam.
• Individually applied styrene 'scale' detail parts on plastic or resin models... i.e., compressors, pop valves, generators, injectors, piping, etc.

BOTH STEAMERS & DIESELS:
• Smoother action & more pulling power -- i.e., better gear ratios, and digital stepper-motors.
• Kadees on everything.
• KeepAlive circuit in everything.
• DCC-controlled 5-character number boards, that'd allow changing train numbers from the control pad.
• Accurate cab/unit numbers.
• Period-accurate headlight LED color.
• Scale thickness window sashes.
• No more cast-on handrails.
• Included changeable hi/low hoods where applicable.
• Unpainted models available in different versions... i.e., hi/low hood, stacks, dynamic brake, etc.
• Pre-weathered versions... mild/moderate/severe.
• Company Loyalty Coupons... money off on your next purchase, (no minimum) with mail-in or online registration (valid for XXX days).

Also, I'd like to see more small switchers... both steam & diesel, i.e., 0-4-0's, 0-6-0's, GE's, Alcos, etc.

And please, will somebody come back out with a box-cab diesel, a CRT set, and the RSD-5!!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Although the primary certain outcome of detail accouterments is higher manufacturing and consumer cost, I'll submit an outrageous list...
...........
Some great ideas! I guess I should go ahead and mention some other ideas I was just toying around with.

DEAD RAIL SUPPORT - Dead Rail (i.e. battery power) is a great innovation, at least in my belief, and having full support - i.e. factory installations of it - would be a great simplification in comparison to the way you have to get it now.

MODEL GRADES - Basically, the company would have four grades of model: Silver, Gold, Diamond and Sapphire. For Silver, think standard Bachmann - acceptable detail and solid runners. These would either be DC or DCC. For Gold, think Bachmann Spectrum - superior detail, with DCC or sound. Diamond would be top end locomotives today, such as BLI, while Sapphire has all the bells and whistles (literally!). Diamond and Sapphire would come with sound standard. All models would be offered in this format. That way, every model will be accessible at every price point. You won't need to cough up hundreds of dollars to get the type of locomotive you really want, even if it means the detail won't be as good.

MODEL TRIALS - Since Sapphire will cause some open-wallet surgery, an idea I had was, production permitting, sending locomotives out for a trial run on a consumer's layout. Say you want to see if an articulated locomotive will be able to haul sufficient loads up a certain grade on your layout. You can request a locomotive for a trial, and you only pay the shipping and insurance for it. Then, you get to try it for 30 days. If you like it, you can buy it directly for 15% off. If you don't, just send it back.

While we're on the topic...

MODEL REQUESTS - The company would have an e-mail address or a PO Box where you can send requests or ideas for models you want to see; sort of like this thread, but as an actual company policy. Naturally, not every request would be granted, but it would be an easy way to let the company know which models are highly sought after.


I suppose I'll open up the floor to general 'Company Ideas' as well - such as the loyalty voucher thing or Model Trials.
 

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How about a half-full coal load in the tender. It bothers me that every steamer that I own looks like it just left the coaling tower.

Then you could park you loco under a WORKING coal tower and fill it up if you wanted to.
 

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Trouble with a thread like this is that it always comes down to personal preference.

For example, molded on handrails. If that's how you keep the price point of a locomotive low, then I don't object. I'm not about hyper-realism. I'm willing to forgive a lot if it keeps the prices low. Likewise, no smoke and no sound for me, by personal preference.

I shudder to think what it would cost to produce a loco with all the features you mention, postulating for a second that everyone wanted them. Even producing the same loco in four different trim levels (e.g., silver, gold, diamond, platinum) adds cost.

I personally think the hobby is better served by keeping the default standard pretty low, along with the price point, and letting those who wish bells and whistles (figuratively and literally speaking) customize their own. Some of these "wishlists" sound like modelers wanting manufacturers to do things that they just don't want to deal with.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Trouble with a thread like this is that it always comes down to personal preference.

........
Of course. I'm not saying that having this kind of features would become the new market standard. If you don't want them, then you won't have to buy them. I'm just saying that it would be nice if this type of detailing existed on the market, for, while some people don't want that kind of detailing, others do.

I agree that the base level for how much you pay for a locomotive shouldn't become a lot higher. All I'm saying is that, for those of us who wish to have hyper-realistic locomotives, that option should be available. For right now, it's simply not possible to put together the kind of features I listed for the average modeler. If it were, I would do it in a heartbeat, but, unfortunately, I don't really have the expertise to rip out the cylinder smoke unit from the French locomotive I posted a video of, the whistle smoke unit from the BLI Big Boy, and then rig up a working bell on a single chassis. If I could, I would, but I simply can't. That would be the point of this type of realism. The technology we're dealing with nowadays is such that you can't really jury-rig it with any kind of ease. The same kind thing goes with modern cars. You need computer know-how to fix all sorts of things, and some of us just don't have that.

To go back to the car analogy, you could think of this type of detailing as being like a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce. It's very expensive and exclusive, but very nice when you have it. Then, you have the detailed but affordable models, which are like the BMWs and Mercedes. Below that are the run-of-the-mill models, which are like Chevrolets or Fords. Finally, you have the really cheap stuff, which are like Hondas or Kias. Just because you have one doesn't mean you can't have the other.

To add to that, the closest things we can get to that sort of detailing - BLI and MTH (the Mercedes or BMWs), to be specific - only make models of a select few regions of the country, and a select few railroads. If you want to model the Pennsy, you're pretty much set for detailed locomotives. If you want a southern road like the Atlantic Coast Line or Southern, not so much, and that really shows for modelers like me. The only options I have if I want to model one of those roads is brass (which has problems of expense just to get the right dimensions and quality for older models) or kitbashing (which takes time, expertise and research, and still may not come out correctly). That's why I'd like to know what types of roads and locomotives are under-served by the market right now.
 

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Before DCC & sound, I was dumb and happy with a state-of-the-art power pack...
But when I got lightning-struck, it changed everything -- including my finances.
Detailing minutia isn't all that important to me, but it adds a juicy element to the overall effect... I like it when I see it, and I get it when I can afford it.
I'd much rather spend $60 on a Con-Cor Branchline sleeper, than $75 on an MTH, but Con-Cor doesn't make one, and heavyweight sleepers are hard to find.
The fact that MTH cars have detail you can't even see, (not to mention appreciate) notwithstanding, at least they'll run on 22" radius, and fill a void in a train.
I look for locos in DCC now, so I can at least power them up without burning them out. If they don't have sound, it's fine.
As for 'super-detail', I can live without it... it's just nice to know it might be there if I get into a crazy mood.
 

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I personally think the hobby is better served by keeping the default standard pretty low, along with the price point, and letting those who wish bells and whistles (figuratively and literally speaking) customize their own
I don't know.....take a look at this new tank car from Tangeant....I don't think I could do the details as good as they do...sure, I'll pay for it, but I like this level of detail, so I don't mind.....but as has been said, to each their own....

And, they seem to be able to sell them out, so there seems to be more people willing to pay money for super details than one might think......

http://www.modeltrainforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=298706&stc=1&d=1491331170

Please don't let my wife know that I'm paying for a Hooker....:D
 

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Discussion Starter #11
How did you find room in the dockside for all that?
It's not my locomotive. I just found the video of it on youtube. You'd have to ask the person who made the video how he did it!
 

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Before delving too deeply into visual effects, someone needs to devlop a smoke material that won't gum up the track and drive you out of the room with the smell (oh, and be safe). I've seen videos of some European 7mm model steamers that puff in sync, exhaut steam from the cylinder cocks, and other neat effects. Don't care to know how many Euros they cost. And, some enterprising EE needs to find a way to shrink a capacitor down to something less than the size of a little finger so that KeepAlive doesn't fill up the entire tender body.
 

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So here is my idea. have your company have a build your own web site. Like the chevy dealer on your street. It will eliminate having several different series. You sell them your WELL PERFORMING chassis, let the customer build to their level of satisfaction or price tag, and then send them a kit with the parts they ordered. like a model car. that would give the customer a challenge and a chance to build or paint as they see fit. if it dont turn out, they cant blame your company.

I know id buy this way in a heart beat. not only for the fun and challenge, but for the spare parts that you could offer. or if i want to change my mind on details, i can order the parts to do so.

Maybe a loyalty card, by 10 get one free base level free. or something to that effect.

You will also find that having a good help line is the way to beat out the competition.

As noted several times throughout this site, we all old. 40 - 60 pre senior discount then a real senior discount?

A 10$ flat rate shipping fee! in north america, oooohhhh love you long time :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hmm, that's a very interesting idea, carman. That would be a very interesting feature.

I wonder how that works on the manufacturing end. I guess you just produce a bunch of standardized parts and then assemble them in different ways? That would be a very easy way to get freelanced steamers as well, since it's rather difficult to get those nowadays.
 

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i would think a warehouse type building with all the different parts for your different detail levels, then pack the items on the order and ship. hard to describe even tho i have a clear pic in my mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I wonder what types of chassis people would like for that, then. I've been thinking and here's a little sampling:

0-6-0 and 0-8-0, 51" Drivers
2-8-0, 57", 62", 63" Drivers
2-8-2, 62", 63" Drivers
2-10-2, 63" Drivers
2-10-4, 69", 74" Drivers
4-6-2, 73", 79", 80" Drivers
4-8-2, 69", 73" Drivers

I guess the basic idea would be to choose whatever chassis suits your needs and then modify it to be exactly what you want. In a way, this was exactly what the prototypes did, which makes for a very interesting situation.

Of course, once you start producing standardized parts like this, it would be relatively simple to sell customized models of certain locomotives as well. For example, you can just take the 4-6-2 chassis with 73" inch drivers, a suitable boiler, and detail it to be a Southern Ps-4. This way, you can either sell the specific models at a slight premium for those willing to pay, or give those who want the challenge of making the model themselves the opportunity to do that. You'll note that even though car companies do give you the option to 'build your own', they still produce and sell standardized models as well.

A very interesting idea indeed, I really like it.
 

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1. The engine must run reliably.
2. Smaller engines : 4-4-0, 4-6-0, 2-8-0, 0-6-0
3. Interchangeble boilers : Straight boiler, camelback, tapered boiler.
4. Interchangeble or options for different headlights, oil, arc, electric.
5. Variety of driver diameters 48/50", 55/56", 60/62".

Don't care about smoke.
Don't care about incredible super detail.
Don't care about wiz bang lighting details (class lights, markers, firebox, etc).
Make it DCC and sound ready, with options of factory installed or not.

Basically the MDC or Arbour concept only with more detail and options in the boilers.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
'Build Your Own Locomotive'

So here's what I'm envisioning based off feedback from this thread.

Edit: Added Driver Diameter to Chassis.

As you can see, this is generally similar to the 'Build Your Own _____' from any website today, but applied to HO Scale locomotives. This way, you can build whatever type of locomotive you want and have it shipped right to your doorstep. Alternatively, you can choose to buy it as a kit (for less money, of course) if you enjoy the challenge of putting it together.

There would probably be more options on the real interface, but due to the constraints of Paint, I couldn't really put everything I wanted onto this image. But, I think you get the idea.

What do you guys think of this? This way, you get only the features you want exactly the way you want them. Want sound but don't want fancy schmancy smoke effects and unreasonable detailing? You can have the locomotive that way.

I really feel confident that this could be a very viable business proposition. I'd really like everyone's feedback on this as well.
 

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Sorta. As you change driver diameter, you change wheel spacing so that means a different frame which may mean a different gear box and drive train, plus different rods and a different pilot mount and coupler box mount.

I would suggest a couple different driver diameter, wheel base, wheel arrangements as stock (50" 2-8-0, 56" 2-8-0, 62" 2-8-0) with some interchangeable boilers. Just try and make it something reasonable. IHC produced a 2-6-0 and 4-4-0 mechanism that shared an "SP" boiler, and then a camelback boiler that fit the 2-6-0 mechanism. But they never offered the camelback boiler on the 4-4-0 mechanism. How many 2-6-0 camelbacks were there? Maybe a couple dozen in all of history. How many camelback 4-4-0's were there? Hundreds, if not thousands.

Its not going to be as simple as you make it sound, you will need to limit the choices based on the platform you build for the engine. Some things can be swapped out with little or no modifications (cab or tender). Some things will be a lot harder, like feedwater heaters and air compressors (they change all the piping and the configuration of the running boards.)
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I suppose so. I understand the thing about driver diameter changing the chassis, though. I forgot to make the 'interface' to reflect that.

I suppose you're right about the heater or compressor piping though. I was thinking that perhaps there would be a few different configurations to choose from, based on typical practice. That way, you could still customize it, but it would make manufacturing relatively simple (you might be able to make it all in one piece if it's plastic or even metal if it's in the same configuration every time).

Do you all feel like this would be a popular service? I've been thinking it over and I certainly feel it would be. The main reason for this would be because of how difficult it is to freelance steam without having experience (or confidence) in kitbashing, which many people don't. It would make having a freelance roster a lot simple, and perhaps less expensive.
 
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