The National Train Show was held in July 2010 in conjunction with the National Model Railroad Association's 75th annual convention. This year I was able to talk to many of the manufacturers at the show and got some audio for everyone to hear with their new announcements. Unlike the Trainfest episode last year, this episode has all of the audio in one long chunk. This episode is about 5 times longer than usual, but here it is.
This took a little longer than expected to get online (previous posts on The Rip Track home page have all the details), but here it is. In this part, we'll finish hearing from the manufacturers that were showing their products at Trainfest 2009. So, without further ado, let's get back to the show floor.
In part 1 of this episode we heard from a few manufacturers who were showing new products at Trainfest 2009. It's time to pick up where we left off, so let's jump right in and hear from some more manufacturers.
There are three major model railroad shows in North America that have become known in the hobby as shows where many manufacturers announce and debut new products: the National Train Show held in conjunction with the NMRA's national convention, the International Hobby Expo held every October in Chicago, and Trainfest held every November in Milwaukee. Last weekend, I went to Trainfest and recorded quick interviews with as many manufacturers as I could to find out what we can expect from them this model railroad year. I was able to talk to so many different companies that each had so much to say that Episode 11 is the first mulitpart episode of The Rip Track Podcast. We'll hear from several manufacturers in each part of this episode, and each part will have photos and links in the show notes that relate to the announcements that were mentioned therein.
Athearn sent a special announcement to their email list today with sad news for kitbashers and modelers with lower incomes. Rather than paraphrase, here's the important part of the notice:
Effective immediately, we here at Athearn have made the difficult decision to discontinue the production of our Blue Box line of kits. There were several factors that contributed to this extremely challenging decision however, the primary issue revolved around affordability and ensuring that our Blue Box kit pricing remain aligned with what the market can bear. Unfortunately, due to increased manufacturing and labor costs it has been determined that we are no longer able to continue offering kits at competitive price points as compared to our already assembled products.
That means that you won't be able to buy new kits from Athearn very soon, and will instead have to shell out more money for a fully assembled product. One consolation in this is that Athearn's line of assembled models is one of the better quality lines that I've seen in the industry, and their production runs aren't always quite as limited as some other manufacturers that I can think of.
Today on the podcast, we're going to take a look at the history of Southern Pacific 4449 and some of the trains it has pulled. We'll also hear a song about some "difficult" passengers that porters have to deal with. After that, we'll talk a little bit more about passenger trains and how you can model them. So, all aboard!
It wasn't that long ago that I wrote about the new baggage cars from Wheels of Time. Well, over the weekend, I finally had a chance to give them a workout on an NTrak layout. I had mentioned previously that some of the wheelsets didn't roll as easily as others, so I took a closer look at the trucks. The wheelsets that didn't spin as easily all had a little burr (circled in the picture to the right) on the sideframe pushing against the wheel sides, acting like a brake. A quick shave with a sharp hobby knife solved this and did not appear to hamper their operation in any way that I could tell. The cars tracked well around the layout for quite a few laps and looked perfect nestled between the express freight cars and passenger carrying cars of the train that I ran. I coupled all six of the baggage cars in front of a string of about ten standard type Kato and ConCor passenger cars and three of the recent SP articulated passenger cars from Kato; the weight of these cars behind the baggage cars did not seem to give any trouble to the baggage cars. So, these baggage cars are definitely keepers.
One of the manufacturers that we had a chance to talk to at the national NMRA convention this year was a small company called Wheels of Time. They were showing preproduction samples of 60-foot Harriman style baggage cars in N scale. As I've become more interested in modeling specific passenger trains recently, I was pleased to find someone taking N scale passenger train modeling seriously. I'm working on models of a few Milwaukee Road and Pennsylvania Railroad passenger trains while my wife is now putting together one of Southern Pacific's Daylight trains (well, the Kato GS-4 she bought last year has to pull something!). I was impressed with the preproductions enough that we each ordered a set when reservations opened in September. We saw the manufacturer again at Trainfest in November and we talked a little more about the cars and the company's upcoming city bus models. Our baggage car order arrived yesterday, so let's take a look at the final products...
On prototype passenger trains, the cars are often switched so that the doors are all at the same end of the car to ensure that passengers don't have to walk more than half the length of a car to board it at a station. Since dining cars normally didn't have station side doors, the door ends usually faced the dining car in the middle of the train.