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Thread: If You Were an N Scale Manufacturer...

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    Default If You Were an N Scale Manufacturer...

    Imagination/fantasy time. Let's say you had access to hundreds of thousands of dollars of capital to start your own Model Railroad product manufacturing company, which either exclusively makes N scale products, or specializes in N (also making other scales). What would you make? And what would you possibly expand to in the future?

    Be realistic. Try not to duplicate other companies, try to fill a current void in N scale. And remember, you're not going to be as big as Walthers or Atlas or Kato so you can't make everything, but you would concentrate on one major aspect of the hobby: Locos/Rolling Stock, Track, Scenery, Vehicles, Structures, DCC Products, Tools, etc.


    My company would make N scale track products. I think there is a SERIOUS lack of availability of Code 55 and Code 40 products, especially with Micro Engineering not producing anything lately and Atlas having issues fulfilling inventory. And there is NO ONE making more prototypical-looking Code 80 track. So I think the market is ripe. The lack of track products is a hindrance for modelers building new layouts, and especially people starting out in the hobby/N scale. My track would be 100% compatible with existing ME Code 40 track, Atlas/ME Code 55 track and Atlas/Peco Code 80 track.

    So my company would make quality N scale Code 55 flextrack, turnouts and crossings, and even launch a line of sectional roadbed track (a la Unitrack/True Track) that uses Code 55 rail. I'd also make Code 40 track for all the fine scalers, with turnouts and crossings. I'll also make a line of Code 80 track with CORRECT NORTH AMERICAN TIE SPACING that'll make people want to ditch their Atlas, Peco and Kato track.
    And, also make transitional sectional track pieces for Code 40 -> Code 55 and Code 55 -> Code 80.

    Future expansion: Signal and track scenery accessories, and maybe even ballast. Also a micro-sized surface-mounted manual switch machine a la Caboose Industries that actually looks more to scale. Also, maybe a line of Z scale track in Code 55 and 40.
    Last edited by MetroRedLn; 19th Jul 2019 at 02:12 AM.

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    Haven't youse heard da news!? Da hobby's dyin', and I mean crappin' all over itself on da way to da morgue.

    Make? Whaddya mean, "make"? I tell ya, you oughta be makin' a headstone.
    Last edited by Paul Schmidt; 19th Jul 2019 at 06:29 AM.

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    For me it would structures and that would also include detail parts for structures.

    I'd make up kits, for example, similar to what Walthers has for their line of HO structures (that has not been released to N scale) to start with.
    If that would take off, then I'd come up with new designs for older buildings as well as newly designed buildings of multiple eras.
    These would also be closer to size, related to the space that's available to what we have in N scale, and try not to compress them, as much as possible.

    Another option would be to design those kits as much as possible in modular format similar to what Pike Stuff has done with theirs.
    I would also try to make those parts for sale individually for those of us who like to kitbash.

    I know some of this has been done or tried before in the past, but that's been a few years ago and I know that N scale has come a long way since then.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    Haven't youse heard da news!? Da hobby's dyin', and I mean crappin' all over itself on da way to da morgue.

    Make? Whaddya mean, "make"? I tell ya, you oughta be makin' a headstone.

    The Little Rock Line blog


    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." George Carlin

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    I'd want to design and market the most robust, prototypically accurate code 40 and code 55 N scale track system ever devised. Bullet-proof #s 5, 7, 9 and 11 turnouts, easy to bend flextrack, modular bridge components. Yeah, ME has some of that; I'd want to do it better and in the USA.

    And it would include not just North American-based products, but British and European too. Wooden ties and concrete ties.

    Oh, and I'd use the profits to get a big Sherman tank for @Allen H. For the foamers that can't respect a photo line. ...

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    I might consider making a line of DPM-style main street buildings, but with quasi-modular components. Let one wall be just the brick portion, and have all the windows and doors be separate inserts (ground floor storefront could be a module). That would make it super-easy to paint trim parts with a trim color, rather than needing to mask a monolithic resin wall. Then, here's the trick: let it all be done through an online service similar to Shapeways, where you play around with a building designer tool on the web site, assembling your own kit, and have that custom kit of parts get mailed directly to you. An optional service might be to paint and assemble for you. And, of course, hobby shops could carry components like doors and windows much like they do Tichy or Plastruct right now.

    I know modulars have been done before, but I don't think they caught on well in part because of how they were produced. Panels had to be of standard dimensions to ensure compatibility, and you had to buy more than you need at the moment because of how they were packaged. Plus, they tended to have a baked-in aesthetic that wasn't always what one wanted. But with a custom ordering interface, the design potential could be more broad. Maybe what I am thinking of is actually just providing a design-tool front end to a Shapeways or equivalent site, basically letting those with little ability to do 3D CAD design work enjoy making their own custom buildings, which then get one-off 3D printed (though designs can be retained for future reuse). But by having predefined elements like stairs, windows, doors, etc., the actual design process could be simplified, and those pieces might be injection-molded ahead of time. So you design a wall with two windows and one door under an awning, for example, and the web tool converts that to a slab of brick texture with holes where the window and door castings will plug in, that slab gets 3D printed, then bundled together with sets of doors and windows (which come on small sprue sets of 4 or so, like Tichy).

    As an aside, one of the standard things I'd want to produce would be a variety of neoclassical columns - Ionic, Doric, Tuscan, Corinthian, etc. Though maybe those would need to be custom printed so that you could dial in the height and diameter that you want. But they could be offered in a few standard diameters; maybe the shaft is 3D printed to stretch to whatever height you need, and the capitals are pre-made to fit the matching diameter.

    Mostly I would like to be a resource to those who enjoy kit bashing, by producing "pre-bashed" kits, if you will.

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    Looks like @Allen H. and I were typing at the same time, and having much the same thoughts.

    Another product idea I had a while ago was a form of manual turnout control that routed power to the frog and pushed the throwbar back and forth with a nearly scale-sized lever adjacent to the tracks, to compete with the oversized Caboose Industries ground throws. I did enough of a prototype to tell myself that it should be feasible; it would basically all be bent wire, it just would need one sturdy pivot bracket that would attach to the ties. My mockup used glued-up styrene to make the bracket, and that didn't last very long, but a cast metal piece could be durable enough. The system would have a stem on which there could be a target, and that stem would rotate through 90 degrees so that the target would actually change its display face to give indication of turnout alignment, just like in the real world.

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    I'd make vehicles from the 70's and 80's. There aren't a lot out there and some of the guys my age model that era.
    WAAAAGH!! Wait, wrong hobby. TRAAAAAAIIIINNN!!

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    I'd produce 4 makes/models of vehicles, two of them modern but one someone already produced in the early 2000's the other in 1/144th scale, the last two from the transition era. I'd package them in pairs because if you are buying 1 you must want another that looks exactly like it. I'd offer them in 25 colors including 14 I made up (like Real Rail Rust bRown) and slap railroad decals on 8 of them, especially ATSF (the warbonnet cars). For this 2 pack I'd charge 3 times what 1 is worth because you're a dumb N scaler and I "know" you'll pay too much for them. When no one buys those four because they are overpriced/don't fill a need/fit the actual scale/might be construed as toylike/been done before, I'll claim the hobby is dying, especially N scale and release every vehicle you could possibly ever want in HO and say, "See? No market in N scale."

    Ha Ha Ha!

    Seriously, I'd do the opposite of all that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WP&P View Post
    I might consider making a line of DPM-style main street buildings, but with quasi-modular components.
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen H. View Post
    Another option would be to design those kits as much as possible in modular format
    I am on the same wave-length as both of you. I should compare notes... Like you are reading my mind.

    But structures is where I would be drawn to as well. Have some ideas to offer creative variations in building facades that would go with more generic sides and rears

    (A few year back... I helped design some modular O Scale building fronts and even created "masters" that were supposed to go into production. The guy disappeared off the planet... Never got paid either...)
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    BarMills has the #1 Kit in N scale that might be a model
    http://barmillsmodels.com/_dev2/prod...-kit-n-ho-s-o/
    Pictures at
    https://www.hobbylinc.com/bar-mills-...ad-building-31

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    I'd go into super reliable small steam, from 1900 on, small switchers, 2-8-0 and 2-8-2 locos. If Kato can do them for their JNR locos then small Baldwins and ALCOs can be achieved too. And tank locos too!! Maybe later start a line of USRA rollingstock and cars from 1900 - 1920 era.
    Last edited by mosslake; 19th Jul 2019 at 12:36 AM.
    Cheers,

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    I would love to produce a range of parts that enable existing old locomotives and rolling stock to be repaired and modernized. Eg: drop in coreless motors with flywheels for the whole Rivarossi range, Replacement gears for white gear Bachmann locos, Accurately modeled rolling stock trucks with low profile wheels for all the most popular makes and, well basically anything that can help get our old models rolling again. My pet hate is waist, so any thing that can reduce this I would aim to offer.

    Also, I would offer an EXTENSIVE range of loco body shell kits that can be easily dropped on to existing chassis. That way, we could quadruple overnight the range of locos available for little cost. This is how 009 narrow gauge works in the UK and is very successful. Also has the advantage of getting people to be more 'hands on' with there locos instead of just waiting for a new release.

    Maybe a repair service too, to keep things from going in the trash bin
    Thanks, Tom

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    Ohhh, and a nice range of Great lakes lighthouses. Just love them
    Thanks, Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcook View Post
    Also, I would offer an EXTENSIVE range of loco body shell kits that can be easily dropped on to existing chassis. That way, we could quadruple overnight the range of locos available for little cost.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcook View Post
    drop in coreless motors with flywheels
    https://tramfabriek.nl/
    I'm using three of their 7 X16 mm coreless motors to repower some Athearn/MDC 2-8-0s. The make double shaft motors and flywheels as well.
    Cheers,

    Russ

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    I would make an easy to install signaling system for the electronically challenged.

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    Sort of reminds me of the farmer who won the lottery.

    Reporter: What are you going to do with your winnings?

    Farmer: Wall, I guess I'll go back to farming full time 'til I run out of money.



    Entrepreneurship is not my thing. If $100k suddenly appeared for model railroad use, I'd set up a fully equipped machine/fab shop so I could easily make anything I needed for my model railroad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim R View Post
    Entrepreneurship is not my thing. If $100k suddenly appeared for model railroad use, I'd set up a fully equipped machine/fab shop so I could easily make anything I needed for my model railroad.
    How do you make a small fortune as a manufacturer of model railroad equipment? Start with a large fortune.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    How do you make a small fortune as a manufacturer of model railroad equipment? Start with a large fortune.
    It goes with the scale factor, right? If you put $160,000 into N-scale manufacturing, you could expect $1,000 out?

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