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Thread: Custom builds for customers !!

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rook View Post
    Your post are always interesting!
    Thank you thank you. I'm not sure my ego can take much more prase. I feel like a celebrity loco builder with the way you lot are showering me But thank you anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rook View Post
    I never know if people want to take the time to explain things...so I hesitate to ask.
    As wombat457 says, Ask ask ask ( and that goes to all of you) because I'm not (surprisingly) telepathic, so I struggle to know how much to post ? Just stop me in mid stream and demand more detail or explanations. I post on here for a number of reasons. First and foremost is that I love sharing. Taking from other peoples posts and (hopefully) giving with my own. I modeled away on my own for over 30 years before discovering this forum and the last three years that I've been here have been the best of them Also, posting here makes me think more about how and why, I am making my little creations. Questioning is the greatest gift we have.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rook View Post
    .it is not a simple straight cut with a coping saw
    Err, em, that's exactly what it is !!! Oh to have a magic laser cutter, but no, just a plane old razor saw for me

    Quote Originally Posted by Rook View Post
    Handrails...you could show (or tell) the layout of the parts...what you did to prep them...how you assembled and secure them.
    You've asked, you shall receive Coming shortly in the Hudson's build post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rook View Post
    Being visually impaired I'm looking for an app or configuration to display my phone on the laptop screen. Or even use the phone as a simple magnifier.
    I can't help you with this one. I will happily nominate myself for the award of most computer illiterate person on this forum. Actually, make that simply 'most illiterate' person on this forum. If it wasn't for spell checker you wouldn't be able to read a single word I write. And I'm not kidding Build Hudson's yes, spell, no.

    Wow I ramble on, you can't shut me up these days !!!
    Thanks, Tom

    Expect nothing except the opposite of what you expect, and then expect it to be something other than that ! Then that's about what it will be

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  3. #22
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    OK, grizzled curmudgeon here.

    As an experiment, I put up one of my built-up Climax A 18-ton kits on Ebay back in 2006. Bluntly, it went nuts on auction, and it's never been that high again. I've been doing custom builds ever since, of my kits, and about anything else that comes along as well, on commission, not stock. It's still about 40% of what I do.

    I've been selling kits and built-ups of them now for 13 years. Part of this is that I've become very efficient at building them, the other part is that I have to admit I've always built more stuff than I should ever, ever hang on to. I find that doing custom builds is enjoyable, particularly when I'm building something oddball that I'd never build myself and I don't know what I'd do with it after I finished it. I already have a finished layout, two portable layouts, 5 T-trak modules, and three display cases. And a small house. I'm the guy that enjoys building more than running.

    If I have a couple advantages, it's that I can photograph well and research equally well, and my customers are generally very happy and I don't come particularly cheap. I was doing all the N scale repairs for a local hobby shop when I was in college, and that was .... way too long ago, so mechanism work is a breeze for me now and I have a ridiculous collection of junkers and parts. I take a deposit on parts and kits, and don't do a final sale until photos are provided of the work and if it's a runner, a video of it running. The only 'how did I ever get in this mess' times have been due to DCC decoder installs, which I VERY reluctantly do although I can.

    The kits and custom builds made a big difference in getting my kids through school, and while I've cut back, I'm still getting steady work and almost always have a backlog.

    You also have to be willing to say 'no', and admit your own limitations. I learned photoetching, learned you can't possibly make it economic sense when you can do the designs and get parts made commercially for kits of much better quality. I've learned that I have a talent for smoking DCC decoders. I've learned that one little tip on handling casting resin made a quantum leap in quality and volume production that made everything work, but I can't beat summer humidity and gave up trying. I've also accumulated a collection of 'well, I'll never try THAT one again' custom projects. I've learned that what I think is a cool idea may be limited to me, and learned that something may explode in interest that I never saw coming. And while I learned 3D printing, I also learned that if you're sending it out, you can't possibly make any money off of it. Maybe with a home printer, but design time + Shapeways is a looser economically. I did cost accounting professionally, it works in 1:1 and 1:160 equally well and can deliver equally bad news.

    But worth it? Yes, and the best part was that my wife was on board with it from the start. It sure beats a second job when I can do it from the house, on my own time, on my own terms.

    I was really lucky. I had John Coots, N Scale of Nevada and Scale Structures Ltd, give me 'the talk' about making stuff for sale in N scale, and it was like sitting with Master Yoda. He got me off to a practical financial analysis of motives, skills, and reality that really helped me get started. So to a certain extent, because I don't want to see this die out, I'll pay it forward.

    In 13 years I've only had one customer ask for a refund on a custom build, and that was the DCC nightmare. I gladly took it back, converted it to DC, and resold it on Ebay. That's your plan for 'NOW what do I do with it', and it will happen. I had one customer die before he paid. I had one custom build shipped to the wrong address IN ENGLAND because he moved and didn't correct it on PayPal, but he eventually recovered it. Stuff will happen as in any business. Recently I had USPS about destroy a custom build despite excess protection and packaging, I helped the customer repair it for free.

    I've lost track of how many times I've been asked to build another Climax B. Nope. I've helped half a dozen people build theirs, but economically speaking, it can't possibly work. Now I'm tinkering with a PRR D16 4-4-0, same deal. Played with doing my Lima 2-6-0 as a kit, not enough interest. Still daydreaming on a Heisler, but until I find a reliable source of mechanism parts supply, no deal. But something silly-simple like better circus wagons took off like a darn rocket, and I've evolved into multiple versions of the Climax A including Nn3. I'll resume CF7's when Atlas resumes doing the mechanisms, meanwhile, I wait. I got hammered by Bachmann on the GE70-tonner, yet Kato has made the 11-105 chassis for the Climax A for 15 years now and still going. Hey, after 13 years, I still enjoy it, and it hasn't killed my personal modeling interest either.
    Randgust N scale kits web page at www.randgust.com

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  5. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcook View Post
    Originally Posted by Rook View Post
    .it is not a simple straight cut with a coping saw
    Err, em, that's exactly what it is !!! Oh to have a magic laser cutter, but no, just a plane old razor saw for me
    Well my aging eyes have deceived me again. When I first looked at the cab expansion it looked like the spacer was "keyed". Small laptop screens don't always help. Many times I skim the new post, but I usually take a little extra time with yours.

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  7. #24
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    @randgust How can I thank you enough for taking so much time to explain the ins and outs of what you do. I really appreciate what you share with us.

    I have now convinced myself that if I want to do anything commercial I will build it first and then offer it out if there's any interest. Stress elimination is my objective. But to also not be held to a time frame as I have many other interests than N scale. I like to just pick up things as and when I feel like it so I will not build anything to order.

    Thanks all.
    Thanks, Tom

    Expect nothing except the opposite of what you expect, and then expect it to be something other than that ! Then that's about what it will be

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  9. #25
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    Well, from what I can tell from photos, you're doing quality work. But I will say that on any locomotive, you need to be able to provide a video of it running in order to be able to get what it's worth, or buyers will automatically discount it as a used locomotive that may not run that well. You can put it up on YouTube and link to it. Ebay is really tricky on allowing any kind of external links that could be considered to be a 'get around' an Ebay sale including contacting you directly to get videos, but YouTube links inside an auction still work the last time I did them.

    If you're paying top dollar for quality custom locomotive work, it has to run well.
    Randgust N scale kits web page at www.randgust.com

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  11. #26
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    Tom, PM sent about something else you need to do if you are selling (I touched on this in another PM).

    Dave

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