Author Topic: any new steam production planned  (Read 2036 times)

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Flagler

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any new steam production planned
« on: May 07, 2014, 08:14:15 PM »
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Kato, Athern? I could use some additional steam

Puddington

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2014, 11:08:41 PM »
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Not speaking for Rapido here (we don't do steam; not our thing at all) but there are, to my way of thinking, a significant number of challenges for someone who wants to "greenfield" a steamer;

Tooling cost - nothing could be higher
Complexity - lots of parts. Moving parts. Highly detailed.   
Technology - we expect a lot from new products; you'd need to design modern power pick up system for a steamer, DCC capability, sound, lighting..all doable but that costs bucks
Individuality - there are few "universal" steamer outside the USRA models; you need to have second, third run options to make money - how many people will pay big bucks for a foobie steamer ?
Demographics - this one always stings but it's the truth - as time marches on their are fewer steam modellers - if you didn't grow up with it..
Big vs Small - we see Big Boys, Challengers and Northerns get releasd but what about a good 1930's ten wheeler or a nice Hudson...  Steam market selection seems geared to massive units, too large to run on many pikes and aimed at collectors as opposed to less romantic work a day engines...

Not sure I'd invest capital in a steamer as much as I want say a Royal Hudson; I'm not sure I'd ever make a buck or could bring it to market at an acceptable price.

Just random thoughts.
Model railroading isn't saving my life, but it's providing me moments of joy not normally associated with my current situation..... Train are good!

Chris333

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2014, 11:26:47 PM »
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I'm guessing Bachmann will have something this year.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2014, 12:00:08 AM »
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Pud, a lot of what you say is right on, unfortunately.
Chris, I sure hope you're right, they just might have the wherewithal to make it happen. A Decapod, a Texas, a totally redone Northern? We can only wish... 8)
Regards, Otto K.

jmlaboda

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2014, 12:30:16 AM »
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Bachmann is the most likely candidate to do something with steam, though I do not know how soon.  They recently released a very unique prototype B&O EM-1 to many people's surprise and I believe that they are not finished with the idea of steam though as mentioned repeat customers may be harder to find depending on the uniqueness of the product.  While it is true that most model what they know there are those that choose to model steam not because they remember the "Glory Days of Ole" but because they were not around when "Steam" was "King" and modeling such helps to bring to life at least some of that experience.  I am such a modeler and with the release of the Bachmann Ten Wheeler I doubt I will ever go back to my desire to "model modern" or to model more of what I know.

Might Kato do something new in steam?  Hard to say since their offerings are based on what the Japanese N-scalers want and not so much what American modelers might want.  And while it may not be all that easy to convince them of doing steam there is still a hope that they may do something in the future.

The need for a more generic type of steamer is always present, in as much because it would fit a much broader demand than a more prototype specific model would.  Variations on a theme could very much do the same thing, if a manufacturer of steam like Bachmann can be convinced of it.  A new boiler for the Bachmann Consol. or Ten Wheeler would be great, especially if something a bit more modern or a look a bit more appealing can be gained, but how to convince companies like this of the idea isn't all that easy.

I know at some point in recent memory someone had mentioned doing a boiler shell for a Harriman 2-8-0 which would be great since it would be a prototype that modelers would be interested in compared to Bachmann's current offering and here in may be part of the key to gaining models that are more desirable to modelers... I just hope that who ever it is will consider doing them because while they were specific more so to a Harriman line they also "fit" the basic look of a number of other lines AND because such has been a common prototype in HO (formerly produced by MDC) for a number of years while N-scalers could only look with envy but who it was who was talking about pulling the trigger eludes me at present.  Using proven chassis to gain more prototypical or more generic (and largely more popular types) does offer more appeal and possibilities .  I know that someone has a Western Maryland Consol. shell on Shapeways, though I do not know about its availability nor just how well the shells are rendered.

Steam in N-scale is not dead... heck, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Model Power/Ajin steamers make a comeback under another company's brand.  And maybe even expanded a little... but only time will tell.

victor miranda

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2014, 01:40:21 AM »
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Hi Puddington,

Just standing on the fact that there are many diesels done
and few steam engines,  there is little room to disagree.

I have to attempt to disagree, however... 

What all those reasons have in common is money.
(believe me it is a darned good reason.)
Cost to create and units that can be sold.
I guess maybe one can chart some SWAG for the relations of unit price
and how the lower price can create more unit sales.

All boring and very important for creating profits.

What all those reasons ignore is what made the Kato Mike a success.
Kato built a loco worth owning.

If you take your eyes off the idea of building a loco worth owning....
then all your guesses and numbers are worth even less than the loco you might sell.

I think we all know a steam model is expensive. 
I also think we can agree n-scale is small enough that
success comes with multiple sales to a given n-scaler
If everyone buys three you will have a hit.

This is a simple solution, the n-scalers of the world
will get one unit... if they like it, they will get more.
There is no slight of hand or cheaper substitution that will go un-noticed.
the unit will be evaluated.

My lovely wife once asked me why I was not running a steam engine she knew I had.
the short answer is that I could not get it to run reliably.
to her credit she then asked if the more expensive models were more reliable.
I said not in my experience.

Don't miss this, she was willing to spend more for a better mechanism.
I don't think she would have cared it it was a royal hudson, she wanted steam.

No matter what model gets made, the production will be evaluated pretty well before
multiple models are purchased. 

.... building a good steam engine is a demanding task, no doubt.
Kato has shown it can be done.  B-mann's Connie is a second proof.

to show you I understand your problem quite well.
The profit may not be worth the effort involved.

victor











SkipGear

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2014, 02:24:09 AM »
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We will see something new in steam from Bachmann. What that will be is anybodies guess. The last few locos that came out, I had some hints that they were coming. No idea this time.

An educated guess would be one of these three in order of likelyhood:

1. Berkshire - Already done and successful in HO. The research is done, a variation of the Hvy Mountain mech could be a starting point.
2. PRR K4 - Also already have an HO version, maybe not as successful in HO with all the other K4 options but could do better in N with no competition. Not sure the pencil pushers would understand that though.
3. Russian Decapod - If for no other reason but to prove that they can do it after droping the ball many years back. It was actually a pretty poor seller in HO so I don't think the chance is very high on this one.

It's too close to the Model Power closure to expect a USRA Pacific or Mikado but I look for them sometime in the future.

Bachmann's HO Northern update turned into a GS4. With the GS4 already done by Kato, I don't see it happening.  But then again, they came out with the NS heritage locos after 3 others already had them on the market so maybe they just don't care what others are doing.

Whatever is new in HO this year is what we should look for next year in N. Bachmann is starting to follow this trend.
Tony Hines

robert3985

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2014, 02:51:38 AM »
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.... building a good steam engine is a demanding task, no doubt.
Kato has shown it can be done.  B-mann's Connie is a second proof.

victor

Athearn does a damn fine job too....

peteski

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2014, 05:05:25 AM »
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Athearn does a damn fine job too....


That photo is worth couple of brass steamer models.  :D
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mecgp7

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2014, 07:20:32 AM »
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"Demographics - this one always stings but it's the truth - as time marches on their are fewer steam modellers - if you didn't grow up with it."

I wonder how many more steam modelers there would have been if there had been quality n scale steamers available and in the same number as diesels when they entered the hobby. Born after steam, I still would have loved to model steam, but even as  kid I recognized the poor quality of steam offerings especially considering the price. By the time we started to see some quality steam, I had 25-30 years invested in diesels. If I were to change to steam now, more than likely it'd be in another scale. That being said, I hope more and better n scale steam becomes available for the steam guys. It's good for the hobby.

jdcolombo

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2014, 08:13:13 AM »
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We will see something new in steam from Bachmann. What that will be is anybodies guess. The last few locos that came out, I had some hints that they were coming. No idea this time.

An educated guess would be one of these three in order of likelyhood:

1. Berkshire - Already done and successful in HO. The research is done, a variation of the Hvy Mountain mech could be a starting point.


I can only hope.  The HO Berk is as faithful a reproduction of the 1950's NKP version as ever produced, even in brass.   If they did a Berk that ran as well as the EM-1 and pulled even half as much, jeez, I'd have to buy 10 of 'em.  Ouch.   The LifeLike Berk was an excellent runner, but pulls nearly nothing out of the box, is poorly balanced (too light in the front), and the NKP version did not have the ubiquitous Mars light that was a huge spotting feature for all Berkshires in the 1950's.  Plus they are a major pain to convert to DCC.  Bachmann's HO version has the Mars light, and a Spectrum-level mechanism that had a dual-mode DCC decoder in the tender (which then would be easily convertible to sound) would be heaven for us NKP folks.

John C.

BOK

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2014, 08:40:06 AM »
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I wonder if the next advancement in N scale steam will be more along the lines of Bachmann adding sound to their existing models and swapping smaller tenders to their 2-6-0 and 4-6-0s rather than the larger 2-8-0 ones?

I am fortunate that Bachmann did their good running, detailed, 2-8-0 along the lines of an Illinois Central prototype which I loosely model. I have seven of those locomotives, three with DCC and one with sound and they all run slow and smooth. I also have a pair of the Kato 2-8-2s both good runners but a bit big for some of my short line curves.

steam compared With the latest news from Athearn about their "re-structuring" and set back of delivery dates for HO products I am not sure we see much new product from them for a while.

However, most on this site will agree that we have never had it so good, as now, for N scale steam when comparing things to years ago.

Barry 

Puddington

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2014, 09:09:03 AM »
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I think another issue with steam is the rapidly changing (much to modellers dislike) way products are offered. More and more manufacturers (us included) are being forced due to economic conditions to the "offer, produce and ship" model. That is to say; inventory or "shelf stock" at the manufacturer level is a uber "no no", you make what you have orders for and no more.... Very, very few companies can afford to have a $ 350.00 MSRP locomotive sitting on a shelf waiting for an order; and that's what a highly detailed, DCC sound equipped steamer would be.

So, to not go broke producing a new steam engine you have to select a winner (and the definition of that is variable - popular, multi road variations, easy to modify for other versions, long lived or iconic...), develop it, tool it (or at least start tooling it) then announce and offer it to marketplace, pay for advertising, pre production samples, absorb the costs of many train shows to show it, make videos or whatever combination of marketing you choose and then pray you'll get 2000 - 4000 orders on a first run to break even on total costs plus SG and A... and then hope you can sell a second run to make a few bucks...

I'm all for new steam; I've got a list of dream steam too but the economics of it are really daunting....

PS: all this said, am I correct in my thought that while we, as modellers are getting more and more demanding on "roadname and unit specific details" for D-E locomotives and rolling stock; we might well be more forgiving with regard to "more generic" steamers, in order to get anything new into the market...?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 09:11:42 AM by Puddington »
Model railroading isn't saving my life, but it's providing me moments of joy not normally associated with my current situation..... Train are good!

brokemoto

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2014, 09:25:23 AM »
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Steam sales seem to defy reason. 

The Big-Uns sell well.  These things require curves of seventeen inches or better and look silly pulling anything fewer than twenty five freight cars or ten passenger cars, in the case of the Challenger.  (Yes, I know, B&O did use the EM-1s on #29 and #30 from time to time).  Most home pikes are not large enough for that.  One would think that the smaller to average sized steam would sell better, as the curves and sizes of most home pikes would accommodate them better.  A consolidated looks allright pulling five or ten car trains.  An eight wheeler is fine with one or two passenger cars.  I certainly want Pacifics, Mikados, Consolidateds, Moguls, Eight wheelers, Atlantics and Prairies.  I have passed on recent issues or improvements of anything larger, with the exception of the EM-1, as I do model B&O and it is road specific.

Still, the big steam is what sells.  I might be persuaded to understand the Challenger, especially since there is one that still operates.  The Big Boy escapes me, although now that they are going to restore one, it might not escape me for much longer. What really escapes me is what more than one vendor has told me:  the EM-1 has outsold the Challenger, Big Boy, Van Sweringen Berkshire and GS-4.  There are two (?) Van Sweringen Berkshires that still run and more than one road used them.  Anything Borg sells, and there is a surviving Challenger and soon to be revived Big Boy.  There is a surviving GS-4.  The EM-1, on the other hand, became fenders for 1957 DeSotos then hardtops for 1973 Torinos and finally hoods for Toyota Camrys.  B&O is a 'second tier road'.  How is it that the EM-1 has outsold all of them.  Could it be that what many B&O nuts tell you is true:  Every railroad hobbyist has two favourite railroads, the Baltimore and Ohio and one other?

I do not get it.

At any rate, I would hope that someone would pick up MP's steam line and add all wheels live tenders.  Those locomotives were almost there.  They were probably the best proof of Miranda's Maxim as explained by ke:  The poor performance of many N scale steam locomotives is far too often directly attributable to poor electrical contact.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 09:28:18 AM by brokemoto »

SkipGear

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Re: any new steam production planned
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2014, 09:29:56 AM »
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I think another issue with steam is the rapidly changing (much to modellers dislike) way products are offered. More and more manufacturers (us included) are being forced due to economic conditions to the "offer, produce and ship" model. That is to say; inventory or "shelf stock" at the manufacturer level is a uber "no no", you make what you have orders for and no more.... Very, very few companies can afford to have a $ 350.00 MSRP locomotive sitting on a shelf waiting for an order; and that's what a highly detailed, DCC sound equipped steamer would be.

So, to not go broke producing a new steam engine you have to select a winner (and the definition of that is variable - popular, multi road variations, easy to modify for other versions, long lived or iconic...), develop it, tool it (or at least start tooling it) then announce and offer it to marketplace, pay for advertising, pre production samples, absorb the costs of many train shows to show it, make videos or whatever combination of marketing you choose and then pray you'll get 2000 - 4000 orders on a first run to break even on total costs plus SG and A... and then hope you can sell a second run to make a few bucks...

I'm all for new steam; I've got a list of dream steam too but the economics of it are really daunting....

PS: all this said, am I correct in my thought that while we, as modellers are getting more and more demanding on "roadname and unit specific details" for D-E locomotives and rolling stock; we might well be more forgiving with regard to "more generic" steamers, in order to get anything new into the market...?


The sentiment above is exactly why Bachmann is the only one left doing steam. They are about the only company left that hasn't fallen into the monthly announcement trap. Bachmann does a major announcement once a year with a couple minor things here and there the rest of the time. They still produce batch runs large enough for stock to last more than a couple months which helps to improve the economics of an expensive loco. They have also kept a few models in constant production for quite a while although that may be slowly changing with the demise of the 2-8-0 and 4-8-2's. 

 I guess it also helps that they own the production facility and control the schedule. I have a feeling their models come first when it comes to crunch time for production time.
Tony Hines