Author Topic: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.  (Read 2046 times)

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victor miranda

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An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« on: July 03, 2014, 12:42:31 AM »
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railwire dudes and dudettes,

Recently some one said the new MTL loco lacked innovation.
I tried to understand if the comment was good or bad.

Most of the recent diesels from the past 15 years lack any innovation...
unless you consider painting handrails yellow an innovation.
feel free to point out any innovations I missed.
and Kato locos don't count for this because...

I am not sure most of what Kato has done has been wildly successful.
Does innovation mean it is a good idea?

The NW2 has at least one innovation in the overall chassis design
and I am not sure the motor in the nose and drive shafts to the trucks
is a good innovation.
Is the springyness of the pickups in other locos a good innovation?
Is the lack of screws holding the GG1 together an innovation for the better?

Lets talk obscure innovations.
The first run of the kato mike was supposed to have a special treatment
on the drivers to improve traction...  what do you think of that innovation?

Perhaps we should consider things that looks like innovations.
Placing cone and axle points in a tender sure seems like a darned good innovation
and that idea was first done in 1965 in a kato c50.

I happen to like Kato's gs4 drawbar and I have been told it is a bad idea.
It is an innovation.

There are a number of innovations out there, mostly Kato,
and while I like a lot of them, from all I can see,
innovation in n-scale locos is not popular selling feature.

victor

johnh35

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2014, 09:28:31 AM »
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In terms of innovation, there is nothing earth shattering out there. Manufacturers beginning to use coreless motors is probably the best thing happening right now IMO. Bachmann seems to be leading the charge in this aspect, what their excellent running Alco S4 and their NW2. It is a shame that their shells and other features are not up to par with the operational aspect of those engines.

johnh35

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2014, 09:30:33 AM »
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Another thought would be the inclusion of tungsten, such as Dapol has done in one (if not more) of their engines. If it ever becomes economically viable to produce a frame for more engines using tungsten, that would definitely fit the definition.

lock4244

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2014, 09:57:04 AM »
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How about the cast metal frame / sills / walkways for the upcoming Rapido GMD-1? I had the opportunity to drop by their world headquarters about a month ago and Mr Mike showed me the GMD-1 samples. Beyond the fact that it is so  :drool: educing, the little suckers weight is remarkable, which I think would make it pull out of proportion to it's size. Maybe not earth shattering, and maybe not a first, but it'll be the first diesel I've owned (ok, first I will own) with a cast frame.

The detail on the frame was pretty darn nice as well... and that was one of the 'close, but lets do better' rejected frames.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2014, 09:58:58 AM by lock4244 »
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randgust

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2014, 10:10:42 AM »
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Hmmmm.   Good topic.

Some favorites I've observed:   I think the entire floating-pickup system comprised of end-axle pickups PLUS the spring wipers is one of the better ones, particularly for smaller power.   Watching the Kato-11-105 chassis system step through rough track and actually equalizing the wheels is rather amazing.

The placement of very small, very fine Delrin details on steam - hasn't got much attention, but if you look at the Atlas (Micro-Ace) 4-4-0 it's reached levels of details and delicacy that were only dreamed of before.  Scale-sized handrail stanchions in plastic?  Really?  I'm not sure it may have gone one step too far, but you have to admit they are trying things I thought I'd never see in N.

The use of 12v pager-class motors in full-production power has been an innovation for sure.   First one I saw was the Kato 11-105/6/7 chassis, now basically the same motor is in a lot of small power; Bachmann 44-ton and 70-ton with a double-ended shaft, the tender drive in the Atlas 4-4-0; those little motors have really been game-changers.   While the first 3.5v. ones were turkeys with a resistor, making them 12V was a breakthrough.   

And you may love it or hate it, but you have to admit that dot-matrix printing on small-run production instead of decals or pad printing is an innovation.....
« Last Edit: July 03, 2014, 10:25:30 AM by randgust »

bbussey

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2014, 10:51:01 AM »
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The dot-matrix printing is an innovation.  But it's effective only with photo art, as opposed to line art.
Bryan Busséy
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Jesse6669

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2014, 11:12:32 AM »
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And you may love it or hate it, but you have to admit that dot-matrix printing on small-run production instead of decals or pad printing is an innovation.....

Do you mean direct inkjet printing?

Denver Road Doug

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2014, 11:24:53 AM »
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new MTL loco lacked innovation....   ...if the comment was good or bad.

Most of the recent diesels from the past 15 years lack any innovation...
...painting handrails yellow?

Does innovation mean it is a good idea?
-NW2 ...chassis design  ...motor in nose  ...drive shafts to trucks ...springyness of pickups  ...lack of screws holding GG1 together
-Lets talk obscure innovations.  ...special treatment on drivers to improve traction. ...Placing cone and axle points in tender ...Kato's gs4 drawbar

innovation in n-scale locos is not popular selling feature.

I made the original comment about innovation, so I'll chime in.

I think what I was trying to get across is that the Micro-Trains loco is not really intended to meet the expectations that seem to be spilling out everywhere about this locomotive.   The latest switchers from Kato and Atlas have spoiled us a little.   Good performance, good/accurate tooling, directional headlights, DCC, nice decoration, decent pulling power.  You are right that releasing a locomotive with those features wouldn't be "innovative", but for Micro-Trains it kinda would fall there, or at very least it would be "news".  In fairness you could look at the DCC mod as innovative, albeit for about 10 years ago. 

Anyway, I don't think Micro-Trains' goal was to release an Atlas or Kato locomotive.   They basically "production-lined" a locomotive kitbash.   That in itself I think is a little bit innovative.   And I will have to give "BigDaddy" credit for his comment "We took a decent running locomotive that has been in production for quite a few years"...I think that benefits us, even if it's not state-of-the-art stuff.   I have many times asked for some way to use Kato SD40-2 parts handed to an aftermarket decorator to make SD40-2's...this is kinda the same thing....a good quality loco, a passable (if not fat) shell, and lots of road names done.  Point being, it is a pretty good little locomotive mechanism, and it's now DCC.   Had they taken the next step and narrowed it up a bit, THEN we would be talking innovation-esque qualities.   8)  (except that Atlas did all of that 10 years ago.)

As far as things I think are innovative or at least progressive...
-FVM: Free-standing grabs/dimple system.   Love it.  Definitely an innovation.
-Kato: Porch ditchlights on SD40-2's.   I think generally that manufacturer's stances on ditchlights have been, "if it came that way from the factory."  In this case the locos generally had ditchlights upon decoration so I was glad to see that feature included.  Probably not innovative per se, but it improved the overall "resume" of the release.
-Atlas: The S2.  Sound in a small switcher.  Check.  Diecast inserts on shell.  Check.
-Intermountain: Wholesale adoption of sound as an RTR option.
-MTL: Since locos haven't been their thing, I'll comment on a couple of innovations on their cars: the impregnated-paper walkways and the weathering/graf products they are doing.

What I think the next innovations will be:
-Electronics- sound decoders get smaller and more functional.  Power/capacitor "froginator" feature standard.  Ditchlight/Headlight electronics get built in, with FVM-esque "dimples" to open access to receptacles for custom molded LED cab, nose, rear, porch or pilot mount fixtures.  (helloooo SP modelers!)   Also step-light LED's.   The model railroading industry is way behind other in this realm, and that needs to change and fast.
-Higher-end motors and mech components.  I know everyone complains about prices but I think we have to start seeing this.  In N we really need every bit of power and performance we can get.  Maybe drop-in upgrades of some type to keep the costs down for the guys that still buy 12 of everything yet still complain about prices.  :RUEffinKiddingMe:
-Tungsten inserts.   Manufacturers offer custom milled tungsten bits that fit all around the loco's nooks and crannies.    Add-on so that the price doesn't go up for everyone, but that the feature is designed-in to get the best possible cramming of weight.
-OR Tungsten frame replacements.  Basically tighter tolerances and prefilled nooks and crannies.   Still could be an add-on replacement piece or simply a "Tungsten Series" sku.
-Faded paint jobs.   Atlas has done this on locos, and several manufacturers have done it on freight cars.   But I see it being more widespread.
-Add-on handrail sets with factory paint.  Thinking along the lines of the one piece etched variety that has been discussed here, designed such that the "standard" delrin-rail insert could be popped off and the better etched-rail piece popped back in.

I pretty much agree with you that Kato is kinda playing out in a field by themselves sometimes.   I like that they keep pushing the envelope though, even if it doesn't necessarily translate to some knock-socks innovation.   As to whether or not people really want innovation, well I'd say it's probably split....I'd say a majority still want to be paying $30 for the locos.  And that's why we got Trainman as an "innovation".
« Last Edit: July 03, 2014, 11:47:42 AM by Denver Road Doug »
NOTE: I'm no longer active on this forum.   If you need to contact me, use the e-mail address (or visit the website link) attached to this username.  Thanks.

wm3798

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2014, 12:06:53 PM »
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I'm really amazed by the things you guys are discussing now.  Being an "old head" with strong recollections (and a fairly large collection) of the Dark Ages, I look at this stuff with wonderment.

I'm taking notes.  I love trends!

Lee
Route of the Alpha Jets

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jimmo

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2014, 12:25:19 PM »
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I'm really amazed by the things you guys are discussing now.  Being an "old head" with strong recollections (and a fairly large collection) of the Dark Ages, I look at this stuff with wonderment.

I'm taking notes.  I love trends!

Lee

I was just about to comment but Lee kind of beat me to it.

Most of us who lived through the dark ages of N-scale clearly see the innovations brought over the years as our scale has evolved from the table-pounding days to what we have available now. Watching a locomotive crawl along at a snail's pace were things we could only dream about back then.

I recently acquired a couple of Athearn's Southern Pacific bay window cabeese(?) and was pleasantly blown away by the detail compared to the memory of my old Atlas model of a similar caboose.

All I can say is keep up the good work Kato, Atlas, Athearn, Micro-Trains and all the other model makers out there. I like where this scale is going.
James R. Will

Rich_S

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2014, 12:32:10 PM »
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Quote
-Intermountain: Wholesale adoption of sound as an RTR option.

My hopes is sound never becomes a standard component of model locomotives. First and foremost because of the added cost associated with the sound modules. I do enjoy DCC, but I would not want to see only DCC equipped locomotives produced. There are still folks out there that prefer DC control over DCC.

For me personally current sound systems are annoying, first and foremost because of the ringing / whistling in my ears from the enormous sound systems installed on prototype EMD GP38-2's, SD40-2's, SD50, SD60, ... i.e. 645 and 710 diesel engines  :D  One of the things I really like about model trains, they are quite. I don't have to yell at the person working with me during an operating session, because of the noise.   

Does anyone happen to remember Rail Power Products? MTL took the idea one step further. For those who don't remember, Rail Power Products produced HO body shells, for then current EMD and GE locomotives. The body shells were designed to fit Athearn frames. The line was so popular that Athearn purchased the RPP line. So yes, I have to agree MTL was innovative in taking it one step further, decorated body shells that come already mounted on a preexisting power chassis and are easily converted to DCC operations.  Again just my two cents and your mileage may vary  :D     
Rich S.

coosvalley

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2014, 02:28:41 PM »
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The FVM GP-60s with the dimples get my vote for Innovation, though this has been a thing in HO for 20 years now, I think the availability of BLMA grab irons finally brought this to N scale...Speaking of the GP-60s, someone over on the MTL SW-1500 thread said we will bash and pick apart every model, but I cant recall reading anything bad about these models....makes me wish FVM was making some locos that I needed or were at least in my time frame!!!...hmmmm, I wonder what a GP-60M looks like in Maine Central colors? ;)

And I like what MTL has done here, taking an existing drive and tooling up a new shell, with cab glass and handrails etc, for an existing drive....now if they do this , say, with a phase 3 GP-9, for the Atlas GP-7/9 drive, and they don't have to make any "compromises"(hood width), this could be a winning strategy for multiple model companies....I wonder how many yet-to-be-tooled shells there are for existing drives?..some examples...U28B, U30b, U33b, U36B,...H-16-44, GP-39,GP-40X...the list goes on...I'm surprised we don't have snap in replacement side frames for trucks from anyone yet...it is 1 piece, usually...we could have had flexicoils years ago,...and there are other choices too...food for thought...

Another "innovation, that is coming quick, but not quite ready yet, is any of the RP stuff....I have see some very encouraging examples, and some that were quite the opposite.....I can't wait to see this become a more viable option.......

sizemore

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2014, 04:24:25 PM »
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I don't see much as innovation, I work in a field where stuff from thirty, even sixty years ago has advanced through the decades and considered to be state of the art by evolution not innovation. Low flanges, low slung drive shafts, freestanding details that's evolution to me. Innovation would be the introduction of DCC, gaining new functionality and operation.

The S.

jimmo

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2014, 06:44:43 PM »
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Merriam-Webster defines the word innovation this way:

1. The introduction of something new.

2. A new idea, method or device.

Maybe we need a bigger word to express what we really want out of our manufacturers.
James R. Will

nickelplate759

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Re: An exploration of the meaning of innovation.
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2014, 08:29:34 PM »
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Remember that innovation can happen for many reasons, and only some of them improve the end-users' perception of the product value.   Common reasons include:
1. improve the perceived value of the product.  This includes appearance and operational improvements.
2. reduce manufacturing costs
3. reduce post-sales issues due to product defects found by the customer.


Since model trains is a hobby, and many (but not all) manufacturers are hobbyists at heart, another important reason is
4. the manufacturer thought it would be cool

George
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