Author Topic: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down  (Read 2331 times)

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btrain

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2024, 06:25:20 PM »
0
Thank you @c55ab for the heads up on this, I’ve already ordered a caboose, grainery, and barn silo before the only place I can get them is in the shadows of an auction site. This bums me out, as one of my favorite things in this hobby is breaking into one of these kits and enjoying the aroma of basswood. Yeah, I probably should take up woodworking to compensate for the loss, but the tactile experience of using real building materials to create a miniature version of a structure is just too charming.

This along with Laser-Art by Branchline Trains becoming unavailable really takes the wind out of my sails for discovering all kinds of different architectural styles that can be readily built in N. There are several mom and pop laser cut wood manufacturers out there, so I still have hope that this niche of the hobby won’t give way easily to 3D printing. And I won’t lie and say that I haven’t eyed laser cutters in the MicroMark catalog and dreamed about the rock and roll lifestyle of selling my wares at train shows.  :P

EJN

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2024, 06:34:56 PM »
+2
This along with Laser-Art by Branchline Trains becoming unavailable really takes the wind out of my sails for discovering all kinds of different architectural styles that can be readily built in N.


Laser-Art was acquired by MicroMark.

https://www.micromark.com/search?keywords=laser-art

Sokramiketes

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2024, 10:14:34 AM »
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The Branchline Laser-Art kits were the antithesis of AMB Laser-Kits.  Terrible design, execution, and fitment in N scale. 

wazzou

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2024, 11:29:15 AM »
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The Branchline Laser-Art kits were the antithesis of AMB Laser-Kits.  Terrible design, execution, and fitment in N scale.


100%. 
I only bought one house kit and had to make numerous adjustments to the design, in order for it to assemble to my standards.
They had a couple of other interesting things I'd thought about buying but vowed never again.
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JeffB

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2024, 01:57:37 PM »
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Looking at the big picture I really don't think there are *THAT* many model railroaders who own and use laser cutters, or skills needed to produce viable projects. Same  goes for 3D printers  Actually I think more modelers own 3D printers than laser cutters.  I suspect that these kits were still selling well - it is just that owners aged and wanted to retire (or passed away).  Not sure why the business aren't passed or sold to others. Maybe nobody wants to run a business.

A viable small format laser cutter is about $400.

One more closely resembling a commercial machine, but still a Chinese knock-off in the 12" x 20" work area range is about $1200-$1500.  They work well enough, I have one, but I'm not sure if it would last for long production runs.  However, you can pretty easily replace the laser (which would be the first failing point of the machine), sot it's not a bad investment.

Coupled with a few 3D printers, a motivated person with some entrepreneurial spirit, could make a go of it.

The skills to operate a laser aren't terribly more involved than a 3D printer and most especially a 3D router.

Jeff

peteski

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2024, 02:23:21 PM »
+1
A viable small format laser cutter is about $400.

One more closely resembling a commercial machine, but still a Chinese knock-off in the 12" x 20" work area range is about $1200-$1500.  They work well enough, I have one, but I'm not sure if it would last for long production runs.  However, you can pretty easily replace the laser (which would be the first failing point of the machine), sot it's not a bad investment.

Coupled with a few 3D printers, a motivated person with some entrepreneurial spirit, could make a go of it.

The skills to operate a laser aren't terribly more involved than a 3D printer and most especially a 3D router.

Jeff

It is not just the cost of the machine or how to operate it.  It's the actual design of the items you want to print that's the hindrance for many modelers. The hobby seems to be heading to more modelers not wanting to do anything more than buy super-detailed ready-to run loco and rolling stock models, and while they are still willing to put together some structure kits, the will likely not want the extra hassle to learning 2D drawing, and then get and utilize a laser cutter.  Let's face it - you and many of TRW members who are willing to get into more advance modeling are exception to the rule. Probably 90% of model railroaders are nothing like the  :ashat: here. I have the skills to design artwork for laser cut structures, but I have so many other projects that I'm not interested in diving into it.  I rather buy a good kit someone else produced (liek AMB).

Then even if someone dives into design, how good will their models will be?  Like AMB's or Branchline kits?  :trollface:  As I see it, I'm just being realistic (not simply negative).
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JeffB

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2024, 02:51:05 PM »
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It is not just the cost of the machine or how to operate it.  It's the actual design of the items you want to print that's the hindrance for many modelers. The hobby seems to be heading to more modelers not wanting to do anything more than buy super-detailed ready-to run loco and rolling stock models, and while they are still willing to put together some structure kits, the will likely not want the extra hassle to learning 2D drawing, and then get and utilize a laser cutter.  Let's face it - you and many of TRW members who are willing to get into more advance modeling are exception to the rule. Probably 90% of model railroaders are nothing like the  :ashat: here. I have the skills to design artwork for laser cut structures, but I have so many other projects that I'm not interested in diving into it.  I rather buy a good kit someone else produced (liek AMB).

Then even if someone dives into design, how good will their models will be?  Like AMB's or Branchline kits?  :trollface:  As I see it, I'm just being realistic (not simply negative).

You're not wrong and I don't think you're being negative Peteski...  From a topic of another recent discussion, the hobby is not dying so much as it's evolving. 

I'm in the narrow gauge world, in an obscure scale/gauge combo, so it's only natural that I gravitate to a nearly wholly DIY mindset/skillset.  It's also a natural fit due to ~30yrs in the engineering/manufacturing field.  I've acquired most of the skills I need to produce most of what I want (though I still wish I could get custom gear stock from NWSL, WTF??!!).

As a matter of fact...  Looking to get into 3D printed resin to cast brass production in the near future.  Have some 3D printed resin locomotive parts that I'd really like in brass instead.  Thanks to YouTube and a recent small inheritance, it's within reach.

Jeff

peteski

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2024, 03:55:11 PM »
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You're not wrong and I don't think you're being negative Peteski...  From a topic of another recent discussion, the hobby is not dying so much as it's evolving. 

I'm in the narrow gauge world, in an obscure scale/gauge combo, so it's only natural that I gravitate to a nearly wholly DIY mindset/skillset.  It's also a natural fit due to ~30yrs in the engineering/manufacturing field.  I've acquired most of the skills I need to produce most of what I want (though I still wish I could get custom gear stock from NWSL, WTF??!!).

As a matter of fact...  Looking to get into 3D printed resin to cast brass production in the near future.  Have some 3D printed resin locomotive parts that I'd really like in brass instead.  Thanks to YouTube and a recent small inheritance, it's within reach.

Jeff

I agree with your assessment of the hobby. There is also nothing wrong with being in the minority (of the modelers with your wide range of skills). Actually it a huge bonus to be able to design and make what you want. Sounds like you are looking into lost-wax brass casting.  That yields some really fine and sturdy parts.  IIRC, our Bob Gilmore has done some of that (before the advent of 3-D printing the wax parts).
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JeffB

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2024, 07:41:53 AM »
+1
I agree with your assessment of the hobby. There is also nothing wrong with being in the minority (of the modelers with your wide range of skills). Actually it a huge bonus to be able to design and make what you want. Sounds like you are looking into lost-wax brass casting.  That yields some really fine and sturdy parts.  IIRC, our Bob Gilmore has done some of that (before the advent of 3-D printing the wax parts).

Yeah, in this case "lost resin" instead of wax (well, there is some wax involved)... 

I model in Sn2 now days (S scale, Maine two-foot prototypes using HOn3 track/wheelsets standards), most of the parts you need for locomotives and rolling stock are either non-existent, hard to come by, or are from other scales that happen to <work> for Sn2.  There's some manufacturer support in the form of rolling stock kits, but even those, some of the detail parts are crude laser cut bits, not quite right other scale parts, or they just aren't included.  So having a 3D printer or two is a huge benefit.

Some of these parts (locomotive parts in general, but some rolling stock parts too), are fine as 3D printed resin parts, but would be substantially better as cast brass or nickel silver.

Hence, the motivation to get into metal casting.  The YouTube'rs I follow make it look fairly straightforward once you have the equipment.  Then it's just time and trial and error. 

Hope to retire in the next year or so, at which point I should have plenty of time for this...

Jeff



peteski

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #24 on: February 27, 2024, 11:13:26 AM »
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Yeah, in this case "lost resin" instead of wax (well, there is some wax involved)... 

True. I was thinking of Shapeways where I believe they have the equipment to print parts trees directly in wax.  But such printers are not really available for hobbyists for home use.


And from what I hear from friends and others, when you retire you might not have as much extra hobby time as you were hoping for. I have few more years to get there myself.  :)
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JeffB

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #25 on: February 27, 2024, 11:34:17 AM »
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And from what I hear from friends and others, when you retire you might not have as much extra hobby time as you were hoping for. I have few more years to get there myself.  :)

True...  There's always a significant amount of time spent working around the house and occupying your wife so she doesn't get bored!  :D

I've heard from a few retired modelers that have told me that other than home chores and travel, another major time hog is placating their wives so they don't complain constantly about being "hobby widows".  My father in law is one of them...  But in his case, my mother in law would still be a pain in the a$$ if he was doing anything other than entertaining her!

There's also visiting the grandchildren, but we're at least 5yrs away from that, if not more. 

Jeff
« Last Edit: February 27, 2024, 11:36:09 AM by JeffB »

peteski

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #26 on: February 27, 2024, 11:56:59 AM »
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True...  There's always a significant amount of time spent working around the house and occupying your wife so she doesn't get bored!  :D

I've heard from a few retired modelers that have told me that other than home chores and travel, another major time hog is placating their wives so they don't complain constantly about being "hobby widows".  My father in law is one of them...  But in his case, my mother in law would still be a pain in the a$$ if he was doing anything other than entertaining her!

There's also visiting the grandchildren, but we're at least 5yrs away from that, if not more. 

Jeff

I was just talking about this subject last night with a retired friend of mine. One of the causes of delay might also be "I don't have to go to  work, so I might just relax and watch the boob-tube today, and start the project tomorrow. There is no rush". Then the cycle repeats.  I guess it all depends on  how motivated you are.  But as far as placating his wife, he has no problems with that. She is not like that at all.

However like me, he ends up with too many hobbies. He likes to dabble with RC sailboats, RC airplanes (and helicopters in the past), model railroading, and he just got into the world of RC trucks. What to play with today?   :D
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Dave V

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2024, 01:10:45 PM »
+10
True...  There's always a significant amount of time spent working around the house and occupying your wife so she doesn't get bored!  :D

I've heard from a few retired modelers that have told me that other than home chores and travel, another major time hog is placating their wives so they don't complain constantly about being "hobby widows".  My father in law is one of them...  But in his case, my mother in law would still be a pain in the a$$ if he was doing anything other than entertaining her!

There's also visiting the grandchildren, but we're at least 5yrs away from that, if not more. 

Jeff

The wife as a burden to be placated is definitely something I can't relate to. As recent empty-nesters, we've been really enjoying our time together. Dating again and traveling, skiing, camping, hiking... I would much rather spend time with my amazing wife than playing with trains. Thankfully, she doesn't make me choose because she also understands how important this hobby is to me. And while it's not her thing, she enjoys seeing me accomplish things in the hobby. She has her own hobbies too. But lately, our mutual hobby has been each other...  :D
« Last Edit: February 27, 2024, 01:15:43 PM by Dave V »

chicken45

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #28 on: February 27, 2024, 01:47:19 PM »
+1
The wife as a burden to be placated is definitely something I can't relate to. As recent empty-nesters, we've been really enjoying our time together. Dating again and traveling, skiing, camping, hiking... I would much rather spend time with my amazing wife than playing with trains. Thankfully, she doesn't make me choose because she also understands how important this hobby is to me. And while it's not her thing, she enjoys seeing me accomplish things in the hobby. She has her own hobbies too. But lately, our mutual hobby has been each other...  :D

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JeffB

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Re: American Model Builders (laserkit.com) Is Shutting Down
« Reply #29 on: February 27, 2024, 02:32:47 PM »
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The wife as a burden to be placated is definitely something I can't relate to. As recent empty-nesters, we've been really enjoying our time together. Dating again and traveling, skiing, camping, hiking... I would much rather spend time with my amazing wife than playing with trains. Thankfully, she doesn't make me choose because she also understands how important this hobby is to me. And while it's not her thing, she enjoys seeing me accomplish things in the hobby. She has her own hobbies too. But lately, our mutual hobby has been each other...  :D

Don't get me wrong Dave...  I agree with you.  My wife is pretty darn amazing too (she's the primary reason we're retiring at 58/53!!!) and she's great to me on every level (and I mean EVERY).  But she doesn't have a lot of friends or hobbies.  I don't feel that I HAVE to occupy her, but she definitely has a lot of plans for us in retirement that don't involve me working on my hobby all the time (luckily I only have one, but it encompasses many things).

She doesn't make me choose either...  I most definitely want to spend time doing things with her, but I do need my own time too.  Unfortunately, she doesn't have much to do without me, but we've discussed this at length and she's working on that.

My only request for retirement...  I don't want to be on a schedule/have our days fully planned, day after day. 

So guys, don't misunderstand my comments...  I'm a very happily married (nearly 27yrs) guy, who's looking forward to a hopefully long retirement with "his girl"!

Other individuals may have different situations/opinions though...

Jeff