Sam The Answer Man (2012-2014)
Christmas Season (December 2014)
Here we are just getting to or over Thanksgiving, depending on when you received this flier, and now going into the actual Christmas season. Those of you that have a model railroad layout that can be changed for each season or have a once a year Christmas train set up, are you now working on this season’s change out and setup? What’s your actual theme a snow scene with Santa Claus and Christmas decorations, a Thomas Kinkaid sparkling country scene, how about a totally politically incorrect Christmas scene with a beautiful baby Jesus Nativity on public property and “Merry Christmas” posted all over and school children decorating a tree and exchanging gifts and everyone of them having fun without some adult filled with political fears telling them not to because of some small minority “might” be offended. So get them layouts changed, pull out the yearly Christmas Train, and put up that Nativity Scene.
The Spirit of Christ is real and if we show the world that we truly believe in the Spirit of Christmas and what it means to us that Spirit will spread and people will feel it and share it. Remember what Christ gave us and the whole world and he hasn’t ask that much from us in return. The least we can do is to “remember” Him this season and share His message of love to all mankind. So when your setting up those Christmas trees and decorations think about why that tree is not called a “Santa Claus Tree” or “Holiday Tree” and this season is not called the “Santa Claus Season”. This is the CHRISTMAS SEASON and it is because we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas and Christ brings a message of Love, Kindness, Sharing, Giving, Tolerance, Understanding, Forgiveness, Hope, Trust, and Faith and this message is for everyone regardless of your political correctness, religion, culture, traditions, beliefs or non-beliefs, or desires to try to change it or take it from us. It is simply there for everyone to accept or not and with the basic rights of free countries like ours we get to choose freely what and how we worship or believe or not and we hope that others understand those basic human rights to let all mankind choose freely and live according to their own will.
There are so many in the world that need this message and to know that they are not alone and there are people that care about them. I’m not only talking about the poor and needy but there are those who may seem to be well off who also desperately need this message. So when we are out and about always be ready to give a warm smile and a kind word it might change somebody’s life. So this season say “Merry Christmas” to everyone with a warm smile from your heart and hopefully they will know that this message is not threatening or offensive in any way but a message of love and kindness to be shared with all.
Holiday Season (November 2014)
We have indeed been saddened by the passing of our founder Dale Edwards, he certainly will be missed. We really appreciate all the comments and condolences we have been continually receiving. Even at 93 Dale was active in the company pretty much right up to his passing. Of course, ownership of the company will remain in the family. Dale’s legacy will live on with Kadee Quality Products.
Now we are again getting into the Holiday Season starting, the way I look at it, with Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day all within a short three month period. If you look at it in a time perspective you may get overwhelmed with all the things you think you need to do. But if you look at it in a truly traditional sense, I mean looking at the historical events that brought these Holidays to us. We can see that the entire Holiday Season is about “GIVING”.
We celebrate Columbus Day as the day Columbus bumped into America looking for a way to avoid the high cost of transporting far eastern goods back to Spain. This of course gave us the knowledge that the world was round (or at least that we can sail over the edge and not fall off), and it gave us a whole new world to invade.
The foundation of Halloween was given to us by the Celtic people having issues with the coming of winter. Where on the 1st of November they believed the spirits of the dead and the living intertwined. Then as other conquering people came they brought their traditions and mixed them with the Celtic ones to start mellowing out of the harsher traditions that eventually brought us to our present Halloween of costumes and Trick-or-Treat.
Now it’s time for Thanksgiving that traditionally was a celebration to acknowledge the survival of another winter in the earliest days of our nation. Of course, without the native Americans giving them their knowledge they may not have survived at all. Presently, do we give much thought to what our forefathers went through just to survive in order to live in a free land? We rarely do. We now spend a weekend over eating and watching football and send our families into the perilous dangers of shopping on the most idiotic shopping day of the year, perhaps hoping they’ll find a bargain or two of model railroading stuff for you.
Then comes Christmas where regardless of your religious or non religious beliefs is a time when most people do come to a reverent understanding of this time of year. It is indeed a time of giving whether it is in the spirit of Santa Claus or the humble spirit of Jesus Christ, the giving is the point. We were all born with certain gifts and talents and through life we develop these and others and if we have the spirit of Christ in our hearts we should have a desire to share all we have with others especially with the less fortunate. As model railroaders, experienced or not, we should spend more time sharing our talents and interests with others. All that Christ had was his life and love and he freely gave both of those to the whole world. What are we going to give this year and years to come?
Onward to New Years Day, a time to reflect on our years accomplishments, or not. A time to wring out the old and bring in the new, perhaps? Better yet, a time to give more to those in need and there are far too many of them not to consider this important.
O Scale & O Scale Three Rail Questions (September 2014)
We receive calls and e-mails from people that have the old traditional Lionel “O” scale three rail sets left over from their childhood, or inherited, or given to them, or found in the attic of their grandpa’s house, that they might get out once a year to run around the Christmas tree and now they find that a coupler or two are missing or broken. So thinking that all the worlds problems can be answered via the Internet they do a Google search for “couplers” and the first million web sites have Kadee couplers listed (OK a little exaggeration). So they contact Kadee and ask if we have couplers for their O scale models. Now these Lionel three rail models are the only model railroading experience they’ve ever known, “ever”. So now they are only looking to replace the large three rail couplers and, unfortunately, Kadee does not make three rail couplers. We do, however, make, actual “O” scale couplers that are 1:48 scale ratio which are much smaller than the three rail couplers. Unfortunately, many of the three rail couplers are permanently attached to the trucks and require new trucks if the coupler breaks. Regardless, I usually tell these modelers that they need to contact Lionel directly for their older three rail couplers and trucks.
Those that may better understand coupler performance and reliability, scale ratios, and better looks for their models are more incline to convert to the smaller Kadee couplers rather than having to deal with the “lobster claw” three rail couplers. In actual scale the three rail couplers are closer to 1:32 scale which is #1 Large Scale (next to G scale).
Also, our O scale couplers are designed to be body mounted which means that there will be a lot of custom fitting, which is not difficult. We highly recommend acquiring our #812 O scale coupler height gauge which will be your most important tool when custom body mounting couplers. Although the #812 uses the older #805 coupler it still works fine for our newer 700 series Type E couplers. If you like you can put a #740 or #745 on your #812 coupler height gauge.
We’d like to thank MTH for putting nice platforms on their models for our couplers even on their three rail models. Most of their models use the standard #805 size (#740/#745) but some of their diesel locomotives use the short #806/#743 coupler this includes their British Coaches, check their instructions for their recommendations.
Eventually a few other O scale manufacturer’s may start doing this, but we’ll see, it would be nice. The modelers certainly would be happier, if that matter to them.
We do get quite a number of On3 questions but we only have one size of On3 coupler so it usually a matter of finding a way to adapt it to fit the application.
We only get a few inquires from the On30 modelers, not like we use to. So I wonder if that market has leveled out some.
Bachmann G scale 0-4-0 Tank Switcher New Production Conversion (August 2014)
I just recently did a coupler conversion on a customer’s Bachmann G scale 0-4-0 Tank Switcher. The front coupler and overhang have always been problems with this locomotive.
New production has enough differences in the coupler mountings that you can not use the previous conversion information using the #796/#832/#831 couplers.
Rear: #909 (#831) Remove the original coupler and the bottom step plate. Retain the bottom step plate and screws. Invert the locomotive and secure it in a padded cradle, trim the original coupler mounting down to the level of the opening, file it smooth and level. Assemble the #909 coupler and set into the opening, note for this conversion the coupler box will be flush with the end of the end sill of the loco. The tail of the coupler box will extend past the arm that extends out from the gear housing, note the location and trim off the arm so the tail of the box set against the remaining arm. Drill and tap the original screw hole for a 4-40 screw and drill a 4-40 clearance hole through the lid of the coupler box. Secure the coupler with a ½” 4-40 screw and check the coupler height. Replace step plate.
Front: (custom made coupler using a #904 coupler and the tail from a #913 box) Remove original coupler, step plate, and bumper. Tap out hand bar pins. Rough up the tail of the #913 box and rough the surface of the spring cap, apply a CA primer, set the wire spring in place apply a small bit of CA glue to one surface, set the spring cap in position and secure with a clamp of some sort. Make sure the alignment is retained. When glue is set cut the tail off flush with the back of the box. Set the tail on the bottom of the #904 shank slide it against the coupler head and cut the #904 shank off to the length of the #913 tail. Rough up the surface of the bottom of the #904 shank and the back of the head and one side of the #913 tail. Apply CA primer to the rough surfaces and a small coating of CA glue set the #913 onto the #904 shank carefully align it where the shank is centered in the hole of the #913 tail and edges are as flush as possible secure with a clamp unit well set. Take the bumper and notch out a section between the screw posts up to the top surface and file the insides smooth. Drill a 4-40 clearance hole through the original coupler screw hole. Find two ¼” longer screws that match the screws that hold the bumper in place. Make two bushings from tube stock that into the bumper screw holes. The length has to be test fitted (about 1/8”) to raise the bumper enough to clear the coupler and allow it to pivot freely. Find or Make a bushing to fit into the #913 tail and be just a touch above the surface so the assembly can pivot when the screw is tightened. Drill 2-56 clearance hole through the shank of the #904 shank then drill and tap a hole through the shank of the #913 tail for a 2-56 screw and countersink it flush to the surface. Put the bushing into the hole in the tail and drill and tap a hole through the shank of the #904 for a 4-40 screw. Put the two bushing onto the post of the bumper and set it onto the platform and slide the coupler into the opening to make sure it pivots freely then secure the bumper with the longer screws. Slide the coupler with the bushing in the hole in place and tighten the 4-40 x 1/2” screw (?) until the coupler is too tight then back off until it pivots freely. Trim the extended bottom of the center post of the hand bar enough to clear the coupler shank and glue the post back in place. With the coupler in this position you can not use the bottom step board. The front coupler has not been tested enough, so if it does not center well it might be possible to move the couplers pivoting spot back farther requiring the tube hanging down to be trimmed shorter.
This conversion moves both the front and rear couplers as far back into the body of the loco as possible. The overhang of the loco from the pivoting point of the drive truck to the end of the body causes the couplers to swing way too far out on tight curves which is kind of stupid for a short switcher locomotive. This conversion might be simpler using smaller #1 scale couplers. #1909/1831 on the rear and the small box #917/#821 on the pilot.
Independence Day (July 2014)
Here we are now in July of 2014 and I’m feeling a bit patriotic this month. I had a wonderful 4th of July weekend with my family and I hope many of you enjoyed the holiday with your families as well. A question, did we just treat it as just another three day weekend with picnics, barbecues, and recreation, maybe some model railroading? Or, did we really spend any time at all considering what’s the real significance of the “4th of July” also called “Independence Day”? Sure most of us know it’s when we declared our “independence” from Great Britain on the 4th of July 1776. Unfortunately, for many people in this country that’s as far as their understanding goes and worse that’s all they want to know, how very sad that is. To them it’s just another time to party with a few fireworks and some red, white, and blue stuff thrown in. If they would only realize how important this day truly is especially when it is part of the events that brought forth the birth of this great country and the freedoms we enjoy that gives them the opportunity to go out and party.
I imagine that the last time many people were concerned about the history of this country and the 4th of July was in their grade school years. I doubt that even today that it is properly addressed in our present day schools. But the history of this country should not and can not be down played or ignored. We all need to know (and care) about the events that took place not only here in this land but in the world that lead to the Fight for our Freedom from a suppressive, controlling, totalitarian government (not too unlike our present day government). What began as simply as protesting for our rights as citizens (British subjects) turned into open and armed rebellion and by April of 1775 open warfare. Sometime in 1776 knowing that there’s was no turning back the Continental Congress ask a small committee of our prominent forefathers to draft a formal statement of our intentions. This statement then became the “Declaration of Independence” and on the 4th of July Congress formally adopts it and it’s now the date we celebrate as Independence Day.
Now I’d love to continue with a history lesson but the scope and size of this article won’t allow it so I’ll simply ask a few questions in hopes they might spark an interest in our history, and current events and how they are related.
Who were the members of the committee charged with drafting the Declaration of Independence and who in particular wrote most of it?
Who was the King of England at that time?
What country helped us the most during our fight for independence?
How many signed the Declaration of Independence, who were they in general?
How many years did our war of independence last and when did it officially end and where was the treaty signed?
Who were the first five presidents of the United States of America?
What parts did they play in our fight for freedom?
How many major characters can you name that are considered our forefathers?
What other two documents can be considered as the three essential founding documents of our country and government?
Why is it so important to remember all of this, is it really important to you, should it be?
Questions & Answers (June 2014)
As many of you know there are different levels of model railroaders and each have certain levels of talents, skills, experience, knowledge, learning abilities, attitudes, opportunities, ingenuity, bravado, and support from family and friends. With this in mind, imagine receiving calls and e-mails from modelers from each level asking questions from complicated and overly technical to vague and simplistic. This is not a complaint but just pointing out the scope of inquiries we deal with. We want modelers to enjoy this hobby and enjoy using Kadee® products so we do our best to help as much as we can. The more information we can provide the easier it will be for you to enjoy Kadee® products and continue in this great hobby.
Recently we’ve released a number of new products and these have brought an influx of inquiries especially from less experienced modelers. One that keeps us busy is modelers asking about code 88 wheels thinking that wheel code and track code are related. A beginning modeler was worried that he couldn’t run code 110 wheels on code 100 track. Now to experienced modelers this sounds really dumb but to the poor beginner who had no clue about track and wheel codes this was a legitimate concern. So after I understood his level of modeling by his question I explained the differences of track and wheel codes. Wheel code is the width of the wheels in thousandths and track code is the height of the rail in thousandths.
When you see code 110 (.110”) and code 88 (.088”) on wheelsets this is the width of the wheels and has no relation to the code of track.
When you see code 100 (.100”), code 83 (.083”), code 70 (.070”) on track this is the height of the rail and has no relation to wheel code.
Code 110 wheels are .110” wide and are the width of all the common wheels on the market. Code 88 wheels are .088” wide and are called “semi scale”. They are much narrower than the common wheels and are used by modelers that are wanting a much more prototypical looking wheel.
So when you see the two codes they are not related to any operational requirements.
Another product that’s generated a lot of questions is our new Large Scale wheelsets #950, #951, #960, and #961, Actual scale size they represent 33” in 1:29 and 36” in 1:32 scale ratio, available in smooth back and rib back. Most of the questions are about the axles and if the trucks fit most makes of trucks. These do fit all of the makes of trucks we have tried them in. The axles are 2.754” long and the axle tips are .118” diameter.
New Products (May 2014)
After many request and as you have noticed we recently released a number of new products. Ever since we released our semi scale code 88 wheelsets we’ve been receiving constant requests for us to release a line of our trucks with the code 88 wheels and now we’ve done it. All of our two piece HGC trucks are now available with code 110 and code 88 wheels and some with both smooth back and rib back wheels.
Other products in demand were bulk packages of our shelf couplers #118 and #119 and the short shank #153 and long shank #156 whisker couplers. These are packaged in 25 pair (50 each) packages as products #118-25, #119-25, 153-25, and #156-25 and all of them retail for $46.25 per package.
Another product we just released that we’ve been working on and off for quite some time is our “Large Scale Wheelsets”. They come in smooth back and rib back colored and bare metal. The wheels are made of die cast zinc with zinc axle and steel axle tips with plastic insulated bushings. In 1:29 Scale ratio they are 33” wheels and in 1:32 Scale they are 36” wheels. Unfortunately, the tread dimensions are odd sized for other scales like 1:24 Scale 27.8”, 1:22.5 Scale 26” and 1:20.3 Scale 23.5”.
These will fit into the common large scale trucks of most Manufacturers.
We do receive a constant flow of requests for new products and we are always interested in new products and ideas. However, we have to look at a new product with a different perspective than the average modeler may be able to understand. With the cost of everything going up we have to look at new products with a long term market. Next, is that product needed in the market, is there enough demand for it, how long will that demand last? Is the product a part that is simple enough for a skilled modeler to make themselves or is it too complicated to make a mold for in a timely manner without high tooling costs? How long will cost recovery take and will sales remain high enough to make a profit? Will the retail price per unit be affordable for the market? Are there other manufacturers making similar products and will it be good enough to take a big enough piece of the market and be competitive?
Being we have such a large line of products we don’t have to produce a constant flow of new products, like some car manufacturers do, in order to keep up with the competition?
We make all of our products here in the USA, we do all of our own tooling mold making, we do all of our own injected molding and die casting, all of our assembly work, printing, and packaging, and QC, we are pretty much a self-contained company that has immediate control over it’s supply and manufacturing.
Basic Coupler Questions (April 2014)
This last month I’ve dealt with many basic coupler questions that I think should be covered in this month’s article.
Most of the basic coupler information I’ll mention will apply to all scales and may not be in any particular order of importance.
We recommend using a coupler height gauge to check “all” of your couplers to make sure they are at the correct coupler height. Having all your couplers at the same height is a key to top coupler performance. Make sure the couplers are as level as possible without any droop or slant up or down. Most often you’ll find mountings that droop downward, even though the coupler appears at the right height, could drop the tip of the trip pin below the rail height where it will hang up in switches and crossovers. Do not adjust the trip pin of the coupler until you know the coupler is mounted correctly and level. I get calls and e-mails from modelers complaining about the trip pins hanging up in the track then after working with then I find they just haven’t spent enough time making sure the couplers were mounted correctly and as level as possible. Also, if there’s too much slant it changes the alignment of the pulling face of the couplers which can cause problems with coupling and uncoupling.
Adjusting coupler heights depends on the model and how the coupler is mounted. There are some models where nothing can be adjusted so you’ll need to use an offset coupler. Brass models are very limited and hopefully the manufacturer made a coupler platform for a Kadee® coupler.
As I’ve mentioned before body mounted couplers are better than truck mounted in most situations. Converting truck to body mounting requires custom fitting a coupler to the underbody or frame work of the model. This is where a coupler height gauge is critical. Also running truck mounted couplers with body mounted couplers can be very problematic to say the least. It can be the subject for another complete article.
In HO-Scale there are two sizes of couplers. There’s what we call the standard size which is actually larger than actual scale and includes the couplers with the common #5 size of coupler head. Then there’s “scale” size couplers which is much closer actual scale size than the standard size couplers and includes the #58 and #158 couplers. The “scale” head couplers also have a bit more visual detail on the head.
Because the standard head couplers are a bit larger they have a larger pulling face than the “scale” head couplers, which is the part of the knuckle that hooks to the opposing coupler’s pulling face. Many modelers will not use the small scale couplers because they are more prone to uncouple over rough track or the beginning of a grade. Most often scale couplers are for those with good trackage and are more interested in a more to scale prototypical appearance and still want to retain reliable coupling and uncoupling.
In Large scale modeling we offer two sizes of couplers #1 scale 1:32 scale ratio and “G” scale 1:22.5 scale ratio. Most of both sizes use the same draft gear boxes so you can use them on any scale of “large scale” model.
Glues & Truck Replacements (March 2014)
We’ve had a number of inquiries asking what glues we recommend for attaching couplers to the underframes of cars and locomotives. First, we do not recommend using glue to attach coupler boxes. We recommend using a screw or screws to attach draft gear boxes. This way if there’s problems with the couplers you don’t have to dig out or pry off the coupler box to access the coupler. Use glue “only as a last resort” to attach coupler boxes. We use both styrene and Delrin plastic to make most of our draft gear boxes. Of course Styrene requires a solvent type of cement and we like TENAX 7R the best. As far as gluing Delrin and other slick engineering type of plastics there are a number of options using various types of glues from Barge Cement to the many CA glues on the market. I’m only going to mention the CA glues that we use because we just don’t use glue very much in our work. I like Locktite CA using their 770 primer, Dr. Mikes with the 770 primer, and the newer Micro Scales CA with their primer are good too. There are many other glues out there that I’m sure that work very well but we have not used other glues much to offer any recommendations.
To remind you again, we do not recommend gluing draft gear boxes but to use a screw where possible, gluing is a last resort.
We also receive many request for truck replacements for older and less expensive cars. The style of truck is a matter of personal choice and prototypical correctness. Most modelers do not care much about the prototypical correctness for these cars and we understand that, mostly because the actual model does not represent any particular prototype or at least very accurately. Most often it’s a matter of using a common AAR truck for these cars like our #500 Bettendorf and #504 ASF A3 Ride Control. The problem with these cars is their mounting holes are usually larger than what’s need for most after market trucks. They use a split pin or tapered press in pin of some kind. To use a #2 screw, which most after market trucks are made for, you need to fill in the hole and drill and tap a new hole usually for a 2-56 machine screw. There are quite a number of ways to do this and the scope of this article isn’t big enough to discuss them.
The split pins and press in pins for these trucks are not made for the after market and more than likely are not made any more at all. So you may have to make your own pins or find some at shows and swap meets, some modelers will by a bunch of cheap cars just to get the truck pins. We do not make or market them.
Another product we do not make or market is the metal snap on coupler cover found on older Athearn models like their blue box models. As far as we know Athearn is the only source for these.
More Common Questions (February 2014)
We just returned from the Amherst Train Show in West Springfield, MA. and we had many questions that I’ll address in this months article. Some are very common but since people are asking I’ll include them here even though I mentioned some last month.
For AHM, IHC, Rivarossi, and most Con-Cor passenger cars use our #505 for 6 wheel trucks. Use the longer #508 on 4 wheel trucks.
Kadee does not make N or Z scale products (contact Micro-Trains).
Our trucks are designed to use a #2 screw (like a 2-56) to attach them, They require a flat surface to mount them, meaning that any post needs to be trimmed off and smoothed down to a flat surface.
Our 20 and 30 series coupler have very strong plastic shanks and head but have metal knuckles (moving part of the head).
Our wheelsets have metal wheels and plastic axles and are not well suited for electrical pickup.
The 2-56 x 1/4” and 3/8” screws are the most common for mounting trucks and couplers.
Our freight car line is only a secondary line and couplers are our primary products which means our main focus is on our coupler production.
We do not announce new products prior to their release. The production of new products is dependent on demand and priorities.
Coupler conversion recommendations are based on; the manufacturer, type of model, will the original coupler mounting be used, over hang, and general end of car clearance.
Most of the time body mounted couplers are operationally better than truck mounted couplers.
Our #148 whisker coupler most often is a direct replacement for EZ-Mate, McHenry, or Accumate couplers.
Common Questions (January 2014)
Well, we made it through another Christmas season and now it’s time to take down the decorations and look for a second job to help pay the bills. But are we now ignoring that Christmas spirit that we built up through the holidays? Are we now back to the “norm” and hoping to soon be back in our comfort zones? Are we going to remember how many people had the courage to sincerely say “Merry Christmas” rather than those that said “Happy Holidays”. These might be ones that can’t wait to get back saying “have a Nice Day” after a transaction. Are we really that way where we want to get back to our normal routines and become brainless robots again not having to think for ourselves, staying within the box, and stagnating our lives?
Now as model railroaders we have (if we’re on the nice list) a bunch of new things to keep us busy for a few months. Did you sincerely thank those that were generous to you this year? Now get busy with you trains.
I’ve had a number of modelers ask about our paint colors and is there a model paint that matches our colors. We use an industrial paint company to formulate our paint and match the colors we need. We do not have the time to find a model railroad paint color that matches our paints so it’s up to the modeler to find a match when needed. Also, the bodies and doors of our cars have a thin coat paint on them and the add on detail parts are unpainted Acetal plastic. We spend a great deal of time getting our paint and plastic to color match.
We also receive many inquires about the difference between “self-centering” trucks and “standard” trucks. Our self-centering trucks have a special wedge shape bushing in the bolster that secures the truck to the car. When you lift the car the truck drops onto the wedge which aligns it with the length of the car. This reduces the fooling around you have setting the car on the rails. When the car is setting on it’s wheels the trucks are disengaged from the wedge and a pivot freely until the car is picked up.
Another item is our trucks are designed to mount on a flat surface which usually requires that you trim off any post the original truck pivoted around. Our trucks as well as most after market trucks are designed to be mounted with a #2 size of screw.
We “do not” make passenger car trucks but only freight car and caboose trucks.
Our 20 and 30 series coupler have very strong plastic shanks and head but have metal knuckles (moving part of the head).
Our wheelsets have metal wheels and plastic axles and are not well suited for electrical pickup.
The 140 Whisker® Coupler Series is complete and replaces the 40-Series couplers that have been discontinued.
We will not be making any offset “scale” head couplers for a number of reasons.
We rarely if ever have back ordered products.
you have a questions about Kadee® please ask Kadee®.
Talk to you next month, Have a Happy New Year and do not lose the Christmas Spirit!!
Blessings to You (December 2013)
I’d like to thank all those who commented on last months article. I appreciate the positive support and to know there are many people out there that feel the same way we do, Thank You!
Now it’s the month of December which we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. This is when we really show attitude changes, setting aside differences and ill feelings for others, we are generous with our time and talents. We actually speak to others that we normally do not, just to say “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year, “Happy Hanukkah” (Chanukkah), or if we are so influenced by political correctness or society’s fear of offending someone “Happy Holidays”. Regardless, we seem to have an extra bit of kindness, caring, and socialization during the Holidays. Some go out of their way to help others without looking for rewards or recognition. How often to we see that through the entire year rather than just during the Holidays? Are we, as model railroaders, sharing our time and talents with others. Do we let the grand kids run our trains, do we invite friends and their friends to our layout to share our hobby? Are we willing to help a child or adult that shows interest in model railroading?
During this Christmas Holiday time it is traditional to give gifts which represents gifts given the Christ Child and in a sense the gifts he’s given to us. Unfortunately, much of the Christian world gets caught up with the “Santa Claus” season and we loose that true spirit of giving. We succumb to the pressures of society and the commercialism of gift giving to the point where we loose the spirit and enjoyment. We get more concerned with finding the right gift, like the most up dated, high tech, electronic gizmos and gadgets ever made. Which, by the time they reach the market are already out dated by the new stuff soon to come out. Then we face the repercussions of over spending, maxed out credit cards, debt from high interest quick “to good to be true” loans.
How can anybody focus on the “Peace” Christmas brings when we allow the commercialism to control our lives. I seen Christmas decorations being set out at some retail stores just after Halloween. Granted retail sales involves competition and “one up-man-ship”. We see this in model railroading both at the retail and manufacturing levels. But why do we so often miss the point of the Christmas Holiday Season? As I mentioned many times we need to have the Christmas Spirit year round. Really learn to share our time, ourselves, and our hobby. Get involved with helping others, sharing your time, talents, and your heart. Selfless service, caring, love, forgiveness, tolerance, patience, are all attributes of Jesus Christ and should be ours as well.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
True Spirit of Holidays (November 2013)
OK, here it is November already and as I mentioned last month, are you ready for the Holidays, have you been making plans, have you let others know of your plans?
Did you know that more time is wasted trying to blame someone than the time it takes to fix the problem or resolve the issue? Imagine the amount of time saved by doing it right the first time. Planning ahead is part of doing it right, whatever you’re doing. By planning ahead you should be ready for anything that may go wrong and if you face a problem you are either flexible enough to change your plans or you are strong and stubborn enough to stick with your plan depending on the circumstances. Now instead of wasting time worrying about the “what if’s” of life and who to blame for them, you can get on with it because you have a good plan and already know how you’re going to handle the “what if’s” that may cross your path.
With the Holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years coming up the question is, are you ready and do have a plan? You’ve had a long time to get ready and now they are here, are you ready? Can you face the “what if’s” of the Holidays?
I see some issues that I’d like to address. Are we more inclined to focus on the Santa Claus part or the birth of Jesus Christ part? Are we in tune with the true spirit of Thanksgiving and do we really understand the gratitude felt by the early settlers up and down the east coast for surviving another winter. Now if you really think about it who did the early settlers give thanks to? I’m pretty sure it was The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, since most of the settlers had strong Christian values and up bringing. This leads us into Christmas which is a time set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ and to remember His life and what He has done for us. For many of us this is something we have in out hearts all the time, Unfortunately, there are many (too many) that only think of Christ during the Holiday Season. Also unfortunate, is that our Government, politicians, and society in general is allowing and even helping to remove Christian values and Christ out of public view, even at Christmas time. This once great country and the rest of the Christian world can no longer allow the corruption and suppression of our Christian values, religion, families, and morals. The politically correct cowards in Washington make big talk but when it comes right down to it, right when they have to show the courage they talk about they end up playing games, compromising, and are pretty much worthless.
Let’s not let these people ruin our freedom to celebrate The Lord’s birth as we wish and have been doing so for a very long time. This Christmas season make a special effort to say “Merry Christmas” to everyone you meet. Share the Lord’s message of Love, Peace, and Forgiveness with all you can especially with those who might be offended with your Christian beliefs. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Take the time to enjoy this Christmas Season, share your talents, be kind, smile always, be ready to hug someone who needs a sign that there are good people in this world that care about them. Christ was (is) the ultimate example for us to build our lives around.
Holiday Season is Coming (October 2013)
Here we go, just like every year, the Holiday Season is coming. Whether we like it or not, whether we’re ready for it or not it’s coming and we can’t do anything about it. So with that in mind what are we going to do? Well most of us, given the opportunity, will simply try and make the best of it all. As model railroaders how do we do that? If model railroading is a big part of our lives we try and plan as much around this as we can. Sure there’s football to watch and relatives to visit or come to visit, and of course, shopping and baking too. But what about model building, operating sessions, layout expansions, renovating that finicky locomotive that just won’t run good? Who’s to blame if you don’t plan ahead for the Holiday Season? Many years ago I worked next to a lady that had a sign on her desk that said “Bad Planning on Your Part Doesn’t Mean and Emergency on My Part”. There were a number of managers that always seemed offended when they seen that sign but most of them were the type that couldn’t even plan a trip to the bathroom without some help. So what I’m getting at is now’s the time to get busy planning your holiday schedule or you’ll end up having someone else plan it for you. Who’s to blame? You better plan to go out shopping with your spouse so make sure she knows your model railroading needs. A happy marriage is dependent on balance and communication and both of you giving 100%. So when you’re out shopping make sure you take her to the places she wants to go and clearly communicate that you need to spend some time digging in the dark corners of the local train shop looking for those one of a kind never to be made again parts and decals.
We start the holidays with the lessor Columbus Day and Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and finish with Christmas and New Years. That’s a three month build up to the climactic Christmas Day then the anti-climactic New Years Day.
Regardless if you are Christian or not, Christmas is the big event in our world. Everywhere you look, even before Thanksgiving, retail stores are getting a head start on Christmas. So why not you?
What’s a bit interesting this year is that we have had quite a number of calls requesting Locomotives, cabooses, and rolling stock with a Christmas paint scheme. Of course we do not make locomotives or cabooses but we do make a yearly Christmas car and this year’s car is being release this month.
These Holiday Railroaders get out their train sets once a year and set them up near or even around the Christmas tree. I’ve known some that have built elaborate Christmas scenes for their yearly train layout. There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m just noting the increase requests for Christmas trains, which of course is more noticeable when the Holidays come around. Perhaps some will eventually become year round model railroaders where they can enjoy this hobby more than just for a short season.
So this year plan ahead to enjoy this Holiday Season, share your interests and talents, serve others, get closer to your families, and share the Lord’s message of Love and Peace to all mankind.
Modeling Skills (September 2013)
When I talk to people about coupler conversions and some of the modeling skills that are required for certain conversions I find that there are many that have not yet develop the basic skills to do the job. Some simply have not had the opportunities to learn the skills and some have avoided the necessary skill developing opportunities. Many years ago modeling skills were a necessary part of this hobby and most modelers developed some level of these skills. Now days it’s a different story where modeling skills are not required as much as they once were. With the advent of RTR models and plug and play equipment and on a wider basis hobby dollar competitive RC hobbies and electronic everything (computer age) takes the skill development opportunities away.
I recently helped a customer who was just a beginning model railroader that didn’t seem to have developed many hobby skills through his life. He’d ask about a coupler conversion for an older model that required modifying the model to be able to attach a Kadee® coupler. He assumed that changing couplers was a simple matter of acquiring a particular Kadee® coupler made specifically just for that model. At first when I mentioned the required modifications he was a bit reluctant but when I explained that many older models require some extra work to be able attach knuckle couplers he seemed to understand. He had an older Rivarossi Berkshire that requires quite a bit of trimming and fitting and drilling and tapping a screw hole. Apparently he did not have any friends around that were model railroaders to help him along in the hobby. Once I got him started he seemed to understand and was willing to try. So I gave him a list of basic modeling tools and showed him where to find our coupler conversion info on our web site. I told him that the development of his modeling skills was part of the enjoyment of model railroading, which is certainly true. Everybody starts at the beginning so no matter who you are and what your level of skills are you were a beginner at some point. Then we have those who adapt and develop skills very quickly and those who take ages to get to the same level but it’s all about the fact that we are all different with different talents and abilities, opportunities, and circumstances. So try not to compare yourself with others, just go at your speed and learn to enjoy every minute.
I’ve talked to other customers on the phone about doing things like drilling and tapping, filing, making shims, notching out, trimming and fitting, and other common skills and I get this silent pause then a “I got to do what ?”. Some of these guys are really willing to try but there are some that for unknown reasons will not even consider trying. It’s these later guys that I wonder why they are in this hobby at all. I mean how do they even build a layout? I’m sure we all are not wealthy enough to have others do the work for us. Even if all your models are RTR you still have to put together a layout or maybe they run on club layouts and don’t need to do much except show up.
The point in my ramblings is that we once “needed” to develop modeling skills to make it in this hobby but now we don’t need those skills as before. This at least to some is good because the need to use these skills isn’t scaring off so many future modelers. So as long as the industry keeps progressing toward standardization model railroading will be around for a bit longer than we think.
Pre 1950 40 foot PS-1’s & 8 foot door 50 foot PS-1’s (August 2013)
I’ve been getting many request for Kadee® to produce 40 foot PS-1 box cars built prior to 1950 and 50 foot PS-1 with 8 foot doors.
Many modelers do not know there are many differences in the 1947 to 1949 PS-1 box cars and PS-1’s built in 1950 and afterward. As well with the 50 foot PS-1 with 8 foot door opening is a complete different car than the common 50 foot PS-1’s with 9, 10, and 15 foot double doors. It’s not just the door size it’s the underframe, which is like the 40 foot underframe, side sills that have tabs like the 40 foot PS-1, and a number of smaller details.
The pre 1950 40 foot PS-1 also had many differences like the roof panels, rectangular stiffeners at the roof peak, straight end ladders, side sill tabs are smaller with different angles, end grab irons with three mounting points rather than four, and the underframes, were different. Also, PS-1’s built from 1947 to 1949 had a number of detail differences within those build years.
Unfortunately, it would take almost complete new cars to model these differences. So presently we are not planning on these cars for the near future. We will not compromise the paint schemes and do schemes that were found only on these cars. So even though they are all PS-1 box cars there are many details that changed through the years and some are extensive enough to require a new car to do the different details.
We have through the years modified our PS-1 box cars to add many of the details that we found as we researched these cars to the point that now we have a “functional” cushion underframe for the later 50 foot PS-1’s and bodies with and without running boards, full ladders, short ladders as well as high and low hand brakes.
Perhaps we’ll go back and do the pre 1950 40 foot PS-1’s and the 8 foot door 50 foot PS-1 but we do have many other projects we are working on.
Of course, we do not give out much information on what we are working on and we do this for a number of reasons. We do change our minds once in a while so if we are working on some project we can set it aside or drop it completely without having the modeling world asking about it. We do not like to announce a project knowing all the things that could happen to delay it. We don’t like the modeling world anticipating a product that’s been announce and then have to wait for it to come onto the market. We’ve seen this happen all too often with other manufacturers.
We do have the advantage of making all of “our” products right here in our own shop where we have complete and immediate quality control so if we do have a problem we can handle it quickly and directly.
Unfortunately, few modelers realize how long the mold making process takes even for the simplest part. The tooling costs many times is prohibitive to making certain products so we have to make sure what we spend our time on will hopefully make a profit, whether long or short term.
So when you ask us why don’t we make this product or that product it’s usually an answer of “we just haven’t got to it yet or it’s not a priority” or “were not going to make that because we can not justify the tooling costs compared to the cost recovery time.
Coupler Conversion Basics (July 2013)
It seems that I need to return to some of the basics of coupler conversions. We’ve been receiving more and more inquiries about coupler conversions in all scales.
I find customers are trying to choose a coupler to match the original coupler that came on the car. This can be extremely difficult especially if you have a model with one of the million variations of a Horn Hook couplers. Then looking at our huge coupler selections I can see the frustration and confusion setting in.
Fortunately, we have done most of the coupler selection already. Rather than trying to choose a coupler to fit your model we provide a coupler conversion list to help in the coupler selection. You can find the list on our web site under “Conversion” There are two listings HO and Larger Scale. The conversions are listed alphabetically by the name of the manufacturer then by locomotive and rolling stock. You may note the use of “MCS”, this means there is more than one coupler that can be used. MCS stands for “medium centerset” like the #5 and #148 couplers.
Also note we “do not have coupler conversion lists for HOn3, S and Sn3, O On3 and On30”. We simply do not offer enough couplers in these scales to have a coupler conversion list.
On the listing we usually offer conversion info for the original coupler mounting, like truck or body mounted. In some case we offer a body mounting if the truck mounting becomes too complicated to attach a Kadee coupler to. The only real advantage of truck mounted couplers is negotiating tighter curves other than that body mounting is much better.
Getting the coupler at the correct coupler height and making sure “all” of your couplers are at the same height is the key to top coupler performance.
Many older models may require modifications to the model and-or coupler to be able to mount a knuckle coupler correctly. Newer models usually will have a coupler pocket made for a knuckle couple and may only need the couplers changed out.
Most, if not all new models will come with some version of a knuckle coupler and if the couplers are at the right height you simply use a #148 or a #158 if you use smaller scale head couplers.
The #148 is the whisker equivalent of the #5 coupler and the #158 is the Whisker® version of the #58 coupler.
The 140 Whisker® series replaces the 40 series.
There is about .050” difference between the offset and the center shank in HO scale. In large scale it’s the thickness of the shank difference for each offset. There are no overset shank couplers to lower the head made for large scale.
Do not bend the trip pins until you have the couplers mounted correctly and as level as possible. Rarely will you ever need to bend the trip pins of large scale couplers. If the trip pins hang up in the trackage it means the coupler is not mounted correctly.
Do not use any sort of liquid lubricant in the coupler we only recommend graphite.
Remember, this hobby is meant only for enjoyment and there are many ways people achieve that enjoyment.
Large Scale Couplers (May 2013)
Have you planned new model railroad purchases with your tax returns? It will stimulate the economy since the government hasn’t been able to for the last several years. But are we stimulating the economy of China and just keeping a small cash flow going around the USA?
I’m getting enough calls and e-mail questions that I feel a need to talk a bit about some Large Scale issues. I know I’ve covered this before but repetition is about the only way some of us learn.
We market Both “G” and “#1” scale couplers and people ask which is smaller and which is larger. Our G scale couplers are 1:22.5 scale ratio and is larger than #1 scale at 1:32 scale ratio. For representing a full size coupler the #1 scale couplers are appropriate for 1:32 and 1:29 scale models. For representing a full size coupler the G scale are appropriate for 1:24 up to 1:20.3 scale models. #1 scale couplers are used in the larger scale to represent smaller narrow gauge couplers which, more or less, are 3/4 the size of full size couplers. Some modelers will use the smaller #1 scale couplers regardless just because they look better on many models.
If you are a beginning modeler and don’t know which coupler size to use I’d recommend the larger G scale couplers (except for 1:32 scale models) until you get more experience in operations and track work.
There are no 1:32 scale models that we know of that will accept G scale size of couplers but only #1 scale size of couplers. MTH was nice enough to make a coupler platform on their 1:32 scale models for our #820 or newer #1906 couplers. Most other 1:32 scale models is a matter of custom fitting a #1 scale coupler. Accucraft 1:32 scale models are using a #1 scale coupler that’s easily changed out with our #820/1906 couplers.
Notice in our Large Scale coupler conversion lists we show the option of using either a G scale or #1 scale coupler, except for the 1:32 scale models.
Note that #1 and G scale couplers are mounted at different heights. #1 is 1 1/16” (1.0625” or 27 mm) and G scale is 1 1/8” (1.125 or 28.58 mm) measured from the top of the rail to the center of the coupler head. Our coupler heads fortunately have a parting line (mold mark) across the center of the knuckle easily showing the center of the coupler head. For the top coupler performance (in all scales) all your couplers must be at the same correct coupler height.
There are some people that get confused and overwhelmed by looking at the large selection of Kadee couplers. Then they try to find a coupler for their model by searching through all the couplers. Then I have to show them where to find the coupler conversion information on our web site. In the gray strip just under the title area is the word “conversion” and here you’ll find our HO and Large Scale coupler conversion information including drawings and instructions for conversions requiring more than just changing couplers.
For some beginning helpful hints. For the common plastic truck mounted coupler arm with the nub on the end use the G scale #831 or newer #909 and for #1 scale use the #1831 or newer #1909. For general body mounting start with the G scale #830 or newer #906 and for #1 scale #820 or newer #1906.
RTR & Kit Cars (April 2013)
I’d like to talk about “ready to run” (RTR) cars and “kit” cars. There’s still a lot of chatter on the forums, news groups, and magazines about the lack of kit cars as we once knew. Sometime in the later 1990s there seemed to be a noticeable shift in the sales of kits and modelers wanting more RTR cars. This shift did not happen overnight but gradually over the years and I’m not going to try to explain the reasons because it’s simply too complicated and even though I’m the Answer Man I don’t know all the answers.
Kits more or less originated when a modeler was hand building their models from scratch then gave parts to their friends. The friends talked the guy into making a kit or two for them then word got out and more modelers wanted this guys kits. Now the poor guy had to move his project from the kitchen table to the garage then to a corner in some one else’s shop, then to his own rented little shop, then to a larger abandoned warehouse, and finally to a purpose built facility. Now, the guy has ruined his enjoyable hobby by trying to make a living at it. But this is how most model manufacturers got started and fortunately most of them had the business savvy to make it in this industry.
Back in the days of kits the only RTR models were in the toy category of pressed sheet metal or die cast metal of some sort. Then as time progressed passenger car and locomotive kits eventually evolved into RTR and semi RTR models and it was only a matter of time before RTR freight cars began to show up on the market. This may be oversimplified but you get the point. Now don’t forget the manufacturers have a lot to do with it too. Model makers are businesses that have to do things to make a profit. So they have to watch the market and even create a market to be able to move their products. If a product is not selling well or is costing too much to produce they have to look at the bottom line and decide if that product is worth keeping on the market. Slow sales and high production costs have taken it’s toll of many products including kits. The high cost of doing business cuts deeply into the profits and if kits are no longer a profitable product then changes have to be made.
Now fortunately there are a few model makers that are still making kits and quite a number of resin kit makers that hopefully are keeping the kit builders happy.
Kits come in various forms from a box of thousands of parts for the most detailed finished absolute prototypical model made for the most experienced and skilled modeler to kits with the novice modeler in mind with a basic body with molded on parts, a few larger add on parts, and trucks to put on. RTR and semi RTR (models that still require a few parts to be installed) usually are highly detailed and, for the most part, very accurate.
“Modelers” like kits to build so they can relax, develop skills, patience, and creativity, then take pride in their work and even pass their skills and experience along to others.
“Hobbyists” prefer RTR models because they do not enjoy building kits or don’t have the time or space and they want to run trains rather than build them.
Now both the Modelers and Hobbyists have their place in model railroading. Both have contributed to the trends that brought us to the present and they will continue to do so.
Large Scale (March 2013)
This month I’m focusing on “Large Scale” modeling issues for a change.
Bachmann has brought out two steam locomotives, the K-27 and C19, that we are receiving calls for coupler conversion information. Both are relatively easy to convert to Kadee couplers. The K-27 will use our newer #900 or the coupler only out of the #906 or original #830 coupler packages. These couplers will fit right into the Bachmann draft gear boxes. Also, if you take the Bachmann coupler head off the shank (arm) our #916 or #1 scale #1916 is a direct replacement and fits just like the Bachmann coupler. The C19 will also use the #916 (or #1916 #1-Scale) coupler. You need to remove the truck on the tender to access the screws holding the coupler arm in place. The pilot coupler arm is a matter of sliding the pilot wheels over to access the screws. Be sure to check the coupler heights because Bachmann, as well as certain other manufacturers, are not too concerned about consistent coupler heights.
There is a steady increase of modelers that are just getting into Large Scale modeling, either starting from scratch or they’re moving from modeling another scale. When they start buying models they are finding out about the different scale ratios of Large Scale models, different couplers mounted at different heights.
We offer two sizes of Large Scale couplers, #1-Scale at 1:32 scale ratio and “G” scale at 1:22.5 scale ratio. When we do a Large Scale coupler conversion we usually provide the option of using either size of couplers, except for models that are equipped for only one size of couplers, like the 1:32 scale MTH models that use our #820 or newer #1906 and the USA Trains Ultimate Series that use our G-Scale #830 or newer #906 on a body mounted platform made just for these couplers.
Visually the #1 scale couplers are suitable for 1:32 and 1:29 scale models and represents a full size coupler. On 1:24, 1:22.5, and 1:20.3 scale models the #1-Scale coupler looks like a smaller narrow gauge coupler and the larger “G” Scale couplers look like the standard size of couplers. We’ve had request to make “F” (1:20.3) Scale couplers but we are not going to. There’s a dimensional difference in size but it’s not visually different enough to justify making another coupler size.
Be sure and look at our new remote control system. We just recently released it for G-Scale remote uncoupling but it has endless capabilities.
Getting back in to the hobby (February 2013)
I’m still receiving requests for coupler conversion help from modelers that have been out of the hobby for many years and are getting their old model railroad stuff out of storage and finding that the entire model railroad industry has changed since they were active in railroading.
They notice that almost all new models are equipped with knuckle couplers and not the X2F Horn Hook couplers, locomotives with sound and different versions of DCC (what’s DCC anyway?), metal wheels on freight cars, models with more details and scale fidelity than they ever seen, freight cars costing $50 to $60, everything is RTR or near to RTR with few actual kits available. When they see the cost of all this new stuff they find the desire to keep their old Tyco, Varney, AHM, Mantua, Life Like, Athearn, MDC, or other older makes of models and upgrade them as best as they can.
Many of these guys are just retiring or have grand kids that are interested enough in their trains to give them a reason to get back into model railroading.
I get calls and e-mails from some of these guys that are trying to find the right coupler by looking through all of our couplers. They get overwhelmed when they see our huge selection of couplers especially when they try to match a coupler with the model they are converting. I usually have to back them up and ask if they are computer savvy and if they are, I point out our coupler conversion pages on our web site and tell them that we’ve already done a great deal of work for them. So, at least, we have them at a starting point. I then point out the basic tools that may be required for coupler conversions especially for older models. A must is a coupler height gauge like our HO scale #205 or newer #206, hobby knives, screw drivers, files, pin vise, tap and drills for 0-80 and 2-56 screws, and a willingness to try and a bit of bravado may be required.
I try to convince them that cars with body mounted couplers perform better than truck mounted couplers under most operational circumstances. Adding weight to those older light cars and changing to metal wheelsets will help a great deal. Most are willing to get their old trains running and install knuckle couplers regardless of the work and costs. This indicates that model railroading is not dying as fast as others might think.
What Merry Christmas and Happy New Year really means (January 2013)
We hope that the whole world had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year. Yes, even the Mayan’s and those that believed in the worlds end, and the aliens that never came too. We hope that all will retain the peace and love that this time of year brings, It is unfortunate how quickly we let this pass and we get back into our worldliness. Just because we’ve taken down the Christmas decorations and now face life’s debts, routines, worries, and struggles doesn’t mean we have to forget our Christmas Spirit of Love, Peace, and Selfless Service. Have we become what I call Holiday Hypocrites? Only thinking about Christmas and Christ when the season comes and then afterwards going back to our normal set ways.
So now, what did you get for Christmas or a better question what did you “give” for Christmas? Will that spirit of giving continue through the entire year? I don’t necessarily mean gifts and presents or such. I mean giving of your time, talents, experience, service, and love to others. Simple things are sometimes the most appreciated and the most needed. How hard is it to offer a smile, a hug, or a warm greeting with a genuineness that can be felt. Do we take enough time in our busy lives to serve and help others. Do we go out of our way to find those that need a helping hand. Have you been in need and someone came by to help that was never asked to come? Have you returned that kindness to someone else? Do you remember those good feelings you get when you have help someone without expecting anything in return. Want to keep those feelings? Then once you have that Christmas Spirit do all you can to retain it all year long. That’s what Merry Christmas and Happy New Year really means.
Trainfest & Kadee® RC (December 2012)
We had another great experience at the Trainfest Show in Milwaukee, WI. They set an attendance record of 25,569 for a two day show and this did not include children or vendors. They had a new interactive program for the kids and it seemed like the most popular activity of the show. It really got the kids involved and excited about model railroading. Thanks goes out to Walthers and the Trainfest staff for such a great show and doing more for the kids this year.
We did have our new Kadee® RC remote system at the Trainfest Show and there was a good deal of interest in it but also many questions. We are releasing the Kadee® RC remote uncoupling in G-Scale first then in #1-Scale. After that we do have plans for scaling it down into smaller scale like O and HO. We are not committing to any time frames but it is an eventuality that it will be available in smaller scales. Since we are just getting this on the market there will be a number of questions that can not be answered until we see what the market response will be.
All information that is currently available for the Kadee® RC remote system is on the www.remoteuncoupling.com website. We are updating our website regularly as new questions & information becomes available. The website will be your source for information, updates, and technical support.
Naperville Conference Questions (November 2012)
My attendance at the 2012 RPM Naperville Conference was very successful and enjoyable. I met quite a number of people I've only spoke to on the phone or e-mailed over many years. I hope because of this experience we'll attend again next year.
There were a few questions from Naperville that I'd like to answer here.
Q: Are we going to sell our trucks with code 88 semi scale wheels?
A: Eventually but not very soon. We have to come up with more product numbers and new packaging and this is not as easy as many may think.
Q: When are we going to do another freight car?
A: We are presently working on another car and that's all we are going to say about it until it's ready to release. It takes two to three years for us to do all the tooling for a new car.
Q: Are we going to sell our brake wheels with the housing as a retail product?
A: Yes eventually.
Q: Are we going to bulk package our #153 short whisker coupler?
A: Perhaps eventually as the market demand increases we'll take a closer look at this.
Q: Plug door cars?
Q: Bulk packages of our new O scale couplers?
A: No not presently and maybe not in the future.
Q: 9 and 10 foot doors?
Q: How can we make all of our products in the USA and still stay in business?
A: This is far too complicated to answer in the scope of this monthly column.
Our next show is Trainfest November 9-11 in Milwaukee, WI. This one of our most enjoyable shows and we really look forward to attending each year. We highly recommend attending this show when ever possible. We'll again be showing our Kadee-RC remote system at Trainfest and we'll have a few cars and products for sale at a small discount.
Our remote system is in the final stages of packaging prior to being released. Keep watching our web site and ads for further information.
NEM 362 Couplers & Talgo Truck Pockets (October 2012)
This month I will be attending the RPM Naperville Conference on the 18th to the 20th. This will be my first time attending and if all goes well I'll be attending more. I've been invited to speak at the Friends of the Freight Car dinner and I'll be giving a clinic. As time permits I'll have a table set up to sell a few Kadee products and answer questions. The next shows we will be attending are Trainfest, also a local Thanksgiving show here in the Medford area, and Amherst in January.
There has been a number of questions about our NEM 362 snap in couplers. There have been modelers that have tried these in locomotive pilots that have snap fit dummy couplers. Unfortunately, they found out the the NEM couplers come out far too high. This is because the NEM couplers are designed for the NEM 362 coupler pocket found on many European types of models and the NEM pockets are set very low and require a very large offset to achieve the correct HO coupler height. So for locomotive pilots with snap in dummy couplers please do not try the NEM couplers they will simply be too high. Most dummy coupler pockets are already set at the correct coupler heights. To convert these to functional knuckle couplers usually require enlarging the opening on the sides and bottom only until you can fit the draft gear box through the hole. Securing the draft gear box depends on the particular model and how much room there is behind the pilot but most often your can drill and tap a hole through the pilot deck.
We had plans to design a functional coupler to snap into the dummy coupler pockets on steam locomotives but presently the market's demand does not justify the developing and tooling expense.
Another issue I have been dealing with lately is modelers asking for bushings (sleeves) to fit over the tiny posts found on older models. I tell them about our #213 gear boxes and sleeves that's found in our 20 series couplers. However, when I get them to describe the coupler pocket they are working with it turns out to be the common Talgo truck pocket found on many different makes of less expensive (cheap) models. So rather than trying to use the bushings from the #213 I tell them to try the #212 Talgo adapters that are specifically designed just for these coupler pockets. These #212's are also found in our 20 series coupler packages. Since we now have the Whisker® line of couplers using the #212 adapters is so much simpler. The Talgo pockets have a narrow flexible arm with a small pivoting post on the tip. The adapter fits down through the top and over the post to become the new correct size post.
Radio Controlled Remote System & Train Shows (September 2012)
As I mentioned last month we attended the NMRA National Train Show in Grand Rapids, MI where we demonstrated our Radio Controlled Remote System. We showed it operating G-Scale couplers, switching on lights, and opening and closing HO switches (turnouts). Many people were very interested in it but asked when we'll have it ready to operate HO couplers. We started with G-Scale couplers because it was easier to develop the mechanical components in a larger scale. Now that we've have it operating in G-Scale we'll eventually scale it down for HO. The components are designed to fit into freight and passengers cars and can be fitted into locomotives. We also showed our G scale coupler with the mechanical components inside the draft gear box that has the same mounting dimensions as our #910 (#830/906) draft box. With basic modeling skills it can be mounted into just about any model. The transmitter and receivers have a range far beyond practical operating vision so those of you that have huge outdoor layouts can operate just about anything from any distance without worrying about a signal through the track or long complicated wiring. We have more information on our www.remoteuncoupling.com web site. This is a product system with endless possibilities so keep watching our web sites for more applications.
The NMRA Train Show was a really nice show, however, the attendance was quite a bit lower than other NMRA shows and there were many missing venders. The NMRA Train Shows are some of the most expensive to attend for the vendors, manufacturers, modelers, and conventioneers. The NMRA, unfortunately, continues to schedule their annual national conventions and train shows at downtown venues. This means that parking is expensive, hotels are expensive, everything is expensive, and union labor at the convention centers is ridiculous and borderlines on extortion. I'm sure the NMRA Staff have their reasons but perhaps they should learn from some of the otheir regional shows like Trainfest and the Oklahoma City show. Trainfest is been bigger than most NMRA National Train Shows and although we have yet to attend, the Oklahoma City Show is getting bigger. The next NMRA National Train Show is in Atlanta, GA and we still aren't sure if we'll attend. We will be attending Trainfest and Amherst Train shows and we're thinking about others too.
NMRA National Train Show & Kadee® History (August 2012)
When this issue is released we will have just returned from the NMRA National Train Show in Grand Rapids, MI. However, I had to write this before the show. This means I can not report on the show until next month. There is one thing I will mention about the show and that is we were able to demonstrate our "Kadee® R/C Remote System". This is a radio control operating system with an endless list of possible uses in and out of model railroading. We showed it uncoupling "G" scale freight cars (not just locomotives), opening and closing turnouts (switches) singly and in groups, and turning on and off lights. Keep watching our web site and advertisements for more information. This will have a continuing build up of kits and accessories for many different applications.
On some what of a sad note with the passing of Keith Edwards on July 26, 2012, I'd like to reflect a bit of Kadee® history. The twin brothers Keith and Dale Edwards were born in 1921 and grew up in the LA area. They were avid model railroaders and in 1940 they began building HO turnout kits but had to suspend their business for WW II where both served with the Army Air Corps. After the war they started up again and moved their business to Spokane, WA but after a cold winter they returned to the LA area and continued their business and by using their initials formed the name "KADEE". A story they tell about the development of their knuckle coupler goes about like this; after working for quite sometime they took a rough designed coupler to a local dealer and he said "you have nothing. Go back to the drawing board and make something that looks and works like the real thing." Being quite discouraged but more determined they put their heads together and 3 months later they brought their new coupler back to the hobby shop and the owner said "now that's what we need and I'll take 3000 pair." That was a huge undertaking but they were up to the task and the Kadee® knuckle coupler was born. As their little company grew they expanded their product line that eventually included an N scale line of products. Around 1990 they split the company and Keith took the Micro-Trains Line part of the company and Dale retained the Kadee® part.
The twin brothers were pretty much identical, if you seen them together you might be able to tell them apart but seen individually you'd be hard pressed to know one from the other.
Keith retired in 2000 but Dale is still quite active with Kadee®. Both, of course turned 91 this year, Keith will be sadly missed by all.
Special Request Items & Electrical Pickup Trucks (July 2012)
Many modelers have been asking if our 9 and 10 foot doors are available because they could not find them listed on our web site. Presently these are only available directly from us upon special request and are subject to stock on hand. We have not packaged these doors for retail sales yet and we may or may not have what you need in our inventory. We use these doors on our 50 Ft. PS-1 box cars. If you contact us we'll see if we have what you need in stock and quote a price for them. As with many of our other detailed parts we'll eventually get around to packaging our 9 and 10 foot doors as retail products.
We also have received inquiries asking if we sell our cushion underframes separately and presently we are "not" selling these as a separate part.
It seems that there is an increase in modelers asking if we make trucks for electrical pickup and the answer is no. Since our wheelsets have plastic axles and coated wheels it is very difficult to adapt them to pick up electricity. Passenger car and caboose trucks are usually the only ones needed for electrical pickup. We do not make passenger car trucks and as I mentioned our freight car and caboose trucks are difficult to use as electrical pickup. The easiest way to use our trucks for electrical pickup is to replace our wheelsets with some that have a metal axles so you can use a simple conductive wiper on the axle.
Being it's July now, we are getting ready for several up coming train shows. The NMRA National Train show August 3--5 in Grand Rapids, MI. I'll be attending the Naperville RPM Meet October 18-20 in Naperville, IL. Trainfest 9-11 in Milwaukee, WI. Our local Medford Train Show November 24-25 in Medford, OR , a nice little show with 4000 to 5000 attending. Finally, Amherst Train Show January 26-27, 2013 in West Springfield, MA.
We'll have a new product to show at the NMRA National Train show. It's something we've been working on for a very long time and we finally reached a point that it's ready to demo and put on the market soon. This is a product that will expand into other scales and hopefully into other markets.
Like with other anticipated products I just tell people "not to hold you breath but keep your eyes open".
Quantities & Hobby Shops (June 2012)
We are receiving many requests about packaging our new Type "E" O scale couplers in "bulk" packages. At this point we have no plans to bulk package our O scale couplers. The main reason is that the couplers are designed to be used exclusively with the Kadee draft gear box so the box has to be included with the coupler and thus we can not offer any savings per coupler. In HO we can leave out the draft gear box from a bulk package and offer a bit of savings per coupler. Unlike O scale, in HO most couplers fit into many different makes of coupler pockets and draft gear boxes, molded on or separate so the couplers can be sold without boxes.
Another "bulk" issue comes from retail customers asking for a discount if they order larger quantities or bulk quantities of our products. Let me first state that we will not undercut our dealers because they are the back bone of our sales. They have brick and mortar shops with high overhead costs and certainly don't need their suppliers selling products for less than they can buy them for or selling at a discount to the public at the same price that the dealer pays wholesale. If a dealer wants to offer discounts that's entirely up to them and their profit margins. Occasionally we do offer sale prices and specials to both our dealers and retail customers but normally we sell to retail customers at the full retail prices (MSRP). We do recommend that you buy from your local hobby shop but "local" does not apply like it used to. With gas prices the way they are and more and more hobby shops closing or carrying lower inventories along with the Internet, modelers really have to look at shopping quite differently than ever before. Now days, hobby shops are extremely lucky to have enough walk in business to stay in business. It wasn't long ago that there was a hobby shop in every decent size town, around every corner, and in every mall. Unless a hobby shop has a goodly amount of walk in business along with mail order and Internet sales more than likely they are going to be hitting hard times soon. Another issue is whether the owner has the management and marketing savvy to make the best of their business. Service is one of the biggest draws to a quality shop and having employees that show genuine concern for the customer is really a bonus to any business. It's all too often to you walk into a shop and the employee is there to do nothing but tend the register and tell you to "have a nice day". But I don't blame the hireling they are only doing what they are told and trained to do.
I could go on with this forever and maybe I will next month.
HO & O Scale couplers (May 2012)
We recently completed two more of our Whisker® 140-Series Couplers. The #142 medium overset shank (lowers the coupler head) and #144 short underset shank (raises the coupler head) and both are now available. We have only one remaining to complete the 140-Series and it's the #141 long underset shank coupler.
With the increasing sales of our new O-Scale AAR Type E coupler line we've also had many questions about O-Scale uncoupling both manual and magnetic. The new Type E couplers takes a bit more effort to uncouple manually but they uncouple over our uncoupling magnetics as easy as our #805/804 couplers. We have three O-Scale uncoupling magnets available the #308, #810, and #809. The #308 is a permanent magnet for under the rails (you need two stacked on each other for O-Scale), the #810 is an electrically actuated uncoupler and both of these are designed for two rail track only. The #809 is a permanent magnetic uncoupler and made for three rail track only.
Kadee® does not make overscale three rail couplers. Our O-Scale couplers are "scale" couplers that can be adapted to two or three rail models. O-Scale is 1:48 scale ratio and three rail couplers in actual scale dimensions are close to 1:32 scale ratio which is #1-Scale.
We are still getting inquiries about coupler conversions for newer production models. Most, if not all, new models are coming with some version of a knuckle coupler either Kadee®, McHenry, Bachmann EZ-Mate, Accumate, Kato, or Walthers' Proto Max. Although the old Horn Hook (X2F) couplers are still available from a few sources we do not believe there are any being factory installed on new models.
Kadee® coupler conversion for new models with factory knuckle couplers "usually" is a simple matter of removing the original coupler and replacing it with either our #148 standard head or #158 scale head whisker® coupler. Always check all of your couplers with a HO coupler height gauge like our #205 or newer #206. It's great that most manufacturers are using knuckle couplers but not all of them are careful about getting the couplers set at the correct height. I still see a lot of factory fresh models with drooping couplers and trip pins bent upwards because the couplers are too low.
Conversion List, Atlas 53 ft Well Car Conversion & 2012 Catalog (April 2012)
Those of you HO modelers that use our coupler conversion list may have noticed the term "MCS" in place of a coupler number that we recommend for certain conversions. MCS means "Medium Centerset Shank" coupler and if you notice at the bottom of each conversion page we have this mentioned as well as other abbreviations. We've had to use MCS because of so many different couplers we offer that fit into this category, for instance our popular #5 and #148 whisker couplers along with many others and this seems to have caused a bit of confusion. With our latest revision of our conversion list we change this listing to say "#5, #148, or MCS". Hopefully this will give most modelers two basic couplers to start with rather than having to choose from the many MCS type of couplers.
I recently did a conversion on a three car set of Atlas's newer 53 foot Well Cars. These have the narrow Accumate® type of narrow scale width coupler pockets that, unfortunately, a Kadee® coupler does not fit. The conversion requires you to remove the coupler box and cut it off next to the first screw. If you want a scale head coupler use our #178 which has a box the same width as the original. If you want to use a standard head coupler use our #148 either in it's own box or the low profile narrow #262 box and you can replace the scale head coupler with the #148 in the #178 box. Set the coupler box on the center line with the lip against the edge of the car body then mark the surface through the center hole of the box. Then carefully drill and tap a hole through the deck for a 2-56 screw. Use one of our #256 nylon 2-56 screws trimmed flush to the surface of the end deck. I then mixed a small bit of paint to closely match the car and painted the tip of the screw and coupler box.
We just recently published our newest complete 2012 catalog with all of our current products. In the catalogs printed form we designed it for a three ring binder as product #85 and it retails for $2.95 without a binder. Shipping & Handling for a catalog ordered by itself is $2.00, if it is ordered with other merchandise standard Shipping & Handling fees apply. We have the 2012 catalog on our web site that you can down load and/or print at no cost.
Replacements for Discontinued Couplers (March 2012)
There have been a number of inquiries about replacement couplers for the some of the couplers we have discontinued and I hope the following information will help. Since the introduction of our whisker® couplers many modelers are concerned that the NO.5® coupler will be discontinued. We have no plans to discontinue the NO.5® coupler in the near future, the NO.5® is still the back bone of our coupler line. The whisker® couplers are catching up and will eventually pass the NO.5® but rest assured we'll keep the NO.5® available for a very long time.
We have discontinued a number of HO couplers that are actually older than our NO.5® coupler. They are the #4, #6, #7, #8, and #16 and then later on the #78 and part of the 40 series couplers. The #78 has been replaced by the #178 and the 40 series is being replaced by the #140 series so I won't elaborate on these any further.
The old #4 was used in a number of other coupler packages and we have used a #148 whisker coupler to replace the #4 in these packages. However, we do not have a direct replacement for the #4 as a separate coupler but in most of the coupler conversions that we recommended #4 we have been able to use our whisker #148. In coupler pockets that are narrow and have a small pivoting post we still can use the #148 along with a bushing (sleeve) from our #213 package to fit over the small post to enlarge the diameter for a standard pivoting hole. The old series containing the #6, #7, #8, and #16 are easily replaced with a coupler from our 30 series. For the #6 use a #36 coupler, #7 use a #34, #8 use a #38, and #16 use a #36 like the #6.
We just returned for the World's Greatest Hobby on Tour in Portland, OR and although we don't have a final attendance number it must have been well over 20,000 because Saturday there were more than 14,000 and Sunday seemed just about as busy. These WGH Shows are always well attended, well organized, and very well promoted. Their main goal is to provide opportunities to introduce this hobby to the general public and bring new interest to model railroading. More or less promoting this hobby like no one else does and these guys put on a great show. Also, these shows are not just limited to newbies and beginners there is plenty there for the seasoned modelers as well. So don't pass up a chance to attend these WGH Shows. They put on several shows around the country and sooner or later they will come to a city near you.
New Generation Type "E" O-Scale couplers (February 2012)
For you that are in O-Scale modeling (and other scales) this will be welcoming information.
At the Amherst Train Show we introduced our "New Generation" Type "E" O-Scale coupler series and these are presently in stock and ready to ship. It has been a long process getting these on the market because of our many other priorities and projects. Although, for us O-Scale is not as big of a market as HO and G-Scale but we've been wanting to get a larger coupler selection into O-Scale for a long time. The new couplers are all metal and have a much more prototypically detailed coupler head and a hidden knuckle spring. I'll go through these according to their product numbers.
#740 medium centerset in a metal box. Equivalent to the original style #805.
#742 medium overset shank in a plastic box. Lowers the coupler head.
#743 short center set, plastic box, like the original style #806.
#745 medium centerset shank in a plastic box, like the original style #816.
#746 long centerset shank, plastic box. About a 1/4" longer than medium.
#747 medium underset, plastic box. Raises the coupler head.
The retail price for all of these is $9.50 for a package of 2 pair (4 each). Please note, the original style couplers are packaged with only one pair (2 each).
The over and underset couplers lower and raise the coupler head .100" lower and higher than the centerset couplers, .100" is the thickness of the coupler shank.
We used the same coupler head design as our new generation #1 and G-Scale couplers and was fortunate to be able to scale it down to O-Scale. We used mostly plastic boxes because of the many requests we received. These new couplers use the same centering system and draft gear boxes as our original style O-Scale couplers like the #804/805.
Now all you O-Scalers have a great looking/operating coupler with quite a number of options so you don't have to do so much work mounting couplers at the correct coupler height, especially on three rail models where converting to "scale" couplers require a certain amount of custom work.
That's right FUN (January 2012)
We hope that all of you have had a very Merry Christmas and are having a great New Year. I'm assuming everyone has practiced writing "2012", you have the next 12 months to get it right. Now you have all the Christmas decorations put away, the New Years party cleaned up, the relatives sent off, and the kids are back in school it's time to get back to some model railroading. With big smiles on our faces, we now get out all our new model railroad stuff and begin a new year of fun and I emphasize the word "FUN". That's right FUN, not just enjoyment but FUN. No matter your level of model railroading this hobby is FUN. If you find that you're not having fun then you need to take a step back and ask why not. I'm sure there are parts of this hobby that you may not enjoy as much as others. It will help greatly to find that fun if you keep focused on the big picture and what you're really trying to accomplish and how it fits into that big picture then develop a sense of pride of what you have accomplished. Building confidence and skills is really enjoyable and fun and is usually a result of hanging in there and just doing it. One of the many things I see some modelers have fun with is "sharing" their enthusiasm, skills, and experience with others. I see a lot of this at train shows where the modelers are interacting with other attendees and especially when they are helping people who are new to the hobby or the smiling kids who are having the time of their lives and I mean having FUN.
We'll be attending the Amherst Train Show at the end of this month, 28th and 29th, in West Springfield, MA where modelers of every level will be buying, selling, looking, visiting, learning, sharing, and having fun. It's one of the biggest shows in the country and has it's own unique style unlike most other shows. Hopefully, after that we'll be attending the World's Greatest Hobby Show in Portland, OR on February 25th and 26th. There are several WGH Shows in various locations around the country and these shows are meant to promote the model railroading hobby and introduce it to kids and adults. These guys usually put on a really good show that helps build interest in this hobby.
Then hopefully if time and costs allow we'll attend the NMRA National Train Show in Grand Rapids, MI in July.
If you are able to attend these shows as well as many others around the country I'm sure if you really tried you'll be able to have a great deal of good old fashioned FUN.