Archive for the ‘Armchair’ Category

In a way this post follows on from my previous ramblings in my ‘armchair’ series such as “Armchair R-T-R Designers” and “Armchair R-T-R tooling and manufacturing Logistics” and even my comment piece on “The process in producing an R-T-R Models”.
Questions were recently raised on a popular model railway forum why certain Ready-To-Run (R-T-R) models either have not been or are going to be produced in either Pre-Grouping liveries or form, even to extent that the manufacturers were losing sales because of it. I would point out however that if the demand was not actually there to sell a complete batch, as minimum production run sizes often come into play, of a certain livery then it might be a case of not enough sales rather than one of loosing sales.

I picked up on this because the models in question being discussed were the recently released Adams O2 class 0-4-4t and the forthcoming Pull Push Gate Stock from The Kernow Model Centre, that were not being produced in London South Western Railway (LSWR) liveries. The particular post also cited the fact some manufacturers had already managed to issued Pre-Grouping livery versions such as: the Bachmann E4 Class 0-6-2t and C Class 0-6-0; and the Hornby M7 0-4-4t. Whilst other models including the Hornby 700 Class 0-6-0 and T9 class 4-4-0 and the aforementioned O2 have not yet been so issued.

In an ideal world if money was no object I am sure the likes of The Kernow Model Centre and even the larger manufacturers such as Hornby would love to tool for all permutations and variations of a particular prototype, but economics do rule and decisions have to be taken based on the size of a potential market for a specific variation / livery and the return possible.

Where the existing tooling is correct / accurate for the same locomotive / rolling with either no or very limited detail changes for an earlier period such as the Pre-Grouping era, or even early Grouping times, then producing such liveries, in perhaps a smaller production run becomes a viable option. However where there would need to be substantial tooling changes, complexities or even completely new tooling the return on such an expense, that can easily run into tens of thousands of pounds, against potential sales needs to be taken into account.

I would therefore not perhaps rule out an LSWR liveried Adams O2 at some stage, as this importantly could be achieved from the existing tooling.

With respect to the Kennow Model Centre ex LSWR Gate Stock these were modified in the early 1930’s from the original LSWR design and therefore the proposed tooling would not be correct for any liveries before that modification took place. Sets 373/4 were converted to Southern Railway air control system in 1929/30 and at the same time gained the standard Southern Railway four window pull push unit style front end, instead of the earlier LSWR 3 window front end.  Set 272 was disbanded in 1929 (prior to driving front end and air control conversion) and reformed as set 363 in 1933, with standard SR front and air control, as per sets 373/4.

A version of the Kernow Model Centre ex LSWR Beattie Well Tank was produced in SR Maunsell 1930’s livery No 3329 but as in the early 1930s the Well Tanks were already on their second substantial rebuild, completely new tooling would have been required to be correct for any earlier livery application.

Both the Hornby produced 700 class 0-6-0 and T9 class 4-4-0 engines were fitted with superheaters from the very end of the pre-Grouping period onwards that not only extended the smokeboxes but in the case of the 700 class also raised the pitch of the boilers, by some 9 inches, extended the frames and a new taller cab, and in such a case would not only require a totally new body tooling but would effect the chassis design as well, which even with the high pitched boiler of the superheated version produced is already very tight for space for the motor a gearbox etc. I do note however that that there would be possibly 4 or 5 members of each class that could legitimately be produced in late LSWR livery in the superheated form from the existing tooling, if Hornby felt the the market was there for them.

I hope this post goes a little way to further explain the issues and complexities of producing Ready To Run models and that sometimes it is neither practical or cost effective to be able to please all modellers all of the time. I am pretty sure that none of us want to return to the days of putting any livery on any model regardless of any historical accuracy!




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Last year I posted about Armchair Ready-To-Run designers being an extension of the  term “armchair modeller” that has been used in the hobby referring to those who are vocal in criticism and comment but are sat in their comfy chairs tapping away on their keyboards without actually the processes involved in various aspects of the hobby. That particular post focused on the design side of things and why just because one model has been produced it should mean that a further slightly different model can or should also be produced.

The NRM Ivatt C1 Atlantic

The NRM Ivatt C1 Atlantic (picture courtesy and copyright NRM)

The announcement today by the National Railway Museum working with Bachmann of the exclusive model of the ex Great Northern Railways Ivatt C1 4-4-2 Atlantic locomotive has prompted this further ‘Armchair’ post.
Some say… that such a model was inevitable as Bachmann had already announced the ex LBSC Marsh H2 Class Atlantic.

ex LBSC H2 Class Atlantic  (picture courtesy of Bachmann)

ex LBSC H2 Class Atlantic (picture courtesy of Bachmann)

It is true that the  Marsh H2 Class and its predecessor the  H1 class can be directly traced back to the Ivatt C1 Atlantic owing to the fact Marsh had previously worked with Ivatt on the C1 class whilst he worked for the GNR and that the boiler and a proportion of the chassis design is the same.

In model terms though such lineage does not necessary mean savings in design, tooling, or production costs. As I mentioned in my previsious armchair post a common boiler does not help with tooling costs as often it is combined with different cabs, fitting,  running plates or other differing details. In the case of the two Atlantic models, and I discussed this with Bachmann staff a couple of weeks ago,  in reality only approximately 70% of only the chassis components are actually common. The loco body, tender and trailing truck are all different and therefor unique tooling. Therefore it is only a small proportion of time that can be potentially saved at the design stage,  as such as design work carried over for those small number of common components (remember its  approx 70% of the chassis only that is common) that can be simply copied.

Even with these limited number of common parts the two models are likely to be completely separately tooled. This is due to other reasons which a lot of people do not consider such as: the fact that if part of the tooling is used for more than model it creates double the wear on certain tools compared to the rest, the logistical issues of either stock holding between production runs or trying to manage production slots of both models at the same time.
This logistical challenge is hard enough for Bachmann whom unlike Hornby only have production at one factory. Hornby have different models being made at a number of  factories which is another reason why they would not usually share any aspect of tolling or components between models / factories as other wise it would be a logistical, transport and stock holding nightmare, in addition to the issue of uneven tooling wear.

I hope this post gives further food for thought into the issues that have to be considered in the design, tooling  and production of models for the Ready-To-Run market.

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The term “armchair modeller” has been about a while in the hobby referring to those who are vocal in criticism and comment but are sat in their comfy chairs tapping away on their keyboards without actually undertaking much modelling of their own. I have noticed more and more on various online forums etc. a new version of the “armchair modeller” the “armchair Ready -To-Run designer”  this breed makes assumptions on what the manufacturers can / should produce in the future on the basis of what they already produced, without really understanding the mass manufacturing / marketing process.

Before I illustrate this below I will accept that in some cases the design of one model can be produced in such away that it can also be used for another. An example of this is Hornby’s original chassis for the Rebuilt Merchant Navy pacific that had an offset rear bearing that can be turned to give the correct wheelbase for the Light Pacifics. Also there will often be some commonality of parts such as tenders and possibly bogies, that will reduced some initial costs, but more often than not the main chassis and body mouldings are complete unique. Therefore to produce another, albeit similar,  locomotive class will require a complete new set of tooling which is where the majority of the development cost will fall.

A Hornby N15 (repainted) Note the 6'7" driving wheels and spacing

A Hornby N15 (repainted) Note the 6’7″ driving wheels and spacing

From a Southern perspective the two most common assumptions for production of one model from another that regularly appear online are: firstly because Hornby have produced and N15 they can simply produce a S15, or secondly because Bachmann have produced a N Class they can easily produce a U class.

A DJH Kit built S15 note the smaller 5'6" driving wheels and lack of footplate splashers compared to the N15

A Kit built S15 note the smaller 5’6″ driving wheels and lack of footplate splashers compared to the N15

In both these examples there  are admittedly some commonality of parts such as tenders, bogies / pony trucks but with the locomotives having differing driving wheel sizes, driving wheel spacing,  varying boiler pitches, different cabs etc. The main body and chassis will need to be completely new and therefore costly toolings.

A kit built O2

A kit built O2

A further example came to light online last week, to be honest is what promoted this post, is this statement “A Western ‘G6’ 0-6-0T is an ‘obvious’ for Dapol because of the common boiler with their ‘O2’.”  Whilst the G6 did in reality share a boiler with some of the O2 class the design and construction of

A kit built, yes the boiler is pretty much the same but the tank and cab etc are all different

A kit built, yes the boiler is pretty much the same but the tank and cab etc are all different

a model is somewhat different and boilers for example are not separate components and therefore there will be virtually no commonality of parts from a model perspective between these two classes other than perhaps the 4’10” driving wheels and buffer heads everything else would be totally new tooling!

A Bachmann N Class, has 5'6" drivers

A Bachmann N Class, has 5’6″ drivers

It also has to be questioned if there is in fact a market to enable the manufacture to get the return on the investment from producing such similar models. Many modellers dedicated to a particular railway company will no doubt create an initial demand.


A kit built U class with 6′ driving wheels and different spacing to the N class among the differences

Indeed I would of course be part of that demand from a Southern perspective (even though I have already a number of kit built examples in my fleet).

To the average modeller / model market an N15 and S15 and N and U possibly  look too alike to gain mass market sales. At the end of the day the main drive of the Ready To Run manufacturers is to make the maximum profit and a return for their share / stake holders.

This does not of course mean that any of the locomotive types above will not be considered as giving a suitable return and therefore be produced in the future. For example Bachmann will be announcing their release plans for the next 18 months in the couple of weeks time and I am sure there will be one or two items of Southern interest (full details of such will be posted on this blog too).

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