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NTS, passenger cars, laser setup

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  • Malcolm Cleaveland
    Zeds, Just getting caught up. Had to go work elsewhere and didn t have time to keep up with this fascinating forum. So sad about the NTS. Any train show that
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 2, 2003
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      Zeds,

      Just getting caught up. Had to go work elsewhere and didn't have time
      to keep up with this fascinating forum.

      So sad about the NTS. Any train show that the NMRA organizes will be a
      pale shadow without the main exhibitors.

      Marklin does have US prototype passenger cars, but they don't look much
      like the prototype, IMHO. They are releasing a Santa Fe set, and of
      course, I had to possess one. Well they're old. I'd hoped for the
      hi-level cars, but no luck, just repainted Southern cars. Come on, guys!
      Budd produced the first hi-level cars in 1954, almost 50 years ago
      (Randall, Passenger Cars, Vol. 5, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific). Even
      the older cars don't really look like what Marklin produces (check out the
      book Santa Fe the Chief Way if you don't believe me--something about the
      space between the trucks. I know, I know. Don't knock Marklin, where
      would we be without them?! But it's so frustrating. Their attitude seems
      to be, "Well it sure doesn't look like the prototype, but those guys
      probably can't tell the difference, and if they can, who cares? We're the
      only game in town." This is not rivet counting, it's gross physical
      appearance. Penzee puts them to shame with their beautiful products,
      IMHO.

      Micro-Trains puts out a beautiful product, but when was the last time
      they came out with a new body style? They have <one> modern body style,
      the 142 series of 50' boxcars without roof walk. When they released a BN
      version, my dealer couldn't get any because he called the day <after> the
      release, not the day <of> the release. Talk about limited production. I
      had to call all over the U.S. and pay an exorbitant (relatively) price to
      get one, when I really wanted 3 or 4.

      I got excited when I read the description of the Santa Fe 40' boxcar
      Micro-Trains released last month, which included removal of the roof walk.
      I thought, "Finally, a new body style, and semi-modern, too." Wrong!!!
      As the UMTRR says "Removal of the roof walk is a do-it-yourself job." Has
      anybody attempted this yet? If so, how did you do it?

      Rob Kluz says, "There are a lot of good things coming, just you wait."
      We're waiting. Micro-Trains could come out with a covered hopper.
      They've been around since the 30s and have not changed appearance much
      since, at least the 40 footers. AZL is coming out with good things. I
      know the price is high, but at least they're coming out with new stuff,
      not just repaints of the old. My children are grown and I have an
      understanding wife, so I can buy AZL products sometimes.

      You know what you've been reading? An expression of my frustrations,
      just like Jeffrey's "rant" a while back, for which he apologized like the
      gentleman he is (told you I was just getting caught up). Jeffrey is
      frustrated because he has put a tremendous amount of time, effort and
      intellect into promoting Z, and the manufacturers don't seem to notice.
      There is a market, and the fact that new releases by Micro-Trains sell out
      immediately indicates that it's not negligible, or that the manufacturers
      are underestimating it.

      Somebody said that N-scale took off a lot faster than Z-scale. I agree,
      altho' don't have time to do the research necessary to prove it. A lot
      more manufacturers jumped in, and that $3.5 million layout just finished
      in Chicago could have been done in N rather than HO, with no problem.
      You could not have done it in Z-scale. The lack of an affordable track
      system in Z alone would have made it impossible, or at least much more
      expensive. One big reason is that Kalmbach really promoted N in Model
      Railroader (MR) magazine, but refuses to do so for Z-scale. This despite
      the fact that Z has dominated the last two NTSs and demonstrated its
      beauty and utility repeatedly. When was the last time MR did a full scale
      review of a Z product, if ever? Have they <ever> done a full review of an
      AZL locomotive? Yet they review locos in other scales every issue. In
      fact, I'll bet that no one on the MR staff has the capability of putting
      an AZL loco through its paces. Well, that's my opinion. I'm not mad at
      anyone, just frustrated, and I think for good reason. Jeffrey has even
      better reasons to be frustrated.

      A while back a member of our forum said he was buying a laser cutting
      setup. Would it be possible to get a report: maker's name, source, cost,
      evaluation of the software, etc.? If I want Santa Fe or Amtrak hi-level
      passenger cars, this may be the only way to go.

      Malcolm Z
    • Dieter_Mac_Nolte@t-online.de
      Dear Malcolm, refering to your frustration not getting US-type hi-level passenger cars in scale Z. I do share your frustration! But there is hope! Some years
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 2, 2003
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        Dear Malcolm,

        refering to your frustration not getting US-type hi-level passenger cars in
        scale Z.
        I do share your frustration! But there is hope! Some years ago ('97/'98?),
        Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik, a small German manufacturer of US-type Z scale
        rolling stock, produced US-type bi-level passenger/commuter cars with the road
        names Southern Pacific and Chicago & Northwestern. Unfortunately I was not able
        to get some of the cars. They were sold out soon.

        May be you get some of these cars at Ebay. Also we may convince Harald
        Freudenreich to introduce a line hi-level passenger car line in the future.

        greetings

        Dieter



        Malcolm Cleaveland schrieb:
        >
        > Zeds,
        > A while back a member of our forum said he was buying a laser cutting
        > setup. Would it be possible to get a report: maker's name, source, cost,
        > evaluation of the software, etc.? If I want Santa Fe or Amtrak hi-level
        > passenger cars, this may be the only way to go.
        >
        > Malcolm Z

        Dieter W. Nolte
        E-Mail Dieter_Mac_Nolte@...
      • rohirrim98236
        ... e only game in town. There is a market, and the manufacturers are underestimating it.I hear the frustration in your post. Similar feelings
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 3, 2003
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          --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, Malcolm Cleaveland <mcleavel@u...> wrote:
          > Don't knock Marklin, where would we be without them?!
          > But it's so frustrating. Their attitude seems
          > to be, "Well it sure doesn't look like the prototype, but those guys
          > probably can't tell the difference, and if they can, who cares? We're th=
          e
          > only game in town."
          >
          > There is a market, and the manufacturers are underestimating it.


          I hear the frustration in your post. Similar feelings (and a
          subsequent plethora of comments) has been expressed
          on numerous occasions in the past (see February '03 and
          Jan '02 for lengthy related discussions.) But I also believe
          that many members of this forum aren't thinking of the
          numbers and money involved.

          For Märklin, Z represents about 15% of their turnover
          (confirmed by annual report of 2001 and statements made
          to dealers) . Based on recent figures (annual report 2001,
          plus company growth projections), this calculates to about
          $25 million last year for ALL Märklin Z sales worldwide.
          Let's assume 20% for sales of track and accessories leaving
          about $20 million for rolling stock (both powered and
          unpowered). [I am not connected to the company, so all
          numbers are my best guess based on available information.]

          It is not known publicly known what percentage of Märklin's
          sales is based on N.A. prototype. But looking at a couple of
          recent catalogues leads me to calculate about 1/8 of freight/
          passenger cars and about 1/12 of locomotives are N.A.
          prototype. Assuming locomotives are about 6 times the price
          of non-powered rolling stock, brings me to the conclusion
          that all N.A. prototype Z sales might account for $1.6 million.

          Sounds like a lot? Before jumping to any conclusions, first
          subtract cost of goods, labor costs (which will be very high,
          and not only because these items are manufactured in one
          of the most expensive labor markets in the world; those who
          have had a chance to tour the Märklin factory in Göppingen
          can attest to the high amount of skilled labor necessary for the
          manufacture, painting and assembly of Z items), all overhead,
          and R.O.I. for previous tooling and development. This could
          be as much as 90+% of sales, leaving maybe $160,000 – from
          ALL Z product sales – in profit, some of which could be used
          for future investment. Out of that sum, what amount might be
          due to the sales of one U.S. locomotive? Not very much, but
          for the sake of calculating, let's inflate and say $20,000.

          The research, design, tooling and manufacturing setup for a
          new locomotive shell (not including the costs for a new chassis
          which could be closer to US prototype) costs about $1 million
          (confirmed by Märklin personnel). If you were responsible for
          making the business decision to invest $1 million for a new
          model with a calculated R.O.I. that would take 50 years to pay
          back, what would you do? [Maybe, it's not so strange that Märklin
          tries to recoup their investment by making multiple locomotives
          using the same "base" model.]

          Having lived and worked in Germany, I became intimately familiar
          with the planning process to which many (older) German companies
          are committed. The levels of market research; the multiple analysis
          of data pools; the regurgitation and rediscussion of the same
          information over and over and over. For an American, it can be a
          soul testing experience! (That's why many start up enterprises in the
          former eastern Germany did so well in their first years – they weren't
          burdened by internal bureaucracy procedures and red tape.) But
          having been there, I am assured that Märklin has done, and
          continues to do A LOT of market research. They would not be the
          world's largest manufacturer of model trains if they didn't.

          I believe it is a mistake to think that Märklin is underestimating
          the market. I think it is closer to the truth that the company
          would introduce new models on a time table in line with a long
          term business plan that accounts for the very high costs associated
          with developing new tooling and manufacturing protocols. It is
          unfair conclusion to suggest their attitude seems to be " … who
          cares? We're the only game in town." I accept that Märklin is a
          business and the managers must make business decisions
          appropriate for the company's goals. When Z accounts for such a
          small portion of the business, I can't really fault them for what they
          have chosen to do.

          Frustration? No. For me it is very different: I am content to imagine
          a railroad in my head that contains elements that are FUN for me.
          And then I have hours and days of ENJOYMENT making idea
          become a reality. I don't get hung up trying to duplicate a particular
          prototype – that would only lead to frustration. I am interested in Z
          because it looks really nice, it is eye-catching, and it fits the very smal=
          l
          office that I have very well.

          I applaud the few smaller manufacturers who have made the
          commitment to Z. Harold, Reynard, Bob, and Hans are to be
          commended. Without seeing their books, I can be sure that they
          have made tremendous investments with no guarantee of long
          term financial gain. And in today's economic environment, that
          takes a lot of courage.

          Recently, I had the chance to read some of the very first issues
          of Ztrack. One contributor made the suggestion that the best way
          to grow the Z niche was to make the personal commitment to give
          a Z train set to someone as a present; make new customers right
          in your own backyard. If everyone on this forum did that once a year
          for 10 years, and 25% of the recipients became interested Z
          customers, that could more than triple the market. And we'd have fun.

          ELF
        • Elizabeth Hayes
          Harald will probably produce another run if he gets enough orders...but...do most of those who wanted a set already have one? ...
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 3, 2003
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            Harald will probably produce another run if he gets enough orders...but...do
            most of those who wanted a set already have one?


            >From: Dieter_Mac_Nolte@...
            >Reply-To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
            >To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
            >CC: FR.model@...
            >Subject: Re: [z_scale] NTS, passenger cars, laser setup
            >Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 00:00:23 +0200
            >
            >Dear Malcolm,
            >
            >refering to your frustration not getting US-type hi-level passenger cars in
            >scale Z.
            >I do share your frustration! But there is hope! Some years ago ('97/'98?),
            >Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik, a small German manufacturer of US-type Z
            >scale
            >rolling stock, produced US-type bi-level passenger/commuter cars with the
            >road
            >names Southern Pacific and Chicago & Northwestern. Unfortunately I was not
            >able
            >to get some of the cars. They were sold out soon.
            >
            >May be you get some of these cars at Ebay. Also we may convince Harald
            >Freudenreich to introduce a line hi-level passenger car line in the future.
            >
            > greetings
            >
            >Dieter
            >
            >
            >
            >Malcolm Cleaveland schrieb:
            > >
            > > Zeds,
            > > A while back a member of our forum said he was buying a laser cutting
            > > setup. Would it be possible to get a report: maker's name, source,
            >cost,
            > > evaluation of the software, etc.? If I want Santa Fe or Amtrak hi-level
            > > passenger cars, this may be the only way to go.
            > >
            > > Malcolm Z
            >
            >Dieter W. Nolte
            >E-Mail Dieter_Mac_Nolte@...
            >

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          • The Prez
            ... I haven t and would be really interested depending on the railroad: Milw or, as in the previous production, a C&NW version.... or any other railroad in the
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 3, 2003
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              >Harald will probably produce another run if he gets enough orders...but...do
              >most of those who wanted a set already have one?

              I haven't and would be really interested depending on the railroad: Milw or, as in the
              previous production, a C&NW version.... or any other railroad in the area of the twin cities
              or chicago.

              Alex



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            • The Prez
              As usual European in this case is a too much large concept to indicate Marklin strategy :-))))) Alex In my case I understand Martin s frustration: Marklin
              Message 6 of 7 , Jun 4, 2003
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                As usual "European" in this case is a too much large concept to
                indicate Marklin strategy :-)))))

                Alex

                In my case I understand Martin's frustration: Marklin
                seems to be always up to date when considering
                European rolling stock and locos: nothing to say, you
                can be a rivet counter with a Miniclub DB class 110
                electric. And each year they deliver new and nice
                European designs. But when we consider North American
                "prototype" stuff....It's not the same, and this is
                the least we can say! I understand the difficulty to
                release a Z scale hood unit, but all other designs
                (steamers, cab-units) could be available on a
                prototypical shape.....And if there should be only one
                Z scale manufacturer left, it should be Marklin, as
                they own 90% of the market in the world....
                Cheers
                Dominique

                ___________________________________________________________


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • de Champeaux Dominique
                In my case I understand Martin s frustration: Marklin seems to be always up to date when considering European rolling stock and locos: nothing to say, you can
                Message 7 of 7 , Jun 4, 2003
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                  In my case I understand Martin's frustration: Marklin
                  seems to be always up to date when considering
                  European rolling stock and locos: nothing to say, you
                  can be a rivet counter with a Miniclub DB class 110
                  electric. And each year they deliver new and nice
                  European designs. But when we consider North American
                  "prototype" stuff....It's not the same, and this is
                  the least we can say! I understand the difficulty to
                  release a Z scale hood unit, but all other designs
                  (steamers, cab-units) could be available on a
                  prototypical shape.....And if there should be only one
                  Z scale manufacturer left, it should be Marklin, as
                  they own 90% of the market in the world....
                  Cheers
                  Dominique

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