Z Summer Tour part 11: NTS2001 Report, Day 5
- NTS Day 5, Sunday, July 15
Sunday was a train running day and one where several Z scalers came by to share their passion. In fact 2 veteran Z scalers dropped by to see the 'Zone' and to show their photos of their Z layouts. I remember Verne who had built Z scale replicas of his grandfather's general store and the family homestead. He even had pictures of the village to demonstrate how close to the real thing he had come. The work and the photography were simply superb. Hopefully Verne will join us soon on the list and share the pictures. I also hope to see his work on the cover of Ztrack Magazine.
Another gentleman Z scaler came by with photos of his Z layout taken with a Frico pinhole lens. The effect was breathtaking. The depth of field made the whole image come alive. He explained that the pinhole gave an effective aperture value of f130! I didn't write down his name unfortunately so I hope that he will identify himself if and when he joins us on the list. Perhaps Rob Kluz remembers him and can fill us in.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Peter Fonseca and 7 of his 11 children. In fact the birth of his 11th a week earlier couldn't keep him from dropping in to say hello. Peter models in Z and one of his sons models in N. The girls in the family kept count of everyone because Peter seemed to lose track from time to time. ;-)
Running trains became the general theme on Sunday since all the modules and layouts were working within specs. Rob Allbritton had DCC trains and the occasional DC interloper from the Houston area gliding over his tracks under the blackened catenary.
For my part I had finally succumbed to temptation and had an FR boxcab pulling Micro-Train coupler equiped cars very slowly around Val Ease West. I looked the engine over carefully and I am convinced that I can install MT couplers on it. Harald is preparing a new MT conversion base plate but I can't wait that long to do my installation. He agreed to provide me with a set of truck plates to play with. The results will be posted to the list shortly after my return to Toronto next week.
It was generally observed that Jim Milne was a very happy camper. In fact one of the funniest moments that I was fortunate enough to witness involved Jim Milne and his wife Sandy. We had learned that Jim had made the decision to come to the show after reading that Harold Freudenreich would be there. If Harald could make the trip from Germany, then Jim & Sandy could fly down from Roanoke, VA, he reasoned. The clincher came after he had read my NTS report that Terry Sutfin had driven 2548 miles to get to Nashville and then the reports had suddenly stopped... So Wednesday he got tickets and told his wife they were leaving Friday.
Sandy was a little apprehensive about Jim. In fact, when we saw Harald Freudenreich pass by in the direction of the Houston modules with something cupped in his hands followed by a beaming Jim Milne trotting behind, Sandy exclaimed: Oh God, we're in trouble. Is he carrying a bag?" I got a quick look at the delicate item in Harald's hands and told her that she could count on much more than new drapes from Jim! He had just bought a FR Baltimore & Ohio electric boxcab! Beautiful! Boy did we get a kick out of this story.
Now for the rumour mill:
1. I met with Dee Gilbert of Kato USA to discuss the Kato N and HO market strategy. He informed me that Kato had been in N scale for 35 years now and was investing heavily in the risky business of HO for the US market. Their Unitrack line is primarily destined for the Japanese marketplace, he informed me and that it was very unlikely, given the company's current strategy, that they would produce a unitrack like product for Z. That being said, he was not totally negative about the possibilities. His advice was to contact the head office in Japan (he gave me the coordinates and the contact name) and make the case for Z scale unitrack. Kato would need a basic business case covering potential market size, sales projections, the state of the current competition and their product lines, etc.
You get the picture...Nothing is impossible if there really is a demand for Z unitrack. If however the introduction of a good quality US style turnout by a company like MTL for instance would satisfy the Z community, then there would be no impetus to Kato to proceed.
2. Discussions with Micro-Trains Line gave strong indications that they will finally introduce a series of track components to complement their Z flex track. It seems that they are in discussions with Trains&Trains to produce a complete layout form starter set which would include track and switches. I don't know what the time frame is for such a product launch but it would be nice to see something before Xmas 2001 (just in case someone in Medford is reading this)!
3. Several new products were introduced by N scale companies getting into Z scale. Arrowhead and Blair Line were two that made themselves known at the show. I hope that they have enough success to encourage them to continue their Z adventure.
4. Of course, we were there, or almost, when Ajin delivered the prototype E8 in UP colours to Hans Riddervold of American Z Line. It is to die for so start saving your pennies right now. This baby will be offered with B units! YEOW!!!
5. I especially liked seeing Micron Art structures on display. The station and the foundry are beautiful additions to their exquisite brass offerings. The diorama set up in the Ztrack booth also showed the Z vehicles Reynard has come up with. Great work, Reynard, you should be very proud.
6. I have to make a special mention of Rob Kluz and the Ztrack booth or booths that we made several pilgrimages to during the show. Rob decided early on to showcase the small Z manufacturers as well as promote his ever improving magazine. I know that Micron Art, FR Models and American Z Lines were happy that Rob made space available to them. Please support Ztrack Magazine with your subscription. There is lots of good stuff in the pipeline for upcoming issues. Rob is always looking for new authors and new angles on Z modeling. Don't hesitate to send him pictures and text. There is nothing more satisfying that to see your article published in a bona fide hobby magazine and you can't find a more tolerant editor anywhere ;-)
7. Speaking of hobby magazines, I talked to the editor-in-chief of Model Railroading who is on the lookout for Z articles. The good news about this is that he will accept digital photos with at least 3 megapixel resolution. Start recording your jpegs for him. Z should be visible in as many publications as possible. I'll find his business card one of these days and provide his coordinates.
So much happened over the 4 days of NTS that I am sure that I have left out some highlights. I'll leave some of the reporting to my fellow NTSers who have already begun to share their thoughts and memories with you. I want to thank Bill Kronenberger for leading the Houston troops to the show. Your report was excellent, Bill. I enjoyed it immensely.
It was nice to see Billy Roden's scratch EMD switcher. It was an amazing design with a Faulhaber 8mm coreless motor, a NWSL drive to one truck between a split frame housing. Billy's shell was almost ready for casting. Another week or so of carving and it will be ready. If we can get our band of highly creative craftsmen together on this one project, we'll have us a new switcher!
Wrapping up the wrap-up...
I have to thank my wife Marthe for giving me her support in this extraordinary hobby over the past 15 years. I also want to thank my great friends Terry and Helen Sutfin who have added laughter and promises of laughter to come since we began our assault on the National Train Show. I'm especially proud to have been able to share the 'Best of Show' with them. Without Terry's sense of humour (he suggested the formal day, after all) and positive attitude to running trains (who else do you know who has a Thomas train, a wine train, a vegetable train and Rogue, MTL, Marklin and American Z Lines motive power on the same layout), I would probably not have returned to NTS in 2001. He has been an inspiration to me as a Z scale 'runner' and as a human being. Terry has concentrated up to now on the lighter side of Z and made his layout "kid friendly". I know what a talented modeler and craftsman he is. Since I still have lots to learn from him, I'm planning to join Terry and David George and Helmut Paule and the rest of the Z adventurers at NTS2002 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida next July to see what they bring to the show. Come join in the fun!
What's next? Well, tomorrow is the photo session at Model Railroader. I can't tell you how exciting this is but I'll certainly try to describe the experience as best as I can tomorrow evening.
I'd like to thank all of you who have written to congratulate me on the top prize at NTS2001. I hope that the benefits of this recognition to Z are far reaching and profitable to us all.
Good night, talk to you tomorrow...
- Dee Gilbert of Kato USA -
His advice was to contact the head office in Japan (he gave me the coordinates and the contact name) and make the case for Z scale
unitrack. Kato would need a basic business case covering potential market size, sales projections, the state of the current competition
and their product lines, etc.
I'm curious why Dee would go into such detail about the steps needed before Kato would enter the Z arena. Since he'd know that an
undertaking of the magnitude he described would be unrealistic for even the most ardent group of enthusiasts to achieve. These steps
are what good firms charge mega-bucks for. Unless I've sorely misinterpreted his intent, it sounds like it was a blow off. Am I wrong?
- Sounds like: well, this is all the work and evidence you would need
to get them to even consider it, and I'm not doing it myself...
From: jcubbin@... [mailto:jcubbin@...]
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2001 10:24 PM
Subject: [z_scale] Kato / Blow Off?
Dee Gilbert of Kato USA -
His advice was to contact the head office in Japan (he gave me the
coordinates and the contact name) and make the case for Z scale
unitrack. Kato would need a basic business case covering potential market
size, sales projections, the state of the current competition
and their product lines, etc.
I'm curious why Dee would go into such detail about the steps needed before
Kato would enter the Z arena. Since he'd know that an
undertaking of the magnitude he described would be unrealistic for even the
most ardent group of enthusiasts to achieve. These steps
are what good firms charge mega-bucks for. Unless I've sorely misinterpreted
his intent, it sounds like it was a blow off. Am I wrong?
"Z" WARNING! HANDLE WITH CARE! Highly addictive in Small DoseZ!
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- I don't think it was a blow off -- it sounds like he honestly gave you
the route and method to make such a request. His reasons for whether
Kato would enter this market with their style of track seemed to make
a lot of sense also, from a business and marketing perspective. Like
they say, it doesn't hurt to ask...but don't be too disappointed if
the request is not turned into a reality. A better method might be to
see if Marklin can make a Z version of their HO C track (without the
studs of course!). I suppose they have studied that though or else it
would have appeared by now?