MTH going out of business.

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MTH going out of business.
Posted by Michael6268 on Monday, June 8, 2020 7:43 PM

With the news that came out today about MTH closing its doors, what do you think will happen to the existing train Market?  

I fear with their departure, it will leave a virtual monopoly to Lionel.   And if that happens I can only imagine where the prices will go.

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Posted by Curmudgeon on Monday, June 8, 2020 8:03 PM

With the legal wrangling that eliminated K-Line, the Kader absorption of Williams, all the old line stuff long gone, Lionel importing fom Viet Nam, and can't seem to get colors right, Mikey pulling the plug is going to be interesting.

I gave up buying anything new with MPC. Picked up a couple of NP boxcars and put PT-1 trucks on, and that was it. Control systems? Cut them out. I did that for folks for years, QSI or Dallee reversers. All my engines are postwar Lionel and General Models.

If someone buys MTH, okay, get the control system right so Barry's replacement doesn't have to write books on how to make it run.

If nobody buys MTH, the value of the stuff will go A) way up with evilbait ads "Vintage! Rare! Out of production!" or B) tank to nothing as you can't get parts or service.

Even extends to the Standard Gauge stuff.

I had a run-in with them years ago over Large Scale....not pretty. I have never, ever purchased anything MTH. Never will.

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Posted by KRM on Monday, June 8, 2020 8:06 PM

I should like to see where you saw that??? Got a link????

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Posted by Curmudgeon on Monday, June 8, 2020 8:14 PM

What?

From Trainworld’s Facebook Page:

Breaking News From MTH Electric Trains

Customers,
June 8, 2020 - First, on behalf of M.T.H. Electric Trains, I want to thank you for the support and encouragement you have shown my company over our 40-year journey. From humble beginnings and a lot of hard work, we were able to build one of the world's largest model train manufacturers - one unquestionably buoyed by your unwavering support.

In particular, I am proud that M.T.H. has released more models than any train manufacturer in the history of our hobby. The variety, quality, and infusion of technology throughout our offerings allowed M.T.H. Electric Trains to help bring enjoyment to all who share our wonderful hobby.

It is, therefore, with mixed emotions that I tell you I have decided to retire in 2021 and close the business. The last two M.T.H. catalogs, our 2020 Volume 2 O Gauge catalog, and our 2020 HO catalog and all non-delivered items from our 2020 Volume 1 O Gauge catalog, 2020 Ready-to-Run Train Set catalog, 2019-2020 S Gauge catalog, and 2019-2020 G Gauge catalog will feature the last products produced by M.T.H. Electric Trains.

The new items featured in all these catalogs will be available beginning Summer 2020 through April 2021 and will carry our limited one-year warranty supported by our Authorized Service Center network and the M.T.H. Service Department. Upon our closing in May 2021, our ASC network will provide warranty coverage through April 2022. A list of M.T.H. Authorized Service Centers is available on the M.T.H. website and will be updated as M.T.H. Authorized Retailers join the program over the coming months.

M.T.H. Electric Trains would not have enjoyed success without the support of the M.T.H. Authorized Retailer network. While traditional retail has changed significantly over the past decade, the independent hobby shop has been and continues to be the most important cog in our distribution chain. I truly appreciate the support and friendship these shops have shown M.T.H. I wish all of them good luck and prosperity in the years to come.

Finally, I want to thank all of my employees for their hard work over the years. Most of them have been with me for decades and their loyalty and talents were paramount to our success.

With thousands of tools and molds and a wealth of intellectual property, a new model railroading company may arise from my former company as I entertain various options and buyers. One scenario is a new company organized and owned by members of my current staff. Their decades of experience, work ethic, and creative talent will ensure success regardless of who owns the assets while providing a welcome bridge between the past 40 years and the future.

The remainder of my time will be busy as we clear out inventory and other miscellaneous items accumulated over the past 40 years. As that process evolves, we’ll be offering consumer and retailer purchase opportunities

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your loyal support for all these years.

Mike Wolf, President
M.T.H. Electric Trains

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Posted by anjdevil2 on Monday, June 8, 2020 8:38 PM

While it is a shame that Mikey decided to hang up his engineer's hat, I'll shed no tears, well, maybe because the accessories are good and the rolling stock isn't bad.

DCS, while it may be a genius command system, the learning curve is steep and the engines at best are finicky and at worst, impossible to run.  

While I worked in a retail train store, the MTH engines were painfully slow to boot up and run and took me HOURS to figure out how to run DCS.  The fact that there is a book out on how to use DCS screams volumes about how user un-friendly they are.

TMCC and Legacy are plug and play, quick to use and the engines spool up and go in a moments notice.  Legacy is cool, however, TMCC is so user friendly, my ex-girlfriends 8 year old daughter figured it out in 30 seconds.  The same with LionChief.

I really love the MTH accessories, they were/are visually appealing and unusual and nicely done.  I have a house decorated for Christmas on my layout that almost looks like the house I own, right down to the color.

If Lionel buys out MTH, and why wouldn't they, and installs TMCC in the engines, this is a win for us.  Yes, there will be the nay sayers that will interject that prices will go up and quality will go down.  I disagree.

So, excuse me if I don't mourn......

I am the monster in your head...And I thought you'd learn by now, It seems you haven't yet.
I am the venom in your skin  --- Breaking Benjamin


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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, June 8, 2020 10:00 PM

Well, I am going to mourn.  This is sad, really sad, but I guess Mike's tired and just wants to hang it up.  I don't blame him.

I've always liked the MTH product line, and have never had a problem with DCS because, quite frankly, I don't use it!  Strictly conventional is my mantra, there's less, much less to go wrong.  And running conventional I've always found MTH engines to be as rugged, reliable, and built like tanks!

And quite honestly, if it wasn't for Mike I don't think the O gauge line would be as good for us as it is.  There's nothing like good strong competition to keep everyone sharp and on their toes.

All I have to say is Mike, you worked your butt off for 40 years, now go play, brother!

And if I ever run into you I'll be proud to shake your hand!  Along with Josh Cowan, A.C. Gilbert, Jerry Williams, Louis Marx, Max Gray, and so many others I can't think of at the moment you're a giant in the industry, and I thank you for being!

The hobby will never forget you.

Crying

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Posted by rtraincollector on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 12:14 AM

I liked his accesories, Passenger cars, and Freight cars, I also liked he used ERTL vehicles for his flat cars. Lionel did on a few but seems to keep going back basically to the plastic cars. 

For motor power, no thank-you, I'm going to be changing what I have little by little to TMCC, already did a big steamer ( C&O Allegheny )

I have a Southern PA1/PB1/PA1 that the one Aunit is the only one with power, so hope to convert it. 

Life's hard, even harder if your stupid  John Wayne

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Posted by sir james I on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 9:00 AM

Never was an MTH fan. It always irked me that he copied so many of Lionel's products. I do have a few MTH engines but only because when they were offered Lionel had not done them. Rolling stock was well done however. I do expect that someone will buy the name, Mike could be selling off parts of the company for retirement money.

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Posted by phrankenstign on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 11:32 AM

If Lionel ends up buying most of M.T.H., then perhaps we'll see an "M.T.H. by Lionel" brand stamped on all of their lower end products.  After devaluing the "M.T.H." name, then maybe Lionel will discontinue it.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 12:17 PM

Hey, Bachmann bought the Williams line and then didn't seem to know what to do with it.  Lionel would probably repeat the error unless they go with the Standard Gauge replica line and marking it "Lionel," and even then I'm not so sure. 

The MTH S-Gauge (Former S-Helper) and HO lines, what's going to happen to them is going to be interesting.  In fact, the whole evolution of this story's going to be interesting.

Maybe Menard's might be looking at this?  They've got everything but motive power.  

Anyway you look at it this is a bombshell.  It's like hearing Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, Buick, or any other major American car company was closing up permanently.

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Posted by Billwiz on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 12:35 PM

As I posted on the MR forum, what if Lionel purchased the HO line?  They have been attempting (again) to enter the HO market.  This could up their entire HO line.  Not sure if Lionel needs the O.  

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 2:13 PM

I just looked in on the MR Forum.  There's a lot more buzz concerning this over there than there is here, which surprises me a bit.  

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Posted by thesiding on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 3:01 PM

so   The Todd McFarlane of Toy Trains is going the way of many a railroad modeled today  Found this out while looking at something else and as to Lionel Buying Them out           why not Then no m ore Viet Nam least for a awhile can keep the Korean factoryes going

 

I am surprised teh Viet Nam thing took so long  was at a clothing shop in 2005 or so stuff was made there

 

Cause it is cheaper

 

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Posted by dougdagrump on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 3:53 PM

The latest word:

DCS/Proto-Sound Lives On

June 9, 2020 - With the scheduled closing of M.T.H. Electric Trains next year, support for the DCS Digital Command System and the Proto-Sound 3.0 onboard locomotive systems will continue through a new independent company headed up by current M.T.H. staff once direct M.T.H. support for the systems concludes on June 1, 2021.

The new tech company will continue to manufacture and provide support including any necessary software updates to the DCS hardware or DCS WiFi App. In fact, new and exciting product ideas are currently under development.
The DCS System controls any Proto-Sound 2.0 and later equipped locomotives and first debuted 18 years ago. It has been an integral part of the M.T.H. product line family since its inception and its continuation beyond the closing of M.T.H. is an important part of the transition envisioned by retiring M.T.H. president Mike Wolf.

As the retirement transition process moves forward, more details about the new company's creation and ongoing development of M.T.H.'s technology packages will be announced. Stay tuned.

Remember the Veterans. Past, present and future.

www.sd3r.org

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Posted by Curmudgeon on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 5:36 PM

I don't trust him. Don't wish him ill, just don't trust him.

My mind was leaned towards non-trust with lawsuits, really kicked it over on the back-EMF threatened lawsuits. Involved with several manufacturers who fought that.

When it's developed, given as open-source, and decades later Mikey decides to patent it (the way it was explained to me)....did you know it costs $10,000 non-refundable to challenge a patent?

Like I said, don't trust him, and this whole story....something missing. It will come out, we'll look back on it and realize what.

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Posted by emdmike on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 11:24 AM

Most of us look at this whole situation from the consumer persepective and wonder why nobody has stepped up to buy the company?  One has to look from the business side of the equation.  If MTH was the cash cow it once was, then its survival would be assured IMHO.  But the lack of anybody stepping up the moment the chance was given says many things about the current state of the hobby from a business perspective and profits.  The hobby market for O gauge is shrinking, the older modelers with deep wallets for the high end stuff are aging out in one form or another sadly.  The younger generation are not going to be buying as many big items and many are just getting started with the lower end sets from Lionel or MTH.  I am sure some of the tooling will survive with someone that deals with the factories in China where that tooling will remain.  Once Lionel stepped up its game, it was matching MTH on many levels(QC issues not withstanding, whole nother argument).  Lionel would have no interested in DCS, they have Legacy.  I can see Bachmann/Kader taking some of the tooling and IP if it gets broken up piece meal.  Since MTH is going to keep going thru next spring and thru the holiday season, there is time for someone to sit down at the table and take over the company.  Only time will answer that question.  If it does go away, yes prices will skyrocket for awhie, just as it did with LGB going belly up at one point.  Then prices stablized and dropped like a rock.  Just as Postwar Lionel was worth way more a few years ago and now its hard to give some of it away.  Enjoy what you have and keep in mind, these are just toys folks, might be expensive toys but still toys when it comes down to it.  Enjoy them, be thankful for all the great ones Mike Wolf enabled to be made, and for those that are Lionel fans, him getting big L off its duff and stepping up its game as well.   Mikie

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 11:58 AM

Well said Mike!

And you brought up one good point.  Don't forget the China angle.  We know the problem's Lionel's had with the Chinese meeting target dates for shipping product, we can assume MTH has had the same problem.  If the Chinese want to be difficult there's not much an American importer, (And remember Lionel, MTH, and others are importers,  not manufacturers) can do about it.

And can only get worse with the Chinese government apparantly working overtime to turn the country into a pariah nation.  

The hobby's in for some interesting times, that's for certain.

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Posted by Rene Schweitzer on Thursday, June 11, 2020 8:01 AM

We have updated our post to include the news about the digital line: https://ctt.trains.com/community/news-products/2020/06/mth-trains-wolf-sets-2021-end-date-for-company

Rene Schweitzer

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Posted by bobhwalker on Thursday, June 11, 2020 3:01 PM

Would strongly suggest that the DCS takeover team take a serious look at what Lionel is doing with LC. All the newer control systems being offered are wireless direct to loco as opposed to track signal based.

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Posted by Curmudgeon on Thursday, June 11, 2020 4:54 PM

Ah. That would tke a massive change in attitude to actually listen to employees or consumers.

Possibly any employees who may or may not move have seen enough and won't exhibit those types of destructive behaviour.

The ONE time I got involved, when they were discussing moving into Large Scale, all the data on motors, gears, UV stabilized plastics and paints....employees went back, shared the data.....and "This is not ShXXXX'sTrain House, it's Mike's Train House, and we do it MY way". At least that's what the guy I was dealing with told me when he called me afer The Great And Powerful Oz fired everybody.

 

Look what it got them. Splitting and crazed boilers, drivers, horrible control issues exacerbated by moving to an outdoor environment.

The best thing to happen to Mike's Train House might just be that it no longer is Mikes' Train House.

 

Opinion.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, June 11, 2020 5:45 PM

Michael6268
I fear with their departure, it will leave a virtual monopoly to Lionel.

Getting back to Michael's original post, that could be a concern.

If someone's a monopoly, that can lead to being "fat, dumb, and happy" and figuring they don't have to try too hard anymore.  Having a competitor breathing down your neck tends to sharpen your thinking and increases your efforts if you want to stay in business.

Possible competitors?  Well, there's Atlas "O", but their forays into O gauge have tended to be tentative and half-hearted, almost like they want the business but aren't sure they want it.  Their product line's erratic, it doesn't have Lionel's or MTH's variety.  Know what I mean?  Like they can't make up their mind.

Williams by Bachman?  I'm not sure about them either.  Bachman recieved a good conventional O gauge line when they purchased Williams, but as I've said before considering how they've gutted the product line it seems like they got it and then didn't know what to do with it.  Unless they bought the line just to keep someone else from getting it?

Menards?  The way they've come in going "great guns" I'm surprised they haven't gone all the way and come up with a locomotive line.  Maybe now?  

There is RMT, or "Ready Made Toys," but I don't expect much from them, they seem happy with the way they are.  Small, on the fringe, and preferring to stay there.

Walthers?  They're certainly big enough to swing a full O gauge push but again they may be happy with supplying the HO and N gauge markets and not concerning themselves with anything else.  But I could be wrong.  

I see some of you have a beef with Mr. Mike, and I'm sure you have your reasons which I won't try to argue with.  But I'm still sorry to see MTH go.  I'm hoping it doesn't leave a gap the rest of the industry won't try to fill.  

The really sad thing is since the MTH tooling's in China you can kiss it goodbye, they're not going to give it back.

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Posted by Penny Trains on Thursday, June 11, 2020 6:22 PM

Wu Han Locomotives Limited?  Peking Toys LLC?  It could happen.  Wink

Trains, trains, wonderful trains.  The more you get, the more you toot!  Big Smile

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, June 11, 2020 6:33 PM

Penny Trains

Wu Han Locomotives Limited?  Peking Toys LLC?  It could happen.  Wink

 

Yeah Becky, considering "Pennsylvania House Furniture" became "Peking House Furniture"  ( Whistling ) a few years back anythings possible!  

Then there's the political situation between China and the rest of the world which I am not  going to get into!  Embarrassed   

Wayne

PS:  I'm heading over to the MR Forum to see what they're saying about MTH, but NOT to join in!  It's a bit of a of a closed society there, kind of like the grumpy old men on the "Ogre" Forum.  I got burned there once or twice.

PPS:  Broke my word, I did say "Hi!" to all the names I recognize from the "Trains" Forum.

They're up to 86 posts over there on this subject!  C'mon people, you're just not trying!  Are you gonna let a bunch of HO-ers beat us on this?   Wink

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Posted by Curmudgeon on Thursday, June 11, 2020 8:01 PM

I try, but nobody rises to the occasion afterwards.

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Posted by Billwiz on Thursday, June 11, 2020 8:16 PM

Flintlock76
PS:  I'm heading over to the MR Forum to see what they're saying about MTH, but NOT to join in!  It's a bit of a of a closed society there, kind of like the grumpy old men on the "Ogre" Forum.  I got burned there once or twice.

Not all are that bad...I've posted on both.  I play for both teams...I have HO and N, as well as 3 rail O and love them all.  But yeah, this topic got a lot of posts in different directions.  I still think Lionel should consider buying the HO line since they want back into HO.

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 11, 2020 8:47 PM

Flintlock76

 

 
Penny Trains

Wu Han Locomotives Limited?  Peking Toys LLC?  It could happen.  Wink

 

 

 

Yeah Becky, considering "Pennsylvania House Furniture" became "Peking House Furniture"  ( Whistling ) a few years back anythings possible!  

Then there's the political situation between China and the rest of the world which I am not  going to get into!  Embarrassed   

Wayne

PS:  I'm heading over to the MR Forum to see what they're saying about MTH, but NOT to join in!  It's a bit of a of a closed society there, kind of like the grumpy old men on the "Ogre" Forum.  I got burned there once or twice.

PPS:  Broke my word, I did say "Hi!" to all the names I recognize from the "Trains" Forum.

They're up to 86 posts over there on this subject!  C'mon people, you're just not trying!  Are you gonna let a bunch of HO-ers beat us on this?   Wink

 

Come on now, we like you. At least I do.

You just have to remember it really is an HO and N scale perspective over there.

The lost of MTH is pontentially very disruptive to you guys over here.  In HO MTH means nothing. BUT, many in HO have always been upset with MTH about the law suits, about the incompatiblity (lets call in not full compatiblilty) with both DC and DCC, and to many MTH asks a premium price for what is not always a well detailed or accurate model.

So there are some harsh views, mine included, about MTH. And, actually very few people over there have any MTH product........

But, I also defend Mike's right to do with his company as he sees fit.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Curmudgeon on Thursday, June 11, 2020 9:03 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

But, I also defend Mike's right to do with his company as he sees fit.

Sheldon 

 

 

 

Absolutely! And I have some good ideas what he can do with it!

Oh, wait, somebody might take that wrong.

Oh, well.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 11, 2020 9:18 PM

Billwiz

 

 
Flintlock76
PS:  I'm heading over to the MR Forum to see what they're saying about MTH, but NOT to join in!  It's a bit of a of a closed society there, kind of like the grumpy old men on the "Ogre" Forum.  I got burned there once or twice.

 

Not all are that bad...I've posted on both.  I play for both teams...I have HO and N, as well as 3 rail O and love them all.  But yeah, this topic got a lot of posts in different directions.  I still think Lionel should consider buying the HO line since they want back into HO.

 

 

I could be wrong, but I suspect that HO has actually been a colossal flop for MTH.

If you pay attention to the comments on the MR forum, not hardly anyone says they have any MTH locos.

I suspect the forums represent only a very small percentage of the modelers out there, but I also suspect that forums like the MR forum, are very much a cross section of the HO hobby.

LIONEL and HO is another story, but the same story as MTH, a story of repeated failure for the same reasons. No understanding of who buys HO trains or why.

I worked in the hobby business from 1970 to 1980, I have been at HO since 1968. While the market has changed, HO is still the builder scale, the scale modeler scale, products with more of a toy or collector appeal have a limited market within that segment.

What LIONEL has done so far is not likely to get much traction, BUT, a lot of the MTH product would fit right into their way of thinking.

But if I'm right about MTH and HO, it would be no different at LIONEL.......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, June 11, 2020 9:41 PM

Welcome  Sheldon!  Great to see you here!  

(And you folks should see some of the pictures of his home restorations!  Wow!)

I need to remind folks of something.  Remember the flap 15, maybe almost 20 years ago now, of Union Pacific versus the model railroad and railfan publishing industries?  How UP was trying to put the squeeze on both for some heavy payouts concerning the use of UP's (and the predecessor 'roads UP aquired) logos, heralds, and markings?  Remember all the consternation in the hobby?  I do. 

In the past railroads were thrilled to see their names on toy trains, it was free publicity!  Hey, back in the 40's The Santa Fe, the New York Central, and EMD even chipped in to Lionel to pay for the tooling to produce Lionel's classic F3 diesel!  But not this time, UP was after the bucks.

Well, it was Mike Wolf who negotiated a settlement amenable to all, both the rail model industry and Union Pacific.  As I recall, overall UP DID suffer quite a bit of embarassment, there was a lot of negative press concerning the mess.  I'd be surprised if someone at UP didn't lose their job over it.  

So if you're a Union Pacific fan* and you model "Uncle Pete," give a little thanks to Mr. Mike.  He's saved you quite a bit of painting, hand-lettering and decaling! 

And the 'roads UP absorbed.   

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 11, 2020 10:42 PM

Flintlock76

Welcome  Sheldon!  Great to see you here!  

(And you folks should see some of the pictures of his home restorations!  Wow!)

I need to remind folks of something.  Remember the flap 15, maybe almost 20 years ago now, of Union Pacific versus the model railroad and railfan publishing industries?  How UP was trying to put the squeeze on both for some payouts concerning the use of UP's (and the predecessor 'roads UP aquired) logos, heralds, and markings?  Remember all the consternation in the hobby?  I do. 

In the past railroads were thrilled to see their names on toy trains, it was free publicity!  But not this time, UP was after the bucks.

Well, it was Mike Wolf who negotiated a settlement amenable to all, both the rail model industry and Union Pacific.  As I recall, overall UP DID suffer quite a bit of embarassment, there was a lot of negative press concerning the mess.  I'd be surprised if someone at UP didn't lose their job over it.  

So if you're a Union Pacific fan* and you model "Uncle Pete," give a little thanks to Mr. Mike.  He's saved you quite a bit of painting, hand-lettering and decaling! 

And the 'roads UP absorbed.   

 

 

No question, that is a very important good thing that Mike Wolf did for the hobby.

But I can't buy his locos even if I wanted to. They will not run on my layout. I still run DC, and I use Aristo Craft Train Engineer wireless radio throttles. And the power supplies I use put out 13.8 volts, because the HO standard is 12 volts.

But an MTH loco on DC will only go about 30 scale miles per hour at 12-13 volts. It takes about 16 volts for them to run at a reasonable scale top speed.

I can't even rewire them and remove the DCS board and have it work because they use higher voltage motors.

I also doubt if the DCS decoder would accept the pluse width modulated speed control from the Train Engineer, dual mode DCC decoders will not work with my throttles either.

But, all the other brands still use 12 volt motors in their DCC locos, or still make DC locos. So I can simply remove the decoder and rewire, then the other brands run fine and reach reasonable scale top speeds.

My other issue with MTH products is they look toy like. Much of the detail is heavy and oversized, thick cast on running boards, etc.

I like fine true scale detail, especially for those kind of prices. And fragile is not a problem for me.......

Sheldon 

    

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