Recently there was a post by a individual, asking a simple question to the readers, if Bowser Manufacturing still made it's kits and parts line in the United States of America.
Before going further some readers will ask what kind of "idiot I am for posting this.
Reading the postings, I noted that too many of the posters went off the topic of the simple question asked.
Now with this said, I had contacted Lee English via e-mail around a month ago with a very simple question, as the original poster had asked on this site.
Are your kits still manufactured in the United States of America, to Mr English.
Here is his reply: "It Depends".
Depends on what?
Not a very good answer!
I suspect it depends on which specific items you are talking about. There are also probably items that have some parts made here, and some parts made elsewhere. Bowser has reduced their kit production in favor of R-T-R in recent years. I agree the answer you received was a bit cryptic.
Yes decussions on forums go off topic, it is called " conversation".
Manufacturers are reluctant to share details about production with public, their competitors are listening.......
So far as I am aware they do the plastic injection molding here so that they can control part quality and dimensional compatibility. Then, perhaps, some kits might be packed elsewhere.
I can't tell you which ones as I have absolutely no idea. That is likely a reason for the "it depends" answer...it depends which one you are talking about. Also, it probably depends upon your definition of "manufacturing". With current automobiles, they specify current Canada and USA parts percentages on the window sticker. With trains--some parts like screws may come from elsewhere because they may be cheaper than making them here. Bowser owns or had owned their own screw making machines, but at some point it may have become cheaper to get them elsewhere than to make them here.
So I think the answer Lee gave was his attempt to provide a simple concise answer to something that perhaps may not be quite so simple of a question. If you require further clarification, perhaps it would be best to ask Lee rather than inviting further conjecture on my part or anyone else's part.
Through all the changes faced by the industry since 9/11/2001 (after which sales immediately plummeted and have never fully 100% recovered) Lee has maintained a loyal and dedicated staff of U.S.A. employees who are trying to design and build a quality product.
I am not sure why this is of concern. Where manufacturer's make their product should be based on whatever works best for them in terms of cost, quality, control, etc.
I don't really care where something is made, or parts of it are made, or whatever. I want the product that meets my needs in terms of quality, capabilities, etc. at the lowest cost.
We live in a global economy and companies that can't or refuse to accept that usually disappear. There's a lot of talk about where something is made, but the buying is almost 100% cheapest cost that meets my needs and/or desires.
If Micro Engineering sold identical pieces of HO code 83 flex track for $6.00 made in America and $5.00 made in China, which would you buy? Which do you think would outsell the other?
I have spent over 5 decades in the tool & die business, an industry that has been more affected by the "global economy" than any other. About half of my machinery was bulit in the US. I do have a 50 year old jig bore built in the US as well as a lathe built in England in the 60's and a large surface grinder that was manufactured in the early 70s in Germany. Regardless of what I am buying, I feel an obligation to try to buy American made products. It ain't easy! If I need something and can't find American made, I buy what's available.
I originally asked the question. I did buy three of those GLa hoppers in the Exec line made in China (see WPF thread this week for photos). They are OK. Just OK. They'll likely satisfy my needs to get a decent sized Pennsy hopper fleet going. As far as cost...The kits Bowser used to offer (or maybe still do..), were well cheaper than the RTR stuff, China made or not. Problem is, I can't seem to be able to track down the kits anymore. None that I want are in stock on Bowser's site. I would prefer the "lower" cost kits. They also seem to be heavier since you had to install the weights on the slope sheet. Not sure if that will make a big difference in tracking, but IMO it can't hurt. Chris
Chris, as explained, it is very likely the RTR cars you bought were molded here, and sent to China for painting and assembly.
In years past, Bowser has made substantial quantities of these items. It may be they have seen a drop off in demand - kit or RTR, and are waiting awhile before doing another run.
Have you tried Ebay and other secondary sources for the kits?
Have you asked Bowser when they might run more?
I haven't contacted them directly. I should do that. I know what they do have in stock in kit form is the GLa's offered in private mine and company service, etc. I'm talking about HO not N. They seem to have N stuff in stock. What I wish to purchase is the regular old PRR lettered ones with the circle and Keystone. I know those kits they do have are selling for around $10 - $12 opposed to the RTR which are around $18. Ebay is always an option.
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