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Bowser Manufacturing

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  • Member since
    January, 2013
  • 159 posts
Bowser Manufacturing
Posted by Run Eight on Saturday, September 09, 2017 10:53 AM

I took note during a recent discussion topic on Bowser and several posters having been former employees of this firm.

Would you care to share more inside information on Bowser of day to day operations?

  • Member since
    December, 2012
  • 71 posts
Posted by Redvdub1 on Saturday, September 09, 2017 6:48 PM

I stopped by the Bowser store/plant over a year ago (before the robbery) and Lee English was incredibly gracious and gave me a tour of his operation.  He had just brought back his plastic molding operation from China and was also doing the pad printing...assembly was still "over there" at the time.  Bowser was just transitioning from Soundtrax to NCE sound...both sounded good to me.  His steam operation is kaput...minimum inventory and the molds have been scrapped.  He did have a refurbish section in his store with some real deals...definitely worth a trip...nice to have Bowser still "in the scene". 

redvdub1

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 642 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, September 09, 2017 7:18 PM

I can only really speak for the Bowser of years past, 25 years ago, before my professional civil (highway) engineering career.  Lewis K. English Sr, who organized what we know as Bowser from at least 22 other former train manufacturers, came through the shop at least once a week to specifically encourage me to stay in school and finish my engineering degree, so that I would not have to be a lifetime factory employee at less pay than my potential.

My longtime friend Rich is the store sales manager and helps Lee with research and development to this day.  Also they have a few model railroaders on staff who also help with research and development.  They have animated lively discussions about the correct shade of prototype paint and all sorts of things.

On slow summer saturday mornings ( my son and I go to Montoursville often for pro baseball lessons with 2 former major league players) they are often doing research on the store counters.  You can see the latest samples right now of the M636.

Lee English and his dad and brother Lew Jr. have been the best people I have ever worked for.  I learned many valuable life lessons from them and am proud to have known them all these years since I was 5 years old.

John

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 642 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, September 09, 2017 7:58 PM

By age 10 they would not wait on me but said "you know where everything is, get it yourself".  Actually I did not know everything because they actually had more than a million part numbers in stock for all the different manufacturers.  Inventory, once a year, took 2 to 3 weeks with multiple employees counting parts.

Mr. English Sr. saw to it that the store was a first rate train store in all respects.  It still is, but without the million parts.  After he passed on, they found it economically infeasible to maintain all the parts.  There was no money in picking parts.  It costs too much to keep the lights on and pay the staff, such that picking 20 dollars worth of parts over an hour or however long costs you money and you make nothing.

We had so many parts that I could literally build a Rivarossi 2-8-8-2 just out of the parts drawers!  You would not want to because it would cost hundreds of dollars, but you could do it.  It took a lot of time to look up all the parts on exploded view diagrams--that is the time killer.

Ditto any Mantua Tyco diesel, in most roadnames, and any Athearn blue box diesel.  We had all the parts...and bodies in most road names.

John

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 642 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, September 09, 2017 8:13 PM

I was there when they did the original test shots of the HO N5c caboose with exact to scale rivets.  It looked amazing!  Until Paul the painter painted it and the rivets started to disappear beneath the paint film.  Mr. English ordered it to be sent back to the tool maker and redone so that the rivets could be seen through the paint film.  Another unplanned cost.

So I was dreaming of and asking for an HO scale C430 25 years ago...while other employees were saying it would never get made by anyone and laughed at me...and I have been a witness on the sidelines while they faced and overcame many challenges through the years.  I have seen how hard Lee and his crew work, design, and redesign stuff to make it better, and hopefully folks now know that when they miss something they will work very hard to fix it, and to make it right for the customer.

Yet some things must be a compromise.  Not everything can scale down to HO and work...like which one drive axle of a steamer do you want to be in the right place?

  • Member since
    May, 2014
  • 3,710 posts
Posted by trolleyboy on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 4:59 PM

I'm lad that they did come out with the C430. I have two both crawl tie to tie from the box. Also the I'm happy to see are "closet" Canadian prototype folks the new CPR Red Barn and the proper Dofasco trucked big Alco's are some of the best looking and running models I have ever got my hand on.

 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2015
  • 2,124 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 5:08 PM

Redvdub1
I stopped by the Bowser store/plant over a year ago (before the robbery)

A train store?  I guess I shouldn't be amazed but I am.  I'm wondering how brasstrains.com is doing in Ocala FL. 

http://mrr.trains.com/news-reviews/new-products/2015/03/bowser-trains-model-railroad-store-robbed

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • 5,789 posts
Posted by maxman on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 6:11 PM

BigDaddy
BigDaddy wrote the following post an hour ago: Redvdub1 I stopped by the Bowser store/plant over a year ago (before the robbery) A train store? I guess I shouldn't be amazed but I am.

I 'm pretty sure they are also ToyTrainHeaven (.com)

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