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Operational functionality or down to the last rivet?

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  • Member since
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Operational functionality or down to the last rivet?
Posted by nealknows on Thursday, June 30, 2022 9:37 AM

I’ve been reading here about the frustrations regarding how some of the new/newer train equipment have issues; many of them are about operational functionality. 

Now I’m no expert model railroader, but when I buy a new freight car or passenger car, I want them to roll smoothly on my tracks. I shouldn’t have to put graphite or make any type of adjustment to the trucks or wheels. 

Does it matter what the underside looks like? I don’t know about the folks on this forum, but my layout is not built on glass or Plexiglas where I can see the bottom of the cars, especially with cork as a roadbed. So why add all of those extra details if they interfere with the way a car rolls. Case in point. When our friends at Rapido introduced their HO Scale Continental passenger cars, they looked great on the top, sides and bottom. However, while their recommendations were for 24” radius, they tracked so bad that I had to cut away parts of the underframe parts just to make them roll better on 24” radius! Same thing with their Osgood – Bradley Passenger cars. Now, to their credit, the latest Rapido Horizon and Comet cars run very well as do their well cars. I bought over a dozen of the Comet and Horizon cars for my layout, once I tried the first set of three. 

My friend brought over some of the latest Walthers Mainline Passenger cars and they ran fine. 

I’m not singling out Rapido, they were one of the examples that I have experienced. I could talk about other manufacturers, but let’s no go there.

Like one of the forum members said, if it doesn’t run well out of the box, he takes a hammer to it!

So what will it take to let the manufacturers know we want trains to run well? Are they looking to get the person who buys it, looks at it and then puts it on a shelf so others can look at it or want people to be truly satisfied with their products? Thoughts on how we can get this message across? I am attending the National Train Show in St. Louis and plan on having some conversations with the ones I feel I need to speak with. Hope others who may be frustrated like I am and are going to the show will ask as well.

Neal

 

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Posted by John-NYBW on Thursday, June 30, 2022 10:11 AM

nealknows

I’ve been reading here about the frustrations regarding how some of the new/newer train equipment have issues; many of them are about operational functionality. 

Now I’m no expert model railroader, but when I buy a new freight car or passenger car, I want them to roll smoothly on my tracks. I shouldn’t have to put graphite or make any type of adjustment to the trucks or wheels.

Amen to that. Ready-to-run should not mean ready-to-tinker with. I don't care how good a car looks, if it won't stay on the track reliably, it's a piece of junk, and too often an expensive piece of junk.

Does it matter what the underside looks like? I don’t know about the folks on this forum, but my layout is not built on glass or Plexiglas where I can see the bottom of the cars, especially with cork as a roadbed. So why add all of those extra details if they interfere with the way a car rolls. Case in point. When our friends at Rapido introduced their HO Scale Continental passenger cars, they looked great on the top, sides and bottom. However, while their recommendations were for 24” radius, they tracked so bad that I had to cut away parts of the underframe parts just to make them roll better on 24” radius! Same thing with their Osgood – Bradley Passenger cars. Now, to their credit, the latest Rapido Horizon and Comet cars run very well as do their well cars. I bought over a dozen of the Comet and Horizon cars for my layout, once I tried the first set of three. 

I've been trying to find something to disagree with you about but so far I've come up empty. I don't care how much detail is or is not on the bottom of the car. Just make it so it runs reliably.

My friend brought over some of the latest Walthers Mainline Passenger cars and they ran fine. 

I’m not singling out Rapido, they were one of the examples that I have experienced. I could talk about other manufacturers, but let’s no go there.

Like one of the forum members said, if it doesn’t run well out of the box, he takes a hammer to it!

So what will it take to let the manufacturers know we want trains to run well? Are they looking to get the person who buys it, looks at it and then puts it on a shelf so others can look at it or want people to be truly satisfied with their products? Thoughts on how we can get this message across? I am attending the National Train Show in St. Louis and plan on having some conversations with the ones I feel I need to speak with. Hope others who may be frustrated like I am and are going to the show will ask as well.

Neal

I'm probably the one who you referred to taking the hammer to the car. I haven't done that right out of the box but there is a limit to how much time I am willing to spend fixing a new car and that limit gets shorter every year. I don't know that I need any more rolling stock for my layout, but if I buy something and it's a problem child right out of the box, it's going back to whom I bought it from. I'm done trying to fix new merchandise. 

It shouldn't be that hard to make a passenger car with trucks that swivel freely enough to operate without jumping off the track, even if some of the underside detail has to be compromised. Real passenger cars run on much broader curves than modelers operate on so mechanical features that aren't an issue on the prototype can cause problems on the model railroad. As a comprmise, they could include that extra detail as snap on or glue on parts for those who are more interested in prototype fidelity. I'm not going to take a razor saw to a brand new piece of rolling stock to get it so the trucks swivel freely and operate reliably.  

I haven't tried the Walthers Mainline passenger cars so I don't know if it is an improvement over their past offerings but Walthers passenger cars are the ones that have given me the most trouble over the years and the ones that have ended up in tiny pieces in my trash can. It might well be an improvement but I just don't trust the Walthers name enough to find out. 

I won't believe any manufacturer who tells me their 80 footer passenger cars will run on 24" radius track. To me 30" is the bare minimum. It might roll freely around a tight curve by itself but couple it to other 80' cars and the corners will be pushing hard against each other. The only way to make it work is to have them coupled so far apart they look unrealistic, the way Rivarossi truck mounted couplers used to and maybe still do for all I know. 

 

 

 

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Posted by JDawg on Thursday, June 30, 2022 10:52 AM

When I buy a RTR freight car, I expect it to run well. If it derails I immediately take it back. What is the point of buying something that I have to fix out of the box! I could just get a get for less money and then detail it.

I like Bowser, Atlas, Athearn and Accurail. They generally run and look good. 

JJF


Prototypically modeling the Great Northern in Minnesota with just a hint of freelancing. Smile, Wink & Grin

Yesterday is History.

Tomorrow is a Mystery.

But today is a Gift, that is why it is called the Present. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, June 30, 2022 11:18 AM

Operational reliability is all that matters. Jerky locomotives and derailments will not be tolerated by me... ever.

That is why I like my 1970s and 1980s brass steamers. Not too much detail, and easy to fix. I also like Athearn and Kato diesels. Half of my diesel fleet is Bowser/Kato F units just because they are so well made.

All freight cars get Kadee trucks, wheels, and couplers.

I build most of my freight cars from kits, and invisible detail rarely gets installed (but I am glad it is in the box).

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, June 30, 2022 11:35 AM

I've only very seldom bought a r-t-r car of any type, but have lots of kit-built, kit-bashed and scratchbuilt cars.
I usually add underbody detail to all passenger equipment and most freight cars, too, but generally leave most hopper cars as-is, since most of the underbody detail would be out-of-sight.
Brake rigging detail on a boxcar is visible, even on non-glass layouts, but adding it should account for good performance in addition to realistic appearance.

I scratchbuilt this boxcar, shown below, just to see if I could make a decent job of it...

At eye level, some of the brake gear is visible, but a direct view of the underbody easily reviews the ruse...

...as I wanted to test my capabilities for adding details (which I often simplify on many cars).

However, a more over-all view shows the ruse of the brake rigging, which very obviously illustratess that the truncated rods for actually applying brakes aren't connected to anything at all involving the trucks.

  
I'm not aware of anyone who models working brakes on an HO scale car, but "fake" brake rigging can be made to look pretty prototypical from a side-view at eye level, without any contact with the car's trucks that might cause a derailment or interfere with rolling qualities.

I use similar techniques on passenger cars, too...

I also use working diaphragms on my passenger and baggage cars...

...and also add weight to pretty-well anything that runs on track.  While there are occasional derailments, most are operator-errors, rather than faulty equipment.

I do concede that most modellers aren't overly interested in adding underbody details, but likely prefer them on r-t-r items.

Wayne

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Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, June 30, 2022 11:38 AM

I am looking for a reasonable balance between high detail and operational reliability.

All that freight car and passenger car undercarriage piping including air hoses that, when plastic, tend to break off--I'm just not sure I need all that, and definitely not for the price point, because I can't see it on the layout.

I no longer do passenger service, but if I did and based upon my personal past experiences, I would avoid BLI's CZ cars as they had power pickup issues that resulted in them not working.  I also would avoid many Rapido passenger cars, as they had QA/QC issues, like for example bad paint on ACL purple lettering boards that spread beyond the lettering boards with purple overspray.  I had good experience with Genesis SP passenger cars and also many Walthers passenger cars.

I have Athearn Genesis diesels that when advertised were supposed to have the little metal lift rings, but there are no lift rings on the models.  I won't lose any sleep over that--they got a huge amount of details correct for Santa Fe.  They run pretty well (dcc versions are still breaking in or experiencing teething issues, but the plain dc units are fantastic).

I want good handrails, not extremely wavy or leaning, or kinked in such a way that the prototype would not allow it to be in service.

Sunshades are not always necessary for me because they are too delicate even when made of brass and break off too easily.

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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, June 30, 2022 12:04 PM

This is not a new debate, actually it is a very old one, but the standards for accurate detail are now so high -- in part generated by the Railroad Prototype Modeler movement and freight car historian movement, which in turn are in part a reaction to the finescale model movement for military, automobile, and other non-rail scale models -- that the debate takes on new meaning.  And part of the problem is that scale model railroaders are emulating the military and vehicle modelers who themselves are horrified by the idea of anybody touching their masterpieces much less trying to make all the parts move.  

Mainly because of this: it is clearly possible -- guys are doing it -- to make a nearly perfectly accurate scale model of railroad rolling stock.  Nearly no compromises.

But our layouts, even the biggest club layouts, are nothing but compromises, even if track is to standards that are exact or nearly exact.  If the layout is of meaningful size then curve radius is a compromise in that train speeds are likely higher than on the prototype for that curve.  Plus you can't scale down mass and intertia.  And the job of putting that perfect car or locomotive on that perfect track is still up to an out of scale human's fingers.

I suspect scale fidelity is going to get higher and higher but there are obvious physical limits to modeling a meaningful portion of a real world railroad.  So the problem or challenge brought up by the OP is going to get worse, not better.   

Stated another way, I think there is now a fair amount of modeling going on that is not really intended for practical day-to-day model railroad operation by normal human beings (with all their faults and limitations).  In short, these are railroad models that might not be suited to model railroading.    

Dave Nelson

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Posted by selector on Thursday, June 30, 2022 12:14 PM

I appreciate seldom-added details such as truck chains on tenders, or on the trucks of Rapido RS-18s.  I don't need all the printing and decaling that Walthers includes for the purchaser to add because I don't get that close, even in photos most often. 

About my only complaint between purchases of passenger cars, as a notably example, is in the height matching of their couplers.  Also, it's difficult to get them to couple unless on a straight because of the slightly too-short shanks.  They work well once you do get them to grab on, but sometimes it is a pain to get those couplers to close.  Or, when they do, going up a grade makes them uncouple due to the mismatch in height.  These can all be corrected in a few minutes, but it isn't good for the price we pay.

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, June 30, 2022 3:29 PM

nealknows

I’ve been reading here about the frustrations regarding how some of the new/newer train equipment have issues; many of them are about operational functionality. 

Now I’m no expert model railroader, but when I buy a new freight car or passenger car, I want them to roll smoothly on my tracks. I shouldn’t have to put graphite or make any type of adjustment to the trucks or wheels. 

Does it matter what the underside looks like? I don’t know about the folks on this forum, but my layout is not built on glass or Plexiglas where I can see the bottom of the cars, especially with cork as a roadbed. So why add all of those extra details if they interfere with the way a car rolls. Case in point. When our friends at Rapido introduced their HO Scale Continental passenger cars, they looked great on the top, sides and bottom. However, while their recommendations were for 24” radius, they tracked so bad that I had to cut away parts of the underframe parts just to make them roll better on 24” radius! Same thing with their Osgood – Bradley Passenger cars. Now, to their credit, the latest Rapido Horizon and Comet cars run very well as do their well cars. I bought over a dozen of the Comet and Horizon cars for my layout, once I tried the first set of three. 

My friend brought over some of the latest Walthers Mainline Passenger cars and they ran fine. 

I’m not singling out Rapido, they were one of the examples that I have experienced. I could talk about other manufacturers, but let’s no go there.

Like one of the forum members said, if it doesn’t run well out of the box, he takes a hammer to it!

So what will it take to let the manufacturers know we want trains to run well? Are they looking to get the person who buys it, looks at it and then puts it on a shelf so others can look at it or want people to be truly satisfied with their products? Thoughts on how we can get this message across? I am attending the National Train Show in St. Louis and plan on having some conversations with the ones I feel I need to speak with. Hope others who may be frustrated like I am and are going to the show will ask as well.

Neal

 

 

Well, my friend has a 2001 Toyota truck with crank windows, manual locks, manual transmission and probably only a few sensors.  Hardly any features, but its hardly ever in the shop.

My other friend has a 2018 Mercedes SUV with the most advanced features of its time, and is always in the shop.  

It not a totally similar example.   When a company is concerned about one thing, the other thing they took for granted might become an issue.

There was another car that has the most advanced features of the day, but burns a quart of oil every 8 thousand miles as its normal SOP.  Go figure.

If that kind of spotty engineering happens with $50,000 cars, I'm not surprised that it happens with $300 trains.

Some folks call that progress.

- Douglas

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Posted by n012944 on Thursday, June 30, 2022 3:40 PM

nealknows

 Are they looking to get the person who buys it, looks at it and then puts it on a shelf so others can look at it or want people to be truly satisfied with their products?

Are you saying people that put their models on the shelf are not truly satisfied with the product?

 

There is a real easy way to deal with all this.  Don't buy the stuff that is too super detailed for you.  I will buy the stuff that is super detailed.  If there are more people like me, the manufactures will continue to make models that line up with my likes.  If there are more people like you, Accurail will thrive.

An "expensive model collector"

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, June 30, 2022 3:48 PM

nealknows
Are they looking to get the person who buys it, looks at it and then puts it on a shelf so others can look at it or want people to be truly satisfied with their products?

This is information that would be interesting to know.

How long does a model sit in the shelf/box before it gets to work on the layout?

All the brass I have bought sat in boxes through all the previous owners for decades and never saw the rails. They are still in the boxes, I have test run it all only.

Every model I have bought since 2016 are still in the boxes.

n012944
 If there are more people like me, the manufactures will continue to make models that line up with my likes.  If there are more people like you, Accurail will thrive.

Or, we can all buy what meets our desires, and everyone will do well.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Thursday, June 30, 2022 4:24 PM

Personally, I favor good operation.  While I want a car to be reasonably detailed, I'm fine with molded on details, minimal under body detail, etc. as long as the car or locomotive runs well and get around a sharp curve okay.

I'm in S scale and I want all my trains to operate well on sharp 24" radius curves.  Of course I avoid really long engines and rolling stock.  I also don't have any grades on my layout.  I'm also pretty fussy about track laying and will redo track that isn't right.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 30, 2022 4:55 PM

Well Neal, we just went thru this last week.......

There is no way manufacturers can be sure their trains will work on
YOUR layout. They did not lay your track, pick your radius, engineer your easements or grades.

But, I'm a "snobby model builder" who does not just take models out of boxes and run them (even when I buy RTR) and I'm a layout standards "snob" with 36" radius, 2% grades, and #6 and #8 turnouts.

Most of my rolling stock is kit built or modified by me to meet my performance standards.

20 years ago, 40 years ago, and today, I think the manufacturers do great job in a difficult market that is now more difficult with even more modelers who are not model builders and who expect "plug and play" performance and high detail.

Not judging or criticizing how anyone approaches the hobby.

I'm just saying I don't share your problem or your point of view.

I have nothing against high end expensive RTR, I have my share, like $54 B&O wagon top bay window cabooses, but I also built kits and still run Athearn Blue Box cars - for that matter I still run Athearn and Varney metal cars from before I was born.

I buy freight cars and replace the trucks right out of the box in most cases. I don't like rigid plactic trucks, most of my 1000 freight cars have sprung metal Kadee trucks with Intermountain wheelsets - yes they cost more than some of the freight cars they are under. 

And I put genuine Kadee couplers on EVERYTHING, before it ever goes on the layout.

I check and adjust the weight of every car before it goes on the layout.

I don't have any problems with derailments, I run 50 car trains.

EVERY time I have looked at most any of the newer RTR passenger cars, I just see a lot of work to make them suitable to me, so I mostly have "other" products.

And yes, I put performance above detail EVERY time.

Sheldon  

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 30, 2022 5:06 PM

n012944

 

 
nealknows

 Are they looking to get the person who buys it, looks at it and then puts it on a shelf so others can look at it or want people to be truly satisfied with their products?

 

 

Are you saying people that put their models on the shelf are not truly satisfied with the product?

 

There is a real easy way to deal with all this.  Don't buy the stuff that is too super detailed for you.  I will buy the stuff that is super detailed.  If there are more people like me, the manufactures will continue to make models that line up with my likes.  If there are more people like you, Accurail will thrive.

 

Completely agreed, and I will continue to buy both.....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 30, 2022 5:11 PM

dknelson

 

Stated another way, I think there is now a fair amount of modeling going on that is not really intended for practical day-to-day model railroad operation by normal human beings (with all their faults and limitations).  In short, these are railroad models that might not be suited to model railroading.    

Dave Nelson

 

Well said, that is why I'm "selective" about expensive RTR.....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by John-NYBW on Thursday, June 30, 2022 8:47 PM

I never bought anything that I didn't intend to put on whatever layout I had at the time. I'm just not into collecting. Some of the stuff I bought has ended up on a shelf for a variety of reasons, mostly due to a change in the theme of my railroad. Some got benched for poor performance. There are also craftsman kits I bought that I have never gotten around to building. The point is, I don't buy anything just for display. Locos and rolling stock have to perform well. Operational reliability will always trump appearance on my layout. If it doesn't work, I don't care how good it looks. 

As I've been reading this thread I noticed the ad for Rapido's Slumbercoach. Yes, that is very impressive detail on the bottom but what good would it do me. 54" is the highest level track it would run on which is about a foot below my eye level so much of it is wasted on me. I wonder if all that detail in any way inhibits the free movement of the trucks which from my experience is a major source of derailments. 

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Posted by OldEngineman on Thursday, June 30, 2022 10:23 PM

On a scale of 1-10, I'm content with detailing in the 4, 5, 6 range, but I want things to run well -- for engines, up around 8-9 at least.

The "state of detail" that Lifelike set with the Proto 2000 line years ago is more than enough to satisfy me. I have some Proto 1000 with a little less detail, but the running makes up for it.

I've had the best luck with buying used or new-old stock. I don't fiddle with external details, but I do "go inside" when necessary to get dcc installed, wiring  and lights replaced, as best as I can.

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