Rapido Telegraph 22
Rapido Telegraph 22 / November 17, 2009
Dear Rapido Customer,
In this issue of the Telegraph and Timetable:
We’ve finally done it!
FP9A locomotive first revised samples have arrived!
When we showed the first sample of the FP9A at the National Train Show in July, we asked that it not be judged yet because it needed a lot of work. Well, now you can judge away. If I do say so myself, this is simply the best F-unit model I have ever seen. Compare it for yourself:
Those of you who know me know that I am a rivet counter of the highest order. You can see it in our products.
I’ve applied this same philosophy to the FP9A. (By the way, I decided to call it the FP9A because that’s what CN called it. GM called it the FP9. I occasionally call it the FP9, so I’m not unanimous in my decision…) Every road number will be delivered with specific details for that road number and paint scheme. That means we’ve tooled four different noses, two different roofs, two different fuel tanks, three different winterization hatches, two different steam generator vents, two different horns, three different cooling coils, two different rerailers, two different headlights, and countless extra grab irons and details. Check out the sun shades, the (not yet painted) engineer, and the dual-beam headlight:
And how about those end details:
I’ve always stated that the aim of Rapido is to recreate the whole railroad experience, and that’s why we include so many details. If it is obvious when standing trackside that the real FP9A has a ton of detail below the frame, then I feel the model should reflect that. Did you spot the little glad hand holder grab iron below the coupler in the photo above? Or the steam generator separator blowdown valve behind the rear right step? If you like that kind of detail, have a look below:
Wait… there’s more! Have a look at our etched metal Farr grills. These are not standard grills. They are designed to match the grills on the CN FP9A, and the details beneath match the prototype as well. We’ve developed a new method to attach these grills so that they will NEVER warp on the frame like they do on most F-unit models out there. You also won’t see any glue or tape behind the grill openings. Note the vertical supports and the openings behind the grill. Also note the 5-pipe cooling coil on the roof, and how the pipes are not all the same diameter. We are now working on the CP FP9 for The Canadian and you can rest assured that they will have the same attention to detail.
We’re now fine-tuning our drive system to ensure it runs beautifully, and we’re finishing off the details and fixing the few small mistakes that we’ve found in the bodies. Eagle-eyed readers will notice we’re missing a vent on the rear of the roof, as well as the marker supports and some other details. We’ve also retooled the end door frame but that tooling change wasn’t finished when these samples were made.
The new order deadline for these locomotives is March-ish. We are only going to make these to order, so if you don’t order with your dealer before we start production then you probably won’t get one. You can read more about the FP9A, including road numbers and product numbers, by clicking here.
And now on to the sounds…
FP9A sound and Rapido’s first cheezy movie
Kudos are definitely owed to Paul, Court and the whole team at the Conway Scenic Railroad. These guys went to amazing lengths to ensure that we got all the recordings we need to make the sound decoders for our model. We had those F-units running up and down the track about 20 times (literally).
They have an amazing railroad there, and it is well worth visiting. The views are breathtaking. And the landscape is pretty, too. Click here to visit the Conway Scenic web site.
Rather than read about our expedition to get the correct sounds for our FP9A model, why don’t you watch our full-length feature movie? (Well, seven minutes is pretty full length for YouTube.) Click on the image below to watch The Really Cheap FP9 Movie. It’s very silly. Make sure your sound is turned on!
Remember that order deadline – March something or other! More info on the FP9A is available here. You can reserve the FP9A in advance from any good hobby dealer.
First HO Scale Cabooses Arriving
Our first run of cabooses is completely sold out and they haven’t even arrived yet! The first seven paint schemes will be arriving in about two weeks. They are:
The rest will be here in January. Full information about our wide-vision caboose can be found here. Have a look at the photos below. I think this may be the most detailed caboose model ever made, and it includes a full interior, see-though steps and platforms, interior lighting, and WORKING MARKER LIGHTS. Not bad for $59.95.
As the cabooses are now starting to show up, we’ve decided to announce the next run of paint schemes. You have plenty of time to order these. The order deadline is in February… well, Februaryish.
These new paint schemes feature the same level of detail as our first run of paint schemes. All of our first-run vans/cabins/crummies/hacks will be in stores before the order deadline for the second run, so you can wait until you hold them in your hands before placing your order for the next run.
We’re trying something new with these cabooses. Rather than announce six car numbers, we’re announcing three car numbers and a three-pack of three other car numbers. The three-pack saves you a couple of bucks over buying them individually. In the case of paint schemes where the prototype only had two cars, we’re only selling them in a two-pack.
There is logic to this. It prevents us having to make, say, 200 of one number and 20 of another. This will help us keep our prices down. Dealers are welcome to split the three-packs and two-packs for customers as each caboose will be individually boxed.
More information on our new paint schemes can be found by clicking here. Click on any paint scheme below to see the car numbers and product numbers.
LRC locomotive latest samples have arrived
I will let the photos speak for themselves. This was the last MLW passenger diesel built in Canada, and featured an Alco 251F prime mover. You can order these with your dealers until we start production, which should be March or April. Full details about the LRC, including pricing, can be found by clicking here.
N scale second run passenger cars – what lives and what dies
I have to thank everyone who got the word out for us that some of our N scale passenger cars were on the verge of cancellation. Due to some last minute orders that just came in yesterday, I can now safely say that ALL of the new paint schemes will be made!
Click here to find out more about these paint schemes. Production will start after Chinese New Year and they are expected to start arriving in the spring.
The (un)reality of order deadlines and delivery dates
Those of you who have been with us for a while have no doubt noticed that our order deadlines and delivery dates are, shall we say, “fluid.” Here’s why.
I determine our initial order deadlines when we announce a project. Chances are, at that time the tooling is not yet finished and all we have is an early sample (if that!). I do my best to estimate how long it will take to finish the changes and when we will have production time available in the factory.
In most cases, my estimate is about as accurate as Back To The Future’s predictions of life in 2015. As we are unlikely to develop hover skateboards or replace emails with fax machines in the next six years, that gives you an idea of how wrong I usually am. But I’m getting better… honestly. We are actually delivering our first run of cabooses in fall of 2009, as promised. Well, half of them at any rate.
Projects can be delayed by unexpected tooling problems, function issues with the circuit boards, and a myriad of other hiccups. Sometimes we find a mistake in our research right at the last minute, as we did with the steam generators.
You have to understand just how small a company we are. We have three full-time employees in North America, and our factory in China is just three rooms and an office. That’s it. If we’re busy making cabooses, we don’t have the capacity to finish up some of the other projects that are in progress. It’s always a tough choice deciding what will be in production at any time and what will have to wait. This is determined by things like how high our sales are for a given item, if an item is new and hot or a 3rd run of a paint scheme, if a paint scheme is particularly difficult and time consuming, etc.
We’re often grouped in the same category as big guys like Athearn, Atlas and Walthers. I am truly flattered when I read or hear that, because we are really, really small by comparison.
One more factor that has led us to keep pushing back our order deadlines is that I’ve found that a lot of people in the far reaches of the USA and Canada order our products weeks or months after the original announced deadline. It’s tough to get the word out to everyone. Now, if we haven’t yet started production because of my awful estimating abilities, we can still take the orders. But if we have started production, forget it. We’ve turned away late orders for hundreds of cabooses.
The practical implications of all of this are that we will take orders for a product until we have to order materials. About two weeks before that time, we will send out a reminder to our distributors (USA) and dealers (Canada). Once we order materials, that’s it. The production numbers are set in stone. If you haven’t ordered by then, you won’t get the models.
I hope this gives you an idea of what’s involved, and why your Chicago & North Western N scale coach or your HO scale BN Exec car hasn’t yet arrived. All I can ask is that you bear with us and be patient. We’ve come a long way in the last three years, but we’re still the little guy of the model railroad manufacturing world.
The Much Abbreviated Rapido Timetable
Here’s what arrived a couple of weeks ago. If your dealer doesn’t have them or doesn’t know where to find them, please let me know:
And here’s what’s coming next:
First week of December:
Second week of December:
In the USA, your dealer can order our products from their favorite distributor. In Canada, your dealer can order direct from us. If you ever have trouble locating one of our products, please contact us!
To get a quick look of what products are forthcoming, stop by the front page of our web site when you have a chance (rapido.leverage.it) and click on the links in the blue box(es) to the left.
Before I go, here are some extra bits of info. The Rock Island caboose paint scheme is now the earlier version because there were too many compromises to make the later version fit on our caboose. Click here to have a look.
John Longhurst is the associate editor of Canadian Railway Modeller and accomplished modeller of the HO Scale CP M&M Sub. He recently interviewed me for his blog about how I got started in this business. You can read the interview here.
That’s it for now. Thanks for your continued support of Rapido Trains Inc.!
All the best,
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