Rapido Telegraph 23
Rapido Telegraph 23 / March 19th, 2010
Dear Rapido Customer,
In this issue of the Telegraph:
FP9A Final Tooling Corrections
The response to our retooled FP9A model has been amazing. One former EMD employee who worked on the real things wrote to us with the following comments: “You have set the new industry standard. This is way beyond my highest hopes.” A GMD employee wrote: “As a former DDGM employee from London it appears that you have the nose 110% on the money!” I certainly hope we will live up to these positive comments.
Dan, Bill and I spent a lot of time looking at the samples, and we found a few things that needed to be improved. The first one was the windshields. We didn’t feel that our sample exactly matched the original. So it was back to the drawing board… or rather, back to the John Street Roundhouse.
The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre is a new railway museum being built in CP’s old John Street Roundhouse in downtown Toronto. Luckily, Dan and I are on the Museum board. Even more luckily, Barry Silverthorn has recently donated the cab of CN F7Au #9159 to the museum and graciously gave us permission to crawl all over it. This F7Au and the FP9A share numerous dimensions, including the windshields and headlight. In the photo above, we are attaching tracing paper to the front of the windshield opening.
9159 does not have its cab windows installed, which proved to be a blessing. We were able to trace the exact shape of the window opening from the inside, and then we scanned the full-size sheet at a local copy shop. Barry also found us the original gasket from 9159’s windows, so we could measure that as well. After plugging in the drawings, Bill discovered some more information was missing. So Dan and I were off to the museum again, in minus-10 degree weather, to measure the precise distance between the windows and the side of the unit.
On our third visit, we used a contour gauge and measured the exact cross section of the area around the windshield in 10 different locations. I traced the gauge and scanned in the tracings. The result was a totally accurate drawing, in far too much detail than we could ever use in HO scale!
In a total of three trips back and forth to the museum, we discovered something amazing. Not a single model F-Unit that we have seen accurately shows the center post between the windshields. It’s actually shaped like a “V”. So it was back to work on the drawings, to get the new shapes of the windows, the “V” center post, and the contours around the windows. At the same time, we cleaned up the roof fans, the blend between the headlight and the nose, and other details that needed improving.
In the comparison photo above, the design drawing of our retooled windshields (with the window glass removed for clarity) is put side-to-side with a photo taken of an FP9A. The image on the left is an axiomatic view created by the software and so does not truly show the way the light hits the nose, but you can still see that the window openings are identical. The window “glass” will fit in from behind and create the accurate height of the gaskets, as in the image below. We thought about inserting thin window glass from the front, but our experience with other models designed this way is that the windows tend to pop out during handling.
I spent much of January in China (another reason for this late newsletter), and we made further refinements to the design there. Below is a photo from our factory, in which Yan and I are working on some final tweaks, including details inside the dual-beam headlight housing. Yan is a very talented engineer and, in addition to the FP9A, also designed the Osgood Bradley passenger cars and The Canadian.
I had no idea how much work this F-unit model would be when I started it over a year ago. But in the end I think you will agree that it is well worth it. We have received some emails along the line of “what is out there now cannot be improved upon, so why bother?” Apart from the fact that nobody has ever made a real GMD FP9 in plastic, attitudes like that don’t help our hobby. Innovation is based on looking at what is best out there and then saying “how can we make our product even better?” The fact it has taken until 2010 to discover that most of the models out there have the wrong front windshield spacing shows that there are always improvements to be made.
We’ll have new samples of these models in the next month or so, and then we’ll post more photos on our web site. You can still reserve the FP9A from your local dealer. Full information, including more photos, paint schemes and road numbers, can be found here.
FP9A Sound Decoders Revealed
I am pleased to announce that we will be using SoundTraxx Tsunami decoders for our sound-equipped FP9A models, both the stand-alone units and the locomotives on The Canadian. We are now working with them to design the final circuit board and incorporate our own recordings.
To visit SoundTraxx’s web site, click here.
New Drive Systems and Gearboxes
While we’ve been finalizing the cosmetic corrections on our FP9A locomotive, we’ve also been finalizing the drive system. I’m pleased to let you know that our new drive system is complete, and will be used in both our FP9A and in our LRC locomotives. These babies can crawl at less than 1 MPH and top out at close to 90. You can read more about our Bombardier LRC model by clicking here.
Speaking of gearboxes, I mentioned last year that we were working on a new gearbox design for the TurboTrain. We haven’t forgotten about it – in fact, we’re still making the final modifications to the design right now. The factory sent me some “almost final” samples and Dan installed them on my personal model of the VIA 9-car Turbo. The Turbo decoder doesn’t have Back EMF, so it won’t go at super slow speeds, however it will go smoothly down to about 3 MPH for a 3-car train and 5 MPH for a 9-car train.
These can be ordered direct from Rapido when they are available. Your cost is the same as our cost – $10.75 plus shipping, and that will do a complete train. Contact us to get your name on the list, and then when they come in we’ll send you to an online shopping cart so you can complete the order.
Click on either image below to see a movie of our new LRC and FP9A drive trains in action, as well as a two-minute clip of the 9-car Turbo easing along our display layout at 5 MPH – no jerking, no stuttering. I apologize in advance for the poor sound quality of the movie. The camera took a fall back when we were recording the FP9 video and the microphone seems to be in pain. We’ll get a new one in time for our next video.
Pullman-Standard Passenger Car Update
If you saw our ad in the March issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, you’ll know of the quandary we’re in. Last year we announced three new Pullman-Standard passenger cars: a post-war 6 Section, 6 Roomette, 4 Bedroom sleeping car used all over North America, a Buffet-Parlor car similar to several common designs, and a whacko “Club Deluxe” car rebuilt by CN and only used in two provinces in Canada. Proving once again that we know absolutely nothing about this hobby, the Club Deluxe car has outsold its fellows considerably. In fact, right now the Club Deluxe car is the only car of the three that has enough orders to start production.
In retrospect, I think it was a mistake to announce all three cars at once. Maybe I should have called the 6-6-4 sleeper a 6-4-6 sleeper, because that is what it is usually called in the States. CN designated its sleepers from least to most expensive accommodation, not according to where the rooms were in the cars. We generally follow CN nomenclature at Rapido, because so many of our models are based on CN prototypes and even our company name is based on a CN train! But what is done is done, I suppose. We’re going to delay the 6-6-4 / 6-4-6 Sleeper and the Buffet-Parlor until orders pick up. If you are interested in either of these neat cars, please reserve them today with your local dealer.
More information about these cars, including road names, car names, and product numbers, can be found by clicking here.
Railfanning the Osgood Bradley Lightweight Coaches
Our Osgood Bradley Lightweight Coaches are currently in production and all will arrive at our warehouse in May and June. To celebrate the arrival of these beautiful cars, Bill put together a fan trip on his New York, Ontario and Western layout. Click on the image below for a trip back in time along the rails of the “Old Woman” in 1951.
Custom Models for your Railroad, Club, Society or Store
Have you ever thought of doing a custom run of models for your organization? Custom-decorated models can be an excellent fundraiser for a tourist line, model railroad club, historical association, or other charitable group. If your railroad runs something similar to one of our models, a custom run in your paint scheme could be an excellent retirement or achievement gift, as our Wide-Vision Caboose model was for CSX’s Great Lakes Division Mechanical Department in celebration of an injury-free year.
If a local railroad is popular in your area and one of our models is similar to something on the roster, your club or hobby shop might be interested in doing a custom run. For example, our CN-based Dayniter model is similar to many long-distance coaches used all over North America, and is available in HO and N. Similarly, if your shop has been getting many requests for a Rapido item that has been sold out for some time, you might want to consider doing a custom rerun of those cars.
The minimum number of pieces for a custom run is usually around 300, so we’re not talking huge quantities. Please visit our Custom Projects page by clicking here, or simply contact us and we can start talking.
If you are looking to do a whole new model from the ground up, or you work for a model company looking for a new supplier, then I suggest you have a look at our OEM web site:maytex.rapidotrains.com. We have a growing list of hobby clients that includes makers of aircraft models and slot cars – so we don’t only do trains.
That CSX caboose looks awesome, doesn’t it?
Resources for Hobby Shops
If you work in a hobby shop, or you are just interested in some of the history behind our products, you might want to visit the Dealers pages on our web site. We have lots of info for our dealers, including where to get our products and all of our recent sales brochures. Anyone can download our sales brochures, and dealers can use the info and images for your store’s web site. Feel free to pilfer whatever you need!
We also have a Dealer Listing online. If you carry our products in your store but do not see your name listed, please get in touch so we can add your details!
If you run a hobby shop in southern Ontario/Quebec or the northeastern USA and you would like Bill, Dan or me to come by for a meet-and-greet with your customers, please get in touch. We’d be happy to arrange something, schedules permitting.
Rapido Advertisements Now Online
We’ve been looking at our stats and it appears that our web site, newsletters, and sales packs to dealers are doing more to get the word out than some of our print advertising. So we’ve decided to focus more on communicating with our customers through cyberspace. If you don’t see us in our usual spots in some of your magazines, it doesn’t mean we’re no longer around!
But print ads are still neat, so we are starting to put our print ads online. After an ad appears in a magazine, you will be able to download it from our Magazine Adsp age. We’re also putting up some of our older ads, especially the silly ones… Feel free to print them out and put them on the bathroom wall or whatever.
The Rapido Gallery
The Rapido Gallery is a great place to share your photos and YouTube movies of Rapido products in action on your layout. Please have a look by clicking here. We’d love to see your modelling talents in action, so please send us your photos and movies! Don’t be shy!
One of the most stunning movies I have ever seen of one of our products was made by well-known Canadian filmographer Sean Ropchan of Chandos Television Productions. Have a look at this fantastic movie of the Turbo cruising through the West Island Modular Railroad Club layout. Unlike my video of the Turbo above, Sean’s video is an example of filmmaking by someone who actually knows what he is doing!
With all the focus on slow speed running, it is easy to forget that the Turbo looks best when it’s flying along the tracks like it was designed to do! Click on the image below to watch the movie.
Project Updates – The Canadian and Other Stuff
Bill and I will do our best to get project updates out to you more frequently in future. Here are quick updates on some of our ongoing projects:
This project was delayed by close to a year because we were working with Bombardier to find almost 50 missing underbody equipment and conduit drawings. As mentioned in volume 19 of the Telegraph, Bombardier came through and our good friend Patrick Lawson has spent the last several months drawing up exact replicas of the underbodies for all seven cars. Now the factory is working on transforming Patrick’s drawings into HO scale parts, and we should have some samples start to arrive in the summer.
Because of that delay, the train won’t be delivered until 2011. But that gives you more time to save up. I wasn’t willing to put on generic underbody components on these cars. Rapido isn’t known for cutting corners. I think you will agree it is worth the wait.
Many people have asked us what we are using for our stainless steel finish. We have a very scientific method. The factory is sending us five samples of slightly different plating finishes. Dan and I will take these to the Islington Avenue bridge over VIA’s Toronto Maintenance Centre and hold them up. Whichever one looks closest to The Canadian sitting on the track 200 feet away is the one we will use.
All of the first-run cabooses except for Algoma Central, Ontario Northland, and Canadian Pacific have been shipped to stores. ACR and ONR have arrived in our warehouse and will go out next week. CPR will be leaving the factory next week and should be here by the end of April.
As you may know, we are sold out of the first run of cabooses. It’s not too late to reserve your second-run cabooses from your local dealer. Full information on our new paint schemes can be found here.
N Scale Production
Production of our second run N scale cars is underway at our factory. These will arrive in the summer. You can read about them here.
Many people have asked us if we are doing more cars in N scale. You bet we are! But we don’t want to announce any more cars until the second run paint schemes arrive. We are also working on a certain high-speed gas turbine-powered train in N scale which shall remain nameless at present.
Above is a detail from our next big project in HO, to be announced at this summer’s National Train Show. That’s all I’m saying for now…
Is This the End of the Individual Passenger Car Model?
Earlier in this Telegraph I mentioned the trouble we’ve had selling two of our new Pullman-Standard passenger cars. I don’t think this is just the economy speaking. I think this reflects the propagation of the myth of the “complete train.”
Every day we get at least one request for a “complete train.” It could be a request for complete streamliner X or the “rest” of “the complete CN train” they are assembling with our cars – it’s hard for Dan or me to explain that CN had more than one train without sounding like a schmuck.
What is a “complete train” anyway? Except for a few notable streamliners, there is no such thing as a “complete train.” Most trains varied in length and consist. The Super Continental could be 8 cars or it could be 20, depending on the day. Many trains had a mix of heavyweight and lightweight cars, as well as cars that were switched on or off en route. Even our model of The Canadian is a compromise – like most other trains, The Canadian varied in length. Ours is a “complete train” for the occasional day that it ran with the 10 cars included in the set.
The reality is that you can make numerous “complete trains” with our existing HO scale cars. This doesn’t only apply to our models – other manufacturers have also released individual cars that, when combined with ours, can represent literally hundreds of real trains. Local runs, commuter runs, branchline runs – these made up the bulk of passenger trains in the 20th century. How many of Great Northern’s passenger trains were the Empire Builder? If it was the only train in the schedule the timetable would have been pretty thin!
So despite the persistent marketing push of the “complete train,” I don’t think that this is the end for highly-detailed individual passenger car models like ours. The internet has made it a lot easier for people to find information on prototype modelling. As more information on secondary trains becomes available, more people will recognize that they already have several complete trains on their roster.
To help this process along, we’re going to add a section to our web site on real consists that can be made with our cars – both those for which our cars are “dead on” and those for which our cars are a good stand-in. If you know of any consists that can be made with our models, please get in touch and we’ll include them on the page!
We’ve recently sold all of our inventory of earlier Super Continental Line and Panorama Line passenger cars to our distributors. So if you are looking for some of those earlier releases, there’s a good chance you can still find them. Contact your favourite dealer or visit our Dealer Listing to find out who carries our products.
That’s all for now. For those of you still reading, thanks for sticking with me for this long. As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Dan, Bill or me.
All the best,
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