Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Where Goeth The Hobby

This is my first rant on this blog. Sorry but something needs to be said and from the discussions I've heard and been part of I believe there is a lot of agreement on this. So here it is.

Model Railroaders need to get and keep kids interested in the hobby, whatever it takes. They are the future model railroaders that will keep the hobby alive. It's too bad we don't have a way to track the average age of model railroaders. It would tell us how we're doing.

For those of us who get upset when they see a Thomas related train circling a layout (and we know who we are, don't we) before you loudly complain about it, look at the eyes of the kids that also see it. Do they light up? You bet they do! They relate to that engine and everything associated with it. Adults relate more to the trains we normally run. Kids do not. Yes they do like to see them run and the sounds they make but the moment Thomas shows up all eyes are on him! To them he is a train and one they know about and if your wizzbang SD-XX muckity-muck goes by him and blows it's air horn their eyes will follow Thomas. My point here is that:

If you want to keep this hobby alive and thriving in the future, you need to get and keep kids interested in the hobby whatever it takes.

So if you made it this far I thank you for putting up with me. It's an important topic and needed to be mentioned. Please comment on this regardless of whether you agree/disagree or even have a idea on this. Maybe even rant a little.

Another way I thought of was to track subscriber count to Model Railroader Magazine. The last time I checked the current subscriber count to Model Railroader Magazine was about 140,000+. Sorry I do not have the exact count but the Model Railroader web site is currently down. WHAT!?!? (25 SEP 2018 11:20AM)

If you have an idea for a blog post here, let me know. If I can comment on it, I will or I'll see if someone else can and post it.

Explanation Of Atlas Locomotive Lines

Although this information is available from Atlas not everyone knows where to find it.

Master Series: The top model of Atlas' lines. It is broken down into two categories:
  • Gold – includes sound and a dual mode DCC decoder (will run on DC or DCC)
  • Silver – no sound or DCC decoder, most will have an 8 pin DCC plug included
Classic Line: This line consists of older tooling that has been upgraded with features such as separate grab irons and other minor retooled pieces. These are generally only offered without sound and usually have an 8 pin DCC plug, space permitting.

Trainman: This is Atlas' “budget” line. These use the same drive train as the other lines, but the shells have less separate detail added, and are generally only offered in one or two variations or phases for each model.

If you have an idea for a blog post here, let me know. If I can comment on it, I will or I'll see if someone else can and post it.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Soundtraxx Decoder Announcement at National Train Show

On the first day of the National Train Show Soundtraxx announced new Tsunami2 Sound Decoders specific to EMD Diesels and steam locomotives.

Tsunami EMD-2 Decoder

This decoder includes eight new diesel engine sounds:
  • 567 12 cylinder no transition
  • 567C 16 cylinder non-turbo
  • 645E 12 cylinder non-turbo
  • 645E 12 cylinder turbo
  • 645F 16 cylinder turbo
  • 645E 20 cylinder turbo
  • 710G 12 cylinder
  • 710G 16 cylinder
[Author's Note]
A very good reference on these different engines is discussed here including which locomotive models had which engine. Notice that the 567D (turbo) and the dual 567 (E units) are not included with this decoder. For those engine sounds you'll have to get the original Tsunami2 for EMD engines. Isn't this what got Soundtraxx in a bind before? This decoder for this engine, that decoder for that engine. Hope it doesn't get much worse.

The EMD-2 decoder includes more than 50 sound effects, including engine startup, 14 bells, and more than 40 air horns. Also contains Reactive Diesel Dynamic Digital Exhaust. TSU-1100, $129.95; TSU-2200, $124.95; TSU-21PNEM, $109.95; TSU-PNP, $109.95; and TSU-4400, $179.95.

Tsunami Steam-2 Decoder

This new decoder contains an expanded sound library with 28 new whistles, 12 bells, 10 air pumps, 8 dynamos, 10 exhaust chuffs, snifter valve, injectors, Johnson Bar, power reverse, firebox blower, side rod clank, and brake squeal.
This decoder replaces part# 884001 TSU-1100 Steam (Discontinued 08/2018).
TSU-1100, $129.95; TSU-2200, $124.95; TSU-21PNEM, $109.95; and TSU-4400, $179.95.

SoundTraxx - 970-259-0690 - www.soundtraxx.com

If you have an idea for a blog post here, let me know. If I can comment on it, I will or I'll see if someone else can and post it.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Model Railroad Factory Closing Update

From Model Railroader:

Affa Technology Ltd.'s sudden shutdown has some model train companies looking for other options

In late July Affa Technology Ltd., a Hong Kong-based manufacturer of model trains, radio-controlled toys, scale cars, and other items, announced it had closed. Some of the model railroad manufacturers impacted by this news include American Z Line, Atlas Model Railroad Co., Bowser, ExactRail, Fox Valley Models, InterMountain Railway Co., Trainworx, and Wheels of Time. Several firms shared the news through e-mail, websites, and social media.

“Yes, we have projects at this factory and Trainworx production will be affected,” said Pat Sanders via e-mail. “We are researching our options at this time and hope to get rolling again soon.”

In a blog post, Atlas Model Railroad Co. noted the factory was one of its locomotive and rolling stock suppliers, but the company’s track and accessories were not impacted by the closure. “Atlas is currently working with our network of suppliers to transfer the projects to others for completion,” the blog post continued. “This will cause a delay in some previously ordered products.”

In addition to adjusting production schedules, some firms have finished projects waiting to be shipped. Chris Brimley, vice president of product for ExactRail, wrote in a blog on the firm’s website, “The N scale AutoFlood II hopper is on hold as we move that project to a new factory. We have been told that the HO scale GSI bulkhead flatcar production was actually finished last week but is still sitting at the now-closed factory. We expect these to be on our way to us soon.”

Frank Angstead of InterMountain noted that though there will be a delay in new product releases, the company is already looking for new manufacturing options. “Our expectation is that we will begin shipping a selection of new product within four months,” wrote Angstead in a letter posted online. “Purchase orders with alternate vendors are already being arranged so we anticipate production to resume very soon.”

One theme shared by the manufacturers impacted by Affa’s sudden closing is this will take time to sort out. On the Fox Valley Models Facebook page, company president Matt Gaudynski wrote, “If projects can be moved, it will take a number of months to do so, and then get a new factory up to speed on our projects will take even more time…[We] greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we move forward through this unexpected interruption.”

If you have an idea for a blog post here, let me know. If I can comment on it, I will or I'll see if someone else can and post it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Shinohara Ceasing Track Production

This has been announced on the Walther's web site.

Dear Walthers customers,

We have some updated information regarding Walthers Code 83 Track to share with you. First, Shinohara is currently working to fulfill a large track order for us, and we expect that shipment of track to arrive later this summer. We will fill as many back orders as possible from that order, and then we will make the remaining track available for purchase. After fulfilling that order, Shinohara will cease track production.

We would like to thank Shinohara for their many years of partnership with Walthers and service to the model train hobby. In addition (and with cooperation from Shinohara), we are already working with a new track supplier and will bring the Walthers code 83 track line back onto the market as soon as possible. We will share more details on this exciting new development in the future. Until then, thank you for your understanding and your support.


Your friends at Walthers

If you have an idea for a blog post here, let me know. If I can comment on it, I will or I'll see if someone else can and post it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Model RailRoad Manufacturing Plant Closed

Unexpectedly, one of the model railroad plants in China has closed. Apparently, the factory closure was collateral damage from the current environmental rampage China is on to clean up their situation and to meet global agreements. That's the general feeling after this author canvassed several forums concerning the closure.

Bowser posted on their facebook page:
We have been informed that our foreign factory is closed. This will delay HO and N Ready To Run cars, trolleys, Cal Scale and our locomotives. We are looking for a new factory. All delivery dates are now TBA (To Be Announced). Thanks for all support you have given Bowser.
And Atlas, posted on their website on 7/27:
Atlas has received notification from one of our locomotive and rolling stock suppliers that they have closed their factory. (Please note Atlas track and accessories are NOT affected by this delay.) Atlas is currently working with our network of suppliers to transfer the projects to others for completion. This will cause a delay in some previously ordered products. We apologize for this delay, thank you for your continued support, and will update you with more information as it becomes available.
According to Bob The Train Guy the closing also affects other lines.
It is going to be an interesting year for my suppliers. One plant closes unexpectedly and shuts down production of models from some of my favorite producers. The list so far includes Intermountain, Bowser, Atlas, Fox Valley, TrainWorx and Bluford. With the current problems getting track I am not sure of the short term future of the hobby.
According to another forum discussion, those not affected are Athearn, Walthers, Scale Trains, Bachmann and Rapido. Jason from Rapido has already posted that he is willing to help where he can.

I agree with Bob that in the short term it's going to be a bit of a rough ride for the hobby.

If you have an idea for a blog post here, let me know. If I can comment on it, I will or I'll see if someone else can and post it.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Engine Driver Consisting

This post refers to Engine Driver v2.20.59 - JMRI v.12.0

Engine Driver has very much simplified engine consisting. Up until v2.20.57 though it had one missing feature that bothered me and turned off some other model railroaders. That was the application's inability to do what Digitrax calls Universal consisting. That is, before placing an engine in a consist, run it first in the direction you want it to follow in the consist (if it is reversed in the consist it needs to run in reverse first) and then add it to the consist. In older versions of Engine Driver this would not work. In order to get an engine to run in reverse in a consist you had to change its normal direction of travel via CV29 bit 0. Most of the guys I ran with did not want to do that. Why should I have to reprogram an engine to run it backwards in a consist and then have to reprogram it again when I want to run it normally?

Problem solved!! The new version of Engine Driver supports universal consisting and you don't even have to run an engine in the direction it needs to run before consisting it and no CV programming involved! Let's use an example to demonstrate:

We have three locomotives we want to consist - 3120, 3121 and 3123. We want 3123 to run in reverse behind the other two engines.

After opening Engine Driver and connecting to your server, press Loco, punch in 3120 and acquire it. Now Press loco, punch in 3121 and acquire it. Notice the right hand column now has 'Front' listed for each. Now back to the Loco screen, press Loco, punch in 3123 and acquire it. Now press the 'Front' for 3123 and what happens? The 'Front' changes to 'Rear'. Increase the speed of the 3 engine consist now and it works!!!

It doesn't get any easier than that. Thank you Steve Todd.

One thing to watch out for in Preferences is to make sure that under 'Loco Select Preferences' 'Drop Loco Before Acquire' is unchecked. If it's checked you'll never form a consist.

If you have an idea for a blog post here, let me know. If I can comment on it, I will or I'll see if someone else can and post it.