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. Notice that the 567D (turbo) is not included with this decoder. For that engine sound 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. TSU-1100, $129.95; TSU-2200, $124.95; TSU-21PNEM, $109.95; and TSU-4400, $179.95.

SoundTraxx - 970-259-0690 -

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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

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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.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Atlas Acquires Walthers N Scale Locomotive and Rolling Stock Tooling

Below is a press release by Atlas Model Railroad Company Inc.

June 22, 2018

For Immediate Release:

Atlas Model Railroad Company, Inc., and Wm. K. Walthers, Inc. have reached an agreement under which Atlas will purchase all N scale locomotive and rolling stock tooling owned by Walthers, including the Walthers N tooling as well as former Life-Like tooling. Atlas will incorporate this tooling into its Atlas Master, Atlas Classic, and Trainman N scale lines. Walthers will continue to offer N scale items in its Cornerstone, SceneMaster, and Walthers Controls brands, including new items as well as items currently in those lines.

“We feel that this tooling has found a great home with Atlas. They have a strong N scale offering and these tools will help them bring some exceptional products back to the market,” said Phil Walthers, President of Wm. K. Walthers, Inc.

Tom Haedrich, Executive Chairman at Atlas added, “We’re pleased to be bringing these former Walthers N scale models back to the market so that they can be enjoyed by present and future model railroaders alike. These locomotives and rolling stock will fit right in with our existing N scale lines and we are committed to producing them with the latest technology, prototypical accuracy, and high quality you’ve come to expect from Atlas.”

Established in 1932, Wm. K. Walthers, Inc. distributes model trains, accessories, and related items from more than 200 manufacturers, and also manufactures its own exclusive items for its WalthersProto, WalthersMainline, WalthersTrainline, Cornerstone, SceneMaster, Walthers Controls, and WalthersTrack lines.

Founded in 1924 and incorporated in 1949 as Atlas Tool Co. Inc., present day Atlas Model Railroad Co. produces locomotives, rolling stock, track, and accessories in N, HO and O scales for its Atlas Master, Atlas Classic, Trainman, and Atlas O lines.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Clarification on Discontinuing Economi Decoders

On June 6th I published a post concerning SoundTraxx's supposedly discontinuing the 100 and 200 series of Economi decoders (the PnP Economi board #882004 and the 21 pin decoders #881006 & 882006 are continuing to be produced) and the reasons for the confusion surrounding this. After talking with Soundtraxx, they clarified the situation. The two series of decoders are being temporarily discontinued due to the parts shortage until one or both of the following occurs:
  • A different parts supplier is found that can furnish parts in the quantity needed by Soundtraxx
    • Knowing that these parts are used by most of the huge end-product electronics manufacturers (Sony, LG, etc.) in extremely high quantities, if there were other producers then they are most likely also sending their parts to them.
      One thing that worries me here is that if it turns out to become an American supplier, the price will go up.
  • A decoder redesign can be accomplished utilizing parts that are readily available
    • Not the easiest solution. While redesigning you have to insure first, that the new parts will do exactly what the current ones do and second, Soundtraxx can be assured they will be able to get them now and in the future (i.e. supplier stays in business, doesn't discontinue them).
Whatever the solution, I would bet a lot of money that Soundtraxx has been working on this for a while.

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.