Southern Rail Blog - Uboats, Xplorer, Vlocity, tank cars, QR Things, etc

 
  Poath Junction Chief Commissioner

Location: In front of a computer most of the time.
blog updated 27/5
http://www.southernrailmodels.com.au/article/27th-may-ntaf--u-boat-update

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  DQ2004 Chief Commissioner

Location: Hobart -where the rain has lumps in it

http://www.southernrailmodels.com.au/article/14th-july-2012-u-boat--ntaf--xplorer-update

And another update from Southern Rail, after a delay of a couple of months.  I kind of got used to the weekly/fortnightly updates that occurred in May, and then there was nothing until now.
Unfortunately, it's almost all bad news, with big delays for the 2nd production run of U-boats, I suspect (reading between the lines) we'll be lucky if they get here by the end of the year, probably the same for their range of NTAF tank wagons too.  The Explorers, Endeavours & V/Locity's are also thereby delayed too, sadly.  Yet another case of recalcitrant factories.

Regards all,

Toby
  Poath Junction Chief Commissioner

Location: In front of a computer most of the time.
On the bright side,  the NDHF's & QR things aren't affected. Order form for NDHF's at http://www.southernrailmodels.com.au/files//order_forms/NSW_NDHF_OrderForm.pdf
  John_Bushell Chief Commissioner

Location: Brisbane
Very sad, but I applaud Southern Models for giving a full and frank explanation of the delay.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Very sad, but I applaud Southern Models for giving a full and frank explanation of the delay.
"John_Bushell"


Yes John, I agree on all counts there. It is a pity that more could no be as frank and open as Southernrail Models though, then there would be no gripes.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Sad is an understatement, while its refreshing to see the openess with Southern in conveying the news, its another nail in the coffin one would think for the early bird, or early deposit payments.
  Albert Chief Commissioner

Not missing us with the postage charges for the NHDFs
  Poath Junction Chief Commissioner

Location: In front of a computer most of the time.
Not missing us with the postage charges for the NHDFs
"Albert"


What's your problem, the charges accurately reflect the costs incurred. Aust Post has an online calculator to figure out charges, and here's the result when I plug in figures that would reasonably reflect the parcels size and weight.


  • From: 2317


  • To: 3204


  • Weight:  >500g - 1kg                                                    


  • Length: 30.0 (cm)


  • Width: 30.0 (cm)


  • Height: 10.0 (cm)


Your charges at a glance - Service / Price
Regular Parcel $12.00 (you'd save $0.40 if you could fit it in a pre-paid 3kg satchel)
Registered Post $3.20
Extra Cover $1.50 (extra $120 insurance, first $100 covered by registered fee)
Total Charge $16.70
Note I've made no allowance for costs of a box, bubble wrap, etc. What you see ($16.70) is how much Southern Rail will be charged by Aust Post to deliver the parcel that has 1 pack of wagons. Clearly this is reasonable compared to the $16.00 Southern Rail has noted on the order form. And for arguments sake I'll pretend I'm buying 4 packs, So I'll change the  parcel weight to 1-2kg, make the parcel 25cm high,  recalculate with $880 total insurance (ie $780 extra cover) and the results are.... $30.95 total. Again the Southern Rail quote for postage of $28.00 is reasonable.

Yes, postage to local Sydney areas will be a bit cheaper, while postage to WA would be a bit more. However given the size & weight assumptions I made are in the right ballpark, and those calculations all return results higher than quoted by Southern Rail the results remain quite obvious - there is no extra 'hidden' profit being made by Southern Rail via postal charges.

For those who don't trust my answers, just pop over to http://auspost.com.au/apps/domestic-parcel.html and have fun trying to prove me wrong.

  Albert Chief Commissioner

Didn't say the charge was unreasonable.  Smile
  DQ2004 Chief Commissioner

Location: Hobart -where the rain has lumps in it
And a large and fascinating read from Southern Rail today with a lot of interesting inside information about the goings on in China.
More kudos to Southern Rail for their forthrightness & informative updates.
http://www.southernrailmodels.com.au/article/25-july-ndhf-concrete-sleeper-wagons--u-boats--ntaf-etc


Regards,

Toby
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
Interesting how the letter from Canadian model trains refers to "modelers". If people actually were "modelers" then perhaps we wouldn't have so much of a problem. The mentality these days of many people not willing to even screw in a bogie leads to requiring factories with high skill levels in assembly, which not all of them have.

The recent issue with the SDS models tank cars highlights this. The injection moulding and artwork apparently was very good, but the application of fine detail parts wasn't up to standard. Perhaps wagon products should be offered as "shake the box" kits. ie: the models are already partly assembled and painted, but the finer detail parts such as handrails, etc.. are provided in the box for the purchaser to add if desired.

This would allow the use of factories who might be able to do injection moulding and partial assembly, but lacks the skilled labour to do a good job applying finer detail. Ultimately it would also be better for the hobby as it gets people into the mindset of actually doing a bit of work for themselves and the full kits don't appear so difficult once they have a start.
  gw0071 Deputy Commissioner

A fair point - but would potential savings in production be passed on to the consumer? Assuming current pricing levels, $60 per wagon is a lot when a box shake is required
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Hopefully there would be savings for the purchaser. But I think it is a good idea, it would satisfy those who complain that there is too much fiddly detail on the latest and greatest. And it would be no different from the current situation where you have to re-attach the bits that fell off when you took your latest fantastic-plastic out of its box.
  a6et Minister for Railways

The problem that Southern as well as the CMT people in Canada has said, is as far as I am concerned old news.  Its something that I had said prior to the BJ Olympics when all the factories in the southern area of China especially the Quangdong province when so many experinced production line workers went to BJ for big money, after the Olympics they had made enough to stay at home in their villages & not return to the factories.

The aspect that Bachmann industries also needed production space for their increasing sales especially of China Rail models, & the purchase of SDK enabled that to happen, far cheaper than having to build up new machinery, to build models for the companies that they were competing with.

Also I doubt very much if we would get shake the box models at any great reduction in price than we pay for the full RTR version. Besides, how many modellers would be able to fit the fine detail item anyway, which would mean a call to scrap the detail.
  LaidlayM Chief Commissioner

Location: Research
[quote="VRfan"]Interesting how the letter from Canadian model trains refers to "modelers". If people actually were "modelers" then perhaps we wouldn't have so much of a problem. The mentality these days of many people not willing to even screw in a bogie leads to requiring factories with high skill levels in assembly, which not all of them have................./quote]

Railway Modelling is a funny thing as the "modelling" can happen on several different levels.  A true modeller can scratch build equipment and stick it on a shelf or on a model railway and no one would deny them the title "modeller".  Someone could just buy carefully chosen RTR models and use them as part of their model of a railway, thus they are also undeniably a "modeller" because they are building the greater model of a railway, not just a loco etc.

There may be other opinions.

Mark
  gw0071 Deputy Commissioner

An interesting consideration was Auscision's foray into providing un-built kit versions of their wagons. While I purchased two NHFF's, I cannot remember the exact price. I do recall them as being a good, affordable and relatively simple kit. The fact that this concept didn't continue hints that it wasn't overly successful
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
An interesting consideration was Auscision's foray into providing un-built kit versions of their wagons. While I purchased two NHFF's, I cannot remember the exact price. I do recall them as being a good, affordable and relatively simple kit. The fact that this concept didn't continue hints that it wasn't overly successful
"gw0071"


Those Auscision kits were fully unbuilt and unpainted. ie: they were just the mouldings still on the sprues, similar to an SEM or AR Kits model. What I'm referring to is something like the old Athern shake the box kits. ie: the main parts are assembled and already painted. Then the purchaser simply adds the finer detail such as brake rigging, handrails, bogies, couplings, etc...

If you're getting the chinese to add these parts on it increases the production time and requires more skill from them. Not everybody even wants that sort of detail (plenty on here have said it's too fine and breaks off). Surely there would have to be some limited saving, but more importantly it decreases the amount of things that they can screw up and leaves it in the hands of someone who actually cares (ie: the person who pays for the model) rather than somebody who is doing it as a relatively low paid job and just wants to go home at the end of the shift.

To put it simply, even if they cost the same I would rather a shake the box type kit where I can add the detail to my standards rather than trust someone who doesn't care. As The Blacksmith said you often have to re-attach parts that have fallen off the model anyway!

Someone could just buy carefully chosen RTR models and use them as part of their model of a railway, thus they are also undeniably a "modeller" because they are building the greater model of a railway, not just a loco etc.
"LaidlayM"


If you can build a greater model of a railway, not just a loco, then I'm sure that person would be able to spend an hour or two attaching handrails, hoses, mirrors, etc... It's not *that* hard. My comments were aimed at the people who don't want to do anything. I guarantee that if someone did produce a shake the box type kit plenty of people would come out of the woodwork and whinge and moan about "oh no I have to glue on a handrail.... I paid $xxx for this item somebody should do it for me!"

And if I sound a bit bitter and cynical about the whole state of the hobby, well yes I am. Sure we've never had such a good range of RTR models, etc... However, I think ultimately people are becoming lazy and simply waiting for the RTR importers to produce it rather than supporting the local industry by purchasing kits, detail parts and even kitbashing or scratchbuilding. This then has a compound effect where those cottage industries become less viable and ultimately dissappear.

Shake the box kits would at least provide an introduction to doing something yourself and may actually eventually lead new modelers into purchasing kits from the local companies rather than always relying on RTR.

I've often said that my first kit was a BGM GY. Well that's not entirely true, I built some Athern Union Pacific blue box coal hoppers back when I was very young, and then some old time Roundhouse passenger cars which were a little more complex. I never really considered these as "kits" in my own mind, but they did start me on the path of "modelling"
  Poath Junction Chief Commissioner

Location: In front of a computer most of the time.
An interesting consideration was Auscision's foray into providing un-built kit versions of their wagons. While I purchased two NHFF's, I cannot remember the exact price. I do recall them as being a good, affordable and relatively simple kit. The fact that this concept didn't continue hints that it wasn't overly successful
"gw0071"


Those Auscision kits were fully unbuilt and unpainted. ie: they were just the mouldings still on the sprues, similar to an SEM or AR Kits model. What I'm referring to is something like the old Athern shake the box kits. ie: the main parts are assembled and already painted. Then the purchaser simply adds the finer detail such as brake rigging, handrails, bogies, couplings, etc...
"VRfan"


NHFF kits were $34.95 each. The 6 pack of fully built but undecorated NHFF's was $169.95 (equates to $28.33). That's right, the built models were cheaper than the kits.

Athearn dropped the shake the box kits as they too had found the Chinese manufacturers were charging them more for the unbuilt kits than for fully assembled models.
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p

NHFF kits were $34.95 each. The 6 pack of fully built but undecorated NHFF's was $169.95 (equates to $28.33). That's right, the built models were cheaper than the kits.

Athearn dropped the shake the box kits as they too had found the Chinese manufacturers were charging them more for the unbuilt kits than for fully assembled models.
"Poath Junction"


Given that the factory SDS used for the tankers couldn't even attach the detail parts correctly (and for that matter some of the other models from various manufactuers haven't been all that great with quality control), there is something *seriously* wrong if the Chinese are charging more for this than to simply finish the model up to the point where it's mostly assembled and leave the detail parts seperate in the box.
  Albert Chief Commissioner

From a hobby point of view there maybe a call for 'shake the box' models. From a business point a view, a right royal pain in the smeg. I can see it now..."I have stuffed my model, can I have another?" or "Such and such part is missing" involving extra stock on hand and postage costs to rectify.
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
How is that any different to now when something like a step falls off, or someone breaks a model while trying to install a decoder?
  Albert Chief Commissioner

Far more risk than a fully RTR model.

Sentiment is nice but the importers are not here to steer the hobby in any such direction. They produce a product to sell the product to get the best deal out of it. And given the apparent success of the Aussie RTR market, modelling tastes have changed and won't be going back any time soon.
  a6et Minister for Railways


NHFF kits were $34.95 each. The 6 pack of fully built but undecorated NHFF's was $169.95 (equates to $28.33). That's right, the built models were cheaper than the kits.

Athearn dropped the shake the box kits as they too had found the Chinese manufacturers were charging them more for the unbuilt kits than for fully assembled models.
"Poath Junction"


Given that the factory SDS used for the tankers couldn't even attach the detail parts correctly (and for that matter some of the other models from various manufactuers haven't been all that great with quality control), there is something *seriously* wrong if the Chinese are charging more for this than to simply finish the model up to the point where it's mostly assembled and leave the detail parts seperate in the box.
"VRfan"


In what ways were the detail parts not fitted correctly?

From what I have found in all 7 models I have, the issue is not so much the fitting of them but more so the actual size of a couple of parts being wrong lengths which causes them to work against each other, & it also depends on which model you have.  The ladders are a bit short which means being attached to side fram & walkway the two are pulled together causing an upwards force against the side frame. While the shunters step grab irons that are attached into the barrel are slightly too long which pushes the side frames down, thus two forces working in the opposite to each other.

The Atlantic wagons are different to the other variants as they have two ladders, & the shunters grab rails are not connected to the tank barrel thus you do not get the grab rail force of working against the ladders shortness & its affect.

Thus its not the assembly line worker who is at fault here but the final production bits being wrongly made in regard to the sizes & fitting of them. In reality the workers would be told to anchor them in place & they did.

These issues aside they are great models & great value for money especially with the reduced prices, & when placed on the track & in motion one is hard pressed to see the problems unless you look for them.

One reason they charge extra for shake the box or detail not fitted is that they see it as not supporting their workers, & if nothing else the Chinese are quite protective of their workers unlike here in Australia where the share holders & beurocrates & CEO's hold sway in order to protect their vested interests.  The wages paid to the Chinese workers are low by Australian standards but, comparable when you look at their overall cost of living. We pay around $15.00 for a single Chinese meal, for the equivilent amount of money in China you would feed 6 people for it except in Beijing where it would feed 2-3.  & the Western junk food is a heck of a lot cheaper too.


  a6et Minister for Railways

How is that any different to now when something like a step falls off, or someone breaks a model while trying to install a decoder?
"VRfan"


I think the difference is that when a part breaks off, there is the decision to make of whether or not to worry about replacing it, & given the amount of ABS models being produced, once its broken its stays that way as its almost impossible to glue back on.  Also breaking some item while installing a decoder may not be what everyone does, as there are still a lot of people who still are not into DCC let alone sound. I would also think that someone capable of installing a decoder, is quite likely to be more able to replace/repair a broken part than those not able to fit a decoder.

Producing kits, means they would have to go back to the older types of Polystyrene plastics instead of the ABS of today, which means its a lot easier to assemble. Besides that, many who have bits fall off, either are not aware of it or do not worry about trying to refit it, in the same way as those who obtain a kit may not worry about fully assembling a kit, as there are a heck of a lot of modellers who are not that worried about having all the detail anyway, if its there thats ok just the same if its not.
  gw0071 Deputy Commissioner

Kit form NHFF's at $35ea rings a bell as does undecorated built packs at $170. However, were these six wagon packs? I thought they were only doing four packs at the time. This does shift the goal posts for the kit vs assembled price argument somewhat

I think that A6ET has a very valid point. In a niche, luxury market why would a manufacturer provide a 'budget' kit product which would only detract from sales for a 'full service' assembled one? I fear that a drop in quality level/control would merely be exchanged with a supposed temporary suppression of a price rise due to external influences...

For fear of implicating Southern Rail alone perhaps a thread split is in order. The perception of the shift in the perceived definition of a railway modeller in relation to the inundation of RTR products is worthy of further debate. Just read p3 of Aug AMRM if you don't believe me!

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