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Locomotive Conversion Suggestions

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Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 3
Location: Salem, OR

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 2:44 am    Post subject: Locomotive Conversion Suggestions Reply with quote

First off, I would like to empathize with my fellow n-scalers who desperately try to model steam on the PRR. After all, you are modeling what was the largest railroad in North America; in its heyday, and the n-scale manufacturers should be providing at least some of the basics of a PRR steam roster. It would really boost the morale of the Eastern contingent of this hobby if GHQ, and other manufacturers could see their way clear to doing some sadly-needed PRR steam!

With that said; my interest lies in modeling 50's era steam on the Union Pacific. During this time, my great-grandfather was a senior engineer on the OWR&N. His love was the FEF-1 class of Northern (4-8-4). So, naturally, my short-list of 50's era steam would have to include an FEF-1; as well as a 3800 class of Challenger.

Con-Cor has a Northern chassis, with which they've put GN S-2's, SP GS-4's, and a joke they called a UP FEF-3. It was nothing more than a skyline-cased GS-4, with smoke lifters added to it, and painted as UP #844. Razz So, between the Con-Cor chassis, a pewter FEF-1 boiler, and a new tender casting, this could be a possibility for GHQ. These Fallen Flags links are good examples of coal and oil-fired FEF-1's. The 806 is obviously a coal-fired version; as built, while the 812 is a modernized oil-fired version with smoke lifters (my preference).

Athearn has just released a fairly reasonable model of a 3900 class (4664-3/4/5) of Challenger. The distinctive mark of this class was the 14-wheel tender, commonly known as the Centipede. The 3800 class (SCA-1/2) has a subtly different look than the Athearn model. This class was approximately 10-feet shorter than the 3900 class, the sand and steam domes were different in shape and size, and the tender was similar to the one found behind 806, pictured above. This one may be harder to do than an FEF-1, but I'm wondering if you might be able to adapt the molds to the Z-8 conversion?

Thank you for your considerations...
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Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 673
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We can appreciate the dilemma of people who model PRR steam. There isn't a whole lot out there. With that being said, we can offer some very good advice- buy what you can. After years of hearing requests from many people, some who literally begged, we did a very limited re-run on our L-1 kit. It hasn't come close to selling out, and it is a small run.

Very often we hear from people who say that they would like a model, vehicle or locomotive, that is very similar to something that we already make. Often times it will be something like a tractor that we model, and after asking what year the prototype is they say that they want one that is a year or two different. They won't buy ours, and tell us that if it were a 1950 instead of a 1951 prototype, then they would have bought it. Often times there is no change in the prototype between the years, and other times the change is so small that it really doesn't stand out on a 1/160th scale model unless you hold the model up under a magnifier. We have talked with many other manufacturers who have found the same thing happen all of the time.

When a manufacturer releases a model, they are often times testing the waters in a particular area, PRR steam for example, and would like to release more models that would be complementary. At this point we have released an L-1, 2-8-2. The L-1 was a very common locoomtoive used by the PRR, it is not a little known, infrequently seen protoype. If that doesn't sell well, then we do not get the message that a market that is hungry for PRR steam exists. If it sells poorly, then we wonder if there really is a market for PRR steam. Unfortunately we have heard from too many people who have said that they are really into PRR steam and "if you modeled a ________ (fill in the blank with a Decapod, Northen, Pacific, etc.), then I would buy one."

Manufacturers are rarley, if ever, going to hit the exact prototype that will please everyone. If they are releasing anything that is in your area of interest, but maybe not exactly what your ideal would be, buying it will show the manufacturer that there is actually life out there for things of that kind in that area. There is a tremendous amount of time and money that goes into releasing a product. If there aren't many signs of interest in an area, then manufacturers are not going to continue to hit that area with new releases that are prototype specific. Some companies will produce one shell, and then pad print the exact same shell with many different road names even if there were actually differences on the prototypes. This doesn't cost a lot to offer new roads. Making road-specific models does.

Please don't take this as complaining. We have tried some things and they have worked out well, and others that haven't, that is the nature of business. However, this is one thing that manufacturers think about when deciding what new models they want to release.

Thank you for your support,
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