Model Railroader mag -- observations and quesions

On Fri, 28 Oct 2005 09:40:46 -0400, Wolf Kirchmeir


Not entirely. There ain't no free lunch, everything is a trade off. Quality, initial quality, possibly has improved, but manufacturing tolerances are now far tighter. Which may sound like a good thing, but can work both ways. Things that are manufactured to function properly with "as new" tolerances will be found to degrade as the normal wear takes it's toll. Tighter tolerances in manufacturing won't always equal longer life or reliability, as normal wear comes in, parts will go out of tolerance, usually with notning in the design to compensate, failure is the result.

But it's going to be a throwaway, technicians have to make a living too, and the new sets are NOT made to be repaired. Anything goes wrong, you might as well set it in the trash and go buy another. Not a lot of improvement in anything there.

I've always preferred wood, and some of the plastic kits I built back in the 70's show that I'm not too far off, warped, curling, glue joints separating, plastic is for the short term. Not that wood doesn't have some of the same problems, but in wood, I can fix it, it's not the basic material aging and turning to something unknown.
Metal, I've always liked the older die cast locos, even though I know better than most that the diecast zinc begins to self destruct as soon as it goes into the mold, it's a basic nature of the metal. Adding certain other metals to the mix will slow it down, but never stop it. My hat comes off to the guys that cast in brass, brass isn't an easy metal to cast reliably, it's one of the most difficult. The fact that so many beautiful castings are available is a tribute not to technology, but to the skill of the people making them.
There will always be two kinds, those that have to have nothing but the "latest and greatest" and those that can appreciate something that's already old, still functioning, and still looks good.
Then again, it's a blooming hobby, not a life or death situation.
Rich
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Richard wrote: <SNIP>

I beg to differ. TV's are far more reliable, less costly, and long-lasting than they were in the old days. I would call that A LOT of improvement. As for TV technicians, guess they need a different avocation. Just as blacksmiths that used to shoe horses aren't much in demand anymore. Times change, and in the example of TV's, much for the better! : )
Jeff
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On 5 Nov 2005 06:50:30 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote:

Which, I suppose might explain why my old 21" zenith, now thriry some years old, still runs reliably and has out lasted several others, none older than ten years,are in the trash where they belong. Or why my 31 year old Thomas organ still plays nicely, but the Casio keyboard I had puked after less than a year. The keys on an electronic keyboard are also slightly smaller than AGO standards, meaning going from one to the other automatically without thinking is impossible.
Much improved, for the MANUFACTURER, not much of an improvement for me. I'll even state that 99.9% of the organ sounds I use most often cannot by any means be reproduiced by any keyboard at any price. Sure, it's cheaper, both in the sounds a keyboard can produce, and in the quality, both of the electronics and the mechanics. Granted, there are sounds in the keyboard that I can't get out of my organ, but that only brings up another question. Who would want to?
As far as blacksmiths go, if you REALLY want to find out what Shop rates can be, go find one. The fewer the craftsmen, the more you're going to pay for their services when you need them.
Which might also explain why I'm reworking old Athearn instead of buying new "Made in China and guaranteed to look great, run bad".
Rich
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Richard wrote:

Point taken. I was confused as to the timeframe we were discussing. I was referring to the old vacuum-tube laden TV's of the fifties and early sixties (my childhood memories), not the solid-state TV's of the mid seventies and later. My mistake.
Jeff
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On 5 Nov 2005 13:06:43 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote:

Errrm. I still have my aunts 1941 Airline(?) console radio in the attic, still works, but the idea of replacing all the hardened wiring isn't something I want to get into anymore. Still works ok if you don't mind the idea of 350 volts at your fingertips every time you open the back. But, I can remember writing charges for repairs that went $25, and the parts cost was 12 cents. Now, minimum around here is $65 service, they don't repair the boards, they replace them, trade in cost can go from $25 to $125. Adding that on to the service, doesn't make sense to repair anything.
Tracks ahead is on, gotta go.
Rich
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Richard wrote:

Hey, I'm watching Tracks Ahead here in Milwaukee right now! Back to the TV thing: Maybe I'm misunderstanding your point. My point was that I remember the TV repair man visiting our house fairly frequently when I was a kid, making adjustments and replacing tubes. I never meant that the old TVs didn't last. They just seemed to me to require more maintenance and repairs than the models I've been using since the mid-seventies. To your average layman, this seems a definite improvement. To someone that makes a living repairing such items, the point of view would probably be different. I'm basing my opinion on only MY experiences, no one else's. Perhaps the overall picture is different, but I can only relate my own experiences. : ) I'd rather have a $200 27" 2005 TV that will last me 15 years without ever seeing the inside of a repair shop, than a 25" $1000 1962 TV that will last me 30 years, and need adjustments and tubes replaced every couple of years. But that's just me... : )
Jeff
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On 5 Nov 2005 15:58:01 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote:

Follow 36 out to the next town west of Rochester and you know where I am. (Not an especially good program this week.)

If I had my druthers, I druther not have one in the house. Guess I spent too much time with fifteen TV sets blaring "As the stomach churns" while waiting for that damned intermittent to act up and hopefully catch it on the scope. I still give thanks that I'm not starving to death surrounded by $50,000 worth of test equipment and decided to get a job that paid better.
T/A is about the only program I watch, sometimes the news. I'd rather have my hands busy than my mind empty.
But, next time you go through the hobby shops, could you check and see if you can find the Roundhouse 26' old time flats? They used to come three in a box and were pretty reasonable, but I haven't been able to find them lately. I'm under a "one hour window" here, daughter with major health problems, I can't be gone for over an hour, and the VNA doesn't even like that. (Screw them too.)
Rich
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snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote: [....]Just as blacksmiths that used to shoe horses aren't much in

Er, actually there are more horses now than there were a hundred years ago. But because horse shoes are now made like people shoes, in graduated sizes, farrier work is done by people who also do other things, such as exercise or train the horses.
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

I never claimed that there were less horses now. There may be more horses, but does that automatically mean an increase in the number of horse shoes needed? I'm just pulling your leg, Wolf. : ) Thanks for the info. I stupidly picked a bad example. Should have said "dirigible repairmen".
Jeff
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wrote:

Jeff, Horse ownership per capita reached an all time high about 1900 with one in four people owning a horse. That put the horse population in the neighborhood of 2,000,000 head. Today there is about one horse per thirty people or a little over 9,000,000 head. While the blacksmith trade may not be as common as it was a hundred years ago its no where near dead. In fact they are in strong demand and there are more horses to shod than ever before. Bruce
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Slight error...... that should be 20,000,000 in 1900. Few people shoe their own horses today. Even if it's just a tossed or loose shoe very few folks will nail it back on themselves. Today with 9,000,000 head around the blacksmith probably has more work has more work than ever as far as shoeing horses goes. In fact most only shoe horses as many of the other aspects of the trade have almost disappeared. Bruce
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wrote:

I don't know if you'd say disappeared as much as gone into hiding. I know several people that are active in the trade, a few of which try to keep it hidden so they can enjoy what they do and not be flooded with more work than they can handle. Their work isn't cheap, but it never was. The blacksmith was always well paid for what he did, also with good reason.
The railroads had their blacksmith cars, which meant that if something couldn't be brought to him easily, he was able to go to the work site and do the work on the spot, as well equipped as he would have been in a permanent shop.
And I can remember standing in the door of the blacksmith shop watching the power hammer shape hot steel as easily as pounding clay. I've seen tools that were forged from old files, chisels, wrenches, that still compare to the finest available today, and have already lasted much longer. I've also used lathe boring tools that were forged in a blacksmith shop, from high carbon steels, haven't found anything that worked as well since for what they were intended to do.
Some of which may have been lost forever, but probably not.
Rich
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In the 19th Century, a blacksmith did a great deal more than shoe horses. He was a tool-maker and complete one-stop metal-working shop. He made farm implements and did a great many other things besides make horse shoes and attach them to horses. Today that is all they do. Nine million horses do not require the number of Smiths that Nineteenth Century society did. The Smith's services have been fragmented and redistributed among a variety of trades ranging from automobile manufacturing to service garages as the motor car has replaced the horse, and the tractor has replaced the mule. Mules no longer pull plows and there are no "farm implements" in the same manner that there were in the Nineteenth and preceding Centuries. You do not have to get your wagon repaired by a Smith or Wainright as the auto repair garage has assumed these functions. And so it goes. Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

Try mid-20th century. In Austria, I spent a lot of time watching the smith make everything from wagon wheel tires to hinges for barn doors to wrought iron gates. And of course horse shoes, which he custom fitted. Horses rarely objected to his ministrations - I guess he made comfy shoes for them :-) In those days, kids could hang around a workshop as long as they stayed out of the way and didn't touch anything. I also watched the wagon maker, the shoemaker, the tinsmith, the cabinet maker, and the baker (oh, the smell of fresh-baked bread!)
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

So long as you didn't watch the gold smelter or the felt hat maker!
Greg.P.
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On Mon, 07 Nov 2005 14:57:21 GMT, Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

If your military have cavalry regiments, check on what the blacksmiths do. I helped film a blacksmith in one of the British cavalry regiments some years ago and he did a lot more than just shoe horses. He was supposed to be able to do running repairs on equipment from what they could find in the field and I remember him demonstrating welding metal together with hammer and anvil to make up longer pieces. There was no mechanical help either - all done with hand tools.
Jim.
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

Ah, nut see my response to Mark about this. For some of us the *satisfaction* of assembling one of those golden oldies exceeds the improvements in detail, etc. that today's stuff offers.

Sounds like me. No matter how much Dullcote or flat finish I spray on plastic model that's supposed to represent a wooden prototype I have never been able to get rid of that lousy plastic sheen and make it look as good as a Central Valley or Silver Streak wooden reefer or boxcar. Ambroid or La Belle kits beat everything on the market today hands down for realistic looking wooden prototypes IMNSHO. Thankfully there's still the swap meets and Valley Model Trains for finding these gems.
--

Rick Jones
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And here http://www.yeoldehuffnpuff.com/ and http://www.labellemodels.com/main.htm I really love these old wood kits too and agree that they look darn nice when finished. But I love them more for what they taught me then anything else. If you need a few passenger cars or single cars they are great. If you need several cars or more you might as well just get one kit and use it as a template to cut up wood in your chopper and build the rest from scratch. The only difference in these old kits and scratch building is that they have the wood supplied in the box with directions and a few detail parts. Once you've built a few you don't need kits any more. At nearly $25 to $30 a shot plus trucks and couplers you can have a $40 scratch building project. With your own wood, a few detail parts and decals you can knock that back into the $15 to $20 range per car. I think this may be part of the reason these old kits aren't found on shelves very often. Anyone who has built a number of them can build most any wood car type he wants for less money with very little extra time or effort. Bruce

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Rick Jones wrote:
> No matter how much Dullcote or flat finish I spray on plastic model > that's supposed to represent a wooden prototype I have never been > able to get rid of that lousy plastic sheen and make it look as good > as a Central Valley or Silver Streak wooden reefer or boxcar.
Try painting the plastic model first, then spraying Dullcote or flat finish. <G!>
Once the surface is painted, the underlying material should be indistinguishable from normal viewing distance...
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On Sun, 30 Oct 2005 16:16:27 +1100, mark_newton

This is an example of painted plastic, <
http://www.scalefour.org/images/portfolio/tmcs/P53308.jpg
Keith
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