Ranting and raving about RTR MDC again.

Folks:
Well, I was just reading a magazine's review of the new MDC 4-4-0, once sold an $80 kit but now available RTR for the low, low price of $225. The
review stated that the locomotive could creep at speeds as low as 7 scale mph.
Grraaaaagh. That's out-of-the-box Life-Like Shifter territory.
So why do I find this irksome?
I have an MDC 2-6-0, built from a very similar kit (one of the old-time
subline). It's a most excellent locomotive, able to creep very slowly indeed. It can do this because while I was constructing the kit, I stopped at every point possible to check for binds. In fact, I even made & added some thin shims to correct a very slight bind caused by the longer side rods' running at a slant (they were against the wheel at one end but overlapped the other rods at the other). I emailed MDC with this idea, and it was 'forwarded to their design department' or some such euphemism for circular filing. I also inspected the gear, checked the mesh of the worm, and hand-scraped the top of the driver slots with a razor blade so all wheels would bear more evenly on the track. The work took a little time, but it was fun to do, and it paid off - the complete mech, sans motor, would glide almost like a freight car, and the powered operation was beautiful.
Alas, a factory assembler, even in far-off Communist countries, must obey the dictates of capitalism and make rate. There just isn't the time for such tuning and refinement, and so we see the same thing with MDC that we saw with Mantua - if you take an engine designed as a kit and try to sell it exclusively RTR, you will never match the performance of those models designed for quick, accurate factory assembly. The fact that Mantua or MDC models, when properly assembled, might easily outlast the best of the neo-plastic steam, and is certainly easier to repair or kitbash, must be dropped from the equations.
I am not knocking Bachmann or Life-Like at all. I am just annoyed that this excellent line of kits is being abused in such a hare-brained manner.
Cordially yours: Gerard P.
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On 16 Jan 2007 13:09:20 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote:

Me too... I was a big fan and consumer of those wonderful quality, dependable and long lasting Athearn locomotives. I guess I took them for granted and figured they'd be around forever. Recently retired after 39 years with the Feds, I _finally_ was going to enjoy those trains I had acquired over the years and build a neat layout.
But then Athearn disappeared from the LHS (and Walthers) "You may buy our models, but you may not see them or hold them in your hands or examine them in any way. And you may buy our products (only if you are proven worthy - by passing our judgment - and giving us all kinds of your credit card and other information - to scary third party Internet "sellers" - Yikes!)"
And those great loco "blue box" "kits" Well we used to sell them for $40 but now they are $335, because, after all, we have put the windows and hand rails on for you :-)

It's hell to get "old" isn't it? My granddad was the steamfitter/boilershop foreman for Washington Terminal Co at Union Station in Washington DC, before he was retired, along with all of his steam locos during the early 50's. I grew up with him in his workshop in the basement. Mom and Dad and I would go to visit our grandparents. Mom and Dad and Grandmom would stay upstairs and talk about whatever they talked about, and "Pop" and me would go down the basement. It was a neat place with ground level walk out doors and big bright windows. And Pop would make the most amazing things. He made wooden toys and carts and things for the neighborhood kids and for me. (All with hand tools) He made lovely garden fence gates for the neighbors with tubing, pipe and metal stock. And the most amazing thing for this little kid was when he made a cigarette!! Put the paper in the palm of his hand, pour tobacco precisely into it, and with his thumb, roll the thing just right and lick the paper to seal it. It looked just like a Camel! :-)
I grew up with Pop's influence. (To this day, I never pass a pile of stuff for refuse on the side of the road without giving it a good inspection.) Once got a complete set of wooden storm windows and screens (!!) in really great shape for our old house with 13 six over six windows which had none. Just needed painting...
Out of high school, went to work as a pipefitter apprentice with the Navy. I was talking to a friend the other day about an experience. We had a new 6 axis milling machine in the machine shop that needed to be piped with its' hydraulic drive power system on the other side of a wall. Multiple lines of various sizes and wall thickness, having to make "compound bends" that is, bends in three dimensions. 22' sections of tubing with 14 compound bends to route around the machine and up and down levels, to mate with the power system on the other side of the wall. When done, all the lines traveled together, each equally spaced, curving around corners and up and down, and the flare nut on each end perfectly kissed its' mating connector with no forcing.
Now the people who wanted the milling machine to run, had no need for tubing to run in a precision manner. And the boss who was in charge of the job, just needed to have both ends hooked up, operating properly, with no leaks, and within an efficient, short period of time. These folks didn't notice anything else. But the craftsman who had piped that system, well he got _so_ much pride whenever he walked by that machine doing its' work making propellers in the shop.
This is the "payment" that a craftsman gets from his work, unknown to his bosses. And it is so satisfying. And it is the same thing that some get from taking care and taking the time to perform each step to produce a smooth operating model, and enjoying the results for years to come.

I got some inexpensive Model Power locos to make up some trains sets for several families at church who had asked for my help. They were noisy and wobbled. After giving them a thorough oil and grease lube they were very quiet, but still wobbled. Checked out their quartering and found it way off. When readjusted these locos run smooth and quiet. I could imagine the poor Chinese workers who were building these models in a tyrannical factory.
I was surprised when I visited the LHS and commented about kits going away and such, and the folks there said that they and their customers didn't want to mess around with kits and they and their customers wanted to run stuff right out of the box.
Like I said earlier, times change and its' hell to get old.
I hope that Bowser will continue to have a viable customer base. They make such wonderful kit based products.
Best Regards,
Robert B
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Robert B spake thus:

Yeah, how come nobody else has mentioned Bowser in this thread? (Nor any other recent one that I can see.) I'd love to make one of their kits before they, too, go down the tubes.
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snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote:
> Folks: > > Well, I was just reading a magazine's review of the new MDC 4-4-0, > once sold an $80 kit but now available RTR for the low, low price of > $225. The review stated that the locomotive could creep at speeds as > low as 7 scale mph.
Earlier today I was at a local(!) hobbyshop, and they were running a MDC 4-4-0 around the store layout, demonstrating it for a potential customer. It had a couple of cars hung on the back, and seemed to be quite a nice performer, from what I could see.
Cheers,
Mark.
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