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Discussion Starter #1
I was perusing Ozark's site for some bits 'n bobs that I thought I might like to add while I have that bug mauler apart.... the order would have been over $40
, and that doesn't even include any of the stuff (most of what I want) that I already happen to HAVE here.... I understand they have to make a profit in a tiny niche market, and I'm very glad they are willing to do this kind of stuff. (and I also noticed that I've already placed 5 orders with them over the last year...)


BUT, it DOES kind of give you pause when you suddenly realize the total outlay for all those bitty pieces parts you glue on is MORE than you paid for the whole stinking locomotive (or car) to start with!

Good thing nobody ever considered bashing as a way to SAVE money, ain't it?l.
 

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$40? Lucky, I have put twice that in some HO projects in details, etc...

The best one was 10 or so years back when I decided to build my own PRR SD40, and not buy a Kato to save some coin. Rail Power Products shell, can motor, Athearn trucks, details, paint, decals.....savings my foot!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Actually, the total for all the detail pieces I wanted, from Ozark & Trackside -- including the pieces I already have would have been somewhere around $85-90... on a $50 loco that would still be worth at most maybe $100 when finished (no matter how much you dress it up, it's still just another plastic bug mauler, lol).

Note to the guys who do plastic and resin castings... We could REALLY use some inexpensive universal pieces like globe and angle valves, injectors, Nathan, Chicago and/or Detroit lubricators, 3 and 5 chime whistles, drifting valves, brake cylinders and stands, marker lights, etc. Yes I CAN build them, but if I could spend a couple bucks (note I said 'a couple',... IMO $7.00 each for a dinky little injector casting is a bit much, considering how fast 10, 15 or 20 items add up) to save a couple hours of farting around working under a magnifying glass.... OTOH, if you're going to charge $6 shipping on $15-20 worth of stuff, I might not. Also, package deals on a set of 'common' upgrade parts to do one loco might be nicer and more convenient than having to buy a package of 8 pieces of one part when you only need two, or forgeting to order two or three of some part that comes packaged individually.

But then the only thing I'm probably actually good at in business, is going out of business.
 

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Note to the guys who do plastic and resin castings... We could REALLY use some inexpensive universal pieces like globe and angle valves, injectors, Nathan, Chicago and/or Detroit lubricators, 3 and 5 chime whistles, drifting valves, brake cylinders and stands, marker lights, etc. Yes I CAN build them, but if I could spend a couple bucks (note I said 'a couple',... IMO $7.00 each for a dinky little injector casting is a bit much, considering how fast 10, 15 or 20 items add up) to save a couple hours of farting around working under a magnifying glass.... OTOH, if you're going to charge $6 shipping on $15-20 worth of stuff, I might not. Also, package deals on a set of 'common' upgrade parts to do one loco might be nicer and more convenient than having to buy a package of 8 pieces of one part when you only need two, or forgeting to order two or three of some part that comes packaged individually.


I have the ability to make patterns and cast parts in both metal and plastic but I need to know that I can sell enough of a given part. As for prices $7 may seem a bit steep but unless you KNOW what costs are involved it's kind of hard to judge. First there is the cost of the design/ pattern/tooling which needs to be amortized over the number of parts you think you can sell. Then there is casting time/materials. Then add to that the cost of overhead. The cost of making the castings is in reality very cheap if you are set up for it (which costs a fortune). The most expensive part is in the pattern and tooling. A "rule of thumb" that I go by, based on experience, is multiply the cost of making the part X4 and your get the minimum retail price. Depending on the injector casting and how complex the design is, the market, etc $7 may be reasonable. Parts like that may have cores that need to be placed. Parts like that probably aren''t going to fly off the shelf. Shipping cost is often dictated by the particular carrier and the cost of packing. Today I had a customer wanting cheaper than the post office quoted for international shipping which isn't going to happen.

IF there is a demand for a particular part at a reasonable price I'd be interested them. Precisely what do you want???

Jack
 

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Posted By Mik on 03/05/2009 2:18 PM
[edited]
Good thing nobody ever considered bashing as a way to SAVE money, ain't it?l.











Um ... I did.


Les
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What do I want? Everything for nothing just like every other consumer, lol. A basic upgrade at a package price would be really sweet, though.

This is the $7 injector, each loco has two = $14:


This is a $7 brake stand, if your loco has both independent and train brakes then you need two of these as well = $14 (14+14=28):


This is the only multi-chime whistle that I've seen, it's fairly reasonable at $3.50 -- IF you're ordering enough to make the shipping worthwhile(28+3.50=$31.50)


Builder's plate, optional but nice to have, only $1.50 through Ozark (see 0295), but again you need two= $3 (31.50+3=$34.50)

Backhead Throttle, all anybody seems to make even though many engines had throttles mounted ON TOP of the boiler instead.Ozark (183) = $2.67 (34.5+2.67=$37.17)

Johnson (reverser) bar, Ozark (182) = $4 (37.17+4=$41.17)

Small and large pop valves, conveniently 2 identical in a package, except some locos like The Ks on the C&TS have one of each size... from Ozark, Sm (170) $1.68, lg (171) =$2.03 (41.17+2.03=$43.20)

Water column, Ozark (188) =$3.48 (43.20+3.48=$46.68)

Set of 3 try cocks, Ozark (186) = $1.62 (46.68+1.62=$48.30)

Drifting valves, pair, Ozark (189) = $1.68 (48.30+1.68=$49.98)

backhead tray w/ oil can, Ozark = $1.92 (49.98+1.92=$51.90)

smokebox cleanouts, pair, Ozark (204) = $3.07 (51.90+3.07=$54.97)

boiler washout plugs, set of 4, Ozark (210) = $1.86 (54.97+1.86=$56.83)

boiler steps, set of 4, Ozark (214) = $3.02 (56.83+3.02=$59.85)

Brake hose set (sold as enough for 2), Ozark (41) = $3.71 (59.85+3.71=$63.56)

Classification lights, pair, Ozark (90) =$4.70 (63.56+4.70=$68.26)

Poker and rake set, Ozark (74) = $1.68 (68.26+1.68=$69.44)

rerail frog, $3.07 x 2, Ozark (169) = $6.14 (69.44+6.14=$73.58)

turret manifold = $7 (73.58+7.00=80.58)




Detroit lubricator = $7.50 ($80.58+7.50=$88.08)


blow downs $7.00 (88.08+7.00=95.08)






So, I decide to buy these basic items, and what have I accomplished, besides spending almost enough on bling to have purchased a second locomotive? Nothing radical, and we STILL have the crappy bug mauler air pump and tanks, rudimentary cast-in brake cylinders, and haven't even really started on the cab piping. I wouldn't even consider calling it 'superdetailing' yet, because most people probably wouldn't even notice the differences, unless it was pointed out to them.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Posted By Les on 03/06/2009 6:44 PM
Posted By Mik on 03/05/2009 2:18 PM
[edited]
Good thing nobody ever considered bashing as a way to SAVE money, ain't it?l.











Um ... I did.


Les


So did I, until I got the bill
 

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Ummm.....Mik, is this a rant or simply an observation? This hobby of ours isn't cheap! The details that Ozark Miniatures, Trackside Details, Hartford, Accucraft, etc... provide are a niche market! Only scale model hobbyists (for the most part) are going to go to the trouble of assembling all of these "blings" into a coherent unit so that it is accurate! The OTB people will be happy with what they get. Yes, it costs a bunch to do it right but isn't that part of what makes it so special? There are all sorts of articles telling us how to scratchbuild things from everyday items. Fletch is the master at it! Sometimes though it helps to cut corners and these detail parts are it! Like the old saying goes, "You can have it quick, you can have it good, you can have it cheap.....pick two!
 

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This hobby has never been for the "faint of heart" as far as the old wallet is concerned. You get what you pay for and Trackside Details and Ozark make some nice stuff.
 

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I save money too, lots and lots of it,

So I spend $50 on parts, big deal, a new locomotive is anywhere between $300 to $700 to much more than that, its all realitive.

Some stuff you can learn to replicate in plastic, some stuff can be fabricated, that Masterclasses taught that to me, but some things are really best bought. Some details can be fabricated "close enough" but if your a serious stickler for exact detail. be prepared to fork over some coin. Luckily I've never been serious about anything, so I dont get hung up on exactness to prototype or any of that stuff

BTW way are all those things brass? I use almost always Ozark white metal parts, much more affordable
 

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Posted By Steve Stockham on 03/06/2009 9:31 PM
Ummm...
...
Like the old saying goes, "You can have it quick, you can have it good, you can have it cheap.....pick two!


All too often I am only allowed to pick ONE
... and then I am told I can't have that either!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Posted By Steve Stockham on 03/06/2009 9:31 PM
Ummm.....Mik, is this a rant or simply an observation?


An observation... and a hop skip and jump thought progression from the thread about scratchbuilding to save money. I was startled when I sat down and added everything up. It was one of those "HQLY SH$T!!!" moments, where you ask the question "What the H#ll was I thinking?" Spending $90 to fix up a loco you spent $50 (what was left after I sold off the rest of the set) on just sounds really bizarre if you stop to think about it. And none of the parts themselves are really outrageously priced, so you don't notice until you DO add up the total...my mom calls it "nickle and diming yourself to death."


Yes, the Trackside Detail pieces are brass, the Ozark ones white metal, the TD pieces I included are ones the Ozark doesn't make.
 

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I found the pixes you posted most helpful, Mik. Thanks! You're right, it's the shipping that's the back-breaker.

Uh, what's a 'blowdown valve'? A 'drifter valve?' What do they do? I think I can surmise, but would like the word from them as knows.

As far as 'making' vs 'buying'--I'll make or probably do w/o. I have much more time than money. Though yesterday I got a coupon from Harbor Freight on the same day I got a flyer that showed the big toolbit grinder back in stock. 20% off $150 ain't shabby. Could we be forgetting to figure in the 'want vs need' factor? Nah.
Not me.

Les
 

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I do lost wax castings....

Let's see; the oven to cure the flasks cost $350, the Electromelt furnace around $500, the vac assist casting machine $1200. You carve all the waxes, unless you make a mold... cast one and reproduce it, then youll need to add the rubber vulcanizer platten $400, Air compressor and wax pot $400.. Not to mention incidentals; Mold plates, clamps, mold release, different waxes with different properties, rubber, metal, hot wax pen, TIME.... ok you want what cheap? Oh yeah wanna pay my electric bill?

Tool prices 4 yrs ago. My set up is for jewelry where we can recoup the overhead faster, niche markets must spread that out over mucho time to keep the costs down, I bet you think these folks are getting rich, I think they're just barely above breaking even....

John

What price do you put on Happiness? I just paid $2300 to get my truck out of the repair shop, am I happy? Well yes I have my truck back and no, sure could have bought all the stainless steel track I wanted....
 

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When I order parts that are not too thick, I ask if they can be sent in a bubble pack envelope. As an example, I had E Cubed R/C mail me three Black Kat antennas in a bubble pack envelope. Azaar was concerned about damage, but when I agreed to assume the loss for damage, he agreed. He paid less than $2 for international postage instead of $10, and I had my goods undamaged in 9 days. I saved $8 on shipping costs and the antennas arrived in my mail box in less than half the time it usually takes for an international shipment.

The bubble packs envelopes are shipped as oversized letters and delivered to by your postman. It’s cheaper and faster than even the smallest box. The Post Office outlets have a template for measuring the width and thickness of oversized letters. It looks like a wide mail slot. When I asked “what was the largest bubble pack envelope that would fit?” they replied a number four. It is 9 ½ inches (24 cm) wide by 13 1/2 inches (34 cm) long. That’s big enough to mail 50 two-pin plug sets and a bunch of small electrical components.

All Electronics and courier services will often use bubble pack envelopes for small shipments. They are cheaper than boxes and protective stuffing, easy to seal, and less expensive to post.
 

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Les,

Here's a link that would explain a drifter valve much better than I could.

http://www.livesteam.com/steam_accessories/driftervalve.html

Blowdown valves are on each side of the boiler firebox at the lowest point of the mudring. They are opened by a lever to let steam escape and blow particulates and other foreign material from the mudring. I have two on my 1.5 Allen Ten-wheeler live steamer.
 

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IF there is a demand for a particular part at a reasonable price I'd be interested


Jack, my first observation is that the LAST thing we want is another vendor making the same items in competition with existing suppliers. Sorry, but that seems like a sure-fire recipe for both to get 1/2 the biz and go bust.

I think the prices are reasonable. One cost that hasn't been mentioned is the physical requirements: storage for all those parts that are waiting for a buyer, somewhere to put the equipment, and somewhere a long way from the EPA, or an expensive waste disposal system for the cast-offs and by-products. I don't think you can run such a biz in a town - you almost have to have a couple of acres a long way from civilisation.

Mik, I'm not sure why you were surprised that your parts were going to be more than the cost of the basic loco. Bachmann has spent $$$ on moulds for the plastic model, and you got 1 of the throusands made for a decent price. If you choose to super-detail it, then it will cost lots more! And what about the cost of your time to add all these details.

Can't wait to see pics of the finished loco!
 

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Posted By Les on 03/07/2009 7:47 AM
I found the pixes you posted most helpful, Mik. Thanks! You're right, it's the shipping that's the back-breaker.

Les



Unless comparison shopping, I have never allowed shipping to be a factor in price on anything. It, like death, taxes and exploxive gas after eating cabbage soup with a tall glass of egg-nog (don't ask) are just facts of life.

While the "amount" may seem high, think a minute.....$30.00 to get an LGB loco from Cali to my doorstep here in Nashvegas is a roaring bargain. Heck, if something were on the west side of Nashville or I could get it shipped for $15, I would take the shipping. There is gasoline, wear and tear, someone would want to stop for a drink, an hour of my time, etc....

Naturlly, if I have an option between shipping for $10 or $15, I would take the cheaper amount, but still a fact of life.

The only exception to this is when someone makes money off of shipping. I paid EUR 39 to have a box shipped that EUR 22 was the actual cost, plus the vendor would not remove VAT....a bit ticked on that
.
 

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As Vic said, you can often make detail parts yourself that are "close enough" -- especially if you're just trying to fix up a cheap loco. When I detailed the backhead in my Buddy L loco, I didn't want to a lot of money on it -- that loco just isn't worth it. All I wanted was something that looked reasonable and eliminated all that "empty" space on the backhead.

I used thin brass rods and plastic tubes to make piping and levers. Almost everything else was made from bits and pieces of junk, carefully chosen and modified as needed. Some old HO and N scale brake wheels became valve handles. I made the backhead tray out of styrene. Etc, etc. So it is possible to scratch build or kitbash without spending a lot of cash. Even if you have to buy a few of the more complex parts, building the rest will save you some bucks.

On the other hand there are situations that warrant the cost of good quality detail parts.
 

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Posted By Les on 03/07/2009 7:47 AM
I found the pixes you posted most helpful, Mik. Thanks! You're right, it's the shipping that's the back-breaker.

Uh, what's a 'blowdown valve'? A 'drifter valve?' What do they do? I think I can surmise, but would like the word from them as knows.

As far as 'making' vs 'buying'--I'll make or probably do w/o. I have much more time than money. Though yesterday I got a coupon from Harbor Freight on the same day I got a flyer that showed the big toolbit grinder back in stock. 20% off $150 ain't shabby. Could we be forgetting to figure in the 'want vs need' factor? Nah.
Not me.

Les



A "Blowdown Valve" is a valve placed LOW on the boiler, usually one in the middle of each side of the firebox or four at or near each corner, sometimes there are more. They are a type of valve that opens and closes very wide and very quickly. Often just a sliding gate across a 1/2" to 1&1/2" diameter hole with little or no piping to or from it.

They are used to blow the "mud" (minerals, crud and gunk) that collects at the bottom of the boiler as it precipitates out of the water as it is boiled away. The idea being that the high pressure steam above the water forces water across the mud and blows it out of the boiler. Fresh water is then injected into the boiler to replenish what was lost. (Obviously they should not be open for a realy long time!)

Many videos of Steam Excursions have scenes where the engine is on a bridge and massive amounts of steam jet from under the cab on one or both sides for a few seconds. That is a "blowdown" being performed to clean some of the mud out of the boiler.

Some Garden Gauge sized Live Steam manufactures install a valve high on the boiler and call it a "blow down valve" but, strictly speaking, it is just a vent valve to reduce the pressure in the boiler quickly, and is NOT a "blowdown valve". Hopefully the owner has been using distilled water so there is no mud to be blown out of the boiler, so a true "blowdown valve" is not really needed on a miniature boiler.

As jewelry on an electric replica of a steam engine they just need to be a small disk mounted near the bottom on the side of the firebox (one or two on each side) with maybe a lever out the side to simulate the valve.
 
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