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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was wondering if it might not be a good option for Accucraft to offer their engines in a "Custom tuned version"? When someone places their order they could take their chances on getting a good runner, or pay extra upfront and be assured that it would be. There are other products that are offered this way, why not Accucraft Loco's. If you are mechanically inclined and like to tinker you can take your chances with what is right of the assembly line, and if not up to par, get it running right yourself. If not, (Like me) it would be well worth the extra money charged to get a well tuned runner right out of the box. As it is now, if you have problems you spend a lot of time and shipping expense to and from Accucraft for warranty work, let alone the chances you take with the shippers messing up your prized Loco in route. I think many would be happy to pay more to get a good runner up front and avoid the hassles down the road. What do you think? :)
 

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Nice idea... but what is it worth to you?

Also, not to cast aspersions, but there would be the fear that those that purchase the "untuned" version might be getting the ones that the "tuner" was unable to make work and it was passed on to the more frugal purchaser.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
When you are talking about Locos in the 3.5 to 5K price range already...........I would be happy to pay 3 to 4 hundred more to avoid the frustration and get a well tuned runner. As far as Locos that could not be tuned by a competent Locosmith, I would hope that Accucraft would realize that it should go to the parts bin and never be released to a consumer. I mean if a true craftsman could not get it running it's a junker anyway.
 

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Steve
I do not believe it is a matter of "tuning" but basic fundamentals of steam delivery and mechanics that need to be correct from the production line. For example, having an engine without working combination levers (SG) is like having a car without overdrive (when that is a product standard)relative to efficiency. There is no way to "tune" that problem. Simply ask yourself if it was an Aster model would you be posing this query. There lies the answer.
Secondly, I do not believe that Accucraft will invest the time, man power hours or production schedule for "custom tuning," vs. mass assembly line productons.
Lastly, if it is valve setting, eccentrics, etc the QC should ensure that all engines run properly off the production line, I/we as customers should not pay for something that is as basic as a properly running engine out of the box.
If any thing, maybe be "hop-ups" such as better line connectors (e.g.quick disconnects) or even a limited deluxe model (I would have paid more for a properly designed GS4 by Accucraft probably cheaper rate based on volume vs. one of a kind custom work).
My hobby locomotives are not like my other hobby of rally cars which custom tunes are based on different mechanical parts (bigger turbo, injectors, fuel pump etc) resulting in better high end performance. I doubt we will add more cylinders to a model.
Performance for our G1 motive power is related to:
Power and Tractive effort
TE = N (e P � (d/2)2 s) / D
P x L x A x N
# TE is the tractive effort at the driving wheels
# e is a constant representing the efficiency of the cylinders - 0.75 is probably a good figure to use in G1 with a superheater.
# P is the boiler pressure
#L is length of stroke
# d is the piston diameter
# s is the piston stroke
# D is the driving wheel diameter
# N is a factor based on the number of double acting cylinders ( for 2 cylinders, N=1; 3 cylinders, N=1.5; 4 cylinders, N=2)
Power = Force x Speed component along the line of the force.
Force- drawbar test x speed (determined by lap time chart on Southern Steam Train web site)
So, what of the these components would be tuned to allow better power and/or tractive effort.
BTW- excellent thread on G1MRA power calculations.
Probably just add weight over the drivers and grooving the tires are the best "hop-ups!"
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I/we as customers should not pay for something that is as basic as a properly running engine out of the box.

Charles, I agree with this statement, however customers are paying for Accucraft Locos that are not running well out of the box, and then going to a lot of time, money, and trouble anyway. I agree, it would be asking too much for the Chineese to tune some at the assembly line. Maybe Accucraft U.S.A. could have a certain percentage of each run of a new model sent direct to a few trusted Accucraft licensed locosmiths that could get them running right for a extra charge. It could be a bussiness deal between Accucraft and their chosen locosmiths. Make it worth these American craftsmans time and effort (cash that is). I think that you would be amazed at how many would pay up to an extra 4 to 5 hundred bucks to get a well tuned running engine when you consider that they are already paying 4 to 6 K for one thats a crap shoot on quality in the first place.
 

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Just Wondering -- :confused:

Why not make them all "right" in the first place. Make them all the same during production and make them all "right." From a quality control/quality assuance and business perspective this seems like the way to go./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/ermm.gif

My engines are all either Aster or Roundhouse and they all ran "right" in the first place. Now having said that, Ya'll can tell I really only know about Accucraft by observing those owned by others and what I read in the magazines and see on line. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif

At this point if I am going to spend 5,000.00 on an engine it probably will not be an Accucraft. But to each his own. Obviously Accucraft has a big following. So far the information in the thread "Rebuilt C21 by Dave Hottman" has done nothing tp put an Accrucaft on my want list. And -- the main reason they are not on my list is the (current) apparent need for after market tuning alluded to by Steve./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif

I am considering the purchase of a K-36; however, I am more and more leary of how one may perform out of the box./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/unsure.gif:confused:
 

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the chances you take with the shippers messing up your prized Loco in route.

No amount of tuning is going to solve that problem.

But it would be nice to have a "take it out of the box and steam it before shipping; fix any problems" option. Perhaps the problem is that they are packed in China, so taking it out of the box (and repacking it) is a major expense.
 

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I agree with Dave. My first "live steamer" will be the Aster S2 for that very reason. When I first got interested in the hobby a couple of years ago I considered Accucraft, until I read all of the issues and modifications and testing that appeared to be needed to fine tune these for optimal performance. No thanks!
If I am going to fork over several thousand dollars, I demand something that is engineered and built right the first time. Not to say that every Aster is perfect, but based on the threads I've read my chances of having a properly engineered and optimal running loco out of the box are much better with Aster. Well worth the extra investment, in my opinion.
 

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The system now seems to be, pardon the pun, the squeaky wheel gets a trip to Dave Hoffmann

jim

The issue seems to get back to price. Sometimes Accuraft is good out of the box, but some do need tuning. My Accuraft GS4 needed tuning
and I was frustrated about the lack of draft for a year. but after my own tuning, this thread line and a trip to a pro, it is a terrific runner and still much cheaper than the Aster GS4. and not to get started again, Asters can be finicky.



I consider all this is part of the hobby. better than electric
 

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I really cannot believe what I`m reading, You
would offer to pay "Extra Hard Earned Money" to
receive an Item in "Perfect or Near Perfect"
condition over and above the R.R.P..
It is your right to receive the very best these
people can produce, and if for any reason it is
not so, then send it back!.
I don`t care who builds it or for that matter
what it is, It should not require a "Bribe" to
receive what you`ve already paid for, "The Best",
"The Prettiest", "The Fastest", "The Smoothest",
You are entitled to that!.
It also do`se not matter a "Hoot" what Country
built it, be it America, China, Australia, Britain
or "Timbucktoo", We expect the very best they can
produce, or they should take up "Knitting" as a
Hobby. {and dont drop a stich!.} ;-}/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif
Regards,
John R.
 

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JohnR:

Think of it this way.

I will sell you a live steam model of a U.P. BigBoy for, oh, say $1,234.56.

Think you'd like to have one?

This is gonna have to be in kit form. You will receive a bag of copper nuggets and some talconite and a few sections of an old I-beam for the steel. All you gotta do it melt it all down to form the parts, machine them, then assemble it and tune it up! :)

If you would like the metals already in the final crystaline form and pressed into sheets, then I will be willing to take on that task FOR A PRICE... oh say, and additional $4,567.89.

Now if you would like that raw metal to be machined then I am going to have to charge a fee for that process. I'd guess about $9,876.54 will take care of it.

Do you want it painted? That'll be extra...I guess about $1234.56.

You want it assembled!!!!? Oh, sorry, I charge another 2,345.67 for that.

You expect me to fire it up and make it work right? That's another $987.65.

Shipping is extra, as is shipping insurance.

Ooooorrrrrrr ! You can pay $20,246.87 for the whole thing, materials, smelting, machining, painting, assembling and tuning. You can leave out any of those processes and do them yourself if you wish. Send me the raw materials and I do the rest, or I can supply them to you and you can smelt them down and send them back for me to do the rest. Your choice, any combination of you and me doing it.

(Note: all prices subject to currency exchange rates and my whim. Availability subject to the phase of the moon and my insanity.)



The "PERCEPTION" on this forum (and other Model train forums) is that the manufacturer is selling the stuff for the price that the market will bear can based on what it is paying for the services of the factory that is actually making the locos for them. This price "apparently" does NOT include the costs of "tuning" the engine. (Again, this is PERCEPTION and may have nothing at all to do with reality!)

Some of the people here are saying, "Raise your price to cover the cost of 'tuning' the loco". Others are saying, "I want it cheaper, I'll do the 'tuning' myself".

You ARE getting what you are paying for, and apparently you are not presently paying for the factory to do the final step.

I agree with you, I want an engine that works right out of the box... well, I want the KIT to be complete and all that parts to be manufactured correctly, etc. as I prefer the Aster experience! But if that means paying more, then that must be what will happen. At present the paradigm is that it is cheaper for the manufacturer to accept the bad publicity of the end user having to return items for "repair/correction" in order to sell at the present market price.
 

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...You ARE getting what you are paying for, and apparently you are not presently paying for the factory to do the final step...

Therein lies the problem, on so many levels. At the risk of turning this into a similar debate concerning another prominent 1:20 manufacturer, why are we as consumers accepting of things that don't run properly out of the box? For the amount of money we spend on these locos, proper machining, construction, and operation should be included in the price. There's no excuse for it not to be. When I buy any other expensive mechanical device (car, lawnmower, etc.) am I supposed to expect to have to balance the tires myself?

Yes, this is a hobby of tinkerers, and perhaps part of the problem stems from the fact that each of us has different ideas of what is "ideal" operation. Maybe the locos do run well enough out of the box, and we're just too exacting. I don't know. Live steam locos are individual beasts by nature. But it just boggles my mind why we readily accept "inferior" products simply by justifying it to ourselves by saying "well, it's a bargain at that price, so it's okay."

Later,

K
 

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Posted By East Broad Top on 05/17/2008 7:19 PM
...You ARE getting what you are paying for, and apparently you are not presently paying for the factory to do the final step...

...
why are we as consumers accepting of things that don't run properly out of the box?
...
K




Simple! Because that is all we are willing to pay for.
 

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I must admit to having a slightly different perspective, as we once bought a semi-custom boat (real - not a model!) The manufacturer made it, but didn't do a great job of "final test and inspection". The dock guys at their marina were expected to finish tuning air-conditioners, radios, drives, and various other items. We finally got them all sorted, but it took a while and delayed delivery.
I often get the impression that Accucraft feels the same way - especially when they announce a cut-off of March 31 for a particular model (EBT #12) meaning they want to know how many models to make. They aren't doing mass merchandising, and the models are all slightly different; more semi-custom manufacturing.

However, I'll bet Accucraft would look at this thread with concern and regret. I doubt that they want to provide a product that doesn't work out-of-the-box. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this confined to live steamers? Don't the electric locos work most of the time? And isn't it a random problem: some folks locos work perfectly and others are missing bits, are damaged in shipping, or just don't work right?

The problem, IMHO, is that they can't teach the factory to do the final QC and test before shipping. It can't be a cost/price issue, as the cost of doing it there before packing the loco has to be fairly small. This suspicion is confirmed by the random packing issues: some locos are packed beautifully, and some folk complain that parts are scattered all over the box.

I know they test the boiler, as they send a certificate. But I don't think they run a real live steam test. Maybe we should petition them to always steam the loco before packing and shipping. That produces other issues, such as damaging the perfect finish with the flame, and purging the gas tank completely afterwards, but they aren't insurmountable.
 

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There are a handful of folks out there who work on live steam models for pay. I'm sure that if you contracted with one of them before buying a loco, you could have it shipped directly to the expert for test and tuning before sending it along to you. There always is a way if you really want it.
My experience with Roundhouse locos has been that they always run just fine as delivered. But, then, they brag about test running each loco before shipping it. Certainly, the factory that Accucraft buys from could do the same. Somehow, I just don't think that it's going to happen.
I'm accustomed to tinkering with my models and don't mind having to do some tuning up. Fortunately, if you can't or don't want to do it yourself, there are those who are willing to do it for a fee.
Llyn
 

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We all know that it takes some experience or coaching to run an aster when it is not quite right. Part of the hobby. That is one reason why this forum is so important. as well as Diamondhead etc.

There is an issue when the engines are quite pricey. The Accucraft GS4 is a case in point. It was $4449 rather than $10000 for an Aster.
People thought they were getting a good deal on a beautiful engine, but it was still alot of money. The quality was all over the place, and it is hard to second guess what went on. Some were good out of the box and some could not sustain themselves for 2 lapse on the track.

The GS4 is just about sold out. I wounder how many were sold to new steamers with high hopes of money well spent, but these engines don't run very well and the steamers are not clear on what to do. Not good for the hobby
jim

jim
 

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Hey, it takes "experience or coaching to run" a Ruby when it is "not quite right".

And if you read all the forums here on MLS you will find that the same is true of the "sparkies", both track and battery powered, as well.

Ever read the discussions on "TRACK POWER"... talk about "FINICKY!" Whoa! Ya gotta clean that track every other time the train goes areound. And how do you connect the wires... why can't the manufacturer's make a good way to do it? Wha'da'ya mean I gotta buy third party clips and clamps and put extra feed wires all over? Why do I have to keep cleaning the wheels and how come there is so much friction in the pickups that I have to adjust?

How about the discussions of getting a battery to take and hold a charge and then get it to run the sound board AND get the chuff right. How come the purchaser has to rewire it to get the backup light to only come on when the loco is in reverse?

What about all the complaints of how lousy the "Christmas" trains are! Don't last, wear out, noisy, use up batteries like a dog drinks from the toilet on a hot day!

Oh dear, now I gotta get Radio Control??? That Alphabet soup won't work with the other Alphabet soup! Range is not long enough, won't work well with that brand of train, AM, FM, PCM, glitching, artifacts, interference, my garage door keep going up and down!
 

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Good points Charles,

Even though we live off of the great stuff (and affordable limit for some) from Accucraft and their labor conditions,
there is still some buyer beware going on. Some of the first time steamer GS4 owners are not too happy.

jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
There are a handful of folks out there who work on live steam models for pay


This is true. Accucraft realizes this, and also knows that the folks that expect their engines to run right will go to the time, effort, and money to seek these people out. If they can not do it themselves. Then, after all of this effort, and, or money spent they come on MLS and sing the praises of Accucraft. Accucraft sure must make a good margin of profit on their Loco's, when you figure how much it must cost them for warranty repair. I guess things wont change until the cost of doing warranty work and exchange outweighs what it would cost to figure out a way to test locos in China before shipment.
 

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I do not think that "bench testing" is the level of QC that is necessary. The fact that the GS4 would have passed (and did so on our initial run on our track) was not the issue at hand. We have retrofitted 12 GS4 that will allow it them to run at an Aster performance level. Jim Overland knows the fundamentals that make the engine purr vs. the stock out of the box. It is not "bench testing" but a process of consultants such as Dick Abbott, Gordon Watson, Norm Saley, Kevin O'Connor, Dave Hottman, the list goes on that will improve the performance of the offerings. I believe that the CP Hudson is undergoing such a process. Such "team work" allows the product to get out from the control of the engineers and into the hands of highly experienced steam experts who stress proper fundamental designs, not what is cost saving (Accucraft already receives a discount in manufacturer through China work force) for the higher profits.
 
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