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Just Wondering

11428 Views 87 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  rbednarik
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.

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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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?

Simple! Because that is all we are willing to pay for.
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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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Used to be when you bought a new car, there was an add-on to the price that was designated as "Dealer Prep"? The car did NOT work well direct from the factory, it required a "tune up" first. For that matter, the last NEW car I got, was missing a couple of trim screws, a couple of bolts needed tightening and the bumper was crooked!
Posted By JEFF RUNGE on 05/18/2008 8:32 PM
So are you saying the "Dealers" should be "tuning" the engines before delivery ??? Not sure their going to like their new responsibility..Are they going to have to be factory "trained""? ???

Yes, if we follow the paradigm of auto manufacture and distribution. I don't call that the "BEST" paradigm, but it is one that works... err... maybe... kind'a... almost... ??? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/ermm.gif

It would eliminate the locos that are damaged in the "sea" trip (though do nothing for what the domestic shippers do to them afterwards). This is actually what some have called for here... ship it initially to a particular steam Guru for "Dealer Prep" and they then deliver it.

I am sure that some of that is done now and is done "pro bono" amongst "friends", which is probably okay for the "friends" on a onesy-twosy basis. Some may be done on a gratuity basis and maybe some have been done on an hourly rate or "cost plus", but the number that have been done that way is probably very low (per guru).

I understand that at Diamondhead it is done on a 24 hour basis, and little, if any, "remuneration" changes hands!

I wonder, what would our "steam guru's" that frequent MLS would charge for this service? Someone here stated they would be willing to spend a couple hundred for it... is that "enough" to make it worth while to anyone?
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One more thing... if there is any "factory training" to be done, it would probably be best if the local steam guru went to China to do the training of the factory! :)
I agree that what comes out of the box should work, whether it is a New Bright, Accucraft or Aster.

But those three brands offer product at widely different prices.


I cannot answer with "absolutes" as I have no idea what the processes are that produce the products or what they cost or what the profit margin is for any of the companies.

TO ME, it is obviously a difference in raw material costs, amount of material, engineering of the product and the process that produces the product, advertising, shipping, and the profit margin the company is expecting.

Apparently, the people that are "in the know" but still purchase the New Bright product, expect it to be made of plastic and pot metal and to not be engineered nor manufactured to work well, or to work well for very long. (Those that are not "in the know", either take the unit back to the store for a refund or say, "Well, what did you expect? It was cheap!" and throw it away. Either that, or they only run it an hour or two per year for just a couple of years and then it gets sold at a garage sale where the next owner doesn't care how good it is as they only paid $5.00 for it.)

Now as to the Accucraft and Aster compareson... The companies both have an engineering department of some sort and a manufacturing setup, either 'in-house' or contracted out, and some sort of sales force.

I gather the assumption is that if both companies made similar models of similar locomotives, the Aster one would be more expensive and the Accucraft one would be less expensive.

The question then, is WHY?

The answer could be one or more of many causes.

1) Aster is reaping a windfall profit from their good name, or Accucraft is not making as much profit trying to increase their part of the market share.
2) Labor charges are different for the two companies.
3) Aster's subcontractors are charging more for the piece parts, than Accucraft's.
.... which raises similar questions and answers as to "why?"
4) Aster performs some manufacturing step that Accucraft does not.
5) Aster's assembly process is being performed by more skilled personell that Accucraft's.

There are probably a dozen other things (in various possible combinations) that might account for the difference in price.

The ASSUMPTION by some of us on this forum is that the price difference is primarily my number 4 above, influenced by number 5 ... i.e.: that Accucraft is skipping a manufacturing step and that step is in the QC department to get the assemblers' quality up to snuff.

I agree that if you plunk down a four digit figure for a "toy" it ought'a work right out of the box. But it is possible that if Accucraft were to implement the QC function that would get that result for you, you might, JUST MIGHT, have to add another 3 or 4 digit figure to the price, bringing the price to something similar to what Aster charges.

I, personally own two Aster locomotives and I cannot claim that they worked "right out of the box" because when the came out of the box The piece parts and nuts and bolts were in little plastic bags. They did work "right out of my hands", but that compareson is not at all fair.

I have seen and operated a couple of Accucraft locos and although they DID work "right out of the box" (I helped unpack them and fire them up) they had a couple of problems that were easily corrected. And there were a couple of things that "I" would have engineered differently, but then the same is true of my car, my TV, my telephone answering machine, my house, my computer and the new mouse that I just bought for it (and threw across the room when it revealed itself to be akin to dung in operation) and my two Aster locomotives.

If New Bright, Aster and Accucraft were all to produce a 1:32 scale model of the "General" (of American Civil War fame), I suspect that the Aster would be more expensive than the Accucraft and the Accucraft to be more expensive than the New Bright.

But that price differential would be indicative of some difference in the models... either variance in "engineering", "details", "materials", "construction" or some other thing that might influence my decision as to which one I would be tripping all over myself to purchase.

If the only difference I could perceive was profit margin, I would be buying the cheapest one!

If the difference is in construction faux pas I might go for the cheapest one and hope that my talents can make up for that difference... then again, I may recognize my limitations and go for the higher priced one; yet, it is possible that I would gain nothing for my additional outlay.

You want an Aster at a New Bright price... or somewhere between those extremes... the question then is, what reduces the price to the one you are willing to pay, without complaining that you paid too much for what you got. Personally, I think the New Bright is too expensive for what I would get, the Accucraft is pretty close to delivering what is paid for, and the Aster is well worth the price.

If you think the Accucraft is not as good as the price charged, then I have a wireless mouse you can have (it has only been thrown across the room once and it still works as poorly as it did yesterday when it was new!)
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The dumb mousy is an interesting analogy here. I paid twice the price of a wired mouse and got less than a tenth the functionality... WAY LESS! It shuts down if not moved every few seconds. It randomly looses contact with the computer and I have to used the keyboard shortcuts to call the "Reset" program and go through an elaborate sequence of button pushing to regain control. The mouse arrow moves in spits and spurts, not always in the direction I move the mouse. The scroll wheel doesn't scroll the screen the same amount "down" and it does "up" for the same movement of the wheel... even moving the wheel one 'detent' per second or less. Sometimes the screen goes the opposite way in a series of wheel moves in one direction.

I have tried all sorts of variations in the settings for all the features: speed, acceleration, etc. I tried the original drivers as well as the latest from the manufacturer's web site.

All in all, dribbling a basketball, blindfolded, on a "touch pad" would be less frustrating to control the mouse arrow. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif

It is in this that I understand the people that say they want the Accucraft loco to run right "out of the box" --- I "expect" the mouse to work "correctly" -- "right out of the box"! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/angry.gif /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/angry.gif /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/angry.gif

I thought I'd get what I paid for! I paid an Aster price and got a New Bright garage sale reject! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif

Throwing it across the room was not nearly theraputic enough. Regardless of the $40.00 I paid for it, it is the fact that it would be environmentally irresponsible to pretend the mouse is a spike and test my aim with my genuine Burlington Route RR spike hammer.

What's worse to admit is that this is the third try in 6 years to get a wireless mouse. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif I love the idea, but they DO NOT WORK. :mad:
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The reason we 'mericuns is so rich is becuz of the expense, red tape and the hoops one has to jump through in order to be declared po'. Not only that we just caint afford to be indigent, but it is just too much trouble.

They say the first million dollars is the hardest, so I skipped it altogether and am now working on my second... I have now decided to skip that and go on to my third or fourth since I am nowhere near getting it.


tac: What do the 3 tailless rodents you have in the UK, and the 300 in Tokyo, do when they "work"? What kind of "work"? ... Paper weight or door stop? What brand of tranquillizer is most common amongst the folk whose hands are super-glued to them? Have you considered the 1,000,000 percent increase in productivity that would be realized if the people using them were allowed to use something a bit more accurate and rapid in operation (say, like putting a bunch of cats on a huge touch-pad and "herding" them around on it using Ferrets as sheepdogs)?
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You folk seem to have forgotten the little flap a couple of years ago where a vendor opened a box to run a loco and then had to sell it as "USED"!
If'n everybody would just do it MY way, there would be no debate! :D
Do you believe that "Blazing Saddles" had the minimal acceptable quality level "out of the box"?
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