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Dear Rapido Customer,
Bendy Track Update
We announced Bendy Track last year to much fanfare, promising to deliver it in the fall. We delivered a bunch of Code 100 Bendy Track around Christmas and then nothing else. So what happened?
To put it bluntly, despite the assurances from our suppliers we fell victim to the same issues facing most track manufacturers. The suppliers in China simply aren't delivering track in the quantities needed. Most track made in China has traditionally come from one factory, and that factory is facing its own problems. The result is that there are track machines sitting idle while we in North America are all clamouring for more track!
I am going to China in August and one of the purposes of my trip is to work on the solution to our track supply issues. Hopefully I will have good news for you following that visit.
In the meantime, if you need track now I highly recommend Peco North American Code 83. It's carried by hundreds of dealers across North America and as it's made in the UK they don't have the same supply issues that the rest of us are facing in China. Contact your dealer for more info.
New Blog Entry - Our UK Trip
Bill and I just came back from a whirlwind trip around the UK, specifically England and Scotland. You may have read about our new British model, the OO gauge APT-E, in our last newsletter.
I've written a blog entry about it - part behind-the-scenes info, part trainspotting essay, part British travel guide. I hope you enjoy the read! Please click here to read about Bill and Jason's Excellent UK Adventure.
Subscribe to our UK Newsletter
As we've now expanded across the Atlantic Ocean we have decided to divide up our newsletters. You are currently reading Rapido News, which means that you will only receive news about our North American models.
If you wish to receive our UK edition of Rapido News, you will need to update your profile with Constant Contact, our newsletter provider. Click here to do that. Log in with your email address and then scroll down until you see the check boxes for Rapido News and Rapido News UK. You can choose to receive either newsletter or both of them.
The Same Except for the Differences
I'm going to turn the floor over to Bill, who has graciously offered to write the essay in this newsletter.
As Jason has mentioned in his blog entry, he and I have just returned from a whirlwind tour of the UK which focused on the introduction of our first UK model project, the OO gauge APT-E. The announcement that we were entering the UK market left many of our fans on our side of the pond wondering what we were thinking. After all, it's all "foreign" stuff, isn't it? What would we want to be doing that for? Won't that take away from our other projects? Are we nuts?
Well, I'll leave that last one alone for now.
The vast majority of North American modellers model, well, North American subjects! It is understandable that most of us don't notice modelling in Europe or the UK all that often. But I would venture to say that if we look a little closer there are many more similarities than differences between North American and British model railroaders.
To be sure, there are obvious visual differences between British and North American trains. British rolling stock and train lengths tend to be shorter than their North American counterparts for example. However, this works as an advantage given the more limited spaces that most UK modellers have to work in.
Most goods (freight) trains in the UK for many years were "loose coupled" and "unfitted." In other words, they were coupled together with three-link chain couplings and ran without central braking. Shorter train lengths and weights again allowed this. Look past the obvious differences though and you might find that the approach that modellers in the UK take toward their hobby in many ways parallels those now in vogue here.
Both Jason and I have reputations as being "Prototype modellers." His under-construction Kingston Sub layout is firmly based on segments of the CN mainline between Toronto and Montreal. Each location that he is modelling will be based as closely as possible on the real locations, including track layouts, structures and scenery.
This is much the same approach that I took (in a much smaller space) on my New York, Ontario and Western layout. It is also the same approach that many other North American modellers in recent years have been pursuing as we move away from spaghetti bowl track plans and more toward realistic modelling. The Brits? They've been prototype modelling for decades.
If there is a stereotypical British layout, it is the branch line terminus or through station which models just one town. Many of them are built in smaller spaces than most North American modellers would contemplate, a side effect of having fewer available basements perhaps. Still, the basic approach that has been used in the UK for years is much the same as many well-known layouts here are using (including Jason's and mine): a train moving through one "pure" scene at a time. Trains come in from fiddle yards (we call it staging), move through the layout, do their bit, then either terminate or move on.
British scenery techniques provide much for us to learn from as well, particularly their approaches to ground cover, trees and shrubs. One of my favourite UK layout web sites is County Gate, a British narrow gauge exhibition layout with stunning scenery and an owner with a witty sense of humour. He goes into some useful detail on many of his scenery techniques in his "How To" section, which is well worth the read. Also, be sure to look at his other layouts, including the stunning "Cliffhanger" and the N scale "Satanic Mills," both linked off of the bottom of the left-hand menu of his site.
Can you tell that Jason wrote that caption?
Recently circumstances have meant that I have had to refocus my own modelling efforts. The space previously used for my O&W layout was needed for other uses (I'll be talking about that in a future blog entry). To keep my fingers dirty I resuscitated my old British OO gauge layout which for 15 years or so had languished underneath the O&W. It now resides along one wall of my attic office.
My layout, Teesbury, is the clichéd British "GWR BLT," or Great Western Railway branch line terminus. In the UK, layouts like mine are like opinions - everybody seems to have one - but here in Connecticut they are relatively rare! The experience of revamping this layout along with being involved up to my eyeballs in the development of the APT-E model has meant that I am rediscovering the great modelling going on over on the other side.
One thing that was made very clear to Jason and me when we were in the UK meeting with dozens of modellers is that model railroaders in the UK and in North America are essentially the same. We have the same passion for trains and for great layouts, and get us talking about our favourite prototype and we won't shut up! Jason commented to me recently that often a non-train person will ask him about his modelling. Jason responds and after a short time the non-train person looks like he would like to be anywhere else but listening to Jason. Sound familiar? It does to me!
I hope that you will take some time and check out some of the work being done by UK modellers. Many of the techniques can provide inspiration for our own modelling, no matter what the subject. Below are just a few places to check out some great modelling.
I was saddened to hear this week of the passing of noted railroad historian and freight car expert, Richard Hendrickson. Richard was one of the founding fathers of the RPM (Railroad Prototype Modelers) movement and he was always a tremendous resource for both modellers and manufacturers alike. He provided information to many manufacturers including Rapido over the years and could always be counted on to give prompt, factual and unbiased answers to questions.
I had the honour of knowing and working with Richard for many years and will miss our conversations on a wide range of topics beyond trains, including vintage cars, wine, travel and other shared interests. His legacy lives on through the numerous accurate rolling stock models operating on layouts today, including the Rapido Meat Reefer.
I'll pass the baton back over to Jason. Thanks for reading. And thanks for your patience with all of Jason's extra letters he keeps adding into my essay. He is a modeler with no sense of humor or color. It is not honorable that he keeps correcting my spelling. I wish he would do me the favor of not adding all these extra @#$%! letters.
I think we've made enough announcements for the time being. Each one of these product launches is a huge amount of work! Bill and I don't have a team of copywriters. I do the newsletters and the ads and he designs the web site and the dealer sales sheets. That's on top of the R&D and other stuff we're responsible for. And we can't forget Dan and Mike, who are up to their ears in shipments and customer service requests and complain that I am incommunicado while working on these launches.
So I promise that it will be AT LEAST A MONTH before our next huge product announcement. I'll probably be writing that newsletter from China. After Bill and I endured flying to China in economy last year I told him that I have a choice: I could afford to take him with me or fly business class by myself for the same price. Needless to say, I've been flying on my own to China lately. Those business class pods are quite comfortable...
In the meantime I'll be in touch on our Facebook page. (You don't have to be signed up for Facebook to view our updates.) You also might want to subscribe to our YouTube channel as we're uploading another silly video there in the coming weeks as well as a video of the LRC locomotive MOVING! (We hope.)
All the best,
Rapido Trains Inc.
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