This is Rapido News. We're making model trains great again, one newsletter at a time!

Rapido Newsletter Vol. 86
©2017 Rapido Trains Inc.
Wow - it's been two months since my last newsletter. I know you've been sitting around the dinner table, discussing with your family how upsetting it was that Rapido never sent out its annual Christmas newsletter. So I'm making it up to you this issue with a newsletter so long it will take you until next Christmas to read it.

In this issue of Rapido News: 
Rapido FA-2 ERIE
Hand-painted pre-production sample of the Erie FA-2.
Thanks to Dan and Bill for making this look so good.
The sample has all of the optional grab irons, grille, MU and antenna installed.
February Order Deadline (and Video) 
HO Scale FA-2 and FPA-2

Since we started our new factory in the fall, our capacity has increased considerably. This means that we can start making more of our long-promised models. ( Click here to watch a video taken in the new factory just two weeks after it started up.)

The tooling for the FA-2 and FPA-2 is now complete and we are ready to start production. This promises to be the most detailed FA-2 model ever produced in any scale. Even this old, early sample shows the level of prototype-specific detail straight from the factory:
PRR FA2 Rapido
Pre-production sample of the PRR FA-2.This was the first one that Dan painted.
Note the lack of rivets and interior on this sample... Still looks good though, eh?
Many people have asked us if we are going to be producing a an FB-2 to go along with our A units. The answer is OF COURSE! We're almost finished the designs. With a $325 retail price for the A unit, we didn't want to bring out the matching Bs at the same time. When we announce new paint schemes for the A units, we will announce B units from the first batch. And we'll keep going like that. So hopefully you will never have to buy an A and a B at one time. Have a look at this preliminary drawing:
MLW FB2 Alco FB-2
Unfinished drawing of our new FB-2, in this case a Canadian FPB-2.
American FPB-2s had the normal FB-2 fuel tank with the water tank inside the body.
We're not modelling the water tank inside the body. Sorry.
We suggest you use a really small Dixie cup.
We've finalized the sounds on the FA-2/FPB-2 model, and Jordan, Janet and I have made a quick video highlighting the model's amazing Alco 244 sound, which we recorded on a preserved locomotive in Australia, of all places! (Thanks again to our buddy Jay Thompson @ Notch 8 Precision Models for making those recordings.)

Click here or on the screen grabs below to watch the video:
FA-2 Video Rapido
Our new FA-2 sample with sounds and lights!
Rapido Video Trek
I have to stop beaming down in a red shirt...
We've put together a handy-dandy ordering sheet for the FA-2 which features all of the product features, paint schemes, and numbers. You can take it to your local hobby shop to easily order the engines you want. If you are a Rapido Ambassador, you can also print these out to let people know about the model. Click here or on the image below to download the PDF.
Rapido FA2 FPA2
Rapido FA-2 Sales Pack
The FINAL, FINAL order deadline for the FA-2 and FPA-2 is Valentine's Day, February 14th. Most of our initial order deadlines are quite "fluid." We announce the deadline months in advance, and if the model is not ready for production or the factory is really busy, we quietly extend the deadline.

However, the new LRC factory is very keen to get started on the FA-2 as they want to deliver it by the early fall. So February 14th is really the deadline. Stores have until the 15th to submit their orders and distributors have until the 16th. We're sending the numbers to the factory on the 17th and ordering materials for production on the 18th. And then that's it - we're sold out.

Click here for more information or to order direct. If you live in the UK, you can order direct with the confidence that no extra VAT, duties or fees will be added when the models arrive later this year.
N scale Baggage Express
That's a lot of paint schemes...
February Order Deadline - N Scale Baggage Express

Our original Rapido factory has production availability this spring so we're pressing the "go" button on our new Panorama Line N scale Baggage Car. The order deadline is Valentine's Day. Below is a list of paint schemes that are absolutely, for sure, being produced: 
  • Amtrak
  • Canadian National (1954)
  • CN (Noodle)
  • Canadian Pacific
  • CB&W (Shadowline)
  • Great Northern (End Doors)
  • Milwaukee Road (1950 scheme)
  • Northern Pacific
  • New York Central (End Doors)
  • Ontario Northland (Green)
  • Ontario Northland (Chevron)
  • VIA Rail Canada
  • Undecorated
We have announced the following paint schemes, but we can only produce them if the orders pick up by Valentine's Day:
  • Baltimore & Ohio
  • Central of Georgia
  • Erie
  • Missouri Pacific
  • Penn Central
  • Southern Pacific
So far we have only had a grand total of 55 Penn Central baggage cars and 51 Central of Georgia cars ordered. This is incredibly low compared to our usual N scale passenger car sales. For example, Great Northern has sold more than twice the minimum production quantity.

Hopefully some more PC and CofGa fans (and fans of the other at-risk roads) will come out of the woodwork between now and the 14th. We need closer to 300 cars ordered to make a given paint scheme, and we can't afford to make an extra 250 cars hoping people will buy them. Click here for more information or to order direct.
N scale Baggage Cars
These are early samples. We've since finished the tooling and added all the rivets.
Note the different trucks and ends.
Our N scale baggage cars feature three kinds of trucks (41-N-11, 41-BNO-11 or six-wheel cast trucks) and two kinds of ends. This is the first baggage car model to be made with end doors, a useful tool for loading oversize items (even vehicles!). The paint schemes with end doors include:
  • Canadian National
  • CN (Noodle)
  • Great Northern
  • New York Central
  • Ontario Northland (Chevron)
  • Penn Central
  • VIA Rail Canada
  • Undecorated

You can download a sales brochure with all of the paint schemes, car numbers and product numbers by clicking here or on the picture below. 

Rapido N scale Baggage
Rapido Baggage Car Sales Pack
The FINAL, FINAL order deadline for the N scale Baggage Car is Valentine's Day, February 14th. We will be giving our numbers to the factory soon after.

Please click here for more information or to order direct.
Chris Dittmar Model Railroad
The Mike McGrattan Memorial Train on Chris Dittmar's BC Rail Chetwynd Subdivision.
Photo by Timothy Horton. 
Mike McGrattan Memorial Train 

It's hard to believe that it's been almost nine months since we lost Mike. Timothy Horton contacted me in the summer and asked if I could send him any passenger cars that he could use in a Mike McGrattan Memorial Train that would travel from layout to layout among Mike's friends on The Railwire forum.

We sent him a CN sleeper and our latest baggage car sample, which Timothy expertly assembled, kitbashed a bit, and painted up in Canadian Pacific colours. The train has now toured several layouts and is still in transit. Above and below are a selection of photos from The Railwire. Please click here to visit the thread. There are other threads on The Railwire where you can discuss your memories of Mike as well as the memorial gondola that we're bringing out this month. It's really wonderful what the guys are doing to remember Mike. I know that wherever he is now, he's tickled pink about it.

Knowing Mike, he would complain to me that we should have emblazoned the cars with Rapido logos. He was always looking for new ways to promote the company. When he announced his cancer diagnosis on Rapido's Facebook page, our visits went through the roof. He called me and said, "Hey Boss - I think I need to post something every time I get more bad news. It's doing wonders for our PR!" Boy do we miss him.
Mike McGrattan Memorial Train Lee Weldon
The Mike McGrattan Memorial Train on Lee Weldon's Western Maryland.
Photo by Lee Weldon.

Mike McGrattan Memorial Train Peteski
The Mike McGrattan Memorial Train on Ernie Poole's Montana Rail Link.
Photo by Peter Wisniewski.

McGrattan Train PRR
The Mike McGrattan Memorial Train on John LeMerise's layout.
Photo by John LeMerise.

McGrattan Train Lemerise
Another photo by John, this time on a photo diorama.
Photo by John LeMerise.

Jim Reising Layout
The Mike McGrattan Memorial Train on Jim Reising's UP Oakville Sub.
Photo by Jim Reising.

Rapido CN BCR Dash 8
Tall stalk working ditch lights. What will we think of next?
HO Scale Dash 8 - New Video!  

Dan, Dan and I put together a quick video of our latest test sample of the HO scale Canadian Dash 8-40CM locomotive. You'll see in the video that the ditch lights and sounds are out of this world. Click here or on the image below to watch it.
HO Scale C40-8M video
The decoder in the fuel tank is a neat touch!
The tooling is 99% finished. We have to fix some flash and a couple of other tweaks. The sample had cool white ditch lights so we had to paint them orange to get the warm white! That will be fixed for production. We'll use proper warm white LEDs so they won't look like pumpkins when the ditch lights are turned off.

Speaking of production, the FINAL, FINAL order deadline has now been established - it's March 17th.

Click here for more information about the HO scale Dash 8.

By the way, now that the Dash 8 has working ditch lights, we're looking to see if we can install the grab irons at the factory as well. They are closed for Chinese New Year so we won't know until they reopen. We'll let you know in the next newsletter.

The sales of this locomotive have been incredible, but I think it's probably our first and last Prime Movers engine. The margins on our Prime Movers line are very small. If you weigh the extra sales we got due to the lower price against the higher margins of our regular line, it's a wash. We might as well just stick with the super-detailed models and sell fewer for the same return.

Well, you don't know these things until you try...

Seriously, what other manufacturer actually tells you this stuff? We're proud of the open relationship we have with our customers.
3800 Covered Hoppers
Pre-production samples of our new HO scale 3800 hoppers.
HO Scale 3800 Hopper - New Samples!   

We've finally got new samples of our 3800 cu. ft. cylindrical hopper, that icon of modern Canadian freight railroading which has never been done before in plastic (despite the thousands of completely inaccurate, longer models made by various manufacturers, including the latest ones which were announced after we announced the real ones! No hard feelings, really.).

Dan Darnell painted our new hopper samples up in time for the Springfield show last weekend. Most of the decals for the samples were printed on our 19-year-old ALPS printer!

This is the first time we've received samples of the Marine Industries version of the car. This has fewer weld lines and completely different brake equipment:
CP Rail Hopper
The Marine Industries version. Beauty goal, eh?
You know, we're very lucky we showed these samples around. Someone was at our office before the Springfield show, hemmed and hawed a bit, and pointed out that we have a few extra ladder rungs on the model. Phew! Caught that in time! We're fixing it for production. Huang is going to yell at us again.

Here's Dan and me printing the decals. Check out the vintage hardware!
Mac All In One and ALPS
So... You know how Dan never shows any facial expressions? I'm laughing here
because I just kicked him in the shin... Nice expression now, Dan!
As these are so close to production ready, we're announcing the official FINAL, FINAL order deadline - it's March 17th. Please get your orders in on time!

Please click here to read more or to order direct.
Order Deadline Rapido
It's Canadian National (Ireland) Ltd.
March Order Deadline - Dash 8 and 3800 Hopper    

If you missed it in the above two sections, the FINAL, FINAL order deadline for the HO scale Dash 8 and 3800 cu. ft. hopper is St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. Incidentally, St. Patrick's Day is also my birthday. I'll be turning 42, which is an auspicious age as the brilliant author, Douglas Adams, informed us all that 42 is the answer to Life, The Universe, And Everything.

(Last month I was offered the Senior's Discount at the drug store! Stupidly, I didn't take it. I have learned my lesson. From now on if they offer, I take.)

Dealers have to submit their orders by Monday the 20th of March. Distributors can send us their orders until Tuesday the 21st, and the final production numbers will be sent to the factory on Wednesday the 22nd.

Rapido is not like most other model train companies. Our models are built to order. We rarely make any extras. So please be sure to order from your dealer or direct before the March 17th deadline.

The Dash 8 page is here.

The 3800 page is here.
Rapido F40 Paint
Dan Darnell uses Proto-Paint on all of our hand-painted samples.
Rapido's Proto-Paint - New Colours      

Rapido's Proto-Paint is a new line of water-based acrylic paint that has been taking the Canadian hobby shops by storm. We keep selling out and making new batches. It is available to American stores exclusively through HobbyTyme Distributors. They will be carrying the complete line and expect to have their first shipment in about two weeks. The F40 in the photo above was painted with our Proto-Paint.

Here are the features:
  • Water-based acrylic paint
  • Similar formula to the old Floquil PolyScale paints
  • Airbrush ready
  • Over 60 colours and expanding
  • Railroad colours dry to a decal-ready gloss finish.
  • Weathering colours dry flat.
  • CN and CP colours are "SIG approved."
  • Amtrak colours are a licensed product and are approved by Mr. Amtrak himself, Matt Donnelly.
Proto-Paint Rapido
New colours of Proto-Paint!
We've just launched seven new colours:
  • 330011 New Rust
  • 330012 Old Rust
  • 330068 Amtrak Deep Blue
  • 330069 Concrete
  • 330070 NYC Lt. Gray
  • 330071 NYC DK. Gray
  • 330072 NYC Pacemaker Green
If you want to commission a custom colour, no problem. The minimum is one gallon, which is about 120 bottles. As long as you have a colour sample for us to match, we can get it done within two months. We accept custom colour commissions from stores, historical societies, and Joe Q. Public.

Click here to read more about Proto-Paint. It is available at all better hobby stores. You can also download a printable PDF list of available colours by clicking here or on the picture below.
Rapido Paint Colors
Rapido Proto-Paint Colour Sheet
Rapido parts
A selection of our parts, from HO trucks and step boxes to N scale wheelsets.
And yes, those are 3D CN logos. Just for fun!
Rapido Bits - New Detail Parts       

Back in 2011 we tried to launch a line of Rapido parts. We cajoled and coerced the factory we were using back then, but they simply weren't interested. Eventually they sent us a huge box full of random parts. No labels. No finishing. Just random parts.

Now that we have our own factories, detail parts are much easier to produce. And we've just produced a whole bunch!

They are available to order from your local hobby shop. Most are in stock now and ready to ship. We don't sell the parts direct to the public unless you have an urgent desire to own 300 little bags of 3D CN logos. You can tile your kitchen with them!

Some highlights:
  • N scale wheelsets that are actually better than the ones we used in our N scale models. Seriously - give them a try.
  • HO scale cast passenger car step boxes in yellow/black or orange/black. They even have grooved anti-slip tops!
  • N scale 6-wheel passenger car trucks. The models using these haven't even come out yet!
  • HO scale 3D CN logos suspiciously the exact size needed for the Champlain train set which Dan Darnell is kitbashing.
  • N scale "Easy-Peasy" lighting kits with new SMD lights instead of a bulky plastic lightway
  • HO scale passenger car "foldy gates" used to stop people falling out the end of the train!
N scale trucks
N scale six-wheel cast truck. Never before released in N or HO!
You can view the N scale detail parts here. And you can view the HO scale detail parts here.

Or, to make it even easier, you can click here or on the image below to download an illustrated PDF listing that includes all of our detail parts.

(Note the N scale lighting kit shown in the PDF is our old one. We just discovered this two minutes before sending out the newsletter. It's correct on the web site.)
Rapido Detail Parts
Rapido Bits - Detail Parts Listing
Rapido Factory Seconds
Three randomly-selected factory seconds. That is the ONE available caboose.
Rapido Factory Seconds - Yes, Really!     

For the first time, Rapido is making available a selection of Factory Seconds. Canadian roadnames are available in our Canadian Swag Store ( click here) and American roadnames are available in our American Swag Store ( click here). Because you can only order from the Canadian store if you are in Canada and you can only order from the American store if you are outside Canada, please email us if you want to order something from the "other" store and we will move it into the proper store for you.

(There is a chance that, between you emailing us and us seeing your email, the item you wanted will sell to someone else. Unfortunately there is no way around that and I apologize in advance. We are looking at getting new multi-currency cart software so that we can avoid this in future.)

We have two kinds of Factory Seconds. Some are returns from stores that are missing something, usually the detail parts pack. (You'd be surprised at how many people open up a model, take the detail parts pack, and then return the model to the shelf.) Other returns are genuine factory seconds. These are extra models produced by the factory at the end of a production run using the extra parts they have on hand.

We have plenty in the Swag Store right now, and we will add more items as we get to them so please keep checking in. Have a look:
Rapido Factory Seconds
Future Factory Seconds. Josh's head not included.
All of the boxes above and behind Josh's head are waiting to be checked over and added to the Factory Seconds listings.

All Factory Seconds have been inspected and tested. The models come in a PVC clamshell, properly wrapped for safe shipment. They may be missing the original box, manual, detail parts pack, etc. Factory Second locomotives have a limited warranty rather than our usual all-the-bells-and-whistles lifetime warranty. Rolling stock has no warranty. It's sold "as is."

Note that all factory seconds have been discreetly marked as such in a hidden spot. So if you buy a factory second and then try and tell us your "new" model was missing stuff, we'll tell you to go jump in a lake.

Here are those links again.

Canadian roads/Canadian cart: click here.
American roads/American cart: click here.
Seriously. Did anyone ever think these would be available ready to run?
PGE and BCR Phase 2 RDCs with nose fluting. Just gorgeous.
Upcoming Product Schedule      

We've been very busy shipping RDCs to everyone. Those gorgeous British Columbia RDCs will be arriving on Monday.

We are completely sold out of every RDC except for the late-addition models of 6133 which are a fundraiser for our restoration of the real RDC 6133. Click here to order one. I'll show pictures and a video of the 6133 model in the next newsletter after the shipment arrives.

Just arrived: Arriving in the near future:
  • Next week: Final RDC shipment (includes all phase 2 models and the remaining phase 1 models - CP Action Red, New York Central and Penn Central)
  • March: Penn Central 8600-series coaches; Mike McGrattan Memorial Gondola (N scale)
  • April: Rebuilt VIA Rail Canada F40PH-2D; Rebuilt CN GMD-1 with stripes
  • May: British stuff
  • June: N scale FPA-4 and FPB-4
Jason Routemaster Bus Foamer
Pete Crichton let me drive around Manchester in a Routemaster.
I feel bad for that guy I cut off in Cheetham Hill who then ran off the road and into a shop.
I forgot that I was supposed to drive on the LEFT!
Follow Our Travels Through England       

About once a year, Bill or I travel all around the United Kingdom while "working" on our line of British models.

I spent a good chunk of January traipsing around the UK. It's amazing how I would never think of having five meetings in four cities in two days in Canada or the United States, but in the UK it's no problem. The whole island is so small!

When you have some free time (such as when you are in the "loo"), I invite you to read about my antics in England, from redecorating the royal carriage in a train museum to getting run over by a bus in a bus museum. All in all, it was a pretty normal trip.

The blog starts here.
Rapido Currency
These are the four currencies we deal in.
Being a collector of paper money, these all happened to be in my wallet
when I needed to take the picture.
The Hobby and International Trade        

For the student of international relations, the last few months have certainly been interesting. I'm sure the academics will be able to devote entire textbooks to the political upheaval that took place around the world in 2016. But for a business owner, it's been a bit terrifying.

I was recently asked by a UK magazine if I felt that either Brexit or the election of President Trump has affected my business. I responded simply by saying "I like stability." Since Brexit, the British pound lost 20% of its value. This made two of our projects instantly unprofitable. One is still going ahead (the N scale Pendolino - I hope you ordered yours as the deadline was on Tuesday!) but the other project has been "paused," and I can't honestly say for how long.

The possibility of stiff tariffs being imposed on imports from China to the United States is another thing that has all of us model train manufacturers worried. I understand and respect the desire to balance the trade deficit between the United States and its trading partners. But model trains have primarily been built in China since the 1980s.

The core of the industry - and thus the talent and experience - has been based in Guangdong province in southern China for over 30 years. We can't bring these jobs back to Canada and the United States because they were never here to begin with. Here's why:

In recent years our hobby has evolved from shake-the-box kits to museum-quality models with incredible, prototype-specific detail. This has only been possible due to the talents of the very experienced engineers in the model train factories combined with a much lower cost of labour in China than in North America. It takes about eight hours of work to trim, paint, print, assemble, test and package a typical Rapido model. Obviously it will never be cost effective to do that assembly work in Canada at $15/hour. The assembly cost alone of a $110 retail model would be $120!

As it is, we in the model train industry have had to work with tighter and tighter margins. The amazing detail comes with a price, and the cost of living in China has tripled over the last 12 years. That means our assembly costs have tripled. But our retail prices have not. In fact, our locomotives are roughly the same prices as they were in 2011.

Do I support the drive on both sides of the border for better, well-paying jobs for Canadians and Americans? Absolutely. Do I support kneecapping a niche industry through punitive tariffs which will NOT result in these models EVER being made in North America? Absolutely not.

So yes, I am slightly terrified. Rapido makes trains for three different markets and not just the United States. But we are deeply committed to our American customers and our line of American models. I honestly don't know what the future will bring. A high tariff on imported hobby products would shut down every hobby shop in the USA. I hope that sober thought will prevail and our industry won't end up as collateral damage in a trade war.

I don't mean to end the newsletter on a downer, so I'll leave you with this fun picture. We found a cheaper way to send Dan to Springfield:
Dan Garcia
Nice to see you, Gomez!
That's it for this monster newsletter. I will hopefully be in touch in about a month with some pretty Amtrak pictures and other goodies.

Until then, I remain,

yours very truly,

and respectfully,

and not at all sardonically,


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.
Rapido Trains Inc. | 1-855-LRC-6917 |