Dear Rapido Customer,
Wow! This is our 40th newsletter! And have we got news for you!
In this issue of Rapido News:
3... 2... 1... RELAUNCH!
It is my pleasure to tell you that the LRC Locomotive project is BACK ON TRACK! I have been waiting impatiently for this iconic locomotive since I first announced it as a resin kit in 2005. It's now a ready-to-run model arriving in 2013, and it's about @#$%! time!
The LRC Locomotive project was put on hold a couple of years ago due to insufficient advance reservations. But the truth is, we've already invested in the moulds for the locomotive, so there was never any plan to cancel it outright. Besides, although it is one year late for my layout era, I want a fleet of these on my model railroad and that is as good a reason as any to produce a model! (No, Bill, that does not mean we are going to be mass-producing O&W wooden parlor cars.)
GENTLEMEN, I SUGGEST YOU BEAM ME ABOARD.
The engineers and I are now working on corrections that will update the 2008-vintage tooling to 2013 standards, and these corrections will be finished by the spring and then we start production. 2013 is now, officially, The Year of the LRC.*
*According to the (Acting) Junior Secretary of the International Fan Club of Standard Electric Toaster Ovens, Southern York Region (Vaughan Central) Chapter.
And the news gets better. In our desperate attempt to squeeze some more sales out of the LRC tooling and actually turn a profit on the project, we've decided to introduce new paint schemes and variations to our LRC line-up, including a new run of LRC coaches in several variations.
Is your layout a Virginian coal hauler? You need an LRC. Model the Old West in 1895? You need an LRC. Narrow gauge 1930s mining layout? Your miners need a fleet of LRCs. Bring them to the mines in style.
CRAZY WAY TO TRAVEL...
SPREADING A MAN'S MOLECULES ALL OVER THE UNIVERSE!
The LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) was an experiment in higher-speed railway technology developed in the 1970s by a consortium of Alcan (an aluminum company), Dofasco (a steel company), and Montreal Locomotive Works. It was later taken over by Bombardier, the makers of Amtrak's Acela. With its active-tilt technology and low-slung suspension, the LRC was the grandfather of Bombardier's modern fleet of super high-speed trains that ply the rails everywhere but here.
The LRC was capable of achieving speeds of 125 miles per hour, and much to the delight of Alco fans, contained an Alco 251 prime mover in its sleek, low-profile, streamlined body. Yes, THAT Alco 251 prime mover. Not bad in a diesel only 12 feet tall from rail to roof!
The demonstrator set of one locomotive (#LRC-JV1) and one coach toured around North America between 1973 and 1975, including trips to western Canada and the DOT's test facilities in Pueblo, CO. (The demonstrator achieved a Canadian speed record in September 1975, which was pulped just seven months later by the Tasteful, Triumphant and Totally Terrific Turbo. Nope. No bias there.)
In 1980, two Amtrak train sets were built (one locomotive and five cars each), and in 1981 VIA's first LRC train set began testing. The LRC locomotives remained in service until 2001, but the cars are still in service today and are being (very, very slowly) rebuilt for another 20+ years of service. The LRC operated top-and-tail: locomotive + coaches + locomotive. Trains of up to five cars were usually pulled by one locomotive, but due to reliability issues you could often find two locomotives on trains of just three or four cars: perfect for a model railroad. Click here for general info about the train.
I'VE GIVIN' HER ALL SHE'S GOT CAPTAIN, AN' I CANNA GIVE HER NO MORE!
The paint scheme above was a test applied to a coach and locomotive at VIA's Montreal Maintenance Centre. Would have been amazing, eh? Well now you can have it on your layout! Below you'll find all of the currently available paint schemes for the LRC coaches, club cars and locomotives. We've gone to a lot of Tribble to bring these to market. After all, it's only logical. (OK I'll stop. Bill thought up those last two, so blame him.)
For those of you who already have a locomotive on order, we have introduced new numbers for VIA as well as unnumbered so you can "top and tail" your LRC coaches just like the prototype. We're also doing undecorated in case you really do want to paint it like a shuttlecraft!
The final, we-really-mean-it-this-time order deadline for the LRC (locomotives and passenger cars) is 16 November 2012, and delivery is in mid-2013. Full information is available on our web site, and for the first time we are even taking direct orders. But we hate taking direct orders, so try your local dealer first.
Click here for the LRC Locomotives
Click here for the LRC Coaches
The LRC is my second-favourite train (second to the Tasteful, Trustworthy and Tantalizingly Talented Turbo). When my wife and I started dating back in 1998, we took the LRC to Montreal. I told her about how I had been powerless in 1982 (at the age of seven) to preserve a Turbo when it was retired and then unceremoniously scrapped. I told her that one day I may need to buy a train to save it from being lost to history. She said "OK" and then promptly forgot about it.
In 2010, VIA gave me an ultimatum: buy one of our three remaining LRC locomotives or we scrap them. I turned to my wife and said, "we need to borrow $3000 from our line of credit to put a deposit on an LRC." Amazingly, she remembered that train ride at the start of our relationship and she agreed. We placed the deposit on behalf of the Toronto Railway Historical Association, and we saved #6917. A brief fundraising campaign later and the necessary funds were raised by the TRHA to purchase #6917. The TRHA is now in the process of getting it operational, and we should have results before the end of this year.
Click here to read more about #6917 at the TRHA's web site. Rapido is now taking advance orders for the model of #6917 from direct customers and from dealers. Alternatively, direct customers can buy the sound-equipped model direct from the TRHA.
If you buy the model of #6917 from Rapido or from your dealer, $100 of every sale will go to the TRHA's restoration of the real #6917. If you buy the model from the TRHA, $200 from every sale goes to their LRC restoration efforts.
This LRC model project is gratefully dedicated to my wife, Sidura, without whom the TRHA would not have been able to save #6917. Sidura is a saint.
OK, back to the bad puns...
Click on any of the images below to find out more info or to make a reservation. Preproduction models are shown.
OK. That's enough of the LRC. Full information about the LRC (you NEED an LRC) can be found here. For those of you tired of seeing so many pictures of this strange little train, here's something that should be more to your liking...
New Haven Smokers and Coaches DEADLINE
The order deadline for the new New Haven and Boston & Maine Osgood Bradley Coaches is just a couple of weeks away! If you don't want to miss out this time, place your order by...
MONDAY OCTOBER 1st!
The New Haven's Smoker Coaches were introduced 1946-49 and had a smoking lounge in one end. Spotting differences include the large vent on the lounge roof and the script New Haven logos above the trucks. Every New Haven modeller needs at least 100 of these, despite the fact that the New Haven only had 30. Click here for more info.
Our first run of Osgood Bradley Coaches sold out in about 7 minutes. When we announced them, nobody knew who Rapido was so only a few bold hobby shops took the plunge and made a reservation. When they arrived, New Haven and B&M modellers were gobsmacked by the incredible detail and accuracy. The trouble was, anybody who didn't preorder could not find the darn things!
So if you missed out on the first run or you would like one of the new skirting and lettering variations that we are doing, please place your order by October 1st to ensure you don't miss out. You can order the Osgood Bradley 10-Window Coaches and Smoker Coaches from any model train dealer in the USA or Canada, and from a few good model shops overseas. We don't make any inventory - if we get orders for 1000 we make 1002 - so please make sure you reserve yours in advance.
Full information about the Osgood Bradley lightweights can be found here.
The Canadian set #2
Our second shipment of The Canadian has now arrived and has been shipped to distributors and dealers. We're taking care of direct orders right now. This is Canadian Pacific Block set #210002, with Banff Park on the rear.
We discovered a minor problem with this set. On the complimentary F9B locomotive, the factory tried a new variation of the no-warp grills. And guess what? They warped.
When I was in China in July, the factory informed me that their wastage rate for the CP style no-warp grills was over 70%. The things are finicky, so they proposed a slight redesign. We tested the new grill design by putting it in the freezer for three days and then in the sun for three days. It didn't warp. But after a month in a steaming container that was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit inside, they did.
The factory has sent us replacements (the old ones, that really don't warp ever), which will be arriving next week. Leave your F9B on the layout for a few weeks and if the warp doesn't go away, give us a shout and we'll send you a pair of replacement grills at no charge. The factory has now gone back to the old style no-warp grills for all of the locomotives, so this problem won't happen again. I apologize for the hassle.
If you'd like to watch a very silly movie about our no-warp grills, please click here.
The Canadian sets #3 and #6
The Canadian Script set #210003 is leaving the factory THIS WEEKEND! We expect it to arrive here in mid-October. Woo-hoo!
The VIA set (#210006) has started production and will be leaving the factory in October.
Osgood Bradley 10-Window Coaches
This was a surprise! The factory has informed me that they are squeezing in Osgood Bradleys between the CPR Script and the VIA Canadians. WE ARE FINALLY GOING TO GET SOME AMERICAN PRODUCTS! Thanks to everyone who has waited patiently for these, which were supposed to be out around this time last year. For an explanation of all the delays in the hobby industry, check out Volume 36 of Rapido News, available here.
Provided the factory doesn't flake out, the Long Island, Penn Central and Bangoor & Aroostook Osgood Bradleys should arrive in November. Click on any roadname above to go the appropriate page.
"The Canadian" Waiting List
Because The Canadian has taken so long to bring to market, we've had a handful of cancellations due to changed customer circumstances. For those of you who missed out on ordering The Canadian, we have started a waiting list. If any trains become available, they will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis. Dealers and direct customers are both welcome to have their names put on the list. Please click here to contact us and let us know which set(s) you would like. We only expect to have one or two sets available per train, so please try and get your name down early.
Please make sure you provide your email address and telephone number. If we can't get a hold of you, the train will go to the next person on the list.
Because of our niche products, Rapido is almost never in the model railroad press. So we were delighted to see two extremely positive reviews of Rapido products in the last couple of months.
The August 2012 issue of Model Railroad News featured a review of our TurboTrain by editor Tony Cook. He states:
| ||I easily navigated through [the] manual. Rapido's conversational text reads as if I had someone simply speaking to me about the inner workings of this release.... Kudos goes to Rapido for providing such a consumer-friendly booklet.... Rapido has improved slow-speed operations making starting and stopping smoother. My testing yielded a low-end speed of 3 mph, which provided smooth arrival and departure speeds.... Rapido's TurboTrain release is exquisite; I look forward to more releases from this company!|
The September 2012 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman featured a review of The Canadian by Ken Goslett. Ken writes:
| ||The level of detail has to be seen to be believed. Get out your Optivisors! The detail madness continues under the cars where every pipe, hose, tube, wire, battery box and air conditioning unit has been reproduced. On the outside of each car CPR has a raised, cast beaver shield by the door. The models have the same casting produced in miniature. This is incredible. Nothing has been overlooked in designing and producing the models.... The Canadian did not derail through curves, switches, crossovers, over level crossings or bridges. Even at full speed it handles No. 6 turnouts with elegance and grace. Backing up into the yard on the club layout through curves, three-way switches and slip switches did not phase it. It stayed on the track, period.... Rapido's HO Canadian is no carnival trick. It's as exceptional as the real train.|
If you've been on the fence about preordering Rapido products when we announce them because you remember the teething troubles with our first releases back in 2006-2008, I hope these reviews will get you off the fence and encourage you to have faith in our abilities.
Weathered Models in the Gallery
We love to see our models beaten and bruised. If you have weathered, kitbashed, or otherwise modified your Rapido models we want to hear from you! So far, Manny Jacob and Pierre Dion have sent us gorgeous caboose photos, and Dave Woods sent us a passenger car so beat up I'd be afraid to get on board! Wonderful! Please send us your photos and we will put them in our online gallery. Click here to visit the gallery.
Bill's on the Blog
Next time you're stuck in the fog, think about visiting our blog. Bill's most recent update takes us on a tour of some of the great layouts of North America. We update our blog about once every 4-6 weeks, when one of us can't sleep. We welcome your feedback and comments on our blog entries!
Please click here to go there.
What's changed in 10 years?
Ten years ago I was an art history student living in Birmingham, UK, and I was desperately missing Canada and Canadian trains. I was an active participant in the rec.models.railroad newsgroup (remember those days?) and I was getting frustrated by the lack of Canadian content. After a manufacturer butchered some Canadian passenger cars, I complained about it on the newsgroup and was asked by someone on the group (not maliciously I might add), "Shouldn't you at least be excited that someone would even think of making them?"
That wasn't good enough for me, and shortly afterwards I started CanModelTrains as a forum for discussing all things related to Canadian model railroading. Over 50,000 messages and 1500 members later, CanModelTrains is still going strong. Looking back, that "shouldn't you be excited?" comment is probably what sparked my desire to start Rapido Trains Inc.
As a Canadian passenger train modeller, I wasn't happy that someone did a Canadian passenger car poorly. Equally, I'd expect New Haven modellers to be pretty peeved if Rapido brought out an Osgood Bradley coach with nine windows instead of ten and the response from their fellow modellers was "aren't you happy it's close enough?"
Looking back ten years, my life has changed enormously. Unhappy doing a degree in art history, I could never imagine that in just ten years I would have three beautiful children; a wife who still supports me in all my cazy endeavours; a wonderful house (owned mostly by the bank, but nice all the same); and the best job in the world.
Our hobby has changed enormously as well. The recession, partnered with the troubles in China, has dealt a serious blow to the model railroad manufacturing industry. Despite this, we're seeing detail levels and prototypical accuracy that we couldn't imagine just ten years ago.
But sometimes you need to take a step back and wonder: have we in fact gone in the right direction? Yes, you no longer need to buy $40 worth of detail parts to make that SP or CN diesel look exactly like the prototype, but is this necessarily a good thing?
In the last ten years, I have heard more and more from hobby shop owners that their customers lack the confidence to add any details, replace a grab iron they knocked off, or even change a coupler. Sure, because of the prototypical accuracy of the models and the abundance of information and photos online, more modellers today know if a CN GP38-2 had snow shields or not. But is that really relevant if there isn't anyone left who can install a snow shield on a model?
I don't have the answers to these questions. I will continue to include crazy prototypical detail on our models because of my love for this stuff, but I worry that we as a community might be losing the skills needed to keep going in the long term. In 30 years from now, the young adults you see on the street today - the ones in their 20s and 30s - will form the bulk of our model railroad community. If you look at the interests of these young people - especially the men - their pastimes usually involve sports or (looking at) screens and nothing else. There is very little interest in hobbies in general, and pastimes that involve learning a craft - like model railroading, woodworking, pottery, restoring old cars - don't seem to hold much interest for the younger generation.
That is what concerns me for the future. If today's model railroaders are losing the skills to actually build models, what hope do we have for the next generation?
So while I of course want you to buy our stuff, I also encourage you to head to your hobby shop and pick up some kits. Even if you have never built a kit before or you consider yourself to be all thumbs, give it a try. Last January, my son Boaz and I built two GN boxcar kits. I got them on special and I think they cost me $7 each or something silly like that. Boaz did the bulk of the work himself, using the nippers and hobby knife very carefully and with my supervision. He needed my help to press the weights on and to put the wheelsets into the trucks, but that was all. Boaz and I are now building a shelf layout in his room.
We need to think of the future. Sure, it's great to have all of these ready-to-run models but use the time saved to start building. Make sure that we don't lose the skills that keep our hobby healthy.
OK. I'm not sure how I got from celebrating 10 years of the CanModelTrains discussion forum to pleading for everyone to build kits, but there you go.
Please feel free to join our discussion and talk about these issues at CanModelTrains. Click here to go there.
Thanks for sticking with Rapido and reading this newsletter right to the end. I'm going to start putting coupons or something down here at the bottom so I know which customers deserve kudos.
Speaking of which, I'd like to thank my mother for not falling asleep while reading this. I think she finds model railroading as interesting as watching rocks grow. However, her brother (my Uncle Michael) enjoys the newsletters so thanks, Michael! (Oy vey, am I ever going to hear about this from my mother tonight...)
To our Jewish customers, I wish you a happy and healthy new year... in your layout room. To all our loyal customers, may you Live Long and Prosper... in your layout room. And to everyone in the entire world: you NEED an LRC.
All the best,
Rapido Trains Inc.
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