Rapido News

Rapido News Volume 60 - ©2014 Rapido Trains Inc.

Dear Rapido Customer,

I hope you've been having a great summer! I've had a bit of a crazy summer, spending over two weeks in China (where it reached a cool 45 degrees Celsius with humidity - that's 113 to you Southerners) followed immediately by a research trip to upstate New York. At least I think that's what I did. I was so jet lagged I'm honestly not sure.

I have a lot of "news" for you in this newsletter, so let's get to it.

In this issue of Rapido News:

Rapido Budd Dome

Rapido's Budd Mid-Train Dome

New! HO Scale Budd Mid-Train Dome

Those of you who have recently purchased one of our Superior Stainless Budd Coaches understand it when we said that nobody has ever produced a more detailed passenger car in any scale, ever. If you haven't bought any of the coaches, hopefully you've seen them on your friends' layouts or at the club. Whether you are a past or future Rapido Budd customer, we're delighted to announce the next car in the Superior Stainless line.

Rapido Budd Dome

Rapido's Budd Mid-Train Dome in Eagle colors/colours

Our Superior Stainless Budd Mid-Train Dome is perfect for your pocket streamliner. It comes with coach or cafe seating on one side of the dome, with a lounge on the other side. Up in the dome, of course, is where your passengers will get the absolute best view of your layout - with a full 360-degree view, unlike those so-called "dome" cars you can ride on Amtrak today. Down below the dome is a full kitchen, so your customers can have a great view and a freshly-prepared meal.

Rapido Budd Mid-Train Dome

Our crazy detail extends even to the dome seat armrests. Go on - take a close look!

Rapido's Budd Mid-Train Dome has even more detail than our Budd Coach. Somebody should really teach me Business 101 because we spend money on details that you'll only notice if you're as insane as we are. The armrests in the dome are see-through, which means that each HO scale seat is actually made of two halves that are put together in the assembly process.

The underbody detail is so extensive that everyone at Rapido has been told to go for therapy. I've said before that I feel the underbody is one of the most important parts of a passenger car because all that gear - air conditioning, battery boxes, Genemotor, air reservoirs, water tanks, etc. - is what distinguishes a first-class passenger car from a Go Kart on rails. So if you turn our Budd Mid-Train Dome over you can actually trace all of the appropriate electrical, air and steam lines. I only wish they really worked!

Rapido Budd Mid-Train Dome Underbody Equipment

If you are a passenger car maintenance guy, you will know what all this stuff actually does!

But not everyone is as obsessed with passenger car nether regions as I am, so have a look at what's above the floor. Bill, Dan and I developed Rapido's secret stainless steel finish, and we think that it is the most realistic stainless steel finish ever achieved on a plastic model. If you don't believe me, go find a Superior Stainless Budd Coach and have a look for yourself.

It is a very complex process to do the stainless effect, which involves spraying the cars with different finishes at different temperatures. I'm not kidding. People wonder why our passenger cars are more expensive than most of the competition - it's because they are worth it. An economy car will get you where you want to go, but a luxury sports car is a LOT more fun to drive...

Rapido Budd Mid-Train Dome Stainless Finish

Look at the accurate fluting and stainless finish! I took this photo outside in bright sunlight.
Note how warm the stainless steel looks. Just like the real thing.

Here's a complete list of the features of our Superior Stainless Budd Mid-Train Dome:
  • Fully decorated and assembled with factory-installed grab irons
  • Realistic stainless steel finish
  • Full underbody with air, steam and electrical lines
  • Fully detailed and decorated interiors
  • Coach seating or coffee-shop on lower level as appropriate
  • Window blinds at different heights for each car number in a paint scheme
  • Operating diaphragms with etched-metal end gates
  • Macdonald-Cartier metal knuckle couplers at the correct height
  • Free-rolling trucks with metal wheelsets
  • Track-powered interior lighting including dome lights
  • 22" Minimum radius (can be modified for 18" minimum)
  • Numerous American and Canadian paint schemes
  • Several car numbers per paint scheme
  • Also available in unlettered stainless steel finish for your custom road

Rapido Dome Car Interior

Coffee shop/diner or coach lower level interiors

The MSRP for the Superior Stainless Budd Mid-Train Dome is $109. The order deadline is Monday 17 November, with delivery in the first half of 2015. Please click here for more info or to order direct.

Click on any paint scheme below for product numbers and car numbers or to place your order.
OK - let's look at one more pretty picture.

Rapido CP Skyline

Canadian Pacific Skyline

Once again, click here for more info on our Superior Stainless Budd Mid-Train Dome.

Burlington Northern Executive Scheme

N Scale Burlington Northern Executive Duplex Sleeper
Pre-production model shown.

New! N Scale CSX, Conrail and BN Executive Cars

You've asked for them, so we're making them. You can now expand your N scale Business Car/OCS fleet with a complete train of Burlington Northern Executive Scheme passenger cars (Duplex Sleeper, two 10-5 Sleepers, Leg-Rest Coach) as well as the Conrail and CSX 10-5 Sleeper "Youngstown," which is the only example of our 10-5 sleeper that still exists in real life. Unfortunately, we aren't including the exercise bike that's currently in one of the roomettes... You'll have to scratchbuild it!

Conrail Youngstown 10-5 Sleeper

N Scale Conrail "Youngstown" Sleeper
Pre-production model shown.

Because we've had trouble getting N scale passenger cars out of the factory lately, we're doing something different with these cars. We've told the factory to make 100 of each alongside our new Cafe-Bar-Lounge cars and 10-5 sleepers and production has already begun. That's it: 100 of each. So you'll need to order now if you don't want to miss out.

The Conrail and CSX cars are being produced exclusively for Portman Hobby Distributors, our largest N scale distributor. So please contact your dealer and ask them to order the cars from Rich at Portman. The phone number is (914) 737-6633 and the fax number is (914) 737-6984.

The BN Executive cars are available directly from us (as a set of four only) or individually from your usual Rapido suppliers.

The MSRP for these cars is $59.95 each. Please click here for more info or to order your BN Executive set. Delivery of Conrail, CSX and BN Executive cars will be later this year.

CSX Youngstown Sleeper

N Scale CSX "Youngstown" Sleeper
Pre-production model shown.

There is a sad story as to why no more postwar 10-5 sleepers exist. VIA owned the largest fleet and VIA services were decimated in 1990. In a shameful display of political interference in a railway's operations, the highers-up demanded that VIA sell off its conventional passenger car fleet as quickly as possible to generate revenue. Of course, with so many passenger cars on the market, VIA only got scrap value for them.

VIA's 10-5 sleepers had just had a full mechanical, exterior and interior overhaul a few years earlier and were the jewel of the steam-heated sleeper fleet. They were all scrapped.

And what happened? 10 years later, under a new government, VIA needed to buy new sleepers.

Face palm


Here's a hint for you N scale modellers. We've actually made some other cars as well without announcing them, in both US and Canadian roads. Stay tuned to Rapido News to find out about them first and order them before they are sold out. We'll be announcing them a few weeks before they arrive.

Here's that link again for the BN, Conrail and CSX cars: That Link Again.

Kansas City Southern F Units

Kansas City Southern FP9A and F9B Locomotives

Massive HO Scale Order Deadline Coming Up

As Rapido grows in size, so do the number of products that share an order deadline. September 30th is the next big Rapido order deadline, with new items across four product lines. Many of the items are conditional on us receiving advance orders for enough models, so be sure to get your order in to your dealer or to us before the deadline. We would hate to have to cancel some of these great models.

PanAm FP9

PanAm FP9A Locomotive Pre-Production Model

1. American-Owned FP9A Locomotives

When VIA retired its F-unit fleet, many of them ended up in the States or owned by American operators in Canada. Please click on any of the schemes below for locomotive and product numbers. Note we need advance orders of 300 pieces of each scheme to produce these, so please make sure your orders are in by the deadline or the models might get cancelled.
Locomotives are available as DC models or as DC/DCC models equipped with an ESU LokSound Select decoder loaded with our accurate FP9A sounds, recorded from the roof of one of PanAm's FP9A locomotives when it was still owned by Conway Scenic. Click here to watch the video of Bill and me recording the sounds way back in 2009.

Full information about these American FP9A and F9B locomotives can be found here.

Northern Pacific Steam Heater

"Oh, So Steamy!" Steam Generator Car: Northern Pacific

2. "Oh, So Steamy" Steam Generator Cars

Most homes in the United States and Canada have heating. Similarly, most trains need heating too. Until the late 1970s, many passenger cars were heated by steam heat. Once steam engines were put to pasture, railroads needed steam generators in order to heat their passenger cars. When a train was particularly long, it was very cold, or there was no steam generator in the diesel, a steam generator car was used.

Steam Gennies were used in Canada until 1996. We're a bit behind up here. We got our first jet airplane last Tuesday. That means I can finally fly to Winnipeg without stopping to refuel in Hornepayne.

CN Steam Generator Unit

"Oh, So Steamy!" Steam Generator Car: Crazy Underbody Detail!

Our Oh, So Steamy!" Steam Generator works on DC and DCC layouts and features a real steam effect (if desired) as well as backup lights on both ends (operated by magnetic wand). Like all Rapido cars, all of the underbody pipes and doodads are included. The Steam Genny will not really heat your passenger cars, though, as that would cause them to melt.

Click on a paint scheme below for more information or to place a direct order. Note the minimum direct order is two cars.
Full information about our "Oh, So Steamy!" Steam Generator Cars can be found here.

Canadian Pacific FP9 and F9B

A trio of CPR F-Units leads The Canadian. Yes, these are our models!

3. Canadian Pacific and VIA FP9A and F9B Locomotives

These look so good pulling The Canadian on your friend's layout - it's time to get an A-B-A set (or A-B-B-A set) for yourself! Our HO scale FP9A and F9B Locomotives have been critically acclaimed in the pages of Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, and Model Railroad News. This is the first time that the Canadian Pacific (and ex-CP) versions are available separately.

VIA Rail FP9 and F9B

VIA Rail Canada's ex-CP FP9A and F9B. Just stunning.

These CP F-units feature prototype-specific details (cooling coils, icicle breakers, grab irons, MU receptacle) as well as operating ditch lights and rooftop searchlight where appropriate.

CP and ex-CP F units could even be seen in A-B-B-A sets pulling a particularly long Canadian. Jakob Mueller was kind enough to send me these two photos just this week:

A-B-B-A F units

Ex-CP A-B-B-A locomotives on The Canadian, June 1982.
Joe Seidl photo, courtesy the Kaluza-Mueller Collection.

A-B-B-A Locomotives

Ex-CP A-B-B-A locomotives lead The Canadian, June 1983.
Joe Seidl photo, courtesy the Kaluza-Mueller Collection.

The FP9A and F9B locomotives are available as a DC/DCC sound model with our fabulous General Motors 567C prime mover recordings or as DC-only (DCC-ready) models. Full features can be found here.

CP Rail FP9A and F9B

CP Rail's Action-Packed Action Red

Click on a paint scheme for full product information and/or to order direct:
Full information on our Canadian Pacific FP9A locomotives can be found here.

Canada Confederation Train

Canada's Confederation Train

4. Canada's Confederation Train

In 1967 Canada turned 100 years old. While the USA was born from revolution, we were born from bureaucracy. It kind of explains the differences in character between our two peoples. As the late Robin Williams once said, "Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party. Like, keep it down, eh?"

To celebrate our 100th birthday, Montreal hosted Expo 67. Or at least Mike and Bill tell us it did - neither Dan nor I was alive back then, so we'll take their word for it. (Ouch! Stop kicking me.) The Confederation Train toured the country to promote Expo as well as Canadian history and culture.

Equipment was provided by both CN and CP which included FP9As from both roads, a CN steam generator car and a consist of smooth-side passenger cars, all adorned with a bold and colourful paint scheme specially designed for the train. As a unique audio treat, additional horns were added to the locomotives, tuned to replicate the opening four notes of "O Canada"!

Rapido Confederation Train

Canada's Confederation Train. Photo from the Tim Reid Collection.

Our model of the Confederation Train features two accurate sound-equipped FP9A locomotives - one CN and one CP, as well as a CN steam generator car and six Super Continental Line passenger cars in the attractive two-tone purple paint scheme. The six display cars with their uniquely-decorated sides are being produced as an add-on set.

See the illustrations below to get a feel for the entire train and add-on set.

Rapido Confederation Train Artwork

Canada's Confederation Train. Product #1867.

Rapido Confederation Train Add-On Set

Canada's Confederation Train Add-On Set. Product #1967.

Here's the caveat: We need orders for 300 trains in order to produce this. As an added encouragement, if we get orders for 750 trains or more we will tool up 100% accurate CP 2200-series coaches so we won't have to use the similar CN coaches.

The MSRP is $1067 for the Confederation Train and $399.95 for the add-on set. You can read more and order direct by clicking here. Remember - orders must be received by September 30th!

Rapido Trains Ice Bucket Challenge

Oh dear...

Rapido's Ice Bucket Challenge

How could we resist an opportunity to make a fool of ourselves and give to a good cause? Click here or on the image below to watch Rapido's Ice Bucket Challenge. We nominate BLMA, Bowser and Fox Valley Models to take up the challenge.

Donations to ALS Canada can be made here. Donations to the ALS Association in the USA can be made here.

Rapido Ice Bucket Challenge

Rapido Trains Packaging

Model Trains Ready to Leave the Factory

Delivery Updates

After a couple of years of very slow deliveries, we've been busy making up for lost time. Someone recently complained to me that we're now delivering too much! He said it was better when we brought out only one or two models a year. I patiently explained to him that if that had continued for much longer there wouldn't be any more Rapido models as I'd be driving a streetcar for a living.

Here's a delivery update.

Arrived last month (in stores now):

Arriving this week (in stores in 2-3 weeks):
Arriving end of September:
Arriving end of October:
Arriving end of November:
Arriving December/January:
In the new year we'll see FPA-4 and FPB-4 Locomotives as well as the first arrivals from our huge September 30th order deadline. Chinese New Year is late this year, so our usual three months with NO SHIPMENTS won't start until April.

I pity anyone who relies on shipments from China between April and June. At Chinese New Year (January/February), the factories in Guangdong province shut down for three weeks while all of the workers go home to visit their families. When the factories open again, half the workers are gone. They've found new jobs elsewhere and simply don't come back.

So the next six weeks are spent finding and hiring new workers and training them. We basically lose over two months, and that explains why so many great models arrive in the summer when you are out playing golf. So enjoy all of these Rapido shipments while you can!

Rapido FL9 Locomotive

3D design for the New Haven FL9, EDER-5.

FL9 Project Update

I'll hand the floor over to Bill for this bit. The FL9 is his baby.

BILL: Thanks, Jason. The HO scale and N scale FL9 locomotives are moving along quite well, and amazing progress has been made by our design team on the preliminary design work. We're producing the FL9 in several variations - the first thirty units as delivered (EDER-5), the second thirty units as delivered (EDER-5A), the first thirty as modified in later New Haven service, and also Penn Central and Conrail versions.

Rapido FL9 Locomotive

3D design for the New Haven FL9, EDER-5A.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDot) rebuilds will follow later. Full details of all the HO models can be found here and the N scale models can be found here. For detailed information on the differences between the groups visit our FL9 Master Class here.

Rapido FL9 Locomotive 3rd Rail Pickup

Just look at that 3-axle truck and third rail pickup detail. What a lot of cables!

So why the FL9? Well, beyond the obvious fact that it is the one F-unit that still has not been done in plastic, the FL9 holds the distinction of being the very last F-unit model built (New Haven #2069 was THE last F-unit of any type constructed) and the last in regular revenue service. FL9s continued in commuter service until 2009 on trains between New York City and Connecticut and operated through one of the most densely populated areas of the US. Several units are still in regular operation on tourist lines in both the US and Canada.

Beyond all of those perfectly valid reasons, it is a personal favorite of mine! (He means "favourite" -Jason) No I don't. Why on Earth would any sane person put a U in favorite?

Anyway, I saw the FL9s in Metro North service regularly in both original steam heat and later ConnDot HEP versions on the Danbury Branch in Connecticut and I've wanted to do this model for some time now, pretty much ever since I joined Rapido. I'm glad to see that Jason has finally seen the light... err... I mean... thrown his support behind this project.

Conrail FL9 5015

The FL9 as I first saw them.
Photo by Art Deeks, Collection Otto M. Vondrak

At this point the design work for the HO scale FL9 is nearly complete, with just a few final nits to pick. Just rivet counter type stuff... literally. One of our experts noted that we had one extra rivet on the middle batten on each side and that the spacing needed to be adjusted slightly between the last four rivets. I'm serious. Another discovered that our front handrails were one scale inch too close together. We moved them.

Once the HO designs are complete we will start cutting tooling for them (should be in the next two weeks) while at the same time modifying the design for use on the N scale model. Tooling on the N scale versions will then start immediately. Watch for updates on our web site and in future issues of Rapido News.

For more CAD images and updates click here. Here are those links again:
Back to you, Jason!

VIA LRC Locomotive #6917

Restored LRC 6917 poses for the camera before coupling to its test train.
Photo by Mark Kaluza.

Real LRC Locomotive #6917 - Your Help Needed

For the last few weeks, Bob Merriam and a team of volunteers have been busy prepping 6917 for painting. In case you haven't yet heard, 6917 is an LRC locomotive owned by the Toronto Railway Historical Association.

Mechanic Chris Fox, electrician John Carey, and several other helpful volunteers resurrected 6917 from the dead line and got it fully operational, including providing Head End Power to LRC coaches while doing a test run in July.

VIA LRC 6917 test run

6917 hauls its train during its test run in July.
This is the first and only time an LRC locomotive has pulled a rebuilt LRC coach.
Photo by Mark Kaluza.

At some point in the next few weeks, 6917 will move from its current location to a local shortline railroad. Its paintwork was very faded and the body was corroded in numerous locations. Bob and his team have been sanding, filling and patching extensively to prepare 6917 for its new coat of paint.

VIA LRC Locomotive #6917 restoration

6917 being prepared for painting. Look at all that body filler!
Photo by Bob Merriam.

The cost of the paint job is $10,000. Since my call for donations a couple of months ago, the TRHA has only raised $3000. It's not that impressive when you consider that Rapido donated two thirds of that!

When I sent out a call for help to save 6917 back in 2010, the TRHA was flooded with donations and we were able to save this important piece of North American railroad history. I am now asking again for your help so that we can get 6917 painted back into the beautiful grey, blue and yellow it wore for its entire service life.

VIA LRC Locomotive #6917 restoration

At what point does it stop being a locomotive and start being a Bondomotive?
Photo by Bob Merriam.

If you work for Bombardier or another company involved in the LRC project please speak to your community relations people and see if we can get some help and goodwill.

Please click here to go to the TRHA LRC web site and make a donation. Donations above $25 are tax receiptable to Canadian residents. Thanks a lot!

Pad Printing N Scale GMD-1

Pad-printing class lights on the N scale GMD-1 models

More Frequent News and Photos

These newsletters take about a week to ten days to put together. I write them and code them myself (except when Bill is guest starring) and then Mike or Bill give me a huge list of corrections. It's a LOT of work, and it means that I can only get a newsletter out roughly once every four to six weeks.

However, we often have new information for our customers that needn't wait until the next newsletter, such as factory photos, new product hints, questions on requested details or products, etc. (I just used the word "needn't" in a sentence. Awesome.) We post news every couple of days on our Facebook page. You do NOT need to be a member of Facebook to view our latest news and photos.

Please click here to visit our Facebook page and see what's happening. If you are on Facebook, "like" us to get our news in your newsfeed. If you aren't on Facebook, please bookmark our Facebook page and check in every few days for the latest updates. You can also view our Facebook updates and images on the index page of rapidotrains.com.

Li River, China

The Li River, Guangxi Province
Photo by Dariusz Jemielniak.

Latest China Report

I spent much of August in China. Travelling overseas is gruelling, but worth it. It's one thing to communicate with your team in China by email and Skype, but it's another to actually spend time in the factory solving problems as they arise. At one time, the chief MLW engineer and I spent two hours at his computer solving clearance issues on the HO scale FL9 that would have taken a week to do via email.

Jason Shron and Colin Zuo

Colin and me in Yangshuo

Our Chinese operations are only possible because of Colin Zuo, shown in the photo above. We were in a "taxi," which was basically a motorized trike with some seats bolted to the back! Colin is our Manager of Chinese Operations, and he has been my right-hand-man in China since 2005. Without him there would be no Rapido - Colin found us our factories.

Colin solves logistical problems in China, translates thousands of emails a year, visits the factories regularly to keep an eye on things, and is also one of my closest friends. Most recently, Colin ferried me around southern China for more than two weeks and very patiently put up with me (which is not easy to do - ask Dan, Mike and Bill).

I want to express my appreciation to Colin for his hard work and dedication to Rapido, and I wanted you guys to know how important he is: without Colin, you wouldn't have any of our amazing models.

One of our factories has recently moved to a new building, and the storage room for our moulds had not yet been built. Looking at all of our moulds in one place I suddenly realized: Wow. We've made a lot of stuff.

Rapido factory in China

Colin, Dennis and I are lost in sea of tooling.

We finalized the last remaining tweaks to the LRC Locomotive and the new, free-rolling LRC coach trucks. But when we test-ran a sample locomotive, the sound was rubbish. Looking at the wiring, I pointed out to Zhang that the speakers were wired in series instead of parallel. Five minutes later, the sound was amazing. That's the kind of thing that you don't catch unless you are at the factory during the testing stage. I can just imagine Dan's face if I had to tell him: "Hey Dan - can you please open up the 2000 LRCs that just arrived and rewire the speakers? There's a good chap. Ta!"

Rapido factory in China

I was getting rather excited by the LRC locomotive tooling. Can you tell?

On the N scale front, I saw real progress (finally!) on our new Osgood Bradley 10-Window Coach tooling. This tooling should have been ready several months ago but the factory move meant that it took longer than planned. Have a look at one of the side slides in progress. We should have first test samples of these next week. I'll be sure to put photos up on our Facebook page.

I also discovered that rivets had been put in the wrong location on our N scale 10-5 Sleeper. "Hey Dennis!" I called. "Remember when we cancelled these rivets?" Dennis shouted "D'oh!" and slapped his forehead in a very comical way. We all started laughing, but it was back to the drawing board... (Don't worry - it's been fixed already.)

Rapido N scale New Haven

N Scale New Haven Osgood Bradley Coach Mould Slide

At the factory I saw some ingenious CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) drilling on our HO scale GARX Meat Reefers. Because the ladders and grab irons have mounting holes very close to the edge of the car side, it was decided that it would look better if we drilled the mounting holes rather than have them cast in as part of the mould.

Production is well under way on these cars and they will leave China this month.

Rapido GARX Reefer Production

Drilling holes in the GARX Meat Reefer shells

Before heading to the MLW factory, Colin and I went to visit some factories in Guangxi province, which feels like the Catskills of southern China. The place was overflowing with tourists from all over the country, and the landscape was just beautiful, despite the 400-degree heat. The Li River area, with its surrounding mini-mountains and farmland, comes pretty close to paradise, actually. We explored one of the world's most celebrated cave networks, the Feng Yu caves, and saw a light and sound show in a cavern that was literally the size of Toronto's Union Station.

Rapido Feng Yu Caves

Stalactites and stalagmites galore in the Feng Yu caves

The two-hour cave hike was followed by a boat ride (I had to duck to avoid smacking my head on the cave roof!) and a very rickety monorail which, I think, was built in the later Silurian period.

Rapido Feng Yu Caves monorail

Feng Yu Caves Monorail - it's a wee thing!

Rapido Feng Yu Caves monorail

Don't lean over - the whole thing will come down!

Yangshuo is famous for its light, dance and music performance on the Li River, Impression Sanjie Liu (印象·刘三姐), relating the history and mythology of the local people and their life on the river. The show was actually performed on the river, largely in traditional fishing boats.

Amazingly, the fishermen of the Li River have been using the same style of boats and the same traditional harvesting methods for thousands of years, and they still do it today except that most of them have smart phones. Almost everyone in southern China has a smart phone, and if you thought we were addicted to our phones, go spend some time over there.

I asked Colin, "What is everyone doing on their phones morning, noon and night? Do they have so many people to stay in touch with? Colin said, "No - they are playing games, mostly."

So... Not so different from people here after all...

Impression Sanjie Liu

Impression Sanjie Liu, Yangshuo, Guangxi, China
Photo by 印象·刘三姐

Impression Sanjie Liu

Actors using traditional fishing boats play a large part in the performance.
Photo by 印象·刘三姐

At the MLW factory production was wrapping up on the HO scale GMD-1 locomotives. The Northern Alberta GMD-1 locomotives looked stunning - check out the photo below, which I took in the hotel room on a piece of paper! Note the bell and horn are in the correct location and the cab interior is rotated so that it faces the short hood. NAR ran their GMD-1 locomotives short hood forward.


Northern Alberta Railways GMD-1

However, when I pulled a model of locomotive #312 off the production line, I noticed a problem. The big "NORTHERN ALBERTA" lettering on the side should have been a serif typeface rather than the sans-serif typeface. #311 and #312 were later arrivals to the NAR fleet and they consequently have some spotting differences from the other five engines that NAR owned.

Bill, Dan, Mike and I had a number of rather heated discussions as we tried to figure out how to fix this. We probably could have just delivered them as-is, and only five guys would have noticed the mistake. But that's not our style.

If we remade the shells, the delay in production would have a knock-on effect and cause all sorts of delivery delays. It would also be very expensive. Once we had come to a tentative solution of remaking the shells and delaying 311 and 312 until January, the printing master came up to me and told me he could fix it and it would only take one extra week.

Seriously? Seriously. The image below shows the progress from wrong typeface to correct typeface.

NAR GMD-1 fixed

NAR GMD-1 from wrong to right in a few easy steps!

The solution was to remove the shells from the walkway, and dribble some thinner through a sponge just onto the yellow stripe. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then pull it off with packing tape. After two or three applications the yellow was gone, leaving the blue and grey paint unblemished underneath.

Then new yellow stripes and lettering were printed on the shells, and they shells were reattached to the walkway. Sure enough, in a few days almost 300 locomotive shells were fixed and the shipment left only a week behind schedule.

You have to hand it to the guys in the factory - that was very ingenious thinking and excellent work! It saved us a lot of time, money and headaches.

I always see interesting things when I am in China, whether I am working in industrial centres like Dongguan, travelling through the mountains near Guilin, or just out and about. Apparently it is common for Volkswagens to sport Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on their trunks in China!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Volkswagen

Teenage Mutant Ninja Volkswagen

I also got to do some shopping for the layout, getting some great deals on tools and supplies, such as 350 sheets of letter-size wet/dry sandpaper in 400, 600, 800 and 1200 grit for about $20 total. I found 180 linear feet of 12V LED strip lighting to light the middle deck on my layout for $0.63 per foot. And steel-cutting flush nippers for $6. You get the idea...

At one tool store, I tried to talk Chinese to the old guy at the back (asking if the flush nippers in my hand would cut steel) and he just stared at me. I asked him in Chinese, jokingly, "Do you speak Chinese?" He told me, "I speak Chinese. You don't."

When I was checking out, the lady at the cash complimented me on my Chinese. I told her that I'm glad she thinks my Chinese is good because her dad thinks my Chinese is awful. She started laughing so hard she fell over. He was her husband!

Rapido N scale tooling

New N Scale Freight Car

One more thing before I go - here's a new N scale freight car project in tooling. We should have samples any day now. Stay tuned!

Thanks for sticking with me for another mammoth newsletter. I'll be in touch in about a month with even more new product announcements.


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.

P.S. Happy Anniversary to my parents, Van and Sonia Shron, who celebrated 47 years yesterday!

The Shron Family

The Shrons

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