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Dear Rapido Customer,
I know. I shouldn't give up my day job.
Despite our dreadful record of newsletters we have actually been working very hard here at Rapido Galactic Headquarters since our first newsletter was mailed out to one-and-a-half subscribers in November last year.
As ever, if you like anything you read here, please use the link at the bottom to forward this email to your friends and ask them to sign up to receive future mailings. So far we have almost three whole subscribers to our UK newsletter and we're hoping to reach six by the end of 2015.
In this issue of Rapido News UK:
N Gauge Pendolino Update - The Plan B
As you have no doubt heard, the Kickstarter campaign for the N Gauge Pendolino came just shy of its target. As you've also probably heard, that didn't stop Ben Ando and Mike Hale from going ahead with the project anyway! (If you haven't heard any of this, then have we got news for you!)
Ben and Mike have rebranded NGaugePendolino.com as Revolution Trains, and we are producing the Pendolino for them as originally planned. They've also got some other models in the works - we just had a productive "future planning" meeting the other day to discuss which products we would be working on in the coming months.
If you are in the UK or Europe, you can still order the Pendolino but at a slightly higher price than originally offered through Kickstarter. Click here to order from Revolution Trains.
If you are anywhere else on the planet, at T-Mat Control on the moon, or in the tin-pot human colony on Uxarieus, you need to order the Pendolino directly from Rapido. Because we've taken so long to get this newsletter out to you, we are offering the original Kickstarter prices until St. Patrick's Day, 17 March. (That is also, coincidentally, the day I turn 40, so I am likely to be found under my desk drowning my sorrows in a bottle of Penderyn whisky.) Please click here to order your train.
As an added bonus, we are offering free economy P&P for all Pendolino orders. Just enter PENDO into the voucher code bit of the shopping cart. If you've already ordered the Pendolino from us, we will retroactively remove the P&P charge from your order.
We will be charging the 50% deposit to our Pendolino customers at the end of this month.
In order to ensure the contours of the nose are spot on, Ben and Mike travelled to Crewe in January to perform a 3D scan of the real Pendolino.
Ermmm... As you can see in the photo below, that didn't work.
After paying some local lads to lick the snow off, Ben and Mike tried the scan again in early February, and this time they were successful. (There was one kid with his tongue still stuck to the roof but we were able to edit him out.)
You can watch an RMWeb video of the 3D scan by clicking here or on the image below.
We could design the entire model off of these drawings, but the 3D scan will enable us to ensure that there is nothing "lost in translation" between the 2D drawings and the 3D model used to create the N gauge train. Here's some of that raw scan data in all its glory:
The 3D scan data took a bit longer than anticipated to process, so we won't be ready to start tooling until later in the spring. We expect to have first samples out of the moulds at the end of the summer, with final pre-production models ready later in the autumn.
I know many of you are impatient to receive your Pendolino, but we don't want to rush this project. We recently produced the N gauge GMD-1 locomotive model for the Canadian market and it has trouble on certain brands of points. We are going to ensure that bugs like that do not happen with the Pendolino, even if it means the project comes out a few months later than planned. I trust you won't mind a delay should it be necessary for a model that works flawlessly.
Click here to order your Pendolino in the UK and Europe, and click here to order your Pendolino everywhere else. Remember all you Aussies, Canucks, Yanks, and Uxarian colonists: our prices go up on 18 March.
APT-E Mould Progress
The tooling workshop has been busy with numerous mould modifications on the OO gauge APT-E, which we are producing in association with Locomotionmodels.com. Just before Chinese New Year shut down the factory for three weeks, our engineers sent us the second test sample. We're now beating this thing up as best we can and putting it through some serious testing.
We have two aims with this sample. Firstly, we're testing the mechanical functions. Does it tilt successfully? Does it stay on the rails? Does it negotiate #2 radius curves? (Boy you Brits really like to run your trains around tram curves, don't you?)
Secondly, what cosmetic issues have we missed? We've accumulated FIVE PAGES worth of cosmetic corrections that we've already sent to the factory in China to go through and fix: a missing grille here, a mismatched panel line there, the yawning chasm between the body and the chassis, etc. They are going to try to fix all of these minor bugs in time for the York show, but it may take a bit longer as we don't want to rush and do a bad job.
One trouble we've had with the APT-E sample is the tilt. It works great as long as the two power cars are not trying to tilt heavily in opposite directions, such as on an S curve formed of two opposing #2 radius curves. When that happens, the above photo is the result. Aaarggghhh!
The factory is now modifying the tilt mechanism to avoid this rather obvious drawback. I wonder if Kit Spackman had to deal with this on the real thing? Oh right - the real thing didn't run on tram tracks. I forgot.
That interior that you see above will be fully decorated, and the computer banks will have FLASHING LIGHTS, by the way. You need to add a 4mm scale Kit Spackman to your interior, which will already feature a 4mm cheese sandwich on the floor. I'm not kidding.
So where do we stand now? The factory has the full report and is working on final corrections. The absolute last thing to be added is the rivets, so we won't have those on the model until May. We start production in June and the models should be in your hands by the time of the Warley show this autumn. If the production model samples are not 100% perfect, we will be sending Rapido Dan to the factory to do quality control in person. Hmmm... Southern China in August. I hope Dan has good antiperspirant!
We will have samples at the Locomotionmodels.com booth at the York Show next month, and this time we'll try not to be sloshed when we paint the stripes.
The absolute latest you can reserve your APT-E to guarantee delivery is April 30th. Please click here to place your order today - scroll down until you get to the APT-E. The Rapido APT-E model is only available from the NRM via Locomotionmodels.com.
To read more about the train - both real and model - click here to visit Rapido's APT-E web page.
If one exclusive model train for the National Railway Museum isn't enough for you, how about a second? I am pleased to announce our SECOND 3D Scan Party at Locomotion in Shildon! I believe the appropriate expression is "We don't do things by halves." (In Canada, the equivalent expression would be "Pass the maple syrup.")
Bill Schneider from Rapido and the team at Locomotionmodels.com will be hosting another 3D Scan Party on Wednesday 8 April at Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon. We're moving our secret prototype into the exhibition hall under cover of darkness and we'll reveal the new model on the morning of the event. Or we might tell you what it is beforehand. It will be determined by our world-famous "seat of our trousers" marketing policy.
Our previous 3D Scan Party was a huge success. Well over a hundred railway modellers and industry insiders convened to learn about our APT-E project and to see the prototype being scanned. It gave members of the public an opportunity to spend quality time with people in our industry - including representatives of all the major magazines - in a much more relaxed and intimate environment than an exhibition hall.
You can read about our APT-E 3D Scan Party here.
This time there is no cost for admission to the party (yes it's FREE!), and many of the extra goodies will still be included, such as exclusive tours of equipment normally closed to the public, and an extensive model railway layout exhibition. As it will be Easter break, this is a great opportunity to bring your kids or grandkids along for a day out at one of the UK's finest railway museums and be a part of model railway history at the same time.
Click here for more info about our new 3D Scan Party, and Bill and the Locomotion guys hope to see you there!
Rapido at the York Show
As we expand our range of British models you can expect us to become more of a regular presence at some of the larger exhibitions in the UK. Last year, with just the APT-E to show off, Bill and I piggybacked on the Locomotionmodels.com stand at Warley. We had a great time, although afterwards I couldn't move for three days and was completely unable to speak for a week. (You can read about our adventure going to the Warley show via north AND south Wales here.)
We'll be doing the same again for this year's York Show over the Easter Weekend (April 4th, 5th and 6th, 2015). Bill - who is the guiding hand behind the APT-E project - will be at the show and will be happy to talk about everything from tilting trains to the breeding cycle of the North American muskrat. Kit Spackman and Paul Leadley will also be on hand. Kit worked on the APT-E project and is known as Mr Tilt (see him tilting in our APT-E video here) and Paul has been one of the leaders of the restoration of the real APT-E. Paul's APT-E web site can be found here.
We will have a "new and improved" APT-E sample on display and you can reserve your APT-E set from the Locomotion team at the show. You can also reserve an APT-E for your auntie, one for your auntie on the other side, and one for your neighbour's pet muskrat, Derek. Oh wait - you don't have muskrats in the UK, do you? Well then you should buy an APT-E as a consolation for your neighbour who is shattered that she can't own a muskrat named Derek.
The York Show line up is as impressive as ever with around 40 confirmed layouts and a number of demonstrations covering everything from model and building construction, signalling and road vehicles to landscaping and simple casting.
Later this year, with samples of the APT-E, N Gauge Pendolino, and several other yet-to-be revealed models ready to display, we'd be "taking the mickey" if we kept squatting in other companies' booths. ("Taking the mickey" is a UK expression. In Canada, we say "Pass the maple syrup.") Thus we'll be having our own stand-alone presence at the NEC Warley Show in November, and Ben and Mike will probably be squatting in our booth.
Remember the order deadline for the APT-E is 30 April, so this is the last major UK exhibition appearance for the APT-E samples before the order deadline. We'll make sure to get a video up onto YouTube before the deadline so you can see it in action if you can't make it to York.
Here's a link to the York show: a link to the York show.
Secret 3D Scanning
Eagle-eyed readers of BRM may have noticed the above photo of Rapido's new OO gauge model. (You'd have been hard pressed to miss it as it was on the first page.)
The truth is out - we have indeed done a 3D scan for our next OO gauge UK model. I can't tell you much about it yet. One clue to our new model can be seen above. Another can be seen below.
Our intention is to reveal the new UK outline model at the Warley Show in November, but we may decide to announce it sooner. Our R&D is just about done and our engineering team in China will be finishing up the 3D CAD designs this month.
That means we'll have test samples in June and finished pre-production samples well in time for the show.
Your clues are:
Now compare that with the level of detail on the exact same car by a leading American manufacturer:
We Canadians are "completely bonkers" for including this level of detail. That's a UK expression. In Canada we say "completely bonkers. Now would you PLEASE pass the maple syrup already??"
You might ask, "Who cares about undercarriage detail?" But it's not just the stuff under the floor. Our models are complete; the same attention to detail stretches from the rail to the roof, and extra touches like separately-moulded seats and full toilet interiors are standard on our models.
So that's the kind of detail you can look forward to in our new UK-outline OO-gauge model.
Rail Investment: UK vs. Canada
I often read about the lack of proper rail investment in certain regions of the UK, particularly the North and the South West. And the continued operation of the dreaded Pacers (Classes 142, 143, 144 and, to a lesser degree, 150) is used as an example of sub-standard service provision in those regions. Last week's pre-election announcement by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin of new trains for the North to replace the Pacers has been received with justifiable scepticism.
(As an aside, I think Porterbrook's 144e - refurbished Class 144s with bells, whistles, and Wi-Fi - will end up being the "new trains" and we'll see Pacers in service into the 2040s. Oh Joy!)
Proponents for further investment in the North and South West (and other regions) have a very good argument; London gets a phenomenal amount of new rail infrastructure and rolling stock investment (think Crossrail and now Crossrail 2) whereas the North has to fight every time it wants a single route electrified (hello Harrogate-Leeds-York). Compare the ultra-modern Class 345s being produced for Crossrail (so far on time) with the almost 30-year-old Class 319s being dumped onto the newly-electrified Liverpool-Manchester route (almost two years late and still not open at time of writing).
And why is the funding given to Northern considered a drain on resources whereas funding in London and other regions is considered vital for the economy?
Now that I've got that all off my chest I want to give all you Brits outside of London some perspective. In Canada, we DREAM of getting the kind of government funding that your most under-invested regions receive each year.
The last major capital investment in VIA Rail Canada, our national passenger railway, was about �500 million spread over seven years from 2007 to 2013. That's less than the British government is spending on the upgrade of Reading station ALONE. In comparison, the UK spends between �35 and �40 billion on railway infrastructure in each five-year control period. A rough calculation suggests that British railway passengers are getting 100 times the investment, in real pounds/dollars, compared to Canadian railway passengers.
In Canada, after we received the funding there was no extra money for new routes or services; it was just for capital expenditures. And of that money, the majority went to Canadian National to upgrade its tracks, which they promptly filled with longer and heavier freight trains.
So what did VIA get? Some overhauled locomotives, a few new station buildings, and a "refreshing" of its 30-year-old fleet of LRC cars and its 60-year-old fleet of transcontinental passenger cars. This was immediately followed by massive service cuts and layoffs because the government did not provide any additional funds to cover operating costs.
So next time you board a Northern, Arriva Trains Wales, or First Great Western Pacer, take a moment to appreciate the fact that you can ride a train at all. For many Canadians, there isn't a scheduled passenger train service to be found for hundreds of miles. In the west, in the east, and even in the heavily-populated centre of Canada, VIA services have been cut, cut, and cut again.
Until we have a federal government in Canada with long-term vision, we will continue to have a skeleton of a national passenger railway running trains from the 1950s and wondering every day if today will be the day that the government announces VIA is being shut down completely. Imagine the UK without any long distance rail services.... You can't. But it's a real possibility here, and it boggles the mind.
You guys in the UK don't know how good you've got it.
That's enough ranting for one day. I'll leave you with another awesome APT-E photo. Check out this cab interior detail. Don't worry - you'll be able to see it. We'll have a light in there!
Please visit our Facebook page for regular updates (you don't need to sign up for Facebook to view it) as well as the Rapido forum on RMWeb, where Bill and I can often be found wasting away the hours talking about HSTs, Class 28s, and why Bill should really be modelling CrossCountry Voyagers instead of Great Western.
All the best,
Rapido Trains Inc.
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