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@Allegheny posted:

However, once you get their attention via email, they are right on it and will try their best to rectify the situation.   

In my experience it’s more like IF you get their attention via email. It’s not when everything is perfect that a supplier should be judged, but rather how they handle problems when things go wrong. It’s not just train stuff, but in general Menards has horrible customer service when you can’t simply bring something to a store. But hey, let’s hear more about the “value” from Menards!

@bmoran4 posted:

@ChooChoo1972, generally speaking, companies with products in a beta program do not have customer facing support and Menards has not set the expectation otherwise.

Also, usually beta testers sign non-disclosure agreements with the company involved and cannot post in social media regarding the product. In addition, they get usually get the product for free and have to return it at the end of the test. The last thing many companies want is public announcements based upon beta testing.

@Richie C. posted:

...This was not intended to be a normal retailer-to-consumer transaction and I find it disturbing that some people are measuring it as such, let alone reselling it on the open market. Let's say some one on the 'net buys that $299 engine and has a problem with it. Even though they may be able to get their money back, they are now turned off to Menard's and their products - not an outcome they intended.   

My suggestion to Menard's for future events like this is to clearly imprint the model with language that it is for testing purposes with a limited production run and not intended for commercial resale.

THIS is what's wrong with trying to immediately flip the item for a profit, especially without even verifying that the unit is functional.  Despite the auction site seller's high reputation score, this act of putting profit above all else speaks volumes about that person's lack of a moral compass.  Just because it's legal doesn't make it right.

@Mallard4468 posted:

THIS is what's wrong with trying to immediately flip the item for a profit, especially without even verifying that the unit is functional.  Despite the auction site seller's high reputation score, this act of putting profit above all else speaks volumes about that person's lack of a moral compass.  Just because it's legal doesn't make it right.

glad someone else agrees with me...well said

@Mallard4468

I get what you are saying here, the spirit of this "non-conventional" beta testing program was to get this into the hands of enthusiasts and regular everyday operators to get real world feed back from everyday model railroaders and not just a few hand picked folks for a beta test program.  I like how Menards did this, the unit we sampled work pretty good, and I sent my feedback to Menards directly as they requested.

The guy who is selling the unopened model didn't care about the true spirit of this beta test program but he is still contributing in one small way, what are folks willing to pay for this thing? Obviously not $300 because as of now it has zero bids. But also we need to consider that selling an unused beta product only gives a loose idea of what the finished product might be worth on an open market.

Is his moral compass broken? I would say not completely, but his intentions are clear. Make a quick buck by taking advantage of the demand over the supply... still a little slimy.

Last edited by H1000
@RoyBoy posted:

Maybe someone had already made that FP7 mold, or maybe it's an old/existing mold from another defunct manufacturer. I checked my old two rail Atlas/Pola F7 from the 70's, but the Menards loco mold  is not from that family/lineage.

FWIW: The Atlas F from the 70's was an F9 and it was made by Roco. Pola made stuff for AHM/ Rivarossi.

Mark in Oregon

The tool for the body of this locomotive is not at all familiar to me.  If it is a pre-existing tool, it is not one that went into any type of mass production in the last 20 years at least. The only O scale FP7s I am aware of are the Sunset ones I worked on and the surprisingly scale tin-plate Pride Lines FP7.  I will speculate, and I hate doing that, that perhaps this tool was paid for by another manufacturer but never made it to full production.  Another thought is that it is a new tool and the cost of developing it will be offset by sheer numbers if the final production piece costs anywhere close to the pre-production model.  The Blomberg truck side frames are readily available from any number of sources across Asia. 

I still need to get some run time in with mine.  I was hoping to last weekend, but my daughter was more interested in other activities and that always comes first.  Perhaps this weekend I will break it in. 

The modeler in me sees the opportunity in several potential modifications and repainting, but the collector in me sees the value in having something that is a limited run and keeping it in its as delivered state.

Perhaps when the model is offered after beta testing is completed, I will purchase some additional ones for projects.  Of all the F Unit variants, the FP versions are among my favorite.

I’m becoming convinced that this is new body tooling, or at least one never before  used in a final production model. I have found no matching shells on anything in the world of O scale.

Here’s some more pure speculation. Maybe the missing louvers that always are a part of the sides of F units landed the tools for these shells in storage for later modifications, only to be abandoned after the manufacturer withdrew from our hobby. (I can see forgotten tools from the last days of K-Line, whose tooling ended up in the Sanda Kan factory’s possession as a partial debt settlement following MDK Inc.’s bankruptcy. That tooling ultimately mostly ended up in the hands of Kader, which bought the troubled Sanda Kan facility shortly thereafter. Kader has been rumored as a tooling source for Menards for years.)

I don’t know. Total guesses.

@Jim R. posted:

I’m becoming convinced that this is new body tooling, or at least one never before  used in a final production model. I have found no matching shells on anything in the world of O scale.

Here’s some more pure speculation. Maybe the missing louvers that always are a part of the sides of F units landed the tools for these shells in storage for later modifications, only to be abandoned after the manufacturer withdrew from our hobby. (I can see forgotten tools from the last days of K-Line, whose tooling ended up in the Sanda Kan factory’s possession as a partial debt settlement following MDK Inc.’s bankruptcy. That tooling ultimately mostly ended up in the hands of Kader, which bought the troubled Sanda Kan facility shortly thereafter. Kader has been rumored as a tooling source for Menards for years.)

I don’t know. Total guesses.

Except it's been stated many times that a company called Golden Wheel makes the Menards trains.

Although I would agree the FP7 is likely an "abandoned" (for whatever reason) project from an unidentifiable source.  Whatever.  It's a pretty fair representation for the price.

Rusty

Well all well and good but for myself and others whose remotes don't have terminals to bend out we still are left with a completely useless product that the retailer won't stand behind despite making all of the requested feedback.

I agree with Frank on this one. How can he help Menards with a review when the unit arrives with missing parts. Selling it is not the answer. He bought it in good faith so come on Menards, answer his call. Quality goes beyond just the product.

Except it's been stated many times that a company called Golden Wheel makes the Menards trains.

Although I would agree the FP7 is likely an "abandoned" (for whatever reason) project from an unidentifiable source.  Whatever.  It's a pretty fair representation for the price.

Rusty

Golden Wheel makes items for Menards, that’s for sure. That doesn’t mean Golden Wheel makes all of Menards train line.

Jim R.,

You are probably right about not having the F-3 diesel for Christmas. I don't want to see it until its perfect. However, they must continue to produce train items on a more frequent basis. More buildings, freight cars, accessories and "O" Gauge tubular switches and rubber roadbed for their track. They must keep their foot on the pedal. 

@jim sutter posted:

Jim R.,

You are probably right about not having the F-3 diesel for Christmas. I don't want to see it until its perfect. However, they must continue to produce train items on a more frequent basis. More buildings, freight cars, accessories and "O" Gauge tubular switches and rubber roadbed for their track. They must keep their foot on the pedal.

It has been quiet this year. I like the structure and some of the rail cars and usually purchase about 1 building per year. The first fire station, the gas station, and the Fed Ex buildings are excellent.

Well all well and good but for myself and others whose remotes don't have terminals to bend out we still are left with a completely useless product that the retailer won't stand behind despite making all of the requested feedback.

1. I would bet dollars to donuts that Menard's will make good on a replacement controller as long as you comply with their return policy. I have returned train product in the past and their customer service has always been great to work with. OTOH, it's possible that since this was a limited production test run of only 200 units, they may not have another controller immediately available for replacement or more likely, that since a number of beta testers have already raised issues with the controller, Menard's is probably already working with the manufacturer to solve those issues and doesn't want to replace any defective ones until the units are corrected and working properly.

2. If they don't make good, like others have offered, I would be happy to purchase yours for what you paid for it.

3. I understand your frustration, but it seems to me that the risk you run when you agree to be part of a beta testing program and are not purchasing a conventional retailer-to-consumer product, is that there may be issues/problems and they may not be easily or readily solved. 

@Richie C. posted:
3. I understand your frustration, but it seems to me that the risk you run when you agree to be part of a beta testing program and are not purchasing a conventional retailer-to-consumer product, is that there may be issues/problems and they may not be easily or readily solved.

I didn't read the terms of the purchase that way.   Where was the "as is" language?  I must have missed that part.

John

@Craftech posted:

I didn't read the terms of the purchase that way.   Where was the "as is" language?  I must have missed that part.

John

Well, it was kinda-sorta spelled out on the Menards Shop Now page.  Perhaps not too clearly as it mentions that this is a test run rather than using the Beta Test or As Is phrasing.  Most seemed to be dazzled by the $129.99 price tag, but it's there.

The folks involved with this project at Menards are probably wondering about this can of worms they got themselves into.

Rusty

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The folks involved with this project at Menards are probably wondering about this can of worms they got themselves into.

Rusty

I agree. If I recall correctly, some on the forum even wondered whether the divisiveness apparent here and often applied to any manufacturer’s new locomotives would be enough to discourage Menards from getting into this end of the hobby.

For what’s it’s worth, I have seen snarkier comments on a toy train mail list concerning this product.

Not to worry. John Menard can take it. It won’t affect the production. Sales will determine the train line’s future.

Quite often people who have no clue what it takes to bring a new product online, whine when the product does not cure what ails them, lash out because it isn't a Cadillac at a Rambler price, the seats aren't comfortable, the windshield wipers are only on/low/medium and the doors sound clunky when close.

I give Menards an A+ for the product they have offered, if Henry Ford listened to the whiners and naysayers, we might not be driving what we do today and have manufacturing as streamlined as it is.

And there will ALWAYS be the 10% who aren't satisfied if you GIVE it to them.

@Jim R. posted:

For what’s it’s worth, I have seen snarkier comments on a toy train mail list concerning this product.

It's sad that these things happen.

I am beginning to conclude (by no fault of this or other Forum operators & moderators) that these forums themselves contribute and let others promote the divisiveness seen in people here between manufactures. Much like how Social Media does with Politics.

I commend Menards on this effort, they put out a nice model. Yes it need some work and I am sure they know that, but for a first attempt and also letting anyone participate in the beta testing, I am really impressed!!

I will definitely be looking at these in the future to be used with our KIDS layouts.

Last edited by H1000

I finally opened up the box. Had it since this past Saturday. But I am glad of all the information that people found out already. Out of the box the remote would not work. From previous information from here I used a screwdriver to bend the contacts  out a bit and that is all it took and the remote was ready to go. Placed the engine on the track hooking it up to a train I already had on the track. Turned on the transformer and the sound came on right away. The engine moved forward pulling a train of 26 cars and a bobber caboose. The cars were basically 6464 size. All and all the engine ran good. Except for the jack rabbit stops and starts. I think overall Menards did a pretty good job so far............Paul  2

@Craftech posted:

@rrman replied:

"I suspect a momentary short that happens when engine moves.  Check wires to the trucks for abrasions or missing heat shrink tubing.  Or a pickup rollers are unevenly round or holder warpped and touching the truck frame."

I didn't listen to him so I set up a Menards circle with O Gauge track instead of using my 027 layout and it ran flawlessly.  Thinking there must be a short in my 027 layout I tore the entire thing apart and tested each section of tubular track and the Marx switches.  Couldn't find the short.

So I set up lengths of 027 track and tested it a little at a time as I added track and it shorted after I set up around 3 feet of track.

So I put a 30" section of 027 against the bottom of the Menards engine and flipped the sandwich upside down and lo and behold one of the spring loaded coupler screws (phillips) was touching the center rail.  It came from the factory not screwed in all the way. Screwed it in and it ran flawlessly.   Apparently regular O Gauge track elevated the truck enough that the screw didn't touch the center rail.  Dropped down on 027 it touched.

Oh well, I wanted to tear my layout apart anyway so this was a good excuse.

Sorry @rrman - you were right.

John

EDIT:  I have been following the other posts and am not using 18v.  Much lower.

One more issue with the coupler.  It has far too much up and down play (mine does anyway).  It doesn't line up properly with the first car behind it (tried various cars).  It sits too low because of the excessive play.

If you have had a similar problem, how have you corrected it?

Thanks,

John

Last edited by Craftech

My evaluation



So far I haven’t notice anybody remark that Jack the German has his picture on the battery cover of the remote. ( Jack is so photogenic )



As others have found, the positive connectors on the AAA batteries on the remote needed a little tweak with a screwdriver so that they made good contact.



It is a nice looking engine with crisp paint. It had the usual small scuff marks on the center line of the silver paint both in the front and back on the roof. Otherwise no paint defects that I noticed.



The sound volume is controlled by the remote. After much head scratching and complaining to myself about no directions on how to control volume, I looked at the side of the remote, and there was the volume control.



The directional headlight and reverse light are bright and work as advertised. The round red lights in the number boards look weird.



Run by itself, the engine is comfortable and somewhat sedate at 9 volts, it is still happy at 12 volts, and is a real racer at 18 volts.



When is starts to move, it jumps, and when it stops it really stops. At any voltage. It slows down nicely, and then bam, it stops.

It is hard to inch the engine up to another car. First it doesn’t move, then takes off like a battering ram. If you try to move back and forth to line up with something, you just end up with the engine jumping 3 or 4 inches from forward to reverse.



Run with a heavy load it was a different matter. I had some problems with the rear engine coupler opening by itself.



I ran it with 3 dummy diesel engines as a load, just for weight. Probably the equivalent of 6 or 8 heavy cars. On the flat it ran fine with this load, but on about a 3 % grade the engine lost traction and stopped moving, just spinning its wheels. A little extra weight might help here, because it seems to have plenty of power, even if it is spinning in one place jumping up and down with no traction.



This would probably be fine with many lighter cars on a flat layout.



My wife liked it.    I liked it.

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330-757-3020

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