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As they say on reddit, "First world problems"

Vote with your dollars. We always have, since 1792 according to Wikipedia. (Canadians and the rest of the world excluded of course).

Side note, my only pre-order was in maybe 2002, the Lionel CP SD90 that nobody wants to buy. It went back for reprogramming, it had problems with it couplers, it still lurches, it still shorts on certain switch setups, but dang if that stinker just keeps on running. I mean I run it just so I can break it and get rid of it, and it won't break. It has "Trainmaster" style blinder-inner flange trucks and only two rollers, issues Lionel and MTH have since addressed. And the color isn't bad.

My experience with pre-orderes has been very limited, but good, so far.

I have pre-ordered a couple of MTH engines from a Forum Sponsor that turned out well.

I have pre-ordered several LC+ engines from my LHS that also turned out well.

My last pre-order is a Legacy engine from a Forum Sponsor that is scheduled to be shipped by Lionel in July, 2021. We will see how that one turns out. Arnold

Call them "pre orders", "reservations", whatever. There are no guarantees. Case in point: we "reserved" a U Haul truck about a month in advance. Two days before the pickup date, we were told that the size we "reserved" was not available, so I guess "reserving" something is only as good as the paper it's printed on.

On a positive note, we were given a slightly larger rig at the same price, so we were able to move our son as planned...🙂

Mark in Oregon

I have pre-ordered frequently in the past, and have had no bad experiences. I have several items on preorder now, one of them being a pretty costly (to me) item, and will just patiently wait until they arrive. The only thing I was not particularly thrilled with was being charged for the purchase up front, well before it was made or delivered. Never had that happen before. No big deal, though, because now at least one of the three existing preorders has been fully paid for.

The late Bobbye Hall, owner of Hall's Hobby House in Dallas,TX, also created Hallmark Models.  She imported brass trains in O, HO and N scale.  She became  known by the builders in Japan and Korea as The Dragon Lady because she took the bull by the horns and demanded Quality.  If it was inferior she would flat out Refuse a model!

This occured with the HO scale brass Cotton Belt 4-4-2 she intended to import in the 70s.  It just wouldn't run, period.  When she refused it, NorthWest Short Line purchased the entire run and advertised them for $89.98, if memory serves me well.  They were offered As Is, No Return!  Avid SSW fans either remotored or made static models out of them.

Model trains could still be manufactured in the U.S. of America.  Just look at the number of dedicated manufacturers that still do, both large and small.  They deserve a tip of an engineer's cap or conductor's hat, or both, for believing in putting America First!  Respect to each of you!

If you wanna get sentimental, watch the late great Kate Smith as she sings God Bless America, on YouTube.  It'll Make Your Day!

The late Bobbye Hall, owner of Hall's Hobby House in Dallas,TX, also created Hallmark Models.  She imported brass trains in O, HO and N scale.  She became  known by the builders in Japan and Korea as The Dragon Lady because she took the bull by the horns and demanded Quality.  If it was inferior she would flat out Refuse a model!

This occured with the HO scale brass Cotton Belt 4-4-2 she intended to import in the 70s.  It just wouldn't run, period.  When she refused it, NorthWest Short Line purchased the entire run and advertised them for $89.98, if memory serves me well.  They were offered As Is, No Return!  Avid SSW fans either remotored or made static models out of them.

Model trains could still be manufactured in the U.S. of America.  Just look at the number of dedicated manufacturers that still do, both large and small.  They deserve a tip of an engineer's cap or conductor's hat, or both, for believing in putting America First!  Respect to each of you!

If you wanna get sentimental, watch the late great Kate Smith as she sings God Bless America, on YouTube.  It'll Make Your Day!

My Hallmark Burlington O5b 4-8-4 was a piece of junk. The front steps were falling apart out of the box, the pilot was the wrong shape and didn't even attempt to simulate the prototype's drop coupler, my Tyco 4-6-2 ran better and you had to practice yoga to get the boiler off.   I never bothered to try and paint it, I fixed it up as best I could and sold it.

Never had any issues with PFM or Westside.

Rusty

Rusty, wonder why Miss Hall didn't refuse the Q's O5b as she did with the Cotton Belt Atlantic?

There happened to be an area dude in Dallas (I won't mention his name, though I believe he is now deceased) who made several bad decisions that Bobbye missed.  Perhaps the Burlington 4-8-4 might very well have been one model she didn't inspect until it was too late?  This is only speculatiuon you understand, however it is a remote possiblity just he same.  I seem to recall that some of the Hallmark Models HO scale Katy heavyweights fell apart as a result of improper soldering by the Korean builder who she contracted with to do the job.

If any other modelers who have had issues with any Hallmark Models brass products please let OGR members know which ones to look out for before they make a purchase they'll later regret.

Joe

Last edited by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

If manufacturing in the USA is so difficult, why do German, Japanese and Korean cars get built here? And the QC of cars today is light years ahead of what it was 50 years ago. Short term profit maximization isn't necessarily a good business decision.

My understanding (and I'm sure someone will correct me) is that small electronics (think iPhones) aren't made here because they need to keep the factory going 24/7, and they can't get reliable maintenance people.

Gerry

@gmorlitz posted:

If manufacturing in the USA is so difficult, why do German, Japanese and Korean cars get built here? And the QC of cars today is light years ahead of what it was 50 years ago. Short term profit maximization isn't necessarily a good business decision.

My understanding (and I'm sure someone will correct me) is that small electronics (think iPhones) aren't made here because they need to keep the factory going 24/7, and they can't get reliable maintenance people.

Ger

Neither quality issues being built in the US, or the 'difficulty of manufacturing' is the reason that products are made in China. Apple makes the Iphone in China because they can do so cheaply, on a then 600 dollar Iphone (now 1000!), the cost of labor was like 30 bucks, the most expensive part was the phone chipset, that is basically custom made processors. The reason stuff is being made in China and elsewhere offshore are cheap wages, other factors, like regulation, taxes, etc, etc, are pretty much balanced by factors like shipping and not having control over the factories. Even with the increase in wages in China (companies are now moving to now cheaper places, like Vietnam), the workers are not making anywhere near middle class wages, they can't afford the product they are buying and those jobs have no benefits, like vacation time, medical care (China has a national system, but it is a joke), disability and the like.  All the other claims fall apart when analyzed (and yes, I have read the actual cases studies out of places like Harvard Business School), it is about cheap labor and labor markets where the workers have little recourse since the government is the not so silent partner of almost every business.

With something like trains, 'our trains', it is such a low volume business that has a need to make a lot of money/unit sold, that it would be impossible to make stuff here and pay what is considered a living wage. Lionel is not a public company, nor was MTH (I don't think Atlas is either), so their figures are unknown, but given the nature of the business, they have to maintain large margins to give the returns the people who own them expect, especially with Lionel being owned by private equity firm(s) over the years. It is possible they may build the components in China and do final assembly here, for example, in that model it might be possible to do it and maintain margins. Another model that might work is if some heavily automated plant here in the US that does contract work could take on the job of building the stuff, such a plant would have relatively few workers, though, but could be flexible, especially if 3D printing manufacturing becomes more robust then it is today (and I am not up on the latest levels of 3D printing).

As far as quality goes, that has almost nothing to do with the workers, the cars produced in US plants for foreign makers for example are at the same level quality as the ones made overseas, the whispered "only buy a toyota made in Japan" is a myth, not born out by stats.  Even the US auto industry, that still has its problems, have quality levels that are just a tad below their foreign competitors. Quality is all about process to build a product, it is about how a product is designed and developed a lot more than by who does it. It is in vendor relationships, it is in designing in quality rather than inspecting it in, it is about measuring quality and the cost of quality (ie what it costs when it goes wrong). It also means having control over the whole process from one end to the other, when you outsource it, you lose a lot of what is required. Yeah, companies have SLA's with the offshore manufacturers, but they are about as meaningful as the disclaimers on the back of tickets in terms of getting sued, they mean little, because when you sign on for those manufacturers, you have no leverage, they own the tooling, they control everything. You can suggest improvements, but if all the plant manager cares about it putting out X product a day, it won't matter. Lionel factors this 'cost of quality' into their model (as does every offshore manufacturer), and figures whatever a defective unit costs them, it is factored into the production run..and it isn't exactly like the 1980s, when Roger Smith and GM produced a generation of turkey mobiles, where you had clearly better cars you could buy.

In a nutshell, as a consumer, you basically know that the product you buy may or may not work well, because you don't have much choice if you want the new offering.

As they say on reddit, "First world problems"

Vote with your dollars. We always have, since 1792 according to Wikipedia. (Canadians and the rest of the world excluded of course).

Side note, my only pre-order was in maybe 2002, the Lionel CP SD90 that nobody wants to buy. It went back for reprogramming, it had problems with it couplers, it still lurches, it still shorts on certain switch setups, but dang if that stinker just keeps on running. I mean I run it just so I can break it and get rid of it, and it won't break. It has "Trainmaster" style blinder-inner flange trucks and only two rollers, issues Lionel and MTH have since addressed. And the color isn't bad.

Well, until the 1830s or 40's you could use the old Spanish pieces of 8 as well

Interesting thread here.  FWIW, I stopped pre-ordering about five, maybe more, years ago.  The waits were just too long and unpredictable.  Not getting a specific locomotive is, as mentioned previously, a first world problem.  If I obsessively want something, I search ebay for what appears to be a responsible seller.  Also, I scour the web occasionally to see if any dealers have the item.

I am wary of Lionel products because they often arrive with quality control issues.  MTH hasn't offered anything new for several years now.  Consequently, as others have said, I don't read the catalogs carefully anymore.  As it is, I have plenty of locomotives and rolling stock.  I'm kind of put off by the manufacturers' entry into politically-oriented (Lionel and MTH products.  I guess that I'd rather keep this hobby neutral.

Finally, during the past several years, I've been experiencing price resistance.  For example, I just don't want to pay hundreds of dollars to a single MTH Premier A unit.  Anyway, good thread here.

@wb47 posted:

I have not had problems preordering Lionel or 3rd rail. Could 3rd rail exist without pre-orders? Maybe Lionel could but with reduced selection.

With 3rd rail, you better pre-order. With Lionel, there is excess product available from distributors and large retailers. These guys order extras. There's nothing like that with 3rd rail. As far as I know, Lionel is the only O gauge company to have distributors. MTH carried their excess inventory.

If  Lionel were to offer " Inspected- Tested- Quality Assured,"  that will be my only future pre-order.   3 strikes on BTO locomotives in a year that had problems.   I would love to order the new Acela sets but there is NO way I am putting that kind of money toward a company's product that sends out faulty trains more often than not.  Fooled me 3 times.  Not again!

Last edited by VistaDomeScott

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