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@rplst8 posted:

Nothing stopping one from turning off the smoke and sound and running anything from MTH conventionally.

As for being more “repairable” if all you’re interested in is conventional operation, it’s simple to rip out a fried controller board and install a reversing unit and a rectifier.

There is a "back and forth" that crops up on the OGR board from time to time. When it comes to new tinplate, there are those that prefer to have the innards faithfully reproduced as well as the exterior.  Can motors do not have the growl and the whiff of ozone of traditional tinplate and some prefer air whistles to electronic sounds. The contemporary tinplate appears to some as soulless appliances -- modern trains dressed up as old ones -- compared to the character intrinsic to the traditionally powered trains with open frame three pole motors.

As for repairs, if one wishes to restore failed DCS PS2/PS3 functions, the sourcing of parts is and will be a challenge. The conventional trains can almost always be repaired. Let's see where we are with this in 5 to 10 years.

Respectfully,

Bob

@Bob Bubeck posted:

There is a "back and forth" that crops up on the OGR board from time to time. When it comes to new tinplate, there are those that prefer to have the innards faithfully reproduced as well as the exterior.  Can motors do not have the growl and the whiff of ozone of traditional tinplate and some prefer air whistles to electronic sounds. The contemporary tinplate appears to some as soulless appliances -- modern trains dressed up as old ones -- compared to the character intrinsic to the traditionally powered trains with open frame three pole motors.

Fair enough, if you're going for that nostalgic sound and smell, a modern can motored unit probably won't cut it.  When I want that that sort of thing, I pull out my Gilbert Flyer stuff so I get where you're coming from.  However, IIRC there was a lot of ire from tinplate collectors when MTH started making tinplate reproductions though, as it reduced the value of the older original items.  Or so I've been told, as while I appreciate tinplate (old and new) it's not something that I've collected and a lot of that part of the hobby predates my entry into the 3-rail side of things.

Maybe switching from open frame motors to command controlled can motors was a way of separating the two so the really original stuff would retain it's value.

As for repairs, if one wishes to restore failed DCS PS2/PS3 functions, the sourcing of parts is and will be a challenge. The conventional trains can almost always be repaired. Let's see where we are with this in 5 to 10 years.

I agree, time will only tell but as we're getting 100 years on from the originals and close to 20 years from more recent offerings, I think the open frame parts will continue to be harder to come by.

I know I won't be around in 100 years, so that's not an issue.   I'll be happy if my current crop of trains lasts another 20 years...

I meant that we're over 100 years since some of these open frame motors were made, so the question is - will parts become more available or less?  Bob was questioning the availability of repair parts for modern electronics.  I guess I'm just saying, I don't think either is a lock.

Last edited by rplst8

Replacement parts will be available in the future. Mike is not done with tinplate and parts will be manufactured as these are produced. The only reason the proto3 boards are delayed is the chip shortage. I spoke with one of the partners of the new MTH parts company. He told me that they will not even find out when new chips would be available until October.


    I was in Andy's office a couple of years back and he was telling me it was getting too expensive to produce traditional and command trains at the same time. They were not getting enough conventional trains orders the justify their production and they were causing everything to cost more. "People wanting traditional trains want it to sound like the originals." I said "then give them what they want, change the sound files; record the engine sounds of a traditional locomotives with air whistles and give the traditionalist original sounds. Andy paused and then said "you know we could do that." "Yes, I know you can do that."

Last edited by scott.smith
@scott.smith posted:

I said "then give them what they want, change the sound files; record the engine sounds of a traditional locomotives with air whistles and give the traditionalist original sounds. Andy paused and then said "you know we could do that." "Yes, I know you can do that."

Did they ever do that?  The only locomotive I know that has is the Scale J from Lionel a few years ago.  You know the one that actually was painted with the correct color stripe.  LOL! 

Still hoping for a 611 redo in the next few years.

@MartyE posted:

Did they ever do that?  The only locomotive I know that has is the Scale J from Lionel a few years ago.  You know the one that actually was painted with the correct color stripe.  LOL!

Still hoping for a 611 redo in the next few years.

Not yet. My discussion was after the last MTH/Lionel Corporation catalog came out. He seemed intrigued with the idea. It would keep production costs down which has been a problem with the limited tinplate runs.

Scott Smith

I am also in the minority camp that favors conventional operation.... I want to run the trains and sometimes find the long startup sequences frustrating. I know you can turn these off. Also I’m not interested in the additional investment for all the command control equipment... That’s what is great about this hobby, something for everyone.

I like both command and conventional in both O Gauge and in Tinplate.  I generally gravitate to command in tinplate steam because I enjoy the smoke. In O Gauge, the conventional steam locomotives generally smoke, so the command option is often not a necessity.  

Quite frankly though, I do also enjoy the command features in Tinplate on many occasions.  However, the grandchildren do love the sounds of the command Tinplate.  Like "Tim The Tool Man's" motto is "More Power!", their implied motto is "More Noise!".

I wanted to talk with Mike about some of my tinplate ideas; but he has been so focused on the parts venture and getting the issues resolved from the move. here are some of my ideas.

1) I would like him to make some 300 series passenger cars in purple. He should call this set "The Wolf" and name each car after his wife, daughter, mom and dad. This would be a way to honor those who have been around him and supported his model train venture. There was already a smaller steam engine in purple this would give those customers a chance to add passengers. I would think a 318E engine would be a nice thing to add to that.

2)I would like to see a larger State Set 381, a super 381 or Brute in purple. This set should be called "The Big Bad Wolf" once again honoring his family with the car names.

3)I would love to see an Ives 3245 in Ives red, copper like the Prosperity Special and Chrome. All traditional Ives colors in a totally new offering.

4)The same thing colors can be done with 3236's.

5)American Freedom Train 400E

Scott Smith

@scott.smith posted:

..."People wanting traditional trains want it to sound like the originals." I said "then give them what they want, change the sound files; record the engine sounds of a traditional locomotives with air whistles and give the traditionalist original sounds. Andy paused and then said "you know we could do that." "Yes, I know you can do that."

That's brilliant, out-of-the-box, twisted, and kind of sad all at the same time.  Still trying to decide if I like the idea or not, but it's worth considering.

@scott.smith posted:

I wanted to talk with Mike about some of my tinplate ideas; but he has been so focused on the parts venture and getting the issues resolved from the move. here are some of my ideas.

1) I would like him to make some 300 series passenger cars in purple. He should call this set "The Wolf" and name each car after his wife, daughter, mom and dad. This would be a way to honor those who have been around him and supported his model train venture. There was already a smaller steam engine in purple this would give those customers a chance to add passengers. I would think a 318E engine would be a nice thing to add to that.

2)I would like to see a larger State Set 381, a super 381 or Brute in purple. This set should be called "The Big Bad Wolf" once again honoring his family with the car names.

3)I would love to see an Ives 3245 in Ives red, copper like the Prosperity Special and Chrome. All traditional Ives colors in a totally new offering.

4)The same thing colors can be done with 3236's.

5)American Freedom Train 400E

Scott Smith

If you have his ear, here's my 2 cents...

Won't spend money on anything that's too "MTHy", i.e., purple to celebrate MTH.  Purple might be OK in moderation, but not for an entire set.

When considering what to produce, take some cues from the stuff that people pay Jim Waterman to make, such as McKeen cars, big engines, GG1s, modern passenger cars, F3s, etc.  In other words, NEW and different tinplate.

Does MW ever read these threads?

@scott.smith posted:

<snip>
    I was in Andy's office a couple of years back and he was telling me it was getting too expensive to produce traditional and command trains at the same time. They were not getting enough conventional trains orders the justify their production and they were causing everything to cost more. "People wanting traditional trains want it to sound like the originals." I said "then give them what they want, change the sound files; record the engine sounds of a traditional locomotives with air whistles and give the traditionalist original sounds. Andy paused and then said "you know we could do that." "Yes, I know you can do that."

That might work, for the hearing impaired.

I'm afraid that would be just attempting an end run around the central emotive issue.

Respectfully,

Bob

@Mallard4468 posted:

If you have his ear, here's my 2 cents...

Won't spend money on anything that's too "MTHy", i.e., purple to celebrate MTH.  Purple might be OK in moderation, but not for an entire set.

When considering what to produce, take some cues from the stuff that people pay Jim Waterman to make, such as McKeen cars, big engines, GG1s, modern passenger cars, F3s, etc.  In other words, NEW and different tinplate.

Does MW ever read these threads?

I would love to see that as well. What are the odds of Mike spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop new tooling that will be years before they pay for themselves? Mike loves tinplate but he is trying to retire. We need to think in the box with what can to produced with current tooling. We don't have to like it, but it is reality.
Scott Smith

@Mallard4468 posted:

That's brilliant, out-of-the-box, twisted, and kind of sad all at the same time.  Still trying to decide if I like the idea or not, but it's worth considering.

Here is the problem, the manufacturers in China are not happy with limited production runs. The last tinplate items became difficult to run since the production numbers were so small. Part of that is from making both Command and Traditional options. Is the current generation of train buyers going to buy more tinplate or less? The younger train hobbyist isn't buying tinplate. The dead hobbyist buy even less.

Scott Smith

Did the Brute and Super 381 sell well enough for MTH to make a profit? I would have to think for either to be produced with today's prices you would be talking close to $2000 per engine. What about the Showroom passenger cars that sold for $550 per car? You may be talking close to $1000 per car? That's a ton of money in a limited market.

@Dwayne B posted:

Did the Brute and Super 381 sell well enough for MTH to make a profit? I would have to think for either to be produced with today's prices you would be talking close to $2000 per engine. What about the Showroom passenger cars that sold for $550 per car? You may be talking close to $1000 per car? That's a ton of money in a limited market.

That's an excellent point. I bought the first green Brute when it came out. There was nothing out there that was even of similar size. When the cars came out they were huge 30 inches each. At that time I only had a 9 by 9 track at home. 4 cars times 30 plus the engine and guess what? It doesn't fit. I sold it on Ebay after owning it a year for $2400.00. I wish I still had it now, I have room for it at the club.

Scott Smith

@scott.smith posted:

I would love to see that as well. What are the odds of Mike spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop new tooling that will be years before they pay for themselves? Mike loves tinplate but he is trying to retire. We need to think in the box with what can to produced with current tooling. We don't have to like it, but it is reality.
Scott Smith

Completely agree with you regarding the cost of new tooling and Mike's desire to retire.  But I think that the market for items made with existing tooling has been pretty much saturated for years to come, which will make it difficult to sell enough volume to justify the effort.  My suggestions are for things that I think might bring in more buyers and be profitable to sell.

@scott.smith posted:
Is the current generation of train buyers going to buy more tinplate or less? The younger train hobbyist isn't buying tinplate. The dead hobbyist buy even less.

Scott Smith

I was wondering about this topic earlier today.  I suspect that the tinplate enthusiasts are  declining in number over time, and, the average age of tinplate enthusiasts is gradually inching up.

The people that I knew as a child who had tinplate were my parents age.  And, most of the people my parents age who had model railroads owned and operated postwar O gauge trains, or Gilbert's American Flyer.  Obviously a limited sample size, but by that time, the major manufacturers had discontinued producing tinplate trains for other gauges, so the observation is amply supported by the facts.

I suspect a lot of us who are current tinplate enthusiasts likely had postwar trains growing up, and fell in love with tinplate later in time.  When you add a saturated tinplate marketplace with a declining group of potential customers, that doesn't bode well for demand.

Last edited by Dennis GS-4 N & W No. 611
@scott.smith posted:

"People wanting traditional trains want it to sound like the originals." I said "then give them what they want, change the sound files; record the engine sounds of a traditional locomotives with air whistles and give the traditionalist original sounds. Andy paused and then said "you know we could do that." "Yes, I know you can do that."

This isn't as far out of an idea as it first appears. Automobile manufacturers have been playing this trick for a while now.  Some install resonators in the exhaust that are below the floorpan or dash to give the engine more of a rumbly sound. Others just pipe augmented sounds through the stereo system even when the radio is turned off!

Actually, I opted for the Traditional style motor in my train because I correctly guessed that it would be easier to repair many years down the road.  Some 20 years later I have had no problems with the traditional motor and I am now hearing stories of people who have burned out parts of circuit boards on their contemporary motors and having difficulty getting them repaired.   

Wow - just catching up on this thread.  Saw a couple of things I thought I should clarify: traditional vs conventional.

Andy said that less than 10% of all tinplate sales over the last 10 years were traditional.

I use the traditional bild a loco drives for my big Challengers and the Harmon Hudson. I bought out all but a couple of the remaining inventory of MTH traditional BAL spares over 2 years ago. They are GONE.

And so I asked  the MTH folks back at the meet I vaguely remember called YORK - what would it take to get more BAL's. Answer was that the Chinese said minimum order quantity 10,000! So that ain't gonna happen!

I can tell you by the trouble I have had with almost ever new drive I bought - the traditional tooling was worn out a while ago - interferences between armiture and field, (I have had to literally turn down armatures).

And talking with Mike back then (probably early 2019), new production of tinplate was possible, would probably be on a limited and sporadic basis. Other MTH reps said don't expect anything for at least 5 years.

My original strategy was to buy up plain jane 400's and part them out, but as most of you know that value proposition went out the window this past year, as they went from $400- $500 to about $1000 a loco. Doesn't make economic sense any more.

So with my own builds, with exception of the Harmon locos (and I'm just about out of BAL's at the moment, I'm designing everything new (GG1, McKeens, F7's, T1, Zephyr) with my own drives, using motors and gears that can be bought commercially using standard parts.  Thank goodness for Harry Henning and his wheel production, and a couple of the machine shops that I work with that machine drive wheels and other parts.

Point of clarification: Mike can still make any of the tinplate items, might have 'MTH Lines" on the Lionel an AF, but he picked up the trade mark for Ives.  The Lionel deal allowed him to go back to using Lionel and AF badges and box designs.

And my prediction: a LOT of this stuff was made by Mike over the past 40 years or so. You'll see it coming back in auctions every month for the next 10 years.

Jim Waterman



I suspect a lot of us who are current tinplate enthusiasts likely had postwar trains growing up, and fell in love with tinplate later in time.  When you add a saturated tinplate marketplace with a declining group of potential customers, that doesn't bode well for demand.

I agree that seems likely over time.  The demand is strong right now though.  Any MTH 400E with PS 3.0 goes for at least $1000 on ebay.

Just like Mr. Muffins is doing custom runs in O, Al at Sidetrack should do a custom run 400E (or whatever).  Why not?  If he doesn't get the minimum orders, then it doesn't get made.  I bet it would get made though.

I was wondering about this topic earlier today.  I suspect that the tinplate enthusiasts are a declining in number over time, and, the average age of tinplate enthusiasts is gradually inching up.

The people that I knew as a child who had tinplate were my parents age.  And, most of the people my parents age who had model railroads owned and operated postwar O gauge trains, or Gilbert's American Flyer.  Obviously a limited sample size, but by that time, the major manufacturers had discontinued producing tinplate trains for other gauges, so the observation is amply supported by the facts.

I suspect a lot of us who are current tinplate enthusiasts likely had postwar trains growing up, and fell in love with tinplate later in time.  When you add a saturated tinplate marketplace with a declining group of potential customers, that doesn't bode well for demand.

Conversely,  I got into tinplate much later, and my first train was an mpc era starter set.  I got into tinplate after seeing it in mth catalogs and didn't know anyone who had tinplate growing up.  I put if off for a long time and then went in really hard. I have never really been interested in the post war era offerings.  I certainly agree that the market is small,  and unfortunately it also got saturated with multiple paint schemes of the same thing over and over. 

...Point of clarification: Mike can still make any of the tinplate items, might have 'MTH Lines" on the Lionel an AF, but he picked up the trade mark for Ives.  The Lionel deal allowed him to go back to using Lionel and AF badges and box designs.

Jim Waterman

Thanks Jim!  At your convenience, could you expand on the above very interesting observation?  At the present time, can Mike use the Lionel and American Flyer names and badges on trains, or just box designs?  Also, if you know, has the "Lionel deal" you describe -- likely a reference to the settlement agreement, and, a separate, licensing agreement  that is part of the settlement agreement -- expired with respect to MTH's use of trade names, trademarks, etc.?

Last edited by Dennis GS-4 N & W No. 611

Dennis, I think you misread that.  He means that MTH can not use the Lionel or American Flyer name (on trains or boxes).  MTH can produce the trains but they would have to be MTH Lines like the old Tinplate Traditions.

Also, I've always been told that the deal between MTH & Lionel was not part of a settlement.  That is a myth.  It was a separate licensing agreement between MTH & Lionel.

I agree some smaller items may work. I'd like to see the 605 Baggage cars made to match various sets in green or blue or gray to match and more Reindeer named coaches to go with the 249E Christmas set. Judging by prices, a reissue of that Christmas set may work too. Been looking forever for the COMET coach.

       As a follow up, given that the tinplate licensing agreement between MTH and Lionel happened more than a decade ago, this may be of interest.  The above posts refreshed my recollection that the leadership of Lionel may have been interested in moving on to a more cooperative era following the conclusion of the litigation.  Selected portions taken from  the link below:

       "... [I'm] very pleased that M.T.H. and Lionel will be working together on this new Lionel and American Flyer tinplate line,ヤ said Jerry Calabrese, Lionel CEO. Calabrese went on to say, [In] times as difficult and challenging as these, I hope [it's} reassuring to all model train fans that both our companies will be joining forces to write a productive new chapter in our hobby's history. There is no better way to express our mutual belief and commitment to the future of model railroading than for Lionel and M.T.H. to collaborate on something as imaginative and exciting as these new Tinplate products.

This collaboration builds on what we've accomplished with our Tinplate Traditions line over the past three decades, noted M.T.H. President Mike Wolf. It is no secret to those who know me that Lionel's history has inspired me since my youth.  Wolf went on to say, By working together, our two companies will be able to offer products that even more faithfully evoke the beauty and artistry of the toys that Lionel and American Flyer turned out in the prewar years, as well as make those trains available to a wider audience.

Wolf added, Putting aside the differences our firms have had over the years, Jerry and I have always recognized how much synergy exists between Lionel and M.T.H. Together we sat down and worked out this agreement with the express goal of expanding on both firms' longstanding commitments to grow our hobby.

       https://mthtrains.com/news/383

Last edited by Dennis GS-4 N & W No. 611

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