The prices of O-gauge trains has put them out-of-affordability for many in our hobby. So I am thinking that an era with emphasis on scratch building trains, restoring and modifying existing trains is coming upon our hobby. It will be the rebirth of the "Model Railroad Craftsman!" What say you?

Bobby Ogage

"I hear that train a coming,

it's Long Island No. 39 rolling

around the bend"

 

Original Post

I certainly do hope so. OGR/OSR from the 80's and 90's were chock-full of craftsman articles and scratch-builds. I've kept those issues and still enjoy reading them. They were very well-written by a generation that don't appear much anymore in the magazines. I doubt I'll ever become a model railroad craftsman, and while committed to the "toy-rail" aspect of the hobby, I appreciate the "O-scalers" of old, for lack of a better phrase. Even the black & white pictures of their work stand-out. Their track-plans are also noteworthy and fascinating to study to this day. Their layouts went beyond display-type for the most part - a lot of John Armstrong elements incorporated.

Interesting changes in the hobby from the 80s to the 90s to the 2000s are captured in the hobby magazines, kind of like watching history unfolding as I go back and re-read my favorite editions.

I don't know if the craftsman/DIY modeler days will ever come back. Most folks these days seem to want to buy something and run it. It's getting difficult to find an LHS for many. The options for railroad color hobby paint is getting worse also. Most young people I know, my kids included, aren't into making things. I also agree with the hobby becoming too expensive. I think that combined with the fact that a lot of young people don't seem interested in trains these days means that we may be entering a downturn in the model train hobby. It was a ghost town at the local train show last month. There were a couple of dealers that came from several hours away that pulled the plug early and bailed just an hour into the second day of the show.

Michael DeSandro

Troy, AL

Mike D posted:

I don't know if the craftsman/DIY modeler days will ever come back. Most folks these days seem to want to buy something and run it. It's getting difficult to find an LHS for many. The options for railroad color hobby paint is getting worse also. Most young people I know, my kids included, aren't into making things. I also agree with the hobby becoming too expensive. I think that combined with the fact that a lot of young people don't seem interested in trains these days means that we may be entering a downturn in the model train hobby. It was a ghost town at the local train show last month. There were a couple of dealers that came from several hours away that pulled the plug early and bailed just an hour into the second day of the show.

I agree that the difficulty is finding a LHS for paint, glue and stripwood.  Reasonably priced plastic trucks would be nice also.

Last weekend there was the local NMRA show at the county fairgrounds (Cleveland).  I did not go but was told there was no paint to be had.

Lou N

I guess my glass is half full.  Sure not many choices remain for a LHS, but large craft stores are everywhere and I find plenty of supplies.  Stripwood, paint, airbrushes, glue, etc are all available locally.  I like the building part of our hobby - from structures to detailing and painting locomotives.  

I do agree with Bobby that O prices high.  But I for now I find plenty of options to enjoy the hobby on a budget.  Plus, I just got back from my first York.  Wow!  The place was packed!

I'm posting this so it will show up in my email inbox so I don't forget.  I think it's a topic worth pursuing.  There are many of us but in too many different groups so we don't see each other.  

We need to agree on a common forum.

\I sent a note to the publisher about how do we set up a special interest forum, but he didn't answer me yesterday -- maybe I'll get some input when the work week starts on Monday. 

 

 

If you were serious about scratch building the early MR mags were the best, full of articles for the builder on all kinds of subjects The mags when John Page was editor I regard the best my opinion only.

Just as an offside when you see New old Atlas cars and other rolling stock going for 1-10 dollars each and intermountain kits going for 10 dollars or name your price, why do you say O scale is expensive in the USA I would say it's the opposite I have been to America and know the hassle of travelling to shows but one or two a year surely is not a problem where I live there is no USA O scale and I manage on a budget I'm not wealthy.

If you want any tips on saving money on your railroad give me a yell and I'll write you a list of how I keep costs down Australia is not much different to America as far as ordinary working class people go we don't run around the bush chasing kangaroos !    Roo.

I have since childhood bashed and built models, a lot of structures, and pass. and frt. cars, HO locomotive kits, but some O gauge loco bashes.  I hope for powered  O rollingtock, and fill the time with structure building.  No prize winners, but look good to me.  Paint is now a problem ...my source for cheap rattle cans has dried up.  Found model paints too expensive and prone to solidify in tiny bottles.  O scale buildings are large.

 

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!

I'm one of those old pharts....septuagenarian...who cut his hobby teeth on DIY at the encouragement of Mom & Dad.  The early Model Railroader magazines that I wore ragged, stacked bedside, had articles that even a dweeb like me could understand in his youth. 

One group was the "Dollar Model" series.  It had ideas on making simple structures from cardboard, paper, common wood sticks, cheap balsa, black/white/gray/primary colored paints, etc..  No fancy tools, either.  And so I did.  Crude?.....You bet!  Fun?.....I was lost in pursuit of another world.

The infamous Bantam Book on Model Railroading fell apart in a dozen pieces as I searched the pages for inspiration.  Although I grew up in Washington, D.C.....and folks today think that was like growing up in some magical land.....(right.)....for me the place to have been was Rochester, N.Y..  Why?  So I could've biked to see the Police Athletic League's (PAL) series of Lionel layouts in the four seasons...and in that Bantam Book.  (If you're too young and have no idea what I'm talking about.......so sorry.)  Then, the annual stop at Roadside America as we ferried my older sister to summer camp in the Poconos, and saw what the scratchbuilding creativity of the Gehringers could create, THAT was REAL INSPIRATION in CAPITAL LETTERS!  No pre-built, shake-the-box, or cookie-cuttin' designs and fabrications there, brother!

So, now I love building the old Ambroid, All-Nation, Walthers, etc. car kits, for instance, adding refinements along the way to enhance my O3R journey.  Building structure kits....like Gloor's coaling tower...instead of succumbing to the tempting-and-magnificent version of the same from Sunset/Golden Gate. 

Yeah, I'm on the proverbial 'fixed income', too.  But we're far from pinching pennies.  There's just not the same pleasure for me in buying something made in a clock-in-clock-out factory (even though I've bought my share of those items....believe me!)   that I truly could've made myself.  Not a perfect replica.  Not a showpiece.  Something that my alter-ego, Lucas Gudinov, would be proud to claim responsibility for.

I doubt there's many article authors out there anymore supporting 'dollar model' projects to have it become a regular feature in the 'ragazines'.  That's OK for me....I've got more in the bucket than time left to accomplish.   Too bad/sad for the younger generations, though........IMHO, of course.

FWIW, always...

KD

I am not a model railroad craftsman when it comes to building locomotives and rolling stock. My favorite brand of Rail King locomotives are no longer affordable for my train budget. So my vision of the future in O-gauge railroading is doing things such as detailing locomotives and passenger cars to look like photos of the real things, and buying used running / broken locomotives to fix and modify.

In my opinion, the demand in our hobby will increase for detail parts, decals & dry transfers, paints, and simple electronic add-ons.

 

Bobby Ogage

"I hear that train a coming,

it's Long Island No. 39 rolling

around the bend"

 

Old kits from Athearn (also sold as Pacific HO - yes, it's O scale), Locomotive Workshop, Old Pullman and last by Box Car Jim),  Walthers, All Nation and others can be found at reasonable cost. Admittedly they take work to build and detail, Walthers  requiring somewhat more effort than others. Even old kit-built passenger cars in poor shape are good candidates.

Another low-cost route is rebuilding old models in not so great condition. Having been kit built to start with, its rather easy to 're-kit' them and do over, substituting some new materials and better details. The top cost is often in replacing damaged or lost trucks, wheels and couplers.  A chance is also provided for correcting inaccurate paint and lettering jobs.

Here are some "Before and After" shots of two projects. First is an early 1940's Athearn box car that was a train show 'give-away.' The sides were in great shape. Most work was in repairing the car ends which had solder blobs to remove and big holes to fill. Also, some missing  parts had to be replaced.  This New Haven box car was one of the earliest Athearn kits, offered in 1942. 

Next is a Kasiner  smooth side observation, found on E-bay for $10. Modern tools like a bench grinder made the castings fit a lot better. Today's auto body fillers and finishing materials take care of misplaced, oversized hole, surface gouges and deep scratches in the extruded aluminum body. A number of original Kasiner roof detail parts are still made by Scale City Designs.

S. Islander

NH02

GR001

146



NH16

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Several messages back, some one mentioned the "Dollar Car" series by Eric Stevens that were in Model Railroader magazine of the 1950's.

Hers is the O scale B&O wagon top box car I built from one of those articles in 1956. At the time, Walthers had the correct milled wood roof for this car, and I made use of their doors as well.  As a teen just out of high school., my first job was operating an offset press for a naval architecture firm in NY City.  So instead of using a  Life magazine cover to wrap the body and hide the side-to-roof seam, I used a worn out sheet metal offset press master. It also allowed me to impress rivet detail in the metal master for the car ends, after sketching the pattern from cars at the St. George Yard on Staten Island.

This model is rugged and had a long life. It was my entry into the year 2000 "O Ship" project, where several modelers would send a freight car out for a 6 month round robin tour on other layouts. This box car went to roll on model pikes from New Hampshire to northern Virginia and back. In the mean time, I hosted a different car from those layouts each month, from January to June. I sold it shortly after Weaver introduced their B&O wagon top box cars, for which I was one of their resources conerning them.

S. Islander

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No one seems to be aware, so I'll mention it.

You know that your thread title uses the name of an actual, currently-published and long-established model railroad magazine, do you not? (Railroad Model Craftsman, once published by Carstens, but now by someone else, I believe). I bought my first one in the late 50's, when I was 10 or so.

I imagine that RMC would be surprised that it needs to "return". Maybe I should re-subscribe...been a while.

So… I have been giving this some thought as I can’t seem to agree with the original post. I get the message, but I think, at least in my case, the numbers just don’t add up for a case to return to DYI projects (at least for cost savings purposes), for self-satisfaction, yes, I agree, DYI does provide that return.

Since I can’t agree with the original posters claim, I feel I need to provide my reasoning as to why and how I came to my conclusion if only to further the discussion.

I model scale passenger trains and for the most part, Sunset 3rd Rail is or has been the top of the line. My current concern is that some beautiful passenger engines have been produced with no announced consist to run behind the locomotives. That leaves building my own train the only option.

Currently the Sunset 3rd streamline cars are listed at about 285 per car without shipping.

I have been trying to find options to build my own and here is what I have so far.

Union Station Products (Core Kit): 46.00 each with no shipping. A basic core kit includes a roof, a floor and car ends. No sides, trucks, interior, lights, couplers, paint, etc.

Union Station Sides: 41.00 for two sides. Again no shipping.

Trucks, good luck but Atlas is close: 42.00

Couplers: 4.00

Interiors by Delta Models: This area has a huge range but just for seats, figure about 3.00 each. Some induvial seats are less, some lounges and more detailed chairs are more, but figure about 3.00 each x 25 per car (typical coach had around 50 people) 75.00. And again, this is just for the seats, not any additional under body details, extra interior details that you will find in observation, kitchens, diners etc.

If you are keeping track, I’m already up to 133.00 and I still need to add lighting, windows, people, diaphragms, under body details.

Assume we now have the car built, now we have to paint and deco.

I can paint, but many people can’t, however, just for kicks the paint to cover an 8 car set with three colors (Illinois Central in my case) is about 6 bucks a bottle. At least three for the chocolate brown, and one each for the orange and yellow = 30.00 and don’t forget primer, thinner, cover coat and clean-up. I am guessing about another 20.00.

Now up to 183.00 and still need a decals. Protocraft has a nice selection, but not what I need. However, for this exercise let’s just assume about 15.00 per car (if you can find time), custom will be much more.

Now up to 198.00 per car and I still have to do the work. What about mistakes… $$$, have to count on that.

Lights 15.00, people, 20.00, windows, 5.00, and we ae now at 240.00 and still not at the same level as Sunset or more correctly Golden Gate Depot.

 I know this hobby can be expensive, but if you do the math for your particular need you will probably find going the DYI route is not as inexpensive as you have been led to believe. The one area of satisfaction, regardless of cost, is and should, be the driver to work on your models and/or craft, but please don’t think it will save you a bunch of money, that would be a great mistake.

Again, this is my situation, but I suspect if you are honest with yourself, you will find going the DYI route just as costly or more then the store bought items.

 

Charlie

Charlie,

I build all the structures (houses, stores, factories, diners) on my model railroads from scratch or from (mostly) craftsman kits. It also seems to me that the cost of DIY is not much less than buying pre-built buildings. I build because it allows me to have exactly what I want on the layout and because DIY is a part of the hobby I enjoy.

MELGAR

AMCDave posted:

I've bough 99% of the trains on my 'want' list and build a good amount of rolling stock, buildings and the like. 

My issue now is finding the motivation.....which I may voice in another post!

AMCDAVE, please email me at addy in my profile.  Have painting question involving "chrome" plated plastic Alco FA.  THANKS!!!

Please excuse my thread interruption.  

 

Carl

Melgar, totally agree and that is the reason you should build/model the projects... because you want to, not because you will save money as the original poster kinda claimed. I just don't want people to be mislead that the hobby is too expensive and you can do "it" (whatever "it" is) yourself and save a ton of money.

In your case, if we compare a structure to a recent Menards building, it would be very difficult to do it for less then Menards, price wise. But the fact you did it yourself is the real benefit.

I am dabbling in Cardstock modeling and while the actual material cost is low, the time to build is high, but I still build them as time permits. I know non of my cardstock buildings will equal the Menards pieces, but I will have the satisfaction that I did it myself, which some might say is priceless.

Keep building.

Charlie

I rarely buy any "out of the box" trains anymore. It's more fun to build them.

This is a Ye Olde Huff-n-Puff cattle car that just got primed about 10 minutes ago:

001

 

It adds to the enjoyment to have a piece of rolling stock that takes up to a month to build, instead of one that takes 2 minutes to unbox. To each their own! Great hobby!

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Lou N posted:
Mike D posted:

I don't know if the craftsman/DIY modeler days will ever come back. Most folks these days seem to want to buy something and run it. It's getting difficult to find an LHS for many. The options for railroad color hobby paint is getting worse also. Most young people I know, my kids included, aren't into making things. I also agree with the hobby becoming too expensive. I think that combined with the fact that a lot of young people don't seem interested in trains these days means that we may be entering a downturn in the model train hobby. It was a ghost town at the local train show last month. There were a couple of dealers that came from several hours away that pulled the plug early and bailed just an hour into the second day of the show.

I agree that the difficulty is finding a LHS for paint, glue and stripwood.  Reasonably priced plastic trucks would be nice also.

Last weekend there was the local NMRA show at the county fairgrounds (Cleveland).  I did not go but was told there was no paint to be had.

Lou N

Watch youtube .all the paint colors in the world are at Michaels , Hobby Lobby , Walmart  .89-1.29  2 oz  craft acrylics . Future floor shine liquid , Walmart 3.89   The paints can be applied with a sponge in light coats for freight cars then seal with the future floor gloss with a brush , self leveling , dries rock hard apply decals and seal . overspray with dullcote by testors followed with a hair dryer . So many painting vids on YT by guys painting models cars , museum quality , Harbor freight $20 air brush , a gallon of windshield washer fluid to thin the paint and clean air brush , cleans so good don't even need to take apart . Even vids on YT on how to improve the cheapo airbrushes .  Guy on e_ ay  K4 who sells all kinds of decals for $6.95 , tons of bargain cars . Easily stripped in alcohol from the dollar store to the bare plastic. Create your own cars . Whats wrong with O guage is every persons trains and layouts look the same cause you all buy the same stuff , same buildings . You can build buildings out of cereal boxes and order laser cut windows from Rusty Stumps  or plastic from Grandt Line . Not one layout is hardly different than the next and FASTRACK , is so fake looking and loud , the rails are not even shaped like the real thing . Manufacturers keep using old molds with new road names over and over . Wiseman on e_ay  has tons of detail parts . The more you make your own the easier it gets and when someone sees your layout it doesn't look like every layout in every issue of magazines . And you have a cool layout , nothing looks dumber than a string of buildings like MTH and Woodland scenics just like everyone else . Go out take photos , bring a tape measure , make a local building from scratch over a week or 2 , better than watching TV propaganda and dumber reality shows that are nothing close to reality .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bbHTLgPXaM  painting with cheap paints

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