S Gauge Report from the York Show

Guys,

The Fall York show is underway with parking lot shows and today the Fairground opens.  For us poor people that can't be there please give us your reactions?

Also, what are you hearing from Lionel and MTH on their current and future new S Gauge items?

Thanks

 

Original Post
Caldwell posted:

Come on Jerry P, we got 10 pages out of 88 in the last catalog .  Never mind your right that is close to a couple minutes out of 27.

Unless you are an S scale modeler, in which case you got Zero pages and Zero minutes.

-Jonathan

jonnyspeed posted:
Caldwell posted:

Come on Jerry P, we got 10 pages out of 88 in the last catalog .  Never mind your right that is close to a couple minutes out of 27.

Unless you are an S scale modeler, in which case you got Zero pages and Zero minutes.

I think Lionel has taken themselves out of the running (Or is that walking?  Crawling??) for the S Scale modeler.  It appears that FlyerChief locomotives, rolling stock in the traditional vein and recycled O27 is the plan they're working with.  Under those parameters, they're making some pretty nice stuff. (Well, personally, I draw the line at the recycled O27...)

Even if the hinted at Legacy Berkshire comes to pass, I would bet there would be no scale conversion available, by either Lionel or a third party.

Pity.

Rusty

Caldwell posted:

Come on Jerry P, we got 10 pages out of 88 in the last catalog .  Never mind your right that is close to a couple minutes out of 27.

Cal,

On the Lionel side we see full length streamlined passenger and heavyweight cars, B60 baggage cars, 66’ mill gondolas, husky stacks, 50’ flats with 40’ trailers, F units, AC6000s, X31 boxcars, modern tank cars, woodchip hoppers, Pacific and Hudson locomotives.

All very nice for them.   We get a redesigned frame for the Geeps.  Yeah, the Berks are nice, and I have two of them.  I even have a Geep on order.   There’s not a lot new.  Even the Bluetooth technology transfers across their entire line.  I realize that Flyer is the step child of Lionel, but come on!  .  They design a nice waffle sided boxcar, but fail to make it the proper length and put it on the correct length frame.  The one used is nothing more than a sheet metal stamping that is also used on all the boxcars, stock cars and reefers.  I have to believe that a whole new mold for a waffle car costs more than a die for cutting a few more fractions of an inch of sheet metal.  Why not proper length?  50’ cars would be great, even though they’re hardly seen any more.  The reefers are nice, but they too are the same sheet metal frame and are the same height as the traditional Flyer boxcars, which are based on a PRR X-29 car which is smaller than other roads’ cars.

Some might feel that Lionel is trying, but I have almost given up on them.  The basic reason is that I just don’t need any more trains.  I’ve satisfied with what I have, and am enjoying it on my present layout, even if it’s isn’t all that finished.   I have a couple of scratch building projects in the pipeline, and may even get them finished soon! 

 

 

 

If they are upset they should sell of the flyer brand. And hell may as well license the legacy and Chief technology to whom ever buys flyer. You get a lump sum payment for the sale. And dollars for every locomotive produced.

But let's be honest. Mabey they don't want flyer and S to succeed.

Lionel is listening, though moving slowly.  If you want S scale to grow, you have got to encourage new people to become involved with S, if there is no expansion or a tiny market, the manufacturers will produce little or endless reruns.

From what I see, the Berks were well received (along with the Polar Express) and FlyerChief.  I don't think they expected some of it to do so well and if it continues, they will produce more new product.

Price point is way below O Scale and not much more than HO for Flyerchief.  It is also easy to set up and operate along with compatibility with varied systems.  This could and should drive the S market.

Constantly harping about systems and lack of product scare people away, who would expand the market and once again, the manufactures would dare to expand the product line.

Am I exuberant over the offerings?  No, but I see progress and if it continues, we'll all be happy.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, you get more flies with honey than vinegar.

Francine

Greekchief posted:

If they are upset they should sell of the flyer brand. And hell may as well license the legacy and Chief technology to whom ever buys flyer. You get a lump sum payment for the sale. And dollars for every locomotive produced.

But let's be honest. Mabey they don't want flyer and S to succeed.

I'm pretty sure Lionel wants the Flyer line to succeed.  If not, they might as well pack up the tooling and ship it off to Area 51.

The big problem as I see it, is they assume that Flyer and S folks in general are like the 3-rail O market and every time they just about get a handle on it, there's a change in management and it's back to square one.  

Currently, the emphasis appears to be on traditional style Flyer with improved electronics and mechanics and that's fine.  Plus, Lionel's decoration is second to none.

As Flyer people seem to outnumber us poor scale folks by about 6-7 to 1, it's only natural for Lionel to follow that market.  But, it's also interesting to note that somehow, American Models and the former S Helper Service figured out how to appeal to both. (The jury's still out on MTH.)

P.S. I still think my Flyer SD70's and ES44 converted to scale are really neat.  Once I changed the trucks & couplers on my Flyer cylindrical hoppers, they're also very nice cars...

Rusty

 

 

Remember that I interviewed Ryan Kunkle of Lionel last spring and he said this:

"As a scale-minded modeler myself, I can certainly feel their pain. In the end, it comes down to money. The S Scale market is a very small portion of a very small S Gauge market. To provide some reference, in talks with some of our major dealers, S as a whole represents a smaller market for them than HOn3. Does that mean there is no hope for new tooling? No. But offerings will be fewer and further between than in other markets."

You scale S guys are really lucky to get anything from my point of view.

Roundhouse Bill posted:

Remember that I interviewed Ryan Kunkle of Lionel last spring and he said this:

"As a scale-minded modeler myself, I can certainly feel their pain. In the end, it comes down to money. The S Scale market is a very small portion of a very small S Gauge market. To provide some reference, in talks with some of our major dealers, S as a whole represents a smaller market for them than HOn3. Does that mean there is no hope for new tooling? No. But offerings will be fewer and further between than in other markets."

You scale S guys are really lucky to get anything from my point of view.

I still maintain that AM and SHS figured it out, (we'll just address rolling stock here) and Lionel was sooooo close with the cylindrical hopper.  "Missed it by THAT much" as Maxwell Smart used to say...

I'll admit, SHS spoiled us by offering well detailed Flyer compatible cars with user installed scale wheels, but we still had to supply our own Kadees.  However, I have no qualms buying a good lookin' AM car when it's only offered as Flyer compatible (like the upcoming S Fest cars) changing out the wheels and adding Kadees. 

Rusty

Well Bill, 5 years ago Lionel was absolutely committed to doing models of interest to the S scale crowd. Perhaps we just need to wait for this mgmt. team to get fired and hope the next is scale friendly?  Their catalog literally promised S wouldn't be ignored anymore (paraphrasing). Really? Yes, mgmt. change, different priorities, etc... got it.

In my opinion, between S Flyer and S Scale only S Scale had a CHANCE of remaining relevant in the future. Why? Because new hobbyists are not interested in toy trains. By a wide margin they want scale models. Once the crowd that grew up with Flyer and has that nostalgia passes on who is going to want it? Lionel has decided to make product for a declining market and squeeze it for what it's worth. At some point it won't make financial sense I'm sure.

As much as it pains me I think S is going to be the next OO. If you are happy with what has been made and don't mind networking with people to find the products you want then you might be ok. If you have a desire for something that hasn't been done your only option is probably going to be scratch building. 

I love the scale, but I don't love it that much. I've pretty much relegated myself to build a small switching layout or diorama to display my S scale and Hi-Rail collection.

 

-Jonathan

Jonathan, 

I beg to differ with you, but the new Berks are scale, without separate handrails.  Not everyone wants scale wheels and all the associated problems with switches and derailments.  I have friends that have S Scale layouts and their work is exquisite with hand laid track and switches, although not many people have that much time and talent.

Once again, if you are going to grow this hobby, you need to make things:

1) affordable          (FlyerChief - runs on AC, DC or DCC with remote)

2) available          (Not presently a great variety of engines, track and accessories no matter         which manufacturer)

3) reliable          (runs without constant problems, including derailments, shorts etc)

4) as true as affordably possible to prototype.        (taking short cuts to lower price to allow sales to larger market)

If the base of people using S grows, you'll probably get your S Scale with everything scale on it, if not - oh well.

Francine

 

Francine posted:

Jonathan, 

Not everyone wants scale wheels and all the associated problems with switches and derailments.  I have friends that have S Scale layouts and their work is exquisite with hand laid track and switches, although not many people have that much time and talent.

 

 

No one has to hand lay scale track in S Scale if they don't want to. 

My mainline is all Code 100 flex track with Scenery Unlimited's Shinohra #6 turnouts,  There are a couple of hand-laid Old Pullman #5's in the yard (no longer available.)

My trackwork is hardly exquisite (straight, level lines and my track never meet, not even for coffee...) and derailments are very infrequent.  Usually, it winds up being a mechanical issue with a freight car. 

I haven't lost anything to the floor yet.

Diesels are AM, SHS and the Flyer SD's/ES's.  Steam is AM, SHS and a couple of brass chooches.

It's all been very reliable with little to no maintenance over the past 28 years. 

It still boils down however, that AM has been successfully selling to both markets for well over 25 years and SHS during their entire lifetime.  Few folks are aware that AM began as a scale only company.  Sales increased when they started offering Flyer compatibility.

Rusty

 

Francine posted:

Jonathan, 

I beg to differ with you, but the new Berks are scale, without separate handrails.  Not everyone wants scale wheels and all the associated problems with switches and derailments.  I have friends that have S Scale layouts and their work is exquisite with hand laid track and switches, although not many people have that much time and talent.

Once again, if you are going to grow this hobby, you need to make things:

1) affordable          (FlyerChief - runs on AC, DC or DCC with remote)

2) available          (Not presently a great variety of engines, track and accessories no matter         which manufacturer)

3) reliable          (runs without constant problems, including derailments, shorts etc)

4) as true as affordably possible to prototype.        (taking short cuts to lower price to allow sales to larger market)

If the base of people using S grows, you'll probably get your S Scale with everything scale on it, if not - oh well.

Francine

 

That's ok Francine, because I disagree with you too. If you think that the fact that the Berk is scale in dimensions makes it a scale model then when are not even having the same discussion. It is a toy, not a scale model. You are missing the BIGGEST point of all which is the real #1... Make compelling products that consumers want to buy.

Since the majority of consumers across all scales want scale models in lieu of toy trains wouldn't it make sense to build scale trains? If you do it well you could very well pull existing modelers from N, HO, and O. That's what happened to me when Lionel started making S scale models like the Challenger, Y3, U33, SD70, and ES44. As Rusty points out, it is possible to make models that cater to everyone in S. See AM and SHS. Lionel is limiting their audience.

They've made their decision and I'm sure they've done the research. They must feel it is easier and more profitable to cater to an aging, declining AF segment then try to establish S scale going forward. I don't necessarily blame them, but they way they have gone about it sucks.

Also, code 100 S scale track with code 110 scale wheels happens to run fantastically well.  In fact it is the best running track/wheel combination I have ever run. I've run everything from code 55 N scale to Lionel and MTH 3 rail O and everything in between. You don't have to hand-lay track unless you want to. There are plenty of commercially available options. There are actually far more code 100 turnouts available than there are for Hi-Rail or Flyer. 

-Jonathan

You guys can discuss the advantages of Scale S all you want, but the truth is that market is not growing to warrant the tooling costs by Lionel and MTH even with all your hoping. I talk with both companies regularly and they see no change of the ratio of Flyer and Scale.  

Just because you want it won't make it happen. My feeling is you will have to adapt and rework.

It's really an issue that doesn't need debate as to what will sell more, scale or toy.  Make something that sells to both because we like what you have done! People like Jonathan, Rusty and myself are just looking for them to continue with the flexibility that they did so well with the SD70's, ES44's and cylindrical hoppers. They were able to sell those to people who would have never bought them otherwise.  I am not a scale guy. I have lots of post war Flyer. But for all my non-vintage stuff, I only use kadees and scale trucks (hi rail wheels typically though on 138 track). I guess I am a blend. Therefore, boy do I love the flexibility of the SD70's and ES44's. Plus our club layout is scale and DCC. What a treat just to be able to quickly swap wheels and run my stuff with the club.  I will sign up right now to buy some of anything they produce in the future with that same flexibility.

Roundhouse Bill posted:

You guys can discuss the advantages of Scale S all you want, but the truth is that market is not growing to warrant the tooling costs by Lionel and MTH even with all your hoping. I talk with both companies regularly and they see no change of the ratio of Flyer and Scale.  

Just because you want it won't make it happen. My feeling is you will have to adapt and rework.

It's not about the ratio, Bill.  Anybody that has been in S for any extended amount of time is well aware of the ratio.

It's about product.

Case in point:  Two models, same car type, two different markets...Boxcar 102617 001Boxcar 102617 002Boxcar 102617 003 crop

Current MSRP per website: $42.95.   Either car can be converted with relative ease and minimal expense to the opposite style of operation.  AM's wheelsets (scale or hirail) are $5.95 for a set of 4.  2 pair of snap-lock couplers are $4.95/2 pair.  Flyer compatible couplers $4.50/pair.

This concept seems to escape the good folks at Lionel. 

I can understand that Lionel doesn't want to have duplicate product inventory.  (I think they don't want any unsold product inventory.)

Lionel's current MSRP for a Flyer "traditional" boxcar (per 2018 Vol.1) is $59.99.  To convert a Flyer car to scale it's throw away the underframe, throw away the trucks and couplers, build or buy a new underframe, buy new trucks and couplers and put it all together.  Same goes for the new reefer, which retails for 5 bucks more than an equivalent MTH car.  I can't think of any scale modeller who wants the new Flyer reefer for converting because of it's higher price and lower detail level.

And yet, Lionel HAS shown they can do it:

LNL 053014 02

Now, if Lionel hadn't screwed up on the trucks (these have AM trucks mounted) and didn't offer these cars in all those screwy NS fantasy paint jobs, they would have gotten a better reception from the scale market (and probably the Flyer market, too.)

Last but not least.  When I decided I wanted the MP Heritage SD70, Lionel was sold out of the scale wheel version. 

So, hard cheese... Right?  No. I bought the "Flyer" version...

AF UPH MP 022413 05

and ordered the scale wheelsets from the Parts Department, mounted Kadees and PRESTO!  Instant scale locomotive:

KGB 070515 005

Same went for the ES44...

As far as MTH is concerned, the biggest gripe from all corners is they are sooooo daaaaang slooooow at reissuing the former SHS product line.  Also, not a peep since the 2013 catalog.  Folks get tired of waiting.  Pure and simple.

Rusty

 

 

 

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Folks, I think everyone is missing the point:  If complaints are all the general public hears (let alone the manufacturers), they won't want to get involved with S.  If more people would change over (and many have expressed an interest in doing so) that would create a large market in which the manufacturers would add new and varied products.

All I am saying is that all the complaining and whinning only drives away possible new S modelors of any stripe.

I would rather be positive and draw people in, then a sour puss driving others away.

 

Francine, I understand your point about complaining, however when I read what the O gauge people write often it is complains also.  The online discussions here are one of the only ways that people get to express themselves about their feelings about what companies are providing them.  This is also a place where these companies can listen if they choose to.

When I interview these companies for the S Gaugian I get a chance to hear their viewpoints on the S market and get to understand their perspective.  The average person doesn't get to do this so they speak from only their perspective when they write here. 

I think these companies want to please the market always, but limitations for new tooling and design costs restrict what they can do.  The companies that build products for several gauges have to put most of their money where the payback is the highest.  That is not S and we know that.

For my part I would like to see less complaining also.  Discussion of a positive and helpful nature would probably be received better than the almost insulting comments about what Lionel and MTH does or doesn't do from this group.     

There seems to be such a wailing and gnashing of teeth over the conflicts between prototypical scale and American Flyer offerings, particularly on the Yahoo board for S scale (inaccurately described as "S gauge") modelers. American Models and SHS had the solution with different approaches: people ordered products with "scale" or "high-rail" wheels directly from AM because they found it too difficult to get into hobby shops. The appropriate couplers came with the wheels, but those who wanted high-rail wheels could easily swap the massive couplers with Kadee couplers themselves. SHS provided both sets of wheels with their offerings, and users could easily attach Kadee couplers on their own. Des Plaines Hobbies' S Scale America takes the SHS approach for most of their products.

As Rusty notes, it's a simple matter to swap wheelsets in the Lionel American Flyer diesels. Those diesels have enough detail to satisfy many, but not all, modelers who demand prototypical accuracy. Steam locomotives are another case for everyone--AM, SHS, Lionel, and perhaps MTH--because of the complexity of the wheel arrangements. AM and SHS required customers to select one or the other, prototypical scale or high-rail. Lionel only offered high-rail. (Fred Rouse for a time did conversions for the Y3, but those conversions were expensive.)

Rolling stock should also be as simple. It is for AM. It was for SHS. MTH insists on two different part numbers instead of adding prototypical scale wheelsets for a single part number, making problems for inventory management; but its easy to swap out wheelsets in the trucks if the desired version is not available. This is where Lionel can make improvements. Yes, the cylindrical hoppers had additional problems; but it would have nice to keep the original trucks and change out the high-rail wheelsets for prototypical scale wheelsets if one were not bothered by the excessive height of the bolsters. Those trucks are beautiful--but it costs $25 to replace the entire truck instead of salvaging the truck and changing just the wheels.  (The subsequent auto-rack and reefer cars are too toy-like to appeal to prototypical modelers.) If Lionel ever decides to produce the once-promised mechanical reefers with the same level of detail as on the cylindrical hoppers--and correct height, they would be hit with both the prototypical and high-rail crowds if it were simple for prototypical modelers to purchase scale wheels and replace the included high-rail wheels and couplers. 

There are also some S scale manufacturers who offer kits and some ready-to-run models that come with only prototypically scale trucks and wheels. If they also offered an option to supply high-rail wheels without fear of antagonizing their prototypical customers, they could reach some of the 85% + market share who appreciate the detail but who have already invested in high-rail switches and rail. S scale modelers, prototypical/high-rail/tin-plate, are too small a market to harbor the kind of animosity that sometimes resembles religious wars. If Lionel, for one, would continue to build-in the kind of consideration they showed in their SD70ACe models with easy-to-swap wheelsets, screws to fix pivoting pilots in place, and brackets for prototypical couplers, all camps would appreciate it. The reasonably priced Berkshires were an excellent move on their part. A Legacy version with the kind of detail found on the Y-3 and ability to easily add prototypical couplers would be a smart follow up. A second Legacy version with prototypical wheels would be too much to expect--but what a move that would be to make peace!

 

 

I would like to make an observation.  It is hard to compare SHS, American Models, with MTH and Lionel. The first two made/make items only in S. Lionel & MTH make trains in many scales.  

When I look at Lionel's catalogs in O I really don't see truly scale products for scale modelers. (Wheels and couplers)  The catalog defines scale as scale in size.  Do they make truly scale items in O?

If they don't make them in O why would regularly make them in S?

Lionel is making product to true 1/4" scale.  True, it does run on three rail track, but it is scale product none the less.  Plus the newest cars are convertible to scale wheels and Kadee couplers.

MTH also has true 1/4" products that are convertible to scale wheels and Kadee's plus some locomotives equipped from the factory as 2-rail scale.  

I suppose the former SHS line that MTH is now making is chopped liver...

Rusty

Roundhouse Bill posted:

You guys can discuss the advantages of Scale S all you want, but the truth is that market is not growing to warrant the tooling costs by Lionel and MTH even with all your hoping. I talk with both companies regularly and they see no change of the ratio of Flyer and Scale.  

Just because you want it won't make it happen. My feeling is you will have to adapt and rework.

Hi Bill:

Unfortunately, neither persuasion of S is growing.

As a former modeler that really tried to be involved in S scale, I feel that the sad news is that NEITHER the AF or scale side of S has a bright future to look forward to. Essentially ALL of the AF enthusiasts are aging-out and there are precious few (if any?) new AF entrants to replace them. Thus, Lionel's business model to cater to the AF side almost exclusively is destined for further market shrinkage and eventual demise. I really wish it wasn't this way, but without some type of major change(s), I can't see it playing out any other way. It's just a matter of time.

The scale S enthusiast's obstacles are even more foreboding, in my opinion. The size is indeed "perfect"... but they're stuck facing the "AF market" mentality of two of the most largest S scale mfg'ers, thus, they truly have no significant scale product in which to tout their chosen scale to fellow modelers from other scales that could be induced to consider scale S. For sure there's no excitement of meaningful new products on the horizon with which to attract the HO or N modelers wanting larger trains without the issues of O scale's 5' gauge, or an O scaler wanting to downsize to a more manageable size of model.

Neither of the above is not a good situation for the scale.

I really, really wish it weren't this way... but the above is the way I see it and one of the reasons I chose to leave the scale.

TOKELLY posted:

This is where Lionel can make improvements. Yes, the cylindrical hoppers had additional problems; but it would have nice to keep the original trucks and change out the high-rail wheel sets for prototypical scale wheel sets if one were not bothered by the excessive height of the bolsters. Those trucks are beautiful--but it costs $25 to replace the entire truck instead of salvaging the truck and changing just the wheels. 

I thought the majority of the initial run of these hoppers all came with scale wheel sets. It wasn't until a second run before trucks with highrail wheel sets factory installed appeared. But I distinctly remember many scale guys complaining about the original scale trucks. The bolsters were way too tall (on both the scale and highrail versions) but they also complained that the wheel sets weren't in the proper "gauge" for scale operation? To fix that a lot of modification to the axle had to be made. I noted that the original scale wheel sets performed perfectly on AF Fastrack but that didn't work for the scale guys who used different track.

Anyway, since I only use AF Fastrack those hoppers worked well for me either scale or highrail.

If Lionel, for one, would continue to build-in the kind of consideration they showed in their SD70ACe models with easy-to-swap wheelsets all camps would appreciate it. 

Here's a big problem with the new roller bearing trucks. It is absolutely NOT and easy job to change out the wheelsets from scale to highrail or vice versa. The problem is that the axle protrudes through the sideframes to allow the spinning caps to be attached. To remove the axles is a trying experience and not for the novice. One wrong move and the springs on the truck will fly to never-never land and that's it for that truck. A novice would be up the proverbial creek at that point. Lionel would have to offer both types of trucks to allow for both scale and highrail operation.

 

Those trucks are beautiful--but it costs $25 to replace the entire truck instead of salvaging the truck and changing just the wheels. 

To run on my club's layout's Gargraves track the scale wheels were a no-go. I needed to replace all the scale wheel sets with hirail...and not spend $25.00 per car. So I began to tinker and found out there was a solution. The sticking point is you need a supply of SHS wheelsets either scale or highrail depending what you want to end up with. I found that with great patience it is possible to substitute SHS wheels for the AF wheels. It ain't easy. You can remove the AF wheelsets one at a time, press the AF wheels off the axles, install the SHS wheels on the AF axle and then reinstall the axle in the side frames.

It does work but can take about 1/2 hour to one hour per car after you have done a few and figured out a system.

Another solution is to just swap the SHS wheelsets for the AF wheelsets but then you will lose the spinning caps on the axles. The trucks will accept the pointed SHS axles just fine.

I fully agree that a release of the 57' mechanical reefer with a choice of Highrail or scale wheel trucks would be a very good thing for Flyer. I'd buy 'em.

Mark

 

 

 

banjoflyer posted:
TOKELLY posted:

This is where Lionel can make improvements. Yes, the cylindrical hoppers had additional problems; but it would have nice to keep the original trucks and change out the high-rail wheel sets for prototypical scale wheel sets if one were not bothered by the excessive height of the bolsters. Those trucks are beautiful--but it costs $25 to replace the entire truck instead of salvaging the truck and changing just the wheels. 

I thought the majority of the initial run of these hoppers all came with scale wheel sets. It wasn't until a second run before trucks with highrail wheel sets factory installed appeared. But I distinctly remember many scale guys complaining about the original scale trucks. The bolsters were way too tall (on both the scale and highrail versions) but they also complained that the wheel sets weren't in the proper "gauge" for scale operation? To fix that a lot of modification to the axle had to be made. I noted that the original scale wheel sets performed perfectly on AF Fastrack but that didn't work for the scale guys who used different track.

Anyway, since I only use AF Fastrack those hoppers worked well for me either scale or highrail.


Mark

 

 

 

You can see why the scale guys complained about the wheel gauge.  Note the right flange riding up on the guardrail:

LNL CH Truck 031514

Now, the design of the axle made it possible to regauge the wheels with relative ease, but then there was that bolster height which made the car sit about a 1/4" too high.  The BN is unmodified, the PRR has AM trucks.

LNL CH 031614 02

Lionel apparently was aware of this, because they included a spacer to bring the Kadee coupler down to the correct height, a rather half-baked solution.  When the car is at the correct height, no spacer is needed.

LNL CH 031614 01

Now, before anyone says the excess height was needed to clear the flanges, after I converted my BN car to scale, I re-converted it back to hirail using AM trucks with SHS hirail wheels and the SHS Flyer compatible coupler.  It ran just fine on R20 curves:

LNL CH 032314 05

LNL CH 032314 03LNL CH 032314 04

LNL CH 032314 01

After these photo were taken, I reconverted the BN car back to scale.  The whole process of the back and forth took less than 10 minutes each way.  If the Lionel truck bolster were correctly made, I wouldn't have used the AM trucks because, bolster aside, the Lionel roller bearing trucks are also very nice.

The truck fiasco aside, these are VERY nice cars.  I also have the Frisco and GN cars so converted to scale.

As I've said before Lionel has demonstrated they CAN make a car that is suitable for both worlds.  However, the folks at Lionel never really properly addressed the truck issue IMHO, rather they seemed to put the blame on the consumer for not really accepting the cylindrical hoppers.  That seems to be the reason (again IMHO) the 57' mechanical reefers were cancelled, not at the preorder cut-off date, but rather at the anticipated delivery date months later.

Cars acceptable for both Flyer and Scale folks isn't rocket science.

Rusty

 

 

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Rusty’s top picture shows the gauge problem with every American Flyer wheelset Lionel makes for rolling stock. I am tired of regauging them so other than engines, which are correctly gauged, except for the Christmas boxcars I now only buy AM or SHS cars. 

Tom

Rusty, I don't think the debate is about the quality of the cars. Everybody seems to say they look very good.

I agree it is simply the truck issue. The new AF roller bearing trucks simply cannot be easily converted to scale wheels and then back to highrail. Until you try it you can't express how difficult it is. If it were easy I think Lionel would have offered separate sale highrail wheelsets that supported the rotating bearing caps. Instead they offered a complete truck at a $25.00 retail for a pair.

Lionel most likely isn't going to offer cars as delivered as either scale or highrail with any frequency. MTH has tried that with several of their new car offerings such as the TOFC cars. It would be interesting to see what the percentage split on the orders was...scale vs. highrail.

If Lionel included scale wheelsets (even correctly gauged) with every highrail equipped car that had the roller bearing trucks the complaints from modelers making the change would be pretty loud.

For Lionel to retain the good looks of the new roller bearing truck and make it easily convertible to other types of wheels the rotating bearing caps would have to be sacrificed.

They could design a  truck  similar to the AM truck  w/o the rotating caps.

The AF truck  has the wacky bolster in part due to the attachment method of the coupler arm. It is essentially a straight shot from the bolster to the self centering coupler because of the relatively large uncoupling tab/spring setup. To lower the bolster they would have to redesign the uncoupler spring tab  and make it look more like an AM coupler: where the tab is quite short.

In short they would save money by just installing AM trucks on their AF cars!

None of those changes would be difficult but Lionel is pretty tight with a $ in S scale.

You really do have the easiest solution in just substituting AM trucks for the original AF trucks.

$8.75/pair for the AM trucks sure beats the $18.75 online price for AF replacement trucks.

I haven't seen the AF roller bearing trucks on any other AF cars offered by Lionel. Like you say they seem to blame the consumer for not accepting the "too tall" trucks.

I haven't changed over to AM trucks as my AF truck conversions to highrail SHS wheels cost essentially nothing. ( I get the wheels from a fellow modeler who runs scale only). With all of my Cylindrical hoppers using the same height trucks there is no height discrepancy to offend.

Essentially most folks will "roll their own" as best suits their pocketbooks.

Mark

 

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I also agree about the trucks, and that was my point about redesigning them to make it easier to swap scale wheelsets for the original high-rail wheelsets, or vice versa for the original cylindrical hoppers (as long as the wheels are in the correct gauge for both scale and high-rail.) It could be done with a little ingenuity and still retain the rotating caps.

I have four cylindrical hoppers: three converted with AM trucks and one converted with MTH trucks. One set of the original cylindrical hopper trucks went onto a Lionel auto-rack car to determine what the newly introduced American Flyer auto-rack would look like.  I hated to discard a beautiful set of trucks entirely.

laming posted:
Roundhouse Bill posted:

You guys can discuss the advantages of Scale S all you want, but the truth is that market is not growing to warrant the tooling costs by Lionel and MTH even with all your hoping. I talk with both companies regularly and they see no change of the ratio of Flyer and Scale.  

Just because you want it won't make it happen. My feeling is you will have to adapt and rework.

Hi Bill:

Unfortunately, neither persuasion of S is growing.

As a former modeler that really tried to be involved in S scale, I feel that the sad news is that NEITHER the AF or scale side of S has a bright future to look forward to. Essentially ALL of the AF enthusiasts are aging-out and there are precious few (if any?) new AF entrants to replace them. Thus, Lionel's business model to cater to the AF side almost exclusively is destined for further market shrinkage and eventual demise. I really wish it wasn't this way, but without some type of major change(s), I can't see it playing out any other way. It's just a matter of time.

The scale S enthusiast's obstacles are even more foreboding, in my opinion. The size is indeed "perfect"... but they're stuck facing the "AF market" mentality of two of the most largest S scale mfg'ers, thus, they truly have no significant scale product in which to tout their chosen scale to fellow modelers from other scales that could be induced to consider scale S. For sure there's no excitement of meaningful new products on the horizon with which to attract the HO or N modelers wanting larger trains without the issues of O scale's 5' gauge, or an O scaler wanting to downsize to a more manageable size of model.

Neither of the above is not a good situation for the scale.

I really, really wish it weren't this way... but the above is the way I see it and one of the reasons I chose to leave the scale.

Hey Laming,

As usual, I agree.

I wonder if the AF folks that are tired of the "whining" would feel the same way if they were the camp being underserved? Me thinks not...

I am 44 years old. I came from buying O scale to S BECAUSE of the products from SHS, AM, River Raisin, and Lionel for all the reasons you mentioned. Without rehashing the history lesson, look where things are now from my perspective... I AM the demographic the Mfgs. should be catering to because I spend a good amount of money each year on my hobby, and statistically speaking I will be around to buy their products for quite a while. None of that matters.

Lionel and MTH both made promises that they haven't kept. If me being frustrated about that makes me a complainer then so be it.

I'm with you Laming. I'm going back to running my O scale, HO, and N. Probably going to build 2 layouts in my basement. 1 O scale and 1 HO or N. S scale would have been the perfect sized compromise, but alas it just isn't to be. I like a lot of different RR's and equipment, most of which has not been done in S. HO and N get weekly product releases! Years go by in S with nothing new. Such a shame. 

Life is short. My son is growing fast. I need to get something built so we can enjoy the time we have. I'm not waiting around anymore. The S stuff is going on the display shelf. If by some miracle something changes I'd be happy to jump back in. Until then at least I'll be running some trains.

How are you enjoying HO scale?

 

 

-Jonathan

"I wonder if the AF folks that are tired of the "whining" would feel the same way if they were the camp being underserved? Me thinks not..."

Interesting point.

I don't recall hearing a lot of complaining from the Flyer side when SHS was in business making those pesky scale-detailed pieces.  Of course, part of Don Thompson's shrewdness was by offering most of their equipment "visually compatible" size-wise, (I think the TOFC is the only exception) which is one reason why we never saw a PS1 boxcar from SHS.

I think there was some complaining about AM in the beginning, mainly because their products were only offered initially with scale wheels.  I don't recall how long it was before AM's Flyer compatibility began.

But, seeing that AM reports about 85% sales to the Flyer/Hirail market, they must still be buying the stuff because the scale guys sure aren't keeping AM afloat.

Rusty

Jonathan:

You asked: "How are you enjoying HO scale?"

I'll try to keep my reply brief to minimize thread drift. In a nutshell, it's like being a kid in a candy store (SO much product/variety/choices). AND, you can now purchase top quality stuff already DCC/Sound equipped. To read or ask more, simply head over to the HONGZ forum and look up some of my threads!

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

 

Regarding "whining" by those of us who run AF

Well, back in the "dark days of S" after Gilbert stopped producing AF and when Lionel started producing it again,  there really ONLY was "scale", and those of us who wanted to run AF had to convert Scale items, or put AF trucks on undersized O gauge  Marx or Lionel products . (or repaint and decal junker AF).

Scale Engines were pretty much a "no go" as there were not a reliable source of wheels but you could still get 'junker" AF trucks and put them on the scale kits that were available (you simply did not install the bolster or the coupler pocket) or bought ACE trucks that had "Hi Rail" wheels and used the ace conversion that was screwed on to the trucks to allow the use of AF couplers.

When American Models first produced cars, they were exclusively scale kits, and I removed all the wheels from the scale axles and filed down reproduction AF wheels so they would fit into the trucks and installed them on the AM axles.  I fabricated my own mount for AF couplers. 

I really don't remember any whining back in the "dark days".  Scale was all that was available and we dealt with it.  The big difference was that, before Lionel made AF again, and before American Models and SHS made AF compatible engines and rolling stock, I had 4 locomotives and 18 cars, (some were scatchbuilt and some were converted scale kits or repainted AF). Now I have 35 engines and 600 pieces of rolling stock.  My roster would not be so extensive (especially in terms of motive power), if I had to convert all the engines and rolling stock .

I remain in favor of the SHS model, making engines and cars that can be easily convertible to Scale or AF compatible, and I, for one, am willing to pay a little more to have an AF compatible engine (there is, after all, additional circuitry to get a DC motor to run on AC) .

In any case, I hope everything Jonathan wants will be produced and I want to reassure him that I take no pleasure in his disappointment. 

LittleTommy 

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