That's NOT an accurate statement.  The bodies are molded in the USA, they're painted in the USA (in NC), the graphics are applied in the USA (in NC), and yes, they're assembled in NC (in the USA).  Doesn't matter if the work is done in NC, VA, or PA.  The subject of this thread is "Trains made in the USA".  The cars referenced in the message you applied to are Made in USA, except the trucks as you pointed out.

Stu

I was referring to Lion Scale.  Apologies if I wasn't clear.

Rusty

I was referring to Lion Scale.  Apologies if I wasn't clear.

Rusty

Hi Rusty,

Same thing applies to LionScale:

Die-cast trucks are imported.

Bodies molded in Pennsylvania.

Bodies are painted in North Carolina.

Graphics are applied in North Carolina.

Cars are then assembled in NC.

Stu

Ok guy's I'm going to say it again, production in a BIG  way will never come back.

you guys thing it would be easy to drag a company from China and set up here. Besides all the issues with the move you have all the regulatory issues, environmental laws, and maybe union issues and many other things from the federal, state and local authorities. Nobody today wants a union. One of the reasons Lionel is in NC. 

If I was Lionel I would keep production in China for NOW. 

Dave

 

 

@david1 posted:

Ok guy's I'm going to say it again, production in a BIG  way will never come back.

you guys thing it would be easy to drag a company from China and set up here. Besides all the issues with the move you have all the regulatory issues, environmental laws, and maybe union issues and many other things from the federal, state and local authorities. Nobody today wants a union. One of the reasons Lionel is in NC. 

If I was Lionel I would keep production in China for NOW. 

Dave

 

 

For the “move manufacturing back to America” crowd, I encourage you to watch the documentary “American Factory” on Netflix.  It’s about a Chinese company that opens a factory in Ohio.  The contrasts between the American and Chinese workplaces explains why so much manufacturing has left the US.

I’m not saying that I support it.  I’m just saying that I accept reality. 

@Bob Bubeck posted:
 ...snip... Hungry (Maerklin is made in Hungry) ...snip... .

Respectfully,

Bob

I doubt that anything is made in Hungry; but in Hungary, yes.

Hi Rusty,

Same thing applies to LionScale:

Die-cast trucks are imported.

Bodies molded in Pennsylvania.

Bodies are painted in North Carolina.

Graphics are applied in North Carolina.

Cars are then assembled in NC.

Stu

I believe I stated basically the same thing, just not in the same detail.  As you can see I am aware of what is being assembled domestically, which was in response to another post:

"The trucks still come from China.

Lionel is assembling rolling stock in NC.  They don't have on site molding equipment.   (This is where I failed to define Lion Scale assembly... or perhaps I should have just added the word: some)

The molding for Lion Scale is done by a US sub-contractor, assembly and decoration is then done in NC.  I'm not sure where the unpainted 6464/9700 bodies come from, but unless they had new tooling cut, the 6464/9700's are most likely molded in China."

Rusty

Last edited by Rusty Traque

I've tried to refrain from posting to this thread, but I apparently did not succeed.  Being involved with a company that manufactures out of China this thread is filled with misinformation, lack of business knowledge, and a touch of xenophobia.  No one is forcing anyone to purchase trains or for that matter, cell phones, appliances, electronics in general, computers ......  

Probably caught me on a bad day but we go through this issue every 3 to 6 months and no one seems to learn anything.  Can't we simply enjoy our trains?

I'm kind of on the same page here, except for me it's more of an issue of morals rather than quality control. There's plenty of stuff in O scale/gauge that I love, which also happens to be made in China, Korea or something like that. My problem is mainly supporting a company that was willing to cut costs by shipping jobs oversea, thus ridding people here of their jobs, or any potential work they could've gotten, like some of you guys said. Not only that, but I've heard that the workers in factories in Asia can be treated poorly, and so I kind of feel like a jerk for supporting businesses that are okay with working with subcontractors that may do that. Of course there were American workers in the past and probably now that have been treated poorly and worked in overly-dangerous conditions, so maybe I shouldn't just single out countries in Asia for doing that.

I don't know if I am saying the right words, but I definitely understand some of the issues that are being said here. As far as I know, the last well-known O scale train manufacturer that had a good portion of their stuff being made in the US was Weaver, but they are gone, and so far the only recent thing we have of them is apparently LionScale. As much as I hate to say it, I too highly doubt that model trains in general will come back to America when it comes to production. At least not anytime in the near future. And in general we rely so much on stuff that is made in foreign countries that I can't even imagine model trains of all things being among the first things to start mainly being produced in America again.

As for quality, so far I've pretty much had no major issues with the stuff I have, regardless of manufacturer or where it was made. I think the biggest issue I've had was one of my MTH PS1 engines having a glitch in the motherboard that prevented the locomotive from running properly. Not only that, but the motherboard itself would start smoking as soon as I turned it on (and no, it doesn't have a smoke unit ). Other than that, the other MTH locomotives I have so far (which are mostly used PS1 because I don't make that much money) seem to work fine. If these were flat-out Chinese-designed and Chinese-made products, like some KO's you see of other types of products besides model trains, I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole, because more than likely they will be poor-quality. But so far, aside from some bugs, I've yet to come across straight-up poor quality O scale equipment made in other countries. I am sorry to hear that some of you guys have had to send stuff back several times; I think that really stinks. And I also agree that Pre-War and Post-War trains will probably outlast all of this modern stuff, lol.

And yet folks don't seem to have "China Syndrome" issues with Menards train products...  Many seem to be begging for the next product in line.

Rusty

As an historical fact, didn't the old Lionel Corporation in the 1920s and 1930s set up and work with a diemaker in Italy? I assume it was largely an economic decision to save costs. History--and economics--are usually a lot more complicated and complex than we imagine them to be.

For instance, the fact that so much is made oversees has been a boon to the American railroad industry that we all love. How many O gaugers out there are modeling and running containerized freight and double-stacks on their layouts? Those containers aren't filled with grandma's fresh-baked apple and rhubarb pies from down the street! Those containers are coming from and going oversees.

I could not bring myself to read the whole thread, but did anyone point out that before the pandemic, employment in the USA was at close to record high levels? I don't think the Chinese are taking jobs from our people. That said, China is certainly not our friend, but that's a separate issue.  Hand assembly of toys is not something that is going to be a solid career for most people, and cannot carry middle class salaries and benefits.  There were plenty of similar jobs going begging before the pandemic.  The weakening of unions in this country has more to do with income disparities, and that isn't due to China, however dishonest and politically offensive their political system is.  If you want to protect Americans from poverty, advocating bringing all manufacturing back to the USA is neither practical nor likely to have benefits. Sounds good and patriotic, but isn't.

Economists tell us that international trade actually improves wealth and social conditions for both trading partners.  Thus it is likely that patriotism is misplaced if it insists that a true patriot commits to "buying American" for everything.  This sort of thinking could be harming your fellow citizens in subtle ways.  And it's impossible to only "buy American" unless you avoid lithium polymer batteries, since lithium isn't available in the USA, to my knowledge.  Sometimes things aren't as simple as we would like them to be.  And patriotism is more complex than it would seem on this issue.  

Last edited by Landsteiner

Sadly, I have to have many of my boards manufactured in China as the only quotes I get in the USA are 3-4x the price of Chinese manufacturing!  I'd love to have them made here!  Quicker, a lot more control over the quality, and I get to talk to the supplier in my native tongue.  Also, although it's in a small way, I'd be supporting American industry.  However, I suspect that if I passed on the additional cost of US manufacture in the prices, I wouldn't have to worry about manufacturing, I wouldn't be able to sell any of them!  If anyone has US based solutions that are remotely reasonable in price, I'm all ears!

Sadly, I have to have many of my boards manufactured in China as the only quotes I get in the USA are 3-4x the price of Chinese manufacturing!  I'd love to have them made here!  Quicker, a lot more control over the quality, and I get to talk to the supplier in my native tongue.  Also, although it's in a small way, I'd be supporting American industry.  However, I suspect that if I passed on the additional cost of US manufacture in the prices, I wouldn't have to worry about manufacturing, I wouldn't be able to sell any of them!  If anyone has US based solutions that are remotely reasonable in price, I'm all ears!

Its funny John but PC boards are manufactured using automatic insertion equipment and wave soldering. The only labor is the setting and loading of the machines. There is no reason that US manufacturing cannot do it for only slightly more, except that the Chinese may be state subsidized.

Its funny John but PC boards are manufactured using automatic insertion equipment and wave soldering. The only labor is the setting and loading of the machines. There is no reason that US manufacturing cannot do it for only slightly more, except that the Chinese may be state subsidized.

There's also the labor in having the raw PC boards manufactured, maintaining parts inventory, pulling parts from stock, shipping and receiving, programming the pick and place machines.

Wave soldering is only good for through hole parts.  If there's only one or two through hole parts, it's not worth the set-up time for automation and the process is manual, particularly for small runs. 

Surface mount components use a reflow oven.

Every step of manufacturing has a cost assigned to it, some may only be fractions of a cent, but it's there and factored in.  That also includes a profit for the manufacturer.

 

Rusty

Last edited by Rusty Traque
@pennsyfan posted:

LIONEL is making rolling stock in their North Carolina plant.

METCA's  6464/9700 sized box cars and LionScale cars are made in NC.

 

Lionel is not casting any parts in its North Carolina base of operations. Just assembling and painting LionScale cars.

There's also the labor in having the raw PC boards manufactured, maintaining parts inventory, pulling parts from stock, shipping and receiving, programming the pick and place machines.

Wave soldering is only good for through hole parts.  If there's only one or two through hole parts, it's not worth the set-up time for automation and the process is manual, particularly for small runs. 

Surface mount components use a reflow oven.

The manufacturers I deal with will do turnkey assembly, they order the parts for the specific run, they don't keep all those parts in stock.  With the variety of parts used in even simply products, that would simply be economically impossible.  All the SMT stuff is indeed done in a reflow oven, and AFAIK, the couple of thru-hole parts on some of my stuff is hand soldered.  One product, my YLB, I actually do final assembly here as the installation of the three thru-hole parts take more than just stuffing them in the holes and soldering them.

@GG1 4877 posted:

I've tried to refrain from posting to this thread, but I apparently did not succeed.  Being involved with a company that manufactures out of China this thread is filled with misinformation, lack of business knowledge, and a touch of xenophobia.  No one is forcing anyone to purchase trains or for that matter, cell phones, appliances, electronics in general, computers ......  

Probably caught me on a bad day but we go through this issue every 3 to 6 months and no one seems to learn anything.  Can't we simply enjoy our trains?

That’s what frustrates me as well. Each time this topic comes up, it’s clear that all those with opinions based on favoring U.S. model train production have made no effort to study business or manufacturing practices.

 I’m talking about readily available information, including here on this forum, not Bachelor of Arts studies.

Here’s my Cliff Notes summary. American production of O gauge locomotives is never coming back. For those who say they are willing to pay more, up to 50 percent, think! That projection would be based on current production runs transplanted to the U.S.

In reality, due to the number of buyers who would abandon new purchases, the amortization of tooling costs over a smaller market base would easily more than double the price of any model, based on today’s price structure, for all-new production.

No Legacy diesel would cost less than $1,000. No Legacy steam locomotive would cost less than $2,000. A Legacy Big Boy would approach $4,000. Prices could be even higher if tooling costs rise, as they invariably have over the years for domestic production.

At that price structure, the hobby would consist of only a few elitists. The number of models made and the variety of new equipment available would be similar to the production Third Rail currently employs. That’s assuming the current manufacturers are even interested in serving such a small marketplace. 

@pennsyfan posted:

Jim,

Did you read the earlier replies by notlionellcc?????

Yep. Stu knows his stuff. Why? What I said is consistent with Stu’s replies. 

Last edited by Jim R.

I was wondering why l couldn't find a kit for a lithium mine?  I have bought old trains for nostalgia; l would buy new prototype trains for variety, even if made in Bangladesh out of the metal, if lead free, exempt from zincpest, recycled from the ships they scrap on those shores.  Minor caveat: such trains must be as durable as other big ticket import items l have been forced to.

A variant of this topic heading could be "Where I don't want my trains made".

My heart went out of collecting new Lionel when some years ago I was shocked to see my Reading T-1 was made in Korea (they actually did a great job).  That stuck a big pin in my Lionel balloon.  We can fast forward to today, and I have come to accept that my trains will not be made here.  Korea doesn't seem so bad today as they are our friends and ally.   Even with that said I have deflated my balloon of enthusiasm for collecting new stuff.

Unfortunately, it is more negatively driven than positively driven.  I don't have much positivity that train production will return to the US by my not buying foreign made trains.  The negative drive has been (and is much stronger now given current events) not to buy from China.  Yes, the Chinese QC is not that great, but probably good enough (whatever that means these days).  I just cannot support such an abject adversary of my nation.

During WWII an expression was that:  The bedsprings that Johnny slept on that were sent to Japan as scrap metal were used to make the bullet that killed Johnny.

My wife just needed a new sauce pan.  I searched and searched for one not made in China.  I finally found one made in the USA, but it cost three times as much as the ones made in China.  It was of much higher quality and with nothing but multiple rave reviews.  Fortunately, I can afford it, but I know not all people could.  Will this sort of consumerism drive companies back to US production?  Probably only on a limited basis.

I've got one pre-order from Chionel pending.  It will probably be my last new train order unless made other than in China.

Alan

My 2cents worth. Train production will most likely never return here. I have a big problem with products made in a communist country that is produced with slave labor.  The quality problem and parts availability will never be resolved until production is moved somewhere else like the US, preferably or Japan or South Korea. I don't see any of the above happening. What happened to no train left behind? I do my best not to buy anything from China anymore and we all know how hard that is. As for anymore new Lionel products I most likely will not buy. 

I see a number of posts in this thread making note that the person would be glad to pay a little more for an American made product.  Why?  When we started seeing production of more and more product go overseas AKA China, does anyone remember the price of the product going down?  I think not.  The object of any manufacturer is to increase profits.  By going overseas that is in fact what they thought that they did.  I have not seen the price of our products going down due to lower wages.  Case in point.  I started buying a manufactures switches at about $40.  Those same switches, with some minor modifications today go for about $100 even with the perceived benefit of lower overseas wages.  So I submit to you that this same manufacture could bring the manufacturing of this product back to the USA and maintain the current price.  Here is the rub.  Will their overseas manufacture allow them to remove the intellectual property and molds back to the USA.  I fear not and that is a big reason that even though we would like to see American made products, it may be an impossibility.  Manufacturers who were sold a bill of goods about the benefits of foreign manufacturing have since realized they have sold their soul to the Devil.   If you are currently in the process of creating a layout or an expansion buy product from those organizations like Ross or Gargraves who are very competitive with the afore mentioned manufacturer.  I have done my last expansion and have stated many times, I wish I had it to do all over again and had started with one of these latter named manufacturers.  My 2 cents.

I see a number of posts in this thread making note that the person would be glad to pay a little more for an American made product.  Why?  When we started seeing production of more and more product go overseas AKA China, does anyone remember the price of the product going down?  I think not.  The object of any manufacturer is to increase profits.  By going overseas that is in fact what they thought that they did.  I have not seen the price of our products going down due to lower wages.  Case in point.  I started buying a manufactures switches at about $40.  Those same switches, with some minor modifications today go for about $100 even with the perceived benefit of lower overseas wages.  So I submit to you that this same manufacture could bring the manufacturing of this product back to the USA and maintain the current price.  Here is the rub.  Will their overseas manufacture allow them to remove the intellectual property and molds back to the USA.  I fear not and that is a big reason that even though we would like to see American made products, it may be an impossibility.  Manufacturers who were sold a bill of goods about the benefits of foreign manufacturing have since realized they have sold their soul to the Devil.   If you are currently in the process of creating a layout or an expansion buy product from those organizations like Ross or Gargraves who are very competitive with the afore mentioned manufacturer.  I have done my last expansion and have stated many times, I wish I had it to do all over again and had started with one of these latter named manufacturers.  My 2 cents.

You nailed it Jim. The price did not go down and look where it's at now. Somebody's making money.

No one is getting rich making toy trains, especially so in O scale.  At best O scale trains in 3 and 2 rail are a niche product for a small group of aging out buyers.  To think otherwise is utter nonsense.  Why does Lionel license their name to anyone willing to pay for it?  Why has MTH stopped producing new tooling for nearly the last decade?

Don't get me wrong.  It would be great to have our models built domestically, but it was very well summarized by several why that will never happen.  I will add another reason as I do to every one of these threads. The US worker no longer has the skills to do repetitive tedious labor.  Cell phones, on-demand everything, social networking, toy train forums, and a host of other things have made us in the US incapable of paying attention at that level with any efficiency.  It's the same reason we don't pick our own fruits and vegetables from the fields.

That brings up a further point in this hobby.  In the past if we didn't have the model we wanted, we scratch built it or kit-bashed another model to make what we wanted.  Once again in the on-demand culture few are willing to take the interest or time for that.

Back to reviewing first review drawings for one of the evil "I'm getting rich at this" by practicing capitalism toy train manufacturers.  Oops.  I will simply close my comments with try education over speculation.  It really goes a long way.  Rant over.

I see a number of posts in this thread making note that the person would be glad to pay a little more for an American made product.  Why?  When we started seeing production of more and more product go overseas AKA China, does anyone remember the price of the product going down?  I think not.  The object of any manufacturer is to increase profits.  By going overseas that is in fact what they thought that they did.  I have not seen the price of our products going down due to lower wages.  Case in point.  I started buying a manufactures switches at about $40.  Those same switches, with some minor modifications today go for about $100 even with the perceived benefit of lower overseas wages.  So I submit to you that this same manufacture could bring the manufacturing of this product back to the USA and maintain the current price.  Here is the rub.  Will their overseas manufacture allow them to remove the intellectual property and molds back to the USA.  I fear not and that is a big reason that even though we would like to see American made products, it may be an impossibility.  Manufacturers who were sold a bill of goods about the benefits of foreign manufacturing have since realized they have sold their soul to the Devil.   If you are currently in the process of creating a layout or an expansion buy product from those organizations like Ross or Gargraves who are very competitive with the afore mentioned manufacturer.  I have done my last expansion and have stated many times, I wish I had it to do all over again and had started with one of these latter named manufacturers.  My 2 cents.

Could track switches be made here again? I think so. Freight cars? Already being done.

But you took a plausible idea to declare that Lionel could “bring” all production ”back” to the U.S. 

Tell me, how many TMCC locos of new designs in the 1990s were produced in the U.S.? Newly tooled top-of-the-line command locomotives are of Asian origins. Not the U.S. 

Starting with Lionel’s decision to bypass Mike Wolf and deal directly with Asian manufacturers, Lionel devoted itself to developing a state-of-the-art product line that never was domestic. Circa 2000, Lionel merely discontinued the rest of its American production at that time.

So Lionel can’t bring back something that was never here. You’re business model never existed. 

I am sorry Jonathan, I do not agree with your hypothesis that the manufacturers of train products are loosing money or barely making money. If they are they would be forced to close their doors. They can not day after day hemerage money unless they have a benefactor that is extatic about throwing their money away. Most rich investors are more inclined to find places to invest their money that has a payback. I do agree that the American worker does not like doing repetitive tasks. That is a job now better positioned for robots. Have you seen an automotive production line? It is very highly automated. Japan has taken the robot to new heights and the US better get on board to coin a phrase.  The American population needs to excel with ingenuity not manual labor. 

You could decide to buy only trains made in the US, but what about everything else you buy?

Our entire economy is based on consumption. Everyone wants everything and as cheap as possible. How do you think Walmart got to be the biggest company in the world? Selling American manufactured products?

Now everyone has to have a snow blower, a power washer, a leaf blower, a 60" TV, a giant gas grill, and for God's sake they are selling log splitters at HD! When I see someone blowing a few leaves around a yard, I want to walk out with a rake and say "Ever see one of these? They are pretty useful, and you might actually get a workout."

If we made do with less, we could buy more American products and better quality products, but that's not who we are. It's certainly not who the modern train collector is.

 

I am sorry Jonathan, I do not agree with your hypothesis that the manufacturers of train products are loosing money or barely making money. If they are they would be forced to close their doors. They can not day after day hemerage money unless they have a benefactor that is extatic about throwing their money away. Most rich investors are more inclined to find places to invest their money that has a payback. I do agree that the American worker does not like doing repetitive tasks. That is a job now better positioned for robots. Have you seen an automotive production line? It is very highly automated. Japan has taken the robot to new heights and the US better get on board to coin a phrase.  The American population needs to excel with ingenuity not manual labor. 

I never said the train manufacturers are losing money, I stated that no one is getting rich in this industry.  Let's be very clear on that point.

It is not a high-profit business and that is not a hypothesis, but actually a fact.  Sure one can make a living at it and even a decent one.  We are going to begrudge that?  In my minor role of consulting to the industry, I can say I do it as a labor of love and not for the money.  I do much, much better in my full time employment.  The knowledge gained about how this industry truly works has been worth quite a bit. 

Robots can do lots of wonderful things and in turn bring good paying jobs to those who are trained to properly operate them.  The challenge is who would invest the money into developing the robots to build our model trains when a typical run for even the "big" manufacturers of an O locomotive is at best 1000 units and more typically 500 for a locomotive during a single run?  Lionel went to the brass hybrid concept because brass has no tooling.  I can't speak to their specific numbers but in brass typically one can make as little as 100 units and still walk away with a little profit.  Postwar Lionel was efficient in that over that period, they didn't produce a huge variety of tools.  All the profit was in replication.     

Simply put, the business model that most want to apply to this hobby simply doesn't fit.  It's not like trains are being produced anywhere close to the numbers that TVs, computers, cell phones, cars, home appliances, and other mass produced product are. 

3D printing has come a long way, but does not yet have the benefit of scale to mass produce.  It's great for a few models and even then it takes massive amounts of labor to properly sand the finished product into something workable.  Until such time comes along, and I have no doubt it will, where 3D printing really hits its stride, we are still stuck with the basic injection tool for most trains.  That tool costs between 50k and 100k and only pops out a body shell that still needs manual labor prep, detailing parts applied by hand, a drive train assembled by hand, electronics sourced from somewhere and installed by hand, and paint with graphics.

Someday perhaps we will walk up the the replicator made famous by Star Trek and state, "PRR K2s, as appeared in the early 1940's" and one will pop out.  That would be awesome for the hobby but I don't expect to be around at that point.    

@Will posted:

You could decide to buy only trains made in the US, but what about everything else you buy?

Our entire economy is based on consumption. Everyone wants everything and as cheap as possible. How do you think Walmart got to be the biggest company in the world? Selling American manufactured products?

Now everyone has to have a snow blower, a power washer, a leaf blower, a 60" TV, a giant gas grill, and for God's sake they are selling log splitters at HD! When I see someone blowing a few leaves around a yard, I want to walk out with a rake and say "Ever see one of these? They are pretty useful, and you might actually get a workout."

If we made do with less, we could buy more American products and better quality products, but that's not who we are. It's certainly not who the modern train collector is.

 

But that's the bargain we've struck. The elimination of organized labor, and the concentration of wealth at the top, that so many cheer about would be unsustainable without dirt-cheap consumer goods to keep the 99% happy.

Last edited by Professor Chaos
@Jim R. posted:

Starting with Lionel’s decision to bypass Mike Wolf and deal directly with Asian manufacturers, Lionel devoted itself to developing a state-of-the-art product line that never was domestic. Circa 2000, Lionel merely discontinued the rest of its American production at that time.

 

 When Mike Wolf was contacting with Lionel, he was using his Korean manufacturer.

@GG1 4877 posted:

Someday perhaps we will walk up the the replicator made famous by Star Trek and state, "PRR K2s, as appeared in the early 1940's" and one will pop out. 

And guess where that replicator would be made...  Actually, you only need to make one replicator, then use it to make others.

Rusty

Last edited by Rusty Traque

This comes up all the time, and the gist of the conversation is we are paying a lot for trains made in China that many of us feel are poorly made, and would love to see them made here. GG1 made some really great points about why this won't work, the companies sell too few a product and have too high a fixed cost basis, even with cheaper labor, to bring it back here at affordable prices; it isn't they are price going, the train companies have costs, including the people in tech/design/marketing/ vendor relations/parts/repair that make I would assume decent salaries and benefits added to the costs of tooling and production. They are likely making a decent profit, but gouging, I doubt it. 

The reality is that China despite all the talk of rising wages, simply is cheaper to build in, and it is labor costs that make it cheaper. Those are a factor of large populations, but also reflects lack of organized labor of any kind and a government dedicated to keeping costs low (not to mention the government is also partnered with almost every business in China). The prime cause isn't bureaucracy, lack of skills in the US population, the EPA, Taxes, it is labor costs (and yes, people give examples of all kinds of horrors that happen, just saying on a big picture scale those fall by the wayside, companies didn't go to China for EPA regs, lawyers, lawsuits, taxes alone  or as a whole, they went for the cheaper labor, and also not having to run factories themselves, they leave that to the contractor). 

Automation can bring jobs back potentially (though doubtful with the train companies, unless someone using 3d technology develops lean production on steroids, where they literally can produce anything cheaply and quickly using flexible assembly), but that won't bring back the large score of jobs I suspect many envision, like the old Irvington plant in the heyday. Automated plants require few workers and even maintainence and tech jobs are few, modern automation machinery is designed to keep going with little maintanence and a lot of it these days is  self diagnosing (someday may be self repairing as well). Not going to happen unless as I noted we have truly 

Then, too, we have to ask what does it mean to be made in the US? Are we talking final assembly or all the parts/components? It is unlikely all the parts would be made here, as has been shown with supply chains during the current pandemic supply chains are literally all over the world; you might make a drug in the US, but the components come from India, China and the Philippines for example, so a Lionel engine is not going to have circuit boards made by a jobber in Peoria, body shell casting by a company in Pa, truck frames and wheels from a place in Georgia, just not going  to happen. So is final assembly alone okay?  The other thing I do know is that if it does, it won't be the equivalent of Henry Ford's model T plant, likely it would be as I noted before a heavily automated plant with modern techniques, and yes I think people in the US can handle that, much better than workers in Chinese plants do (bit of inside information, friend of mine operates in operations research circles, and Chinese plants in terms of lean production do much poorer than comparable plants in the US and elsewhere)

The reality is I doubt you will see the trains made in the US in any kind of large scale, as much as we may want it. Even assuming it could be done at a premium acceptable to buyers (let's say 10%), I doubt it is going  to happen. 

Quality is a totally different issue, though people usually associate quality with more expensive goods, and that isn't necessarily true.  Quality is about 90% management influenced and it represents something where quality matters, it has little to do with where it is produced. In automobiles quality does matter, it is why the US industry went into a tailspin in the 1970s. Before that time, the US industry didn't necessarily produce great cars in terms of quality , it was more in the 1970's people had choices and comparisons. A US car of the 1970's would in places like the northeast rust out after a couple of years, the engine would be failing at 30k, 40k miles, you name it. Before that time people didn't really notice because a lot of people thanks to payment plans, would buy a new car every couple of years. People noticed, and the US companies were forced to make quality a priority because they were losing market share over it.

The truth is that in the current model given that you have pretty much a monopolistic/oligopolistic market where buyers don't have a choice, and the companies know that the cost of quality (really cost of poor quality) won't cost them much, so driving down the defect rate isn't worth it, pure and simple. Under the current system even if let's say the cost of labor was the same and the companies came back to the US, I don't think the quality would improve much if at all (though travelling 9000 miles on ships can't exactly make the product better). We forget that there was a lot of junk made here, too, poor quality cars, poor quality appliances, MPC Lionel wasn't know for quality , we only assume it was. The funny part was by the late 60's, the reputation for US made goods wasn't good. Back then Sony opened a plant to build TV sets just outside San Diego, and he routinely got questions about didn't he worry that thanks (no kidding) to 'poor quality US workers', that the TV sets wouldn't be as good as those made in Japan by 'quality workers'. He had a  great answer, he said he fully expected the tv sets to be as good or better than the  ones made in Japan, and that if the set had the company's name on it, that would guarantee that. He went on to say that the quality came from the committment to the product on the part of the management, and that the workers would reflect that.

The reason so much junk comes out of China is simple enough, with so much manufacturing being done there there isn't any competition based on quality. The quality of screws coming out of China is aweful, for example, but walk into the local hardware store/big box store and that is what you see, the same crappy stuff (Home Depot actually has some decent screws, if you know where to look for it, the Spax screws they carry are made either in Germany, in the US or Taiwan and they are well made ime). The move to China was predicated on low cost, and it was not predicated on quality at all, no reason to. If it breaks after the warranty is over, get a new one, if it breaks under warranty, we will fix it; if it works marginally well, well, tough, you got it so cheap. 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of interesting stuff I just read. Personally I need to do more research about economics and having stuff made overseas, but so far a lot of the stuff I read seems to make sense to me. I truthfully don't know too much about all this type of stuff regarding business practices and manufacturing, but I felt like I wanted to at least share my current thoughts on the subject in general. I will always treasure my US-made trains no matter what, but that doesn't mean they automatically outclass anything foreign-made just because it was made in America.

BTW, @GG1 4877 - I was just curious about what you meant about the production numbers of O scale locomotives. For example, if we are talking about the upcoming MTH GG1's with the Tuscan 5-stripe scheme, how much of those do you think would be produced?

Here's that golden opportunity for a startup American train manufacturer ... now that MTH is exiting, there's an opening for a Huge moneymaking venture.

 

Turn sarcasm meter on before reading post...

 

Jeff C

Jeff-I get the sarcasm knowing the potential tooling, equipment, and labor cost for such a venture. This reminds me of the recent post about restoring steam passenger service. I'd love US made model trains (remember US made Athearn HO trains?) and steam powered passenger trains, but reality gets in the way.

Still, the changes at MTH do provide a void in the market. My suspicion is Atlas, Bachmann, Lionel, and Menards will quickly fill that void. Perhaps this will lead the way to Menards locomotives?

Who made the car in your garage? What is its home nationality?  I was a big Buy American fan of one brand, and another American brand styled a car l couldn't resist, and finally no American brand offered what l wanted, but an import did.  And then none did, and l bought used. With trains it may be affordable to restore older trains, but current automobiles?  Soon the last used one of a configuration l want will be gone.  In trains, no one has made several l want, so l've bought few.  Wherever they make what l want, if that is the only choice...need and desire?  Grit tour teeth .

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