Kit instructions or lack thereof

Randy Hammill

Wow, what a long thread...

I'm new here, although you may have seen me on other sites. This seems
to be as good a place to start. I will continue to read through the
older posts, so forgive me if I repeat something that's already been

I agree about the quality of the instructions being lacking in some
models, and not just resin ones. Right now I'm focusing my efforts on
models from three companies: Speedwitch, Westerfield, and Sunshine.

The reason is simple. I've spent the last two years or so studying the
New Haven Railroad, because that's what I'm modeling. But eventually,
the bulk of the roster will consist of freight cars from other roads.
In most cases I have no idea which models are accurate, or what changes
need to be made. If there's a review on a model with this information
somewhere, then I can add it to the list. Or if it appears in an
article like Ted's Essential Freight Car series I have the info I need
and don't have problem picking up a model from another company.

I came to this decision through experience. The first resin kit I
picked up was an F&C kit. It's a nice kit. But the instructions are
lacking. In addition, there wasn't any information available (on the
site or the packaging) to tell me what era it would have run.

So I built it to the best of my ability at the time. Several months
later I learn that they were all scrapped before my era. In addition, I
had not learned as much about the basic construction of freight cars.
So the brake gear isn't quite right on the underbody, and I have a
brake step with a ratchet and pawl, along with an Ajax power brake
wheel, etc.

In this particular kit there were 4 different ends. There was no
indication as to which ends to use, and I never did find out which was

In the end, it's not really a big deal to me, I look at it as a
learning experience and as practice for other models. But some basic
information about the parts that come with the kit, and which ones are
appropriate (especially if there are multiple options) would make a big

But this is not an issue for the resin kits alone. Most of the
manufacturers give little information about the cars they release. As
an example of what I'd like to see, Branchline lists the build date and
if appropriate, additional dating information right on the box. So the
last time I was at a hobby store and decided to pick up another kit,
the only ones I ended up considering were the Branchline ones. Because
I had no idea if the other kits were appropriate.

On the other hand, it bugs me that I have to go ask the same questions
(or do the same research) that I know somebody else has already done. I
went through every single post on the NHRHTA forum to gather what
information I could when I started researching the New Haven Railroad.
People keep asking the same questions, and it's simply because finding
the answers can be so difficult when a large percentage of the
information is out-of-print or scattered among collections across the

So I've been putting together a website for my railroad, and one of the
key purposes is to share whatever information I find so it's readily
available for others.

Anyway, I'll keep going through the posts here to dig up what I can,
but I'm sure I WILL have a few questions now or then...

Randy Hammill

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