Tooling (was Re: AAR Standard twin offset side hopper with oval ends?)

Aley, Jeff A

I have a few questions about making new models.

Let us assume that the model will be sold RTR (no kits).
Let us also assume that the model will be a hopper car (as discussed) with "moderate" sales (I don't know how many "moderate" is, but let's say 20,000 units).

Which would be cheaper:
1: A full multi-slide injection molded plastic model, assembled with wire grabs, etc.

2: An injection-molded "flat-kit" model, assembled, and with wire grabs, etc. (Lower tooling cost, higher assembly cost).

3: A resin model, assembled, and with wire grabs, etc. (Extremely low tooling cost, higher molding cost (?), much (?) higher assembly cost).

We frequently say, "it can't be done except in resin", and I always think, "so do it in resin and have it assembled. Who cares what the car is made out of if it's RTR?"

Of course the costs are different depending on how much work is done in the U.S.A., and how much is done overseas.



From: STMFC@... [mailto:STMFC@...] On Behalf Of Dave Evans
Sent: Sunday, January 23, 2011 5:24 PM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: [STMFC] Re: AAR Standard twin offset side hopper with oval ends?

- In STMFC@...<>, Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...> wrote:


Why do people think that a model at an AAR alt std hopper correct for
C&O, ERIE, NP, and others would sell only 5,000 cars???

Let me tell you something -- 15 yrs or so ago a small manufacturer made
a model of a 1980-built PC&F insulated box car -- the 62' "Coors beer" car.
This car sold 250,000 copies! Mostly as kits! It's still available today,
as the tooling was sold to another owner.

Think about that -- perhaps 15%-20% of model railroaders model post-1980
HO scale. Roughly double that percentage model the "transition era" in HO.
Why on earth would a freight car that existed in large numbers, that ran
all over the east and midwest from the 1930's to the 1960's, that appeals
to a large segment of model railroaders, sell only 5,000 models??

Tim O'Connor


Intermountain presented some numbers for the number of cars built per tooling set - I do not think I saw any over 200k, but I could be wrong. And the biggest seller was a post-transition car (long after this list). One body run was only 13k - in today's market I suspect that would be a loser financially.

It would not surprise me if the beer cars sold in large numbers because of the paint schemes, not because they were a dominant prototype.

Such is the curse of the prototype modeler who is trying to build a "balanced" fleet. (even worse for us WWII modelers).

I have no way to know what the sales volume would be for an accurate AAR standard twin offset hopper. I do not know how much market demand is left for another twin hopper, with probably 98% of model railroaders being unable to tell difference between this car and the current offset twin RTR offerings from Atlas and Kadee and the new Accurail kit offering. I suspect that over 90% of the HO model railroaders would think that the current offset twin offerings are adequate, they have bought all they need, and would likely not pay more than what Atlas, Kadee, or Accurail currently charge.

I wish this wasn't true, but I expect that is exactly what the established manufacturers believe.

My apologies for the 5k number - that referred to my quest, the PRR Glca - I just do not think the market is that big for them. Most modelers would not know the difference between the PRR Glca and Gla, and would not care even though the cars are obviously different. Being a car quickly scrapped after WWII makes the Glca market even smaller (although it is available in Resin).

From what I heard in Cocoa Beach, tooling costs for a 50k run of RTR hoppers would be in the $2 per car range - if you think such a market exists, then it looks like new business models are evolving for car manufacture that might be able to deliver such cars in two years if 100 modelers were willing to plunk down $1,000 each as a down payment before tooling is even cut, and which could probably be used to pay for 25 to 30 cars once sales are confirmed. If sales reach 100k cars, then each investor may get a $1000 return on their original investment - the cars he rec'd just became free. Willing to gamble?

Back to my original question - Not having built one yet, I was curious if the time and skill level required to build the RailShops H30 was significantly less than a resin hopper, and if it is, could their combination of flat styrene parts and brass etched end structures be a viable method to create a wide range of currently unavailable hoppers, and would they be easy enough to build at home in assembly line mode such that building small fleets may be viable?

If modelers think this is viable, then from what I heard the tooling costs would be significantly less than a RTR model (as much as a factor of 10 lower), resulting in either lowering the unit costs, or supporting much smaller production runs (would likely only sell in kit form).

I'm just trying to see if there is a new process and business model that could break through the sticker shock price of tooling for a new RTR car when no one can be certain just how many will sell.

If this would work, it might support a LOT of new cars to be sold in kit form even if the runs were not of the magnitude of most RTR sales.

Still looking for input, Thanks,
Dave Evans

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