Model Railroading: Slow year in 2011?

CSXDixieLine Dec 26, 2011

  1. OC Engineer JD

    OC Engineer JD Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I will say that I am amazed every year at the photos and modeling I see here on Trainboard. We have some very talented people here and I enjoy my time here very much! :)
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter


    That's one of the reasons I hang out here. I have been amazed at what I have learned from everyone, and what I have been able to contribute in return. I've made some good friends, a few in person, the rest of you virtually. My recent success with the crossing gates would not have been possible without Jamie's post on using the Circuitron RSA, for example.
  3. LOU D

    LOU D TrainBoard Member

    Anyone who thinks the economy is fine is living in their own little fantasy.Five years ago,I was building custom bikes for someone else,seven or eight hours a day,five days a week,making 800+ clear money.There were 25 independent bike shops within ten miles of me five years ago.I quit working for him,opened my own shop,did great for two years until the economy crashed.Today,I'm the last non dealer left,even the shop I worked for,there since 1970,is gone.I'm the only one left,and I'm barely hanging on,pretty much working to not lose my shop.I can't even get out of it because as little work as I get still generates a lot more money than I could possibly make at a regular job,and good luck even getting one at my age..I just owe too much on tools,machines,ETC,too leave.
  4. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    With the heart attack and congestive heart failure I suffered in the defibriltor implant in did slow me down a bit. Now I find THE Train Trailer roof is about to collapse from the weight of all the snow on it. I even bolted 1 1/2 angle iron to the roof trusses this fall in hopes it would help.

    The dang angle iron is bending on the vertical portion...which I would have never thought impossible. Soooooooo...THE Train trailer is pretty much toast :tb-wacky::tb-sad:

    I will have to abandon it and will see what can be done in the spring. *sigh*. Until then I will be back to a 36 x 80 HCD setup. At least I will be able to run trains again...witch is a great stress reliever....wooooohooooooooo !!!
  5. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    I've been doing more modelling since getting into T-TRAK because you can do it in bite size chunks if your monetary or time budget is a bit tight.

    I think it depends on which part of the world you're in, or model, too, I saw plenty of model railroad stores in Japan that seemed to be enjoying pretty good business during my recent vacation there and my favorite Japanese online dealer updates their 'reservations' and 'new items' pages practically daily. There has been so much new Japanese N scale coming out that I've been doing more Japanese modelling than US lately.
  6. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    I think the word "economy " is a excuse for many and a widely misused word..I live in a era with 15% unemployment but,that means 85% still works..I know a shop going 24/7-their slow down is June and July when its back to 16/5 plus their annual 2 week maintenance shut down.We have had 2 of the major employers to close their doors.One moved South to IIRC North Carolina.

    So,the word "poor economy" depends on who you ask and I suspect the 85% that is still working its business as usual.The small business owners that has a single product or service may be doing well or going bust-it all depends on the service or product along with his competitor's prices.
  7. dieselfan1

    dieselfan1 Guest

    I could really care less if you don't believe a self-employed carpenter can easily make 100,000 a year . Maybe you guys are jealous , I don't know or really care. You don't even know know me so to call me a liar is very ignorant. Oh well I'm going to hop in my new 2011 Silverado and go to work.
  8. N-builder

    N-builder TrainBoard Member

    Its true we don't' "know know" you, and I'm sure most of us on here have more then you that's why we don't brag about it. And NO ONE called you a liar read the post again it just said you are LYING to yourself. BTW that's all you could afford with your huge salary, and its not even a 2012.
  9. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    I suspect his income depends on how many large contracts he gets and $100,000 seems about right for a busy contractor-even 5 $20,000 contracts in a year adds up to his $100,000..A industrial electrical contractor I know has hired extra help since he's been busy-He went from two crews up to three crews.

    I suspect there are those that live above their wherewithal that is stumbling along in this economy but,whose fault is that?

    I know several folks that lost their jobs collected unemployment for 6 months and then found a job.
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    OK. That's enough. Last post on this useless tangent. Bring it back to the original topic, or don't bring it at all.

    Boxcab E50
    TrainBoard Administrator
  11. MVW

    MVW E-Mail Bounces

    Getting back to the original observation ... I think.

    The web metrics from the OP and others point out a slowdown in the hobby. There may be several contributing factors -- including Brakie's oft-cited lack of new product on the market. But the single most important factor is the overall economy, and you'd have to be woefully uninformed to think otherwise.

    This hooey about how people just have to hustle more and work harder is despicable. Consider this: there are 4 unemployed American workers for every job opening. If you could snap your fingers and immediately fill every vacancy, unemployment would still be well over 6%. (Up until a few years ago, that would be cause for emergency measures.) In summer 2009, there were 6.9 unemployed workers for every job, so things have improved a bit. But it's a far cry from December 2000, when the ratio was 1.1 to 1.

    (And this doesn't even include people who are working reduced hours or who have had to take a cut in pay.)

    When people feel economically secure, they are a lot more likely to spend money on the finer things in life, like model railroading. But when such a large segment of society is hurting, that also effects even those who have jobs (or businesses). If people don't have money, or are afraid of being laid off, they're less likely to buy anything that's not a necessity, extending a depressive cycle throughout the economy.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't look like things are going to improve greatly anytime soon. Economically, there's plenty to worry about at home, in Europe and even in China.

    In short, it would be astounding if the hobby hadn't suffered a slowdown.

    Now, that doesn't mean "the end is near!" For the long run of the hobby, I'd be more concerned about demographics than the recent recession. There's a generation of young adults with little exposure to railroads or model railroading, and unemployment is even more severe in that age group. If you're in your 20s or early 30s and among the long-term unemployed, your lifetime earnings will likely be blighted. How much money will that group be pumping into the hobby 30 years from now, when they're in their 50s and 60s?

    For a lot of reasons, I think this will be considered the golden age of model railroading. No, the hobby itself isn't as prevalent as it was in the '50s and '60s. But there's a heck of a lot of quality products out there, with a lot of 'em reasonably priced. Now, if we can just get back to a point where more people can afford 'em ... :)

  12. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    Jim,I agree to a fine point with your assessment but,I still don't think the economy is the main problem after all we see new HO products month after month after month.I fully believe the N Scale market may have stagnated over the past 2 years..

    IMHO it may be a tad deeper if one compares prices he will see a scary picture forming an as I mention some N Scale cars and locomotives costs the same or more then their HO counter parts!!

    Jim,I dunno but,something doesn't fit the overall N Scale picture and it appears deeper then the economy excuse.

    Is it because the 23% that models in N scale maybe only half buys new products?

    Is the N market stagnated enough to ward off the bigger manufactures like Atlas,Walthers and Athearn?

    But then...

    Bachmann seems to be like a fire out of control and releasing new models on a routine bases.

    I don't know..Some times I feel like banging my head against the wall.
  13. MVW

    MVW E-Mail Bounces

    Larry, I can see how some N scalers can feel like a red-headed stepchild compared to their HO brethern. And if I was a long-time N scaler like you, I would probably identify more with what you're saying.

    I made the switch from HO to N about two years ago, ONLY because I can do a lot more in a limited space with N scale. Don't get me wrong, I love N. But if I still had 2,000 square feet to play with, I'd still be in HO.

    As a relative newcomer, there's still a ton of stuff that's been on the market for years that I need and want, so I'm not too tied up over waiting for "the next big (or little :)) thing." On the other hand, there have been recent releases I'm very interested in: Bachmann's 2-10-2 and Kato's City of Los Angeles, to name two.

    More importantly, I think N will remain strong for the forseeable future (decades) because of the economics and demographics I mentioned earlier. Oversized houses and McMansions are things of the past. For people who have little space and big dreams, N is the only answer -- with the exception of Z, of course. But as a less-established scale, I'd be more concerned about the long-term viability of Z than N.

  14. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

    There is no 'problem' with N scale as a model railroading scale of the present or the future. The current situation should be temporary... though I cannot guess how long we will be in these 'low new release' doldrums. The current situation benefits HO because any investment in tooling is going to go FIRST to the scale with the most potential customers. N scale had been the 'red-headed stepchild' for decades... until the past ten years. Perhaps the economic environment from the late 1990's til 2009 helped to give the impression that N scale had separated itself as the 'other' scale in the minds of manufacturers. But those good ol' days... may be over for the foreseable future. We will get new releases when the manufacturers choose to 'take a chance' on us again [see next paragraph]. I expect Kato to continue releasing passenger consists and matching locomotives... as I would expect Bachmann to proceed with new diesels and steamers. Other companies... which do not control their production... will have to wait their turns and probably continue re-releasing previous tooling with new roadnames and/or numbers.

    Why did I write... 'take a chance'... you ask?
    Risk that they spend their limited funds on a product that will not 'fly off' the shelves due to factors outside of their control. There are fewer N scalers than HO scalers and that is further segmented into ERA, Roadnames & probably most important... Affordability.

    We tend to focus too much on the UNEMPLOYMENT number... but that is only half of the problem. There are many [me included] which are still employed and are earning less now that we were 3 years ago. Many no longer reserve items because they just don't know where they stand financially. Wage reductions continue to be 'floated' out there... with employers having the upper hand in negotiations... EVEN WITH LABOR UNIONS. Those unfortunate to be unemployed... are having to take what-ever work... just to pay basic living expenses... and that with many staple items continuing to increase in price. Model trains have NOT been going down in price either... there is a big disconnect with affordability now... and it has been getting worse.
  15. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    Grandpa "Joe,I still fully believe there is a underlining problem why Atlas,Athearn and Walthers has whoa up on new N Scale-I don't think its the economy at all not now not tomorrow or next year.I still have the ear tickling replies from the major players from 2009,2010 and 2011.

    Maybe the N Scale sales isn't there due to lack of interest or poor choice of model-Atlas has announced rerun names in their GP7/9 line and I find that odd especially if the "economy" is to blame for the lack of new tooled locomotives or cars-we are still awaiting the new coil car from Atlas-first quarter of 2012 so they told me in a e-mail.

    N Scale maybe the redheaded step child and we could partly be to blame since N Scalers seems to contended with occasional toss bone-with or without a new jewel case.

    I just don't believe all is rosy in N Scale land and the "poor economy" isn't the main reason nor is the ready made excuses as many claim-as Bachmann seems to be cranking out new N Scale at a decent pace and FVM has a GP60M on the way.
    Why did I write... 'take a chance'... you ask?
    Risk that they spend their limited funds on a product that will not 'fly off' the shelves due to factors outside of their control. There are fewer N scalers than HO scalers and that is further segmented into ERA, Roadnames & probably most important... Affordability.
    Actually every newly tooled car or locomotive is a high risk regardless of scale so,what you say has some merit but,its not the deciding factor if it was we wouldn't see that many new models in any scale.

    As you may know Atlas bought Branch line's freight car line and they may be using a lot of their operating funds to get that line up to speed and to market in order to start getting a ROI..I can understand and appreciate that but, IMHO neglecting N Scale in the process isn't to wise.

    I wonder if/when the dies wear out for Atlas's GP7/9/RS3 if they will drop them like they did the HO GP7 since Bachmann makes a GP7/9/RS3 now in N?
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter


    I do wonder the same. They've about re-run some stuff to excess. None of what they are offering recently is useful to my modeling efforts. Meanwhile, a favorite rant- Where is an N scale later phase GP9?
  17. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    I'm sitting here at 1:45AM (Boston time), sipping cheap wine having just, (12:30), gotten home from work as a cashier. I have a job because I'm willing to work that shift. I even went in on Christmas day for a few hours. Still, I'm just a blind college dropout. What do I know about micro and macro economics? How could I possibly assemble a matrix with all of the data contributing to the apparent decline in new products in N Scale vs that which has been produced for HO scale? Shucks, how could I even remove my own personal bias? I mean, seriously, oh, maybe not so much.
    A few of the factors that go into the derision, Edit, Decision, to well, do something:
    • World economy
    • European economy
    • Japan's economy
    • US economy
    • Canada's economy
    • Unemployment rates overall and in said areas
    • Unemployment rates among those who buy our stuff, (whoever that is).
    • Disposable income world wide and in our market areas
    • What has sold in the past
    • What is selling now
    • Cost of development
    • Return on investment
    • The weather
    • Cost of raw material
    • Cost of labor
    • Cost of marketing
    • Who says what on the forums - well, ok, not so much
    • Cost of fuel / shipping
    • Cost of cheap wine aka "opportunity cost" - what we could be doing with our investment capital instead of placating a questionable market
    • The turmoil in China
    • The anti "NAFDA" movement
    • What if they require new child labor laws in producing countries?
    • Who wants this stuff in the first place?
    Ok, yes, I admit I padded the above list. The truth is I personally doubt, (not to cast aspersions upon anyone), that anyone from a Trainboard member to a CEO at Atlas, Kato, or < insert your preferred company > can state unequivocally what the future of any scale is. They just plain can't.
    So, yes, I asked a lot of questions, included a few back handed digs, and in general intended to point out the futility of speculating on the future of any scale.

    You can criticize me for all you like. Go for it. Knock yourself out.
    There is no need for derogatory or inflammatory words / phrases. The use of such automatically invalidates your contribution.
    Feel free to point out errors, weaknesses, omissions, and anything you like but do so as if you were talking to a friend over a glass of wine / cup of coffee.
  18. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    As a primarily HOern one thing I've noticed is a huge move to On30 as Bachmann created the scene. My former and current club have modified their standards to allow On30 on the layout. It must mean something that an effectivly new scale has basically come into it's own in this economy. A scale that ostensibly takes even more space.
  19. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Ken hit the nail on the head. My hobby budget is pretty small, and other than a constant flow of great auto parts boxcar announcements, I really don't need much. I have channeled my energies into getting my HCD layout closer to completion. In my life, I have never gotten a layout to a state of scenery completion as far as this HCD has. This is even despite my crazy busy life, frequent international business trips, vacations, etc. I have a stockpile of scenery materials to keep me well supplied for a while, but I keep running low on trees!
  20. CMStP&P

    CMStP&P TrainBoard Supporter

    I think I should add my perspective here. As far as I can see over here in Europe - economy might contribute to the situation but it is also an ever faster changing world around us.
    Yahoogroups are a thing of the past, they still live but are outdated by social media fast. (I'm still a member)
    That is also true for forums like Trainboard, although I personally like forums much more as it is under my control what I want to share and what I do not want to share.
    And then there is the information overkill on the web - true I'll find everything I want, but where is the time (and the brain) to make something out of it?

    Or take the MR magazines - they try to link up with content on the internet and I just bought my first 2 magazines on my IPad (MRC and R&R) because postage costs are hilarious and the local distributor here charges 300% over the $-price. Now, I have them with me every time and have the same cost as in the US.

    We now have access to information that was difficult to come by or impossible to get at all 10 years ago, not to even think back to 20 years ago, when I started to build my (no defunct) layout. Take, for example the Peco turnouts: I had nothing more than a few articles in MR magazines and the description coming with them to get them wired right (or so I thought). Now you'll have more opinions on wiring them than you will ever have turnouts (I exaggerate slightly here).

    Or take DCC - many hobby €$ will go to DCC manufacturers now and you'll get gadgets you never knew you needed: Talking defect detectors, reliable block occupancy detectors, even decoder that sound like the real thing. Everybody could easily name a few more....

    Having said that, I'll revert back to Model Railroading:
    Here we had 3 innovative companies who earned my money: ExactRail, FoxValley and BLMA. ExactRail makes cars in a quality that has no match. The price tag is accordingly. FoxValley brings me Milwaukee Road in N Scale to en extend I've never experienced before - not to mention the axles, when&if they are available. And BLMA makes superb products and a huge part of my budget for 2011 has flown into their new trucks.

    That leaves the rest, the established companies, without much budget to spend:
    Kato does the modern era and the great passenger trains. This is fine and I am really tempted to get a Daylight, but they're out of scope for me. Now it the re-run a Milwaukee SD40-2 that would be another story. I don't know if someone at Kato watches the prices on eBay - I guess not - but I would do that if I were responsible for marketing. Just watch how much a Milwaukee SD40-2 fetches! That's money not given to Kato but to someone else.
    And Atlas got my budget for tracks and turnouts for my new layout, but nothing in the car and loco department. Now, if they did a GP-9 phase III, that would be another story.
    InterMountain just spews out more grain cars, which is great but I can only take a few more and I don't need 40' boxcars.

    So money is dispersed and gets diverted, but especially in N Scale we are living in the best times we ever had.
    Just my 2 cent


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