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Thread: How the hobby has changed!

  1. Unhappy How the hobby has changed!

    I was rummaging through old copies of Model Railroading that I hadn't thrown out, and found one from October 1974! One article was on how to build a complicated steam loco boiler using styrene sheet. It involved cutting and wrapping various pieces to get the shape. The finished product was quite nice, though nothing was mentioned about adding weight inside the boiler shell, nor anything other than a photo of the mechanism used. Of course, even back then, you could buy rtr steam locos from Mantua or Bowser, and for the wealthy, brass locos from Japan and Korea. I bought Mantua rtr's and kits and kitbashed a number of them, re-motoring and adding a lot of details. I made 2-10-2's and 2-10-4's out of Mantua Mikados, a 4-8-2 from a Mikado and a Pacific front end, and even a 4-8-4 from a pair of Pacifics, all approximating Burlington steamers. (For those who criticized the Manuta Mike boilers for being straight-topped, take a look at C.B.&Q. O-2 and O-3's and others, plus MoPac hogs!)

    Today, if you can find them on ebay, Mantua locos are hard to come by. Most of the rtr steamers are Bachmann or a very few other manufacturers, and the costs are pretty hefty when you include DCC and sound.
    The engines are pretty detailed, of course, which means you don't have to invest in a lot of brass details, but I see virtually no "Q" or C&S models, and if you want GN Belpaire fireboxes, you have to find a Pennsy and modify the tender.

    But, then, everybody has no time or patience to kitbash much anymore.

  2. #2

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    This is so true. Years ago model railroader had to be inventors along with having many other talents. I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to have operated on John Allens G&D a few times in the late 60's when I was stationed at Mare Island on instructor duty. I had seen so many articles on his layout and then to see it in person I was blown away.

    Back then there was no internet, no on line retailers, no where as many items available beck then like we have now. If you wanted something that wasn't available, you made it yourself, be it a structure, locomotive or whatever.

    I had a good friend who had a fantastic layout, which he started in the late 40's Most of the structures on the layout were scratch built. Many of the locomotives and much of the rolling stock was heavily modified to his taste as there were few kits years ago that would work for him. When he expanded his layout by building an addition to the original building, he stopped by one afternoon and gave me a scratch built turntable that came out of a town that had to be torn out to make room for the expansion. It was (still is) powered by a motor from an old player piano.

    People back then really had to be creative with the lack of things that we take for granted today in the hobby.

    I still operate DC only on my home layout because DCC wouldn't be of much use for me as my layout is built for switching and I rarely run more than one locomotive at a time. Saves me a lot of bucks by not having to get a DCC system and put decoders intpo over 30 locomotives. I also can do just fine without sound. I do have a few DCC locomotives with sound and after they're running for a while, thay can drive me crazy.

    By the way, I really enjoy kit bashing and scratch building.
    Last edited by montanan; 11-15-2017 at 02:06 PM.
    ................................ Chet


    Video - Switching in Churchill - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR-tYl9fd9s
    VIDEO Tour of the layout - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiNqrkq9xYY
    New cab ride - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiL7SgH6Wbw

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by trailrider View Post
    But, then, everybody has no time or patience to kitbash much anymore.
    Well, one can state that as a bad thing where people just don't take the time to do those sorts of things, but in my case... Through the last 50 years I've accumulated hundreds - maybe even thousands of kits, parts for scratch building, and kit bashing. My list of to do craftsman kits and kit bashing projects is easily in the 100s of things. I would still love to do most of them.

    Side Story --- Found a box of an Athearn F7 that in 1984 I was going to make into a special shopped Santa Fe F3. Spent maybe 40 hours on it, filling in the gaping front windows, re cutting the side grills, filing off the roof beveled roof vents for Diesel Associates straight sides roof vents, etc. before it got put a side. Few years later the Highliner shells come out and all that work could be replace with a (at the time) $40 shell. So I spent 40 hours x salary of the time $22 hour = $880 working on that shell for a much lesser quality than the Highliner. Sigh. Wish I had that time back.

    Now, back to the main story, I have all these projects lined up and realize even if I retired today and did nothing else but work on them, AND could do one a week, it would take longer than I have to live to get them done. If I ever want anything close to a semi-complete working layout such that I can at least run a train before I die, I really and literally don't have "time" for the kit bashing I had planned.
    Last edited by Iron Horseman; 11-15-2017 at 09:13 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Central Minnesota, Park Rapids area.
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    I love building kits, scratch building and kit bashing and find time to do it, as that is what I like to do in model railroading. My layout maybe has 60% of the scenery good enough and I could and do add scenery when the mood strikes. I also do some operation and running of trains. I'm having fun; but, do regret the loss of Branchline Blue Print and those types of kits and refuse to pay more than around $18.00 for any freight car kit (except wood caboose kits)! You guys who whine about not having the time, can have all the RTR stuff and pay $30-$50.00 a piece for them!
    Mark D.

    Opinions given are my own and not meant to ruffle any feathers.
    Northern Pacific, really terrific!

  5. #5

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    The hobby sure has changed in the years that I've been modeling since my Lionel days as a kid in the mid-1950's.

    Leaving the three rail Lionel set behind I entered the world of HO and Model Railroader magazines. John Allen and the others...WOW.

    Just a few memories from the early days:

    Fiber tie flex-track, locomotive rubber band drives, 4X8 plywood layout tops painted green, Blue Box kits under $2.00, my first locomotive a 0-6-0, manufacture unknown, Revell kits, Life Like kits, plastic trees and crude power packs.

    We have it made with today's products and selection.

    Greg
    THE MILWAUKEE NORTHERN

    Transporters of Wood, Coal, Ore and Anything Else

    Est. 1983

    HO Scale

    __________________________________________________ ___________

    Where the SOO, Milwaukee Road, C&NW and Wisconsin Central Meet


    Charter Member of the Fallen Flags Model Railroad Club

  6. #6

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    I liked Model railroading when I got serious in the late 1980's. For me, I WANTED TO LEARN NEW SKILLS. I learned how to airbrush, decal, make molds and produce castings, and I learned how to build and detail Bowser steam engine kits. I joined the Norfolk and Western Historical Society, and picked an era and location. I bought a bunch of Powerhouse Y3's and added details, Grain of Dust bulbs and MV Lenses and scratch built several N&W prototype structures. In 2005 I had a house with a loft for a 17' x 20' area for a train layout. Between 2004 and 2007 I was sidetracked by gold digging GF, who I later told to leave. My loco's all needed lube and attention, and same for rolling stock. I did the DCC thing and was disappointed. I would have rather built structures and detailed loco's but found I was spending too much time wiring in decoders on Brass steam. I even miss building the Jordan vehicles. Now, Bowswer is gone, Champ Decals is gone, and so are many hobby shops. I'm selling everything off. Science Fiction modelling has become my new hobby with all the photo etched stuff, and aftermarket parts and some really spectacular large kits. When the bench work comes down I can display the Sci-Fi stuff in the loft. Such thing as a 1/350 Star Ship Enterprise, Lost in Space Derelict, and Star Wars AT-AT and TV Seaview. Larger scale kits of the Flying Sub, Jupiter 2, Chariot, Both movie and TV show Seaview's with interiors, and a 1/6th scale Lost in Space Robot. Times have changed.

  7. #7

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    And it will change even more in the next 10 years with barriers to newcomers falling:

    - Affordable custom printed rolling stock

    - Dead rail locomotives with full control steam effects and sound in HO and N. No more track/turnout wiring and cleaning.

    - Intelligent turnout and accessory control with small in unit power supplies.

    And things we cannot yet even contemplate.

    You may not like the way model railroading will evolve but be prepared for change.
    Ken Adams

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Central Minnesota, Park Rapids area.
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    Quote Originally Posted by autocoach View Post
    And it will change even more in the next 10 years with barriers to newcomers falling:
    You may not like the way model railroading will evolve but be prepared for change.
    Dah! So, your opinion is that there are barriers for newcomers? What barriers? I see it as you need absolutely no skills to get involved today, the hobby has been dumbed down to the point of the only thing needed is deep pockets to pay for all the do-dads, as most everything is done for you! It was the development of skills that attracted me to the hobby, not the other way around.

    The future will be what it will be, whether the hobby lasts; or, not is out of my hands and I have no interest in things changing any more than they already have!
    Mark D.

    Opinions given are my own and not meant to ruffle any feathers.
    Northern Pacific, really terrific!

  9. Default

    But, then, everybody has no time or patience to kit bash much anymore.


    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Horseman View Post
    Well, one can state that as a bad thing where people just don't take the time to do those sorts of things, but in my case... Through the last 50 years I've accumulated hundreds - maybe even thousands of kits, parts for scratch building, and kit bashing. My list of to do craftsman kits and kit bashing projects is easily in the 100s of things. I would still love to do most of them.

    ... I have all these projects lined up and realize even if I retired today and did nothing else but work on them, AND could do one a week, it would take longer than I have to live to get them done. If I ever want anything close to a semi-complete working layout such that I can at least run a train before I die, I really and literally don't have "time" for the kit bashing I had planned.
    And there you have it - many are like you above, will never have the time for years until retirement. Yet some characterize the world of RTR as the domain of the lazy, the "instant gratification" and speak disparagingly of these impatient unskilled miscreants. I don't expect to retire for another 8-10 years or longer and yes, would like to work toward a semi-complete working layout.

    You guys who whine about not having the time, can have all the RTR stuff and pay $30-$50.00 a piece for them!
    And we quite happily do. When I'm retired - obviously things will change but I'm making hay while the sun shines. Anyway, this is a great hobby with room for all stripes - it's not a matter of moral good or evil to love kit building or love RTR trains. I read a lot of negative vibes about this kit vs. RTR topic and it's unnecessary. Sure I realize the hobby is made up with grumpy old men, and that's how many are - and it makes me grumpy to have to listen to negative stuff when really we have it better now than we ever have. There is a wider variety of choices now than we ever have had - yet still people aren't happy.

    Yes, the hobby has changed, but in a good way. If you want the old stuff you assemble with a ball peen hammer and duck tape and bailing wire, that can often be found by the boat load at train shows, and Ebay too. No reason for anyone to miss the "good ol days" - the "good ol days" are now if you learn how to take advantage of it all.

    Greg is right, we have it made. As Harry Wong said: the hobby is insanely good these days.
    Last edited by riogrande; 11-16-2017 at 06:37 AM.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by montanan View Post
    ...

    Back then there was no internet, no on line retailers, no where as many items available beck then like we have now. If you wanted something that wasn't available, you made it yourself, be it a structure, locomotive or whatever.

    ...
    Or you ordered it from a paper catalogue, like Hobbies for Men. You mailed off your check and waited 6 - 8 weeks for your stuff to arrive.

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