General News Updates 2009
12/31/09 - As 2009 comes to an end, I will be happy to see it go for many reasons, some of which have been chronicled in my news updates. I am very excited about what lies ahead in the new year; our existing projects, new technology and new projects promise to make 2010 a very interesting modeling year. The month of December has been our busiest web month since Kohs & Company was formed, with almost 30,000 web site visits and nearly 200,000 pages viewed in just one month. I hope to build on that level of interest by continuing to deliver projects and information of interest and by following the lead that has been offered through the many contacts that I have had with interested modelers and collectors. Our current project updates need to be brought up to date and there are new projects to announce so the coming weeks will be busier than ever, but I have to close this year out by thanking all of my active supporters for their loyalty and friendship in the past year. There have been many distractions in 2009, but my loyal supporters have been with me through it all for which I am very grateful! HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!!
12/24/09 - I would like to wish all of our friends and web visitors around the world a very Merry Christmas!! Travel safely and enjoy what is for many, a very special time of year.
12/07/09 - It has taken the better part of a month to shake off the affects of being ill, but the wheels are finally turning again and progress is being made on a number of fronts. Unanswered E-mail messages are a priority and I will be getting to those of you that have left messages, comments and suggestions as quickly as possible. I certainly appreciate those of you that have offered get well wishes and I hope that any of you that have dealt with the H1N1 virus have made it through without the complications that hit me.
Just a brief side-note regarding one of the free services that Kohs & Company offers to our clients. With the recent sales acknowledged by several clients using our web site 'Roundhouse' page, we have officially surpassed $150,000.00 in sales for that service. This is a free service with no commissions or fees charged for listing our clients models for sale. If you are an existing customer and have items to sell, feel free to submit those items by E-mail or postal mail including the basic information shown on the 'Roundhouse' page, also include your preferred means of contact for inquiries.
The updating of individual project sites has also commenced, I hope to have the status of current projects up to date as quickly as possible. Check back often for the latest news!
11/25/09 - If you are one of the many that have been trying to contact me in the last few days, I wanted to advise that the reason you have not had success is that I am currently paying the price for frequently traveling during the flu season. I am currently on the mend from a bout with the H1N1 virus, all should be back to normal (what is normal for me) in the next couple of days. I would like to extend my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday to all stateside visitors to this site.
11/13/09 - There has been so much going on in the last several weeks that it has been very difficult to take the time to write about it here on the web. Among other efforts, I have been reworking the Kohs & Company web site, updating page construction and trying to improve load times to make your visit easier and more enjoyable. The text size has been enlarged and should now be consistent on most pages of the site. If you have visited before, you'll also notice that this news update page has been broken into several pages, this was done simply to improve the load time since the original arrangement had grown so large and included so many images that it loaded very slowly on older and slower computers. All of the original information is still available, you just have to look on the correct page determined by the year of interest. The push now is to add more content, particularly to the technical pages.
In addition to the recent usual travel for shows and production inspection, one of the more interesting trips was to New Hampshire where Solidscape, Inc is located. Solidscape is a company that builds rapid prototyping equipment that is used in a variety of industries for product development. In short, rapid prototyping is a catch-all term that refers to a variety of different technologies all aimed at producing prototypes of products or components there of through the use of computer aided design and equipment that directly translates those designs into three-dimensional 'models'. I have been watching this technology develop since Kohs & Company started developing model trains, waiting for the day when we could employ this technology in our model development process. That day has come as the result of the work of Solidscape, Inc, their equipment produces 'models' of appropriate resolution and composition that makes them usable as master patterns for casting our model detail parts. The time at Solidscape was spent reviewing the process, hardware and software used in their technology and ultimately taking delivery of one of their machines. A more detailed explanation of the technology and the process will be provided for those interested in our technical pages. The bottom line to this effort is to develop master patterns for model parts as accurately, quickly and as economically as possible, this new technology holds great promise in that regard. If you are interested you can visit the Solidscape web site by clicking here.
It has been no secret for quite some time that I am always struggling to keep up with all aspects of the work load associated with our model production and likewise it has been no secret that I have had little success in finding an appropriate person to bring into the business to help. The workload in our custom support area (DCC decoder installations, etc...) has reached critical mass so I have been working with a local individual doing some training that will hopefully lead to having a regular resource for doing this type of work on a timely basis. The reports from customers about being gouged and having their models damaged has made this even more of a priority. I will advise further as we hopefully make progress.
I have received a great deal of feedback about the show in Switzerland and what people have seen in the photos and videos posted on web, the bottom line question has been, why isn't there a show of the same type here in the states? That's a great question and I believe that it is something worth looking at.
There will be new updates posted to several of the project sites in the next couple of days so be sure to check back for the lasted information.
11/04/09 - There are several issues that I have not addressed since my last posting related to the show in Switzerland. As a matter of interest, after discussing the UP Challenger sample that I had on display, the three most often asked questions related to when our 'Big Boy' will be produced, how soon will our cab-forward reservation process start and will I ever consider producing high-grade HO scale models?
Included in my display for the first time at the Swiss show was the roll-up banner shown below. Much to my surprise, a number of customers expressed interest in being able to purchase one of these units for their train rooms. The idea of offering large posters as wall decorations was also suggested. The banner was also used at the recent York TCA meet and again, there were requests to purchase units, so here are the details: the dimensions of the banner are 32-1/2" X 82", the banner retracts into the spring loaded unit at the base for storage and the cost was $300 inclusive, there was also a storage case included. If there are enough serious inquiries I'm sure that we can get the price down a bit. Let me know if you are interested and I will provide a further update. I will also be addressing the issue of offering posters showing enlarged views of some of our models, I will post proposed samples and pricing in the very near future.
I had intended posting a series of photos that I took while at the show in Switzerland, but since my return a number of photographers and videographers have posted links to the show site which offer a far greater coverage of the show than my few photos. If you are interested, visit the following link and enjoy. The photos below are several subjects that really caught my attention.
The photo above shows some backdrop detail included on a beautiful O scale switching layout from Paris. The side street perspective painting is the most effective use of backdrop painting I have ever seen, the area between the two building facades is part of the flat panel to which the facades are attached. The extra detail of the functional neon 'open' sign really enhances the overall affect.
The photo above shows a really interesting HO scale dioramas depicting the Higgins Boat Works, the company that built the famous landing craft style boats used in WWII. The gantry style crane is operational and can be used to load boats on the awaiting flat cars.
Shown above and below is an elaborate depiction of a Sierra snow shed used by the Southern Pacific. This diorama is actually standing on the floor and extends to more than six feet in height. The fact that the display included three cab-forward models definitely caught my attention.
The photo below shows a beautiful scratch-built model of the Union Pacific coaling facility in Cheyenne, Wyoming. One of my customers is the builder of this model, Mr. Manfred Lengacher, he lives in Switzerland and this show provided my first opportunity to meet Mr. Lengacher in person. The extent of the detailing and wonderful weathering made this a very special site to be seen.
Another scratch-built structure on Mr. Lengacher's display was this beautiful elevated tank with wooden supports. Also note the texture and weathering on the backdrop.
10/14/09 - Having just returned from the American Railroad Fans in Switzerland show, I want to thank Werner Meer and the entire organization that makes that show possible for their great hospitality and assistance during my visit. I was greatly honored to speak at and to receive special recognition during the awards dinner on Saturday evening with more than 300 guests in attendance.
I was overwhelmed by the number of customers that made the effort to come and visit with me at the show, this was a rare opportunity to see many of the customers that seldom or ever visit the states. Customers came from: France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria, The U.K., and of course, Switzerland. This was a great opportunity to share ideas and get feedback about project scheduling and general future planning. I will go into detail on some the ideas and suggestions that arose from these discussions in a future post.
The show was a very unique experience when compared to the typical show held in the United States, there were no tables full of models being offered for sale, they were all consigned to one area of the show and sold with great care and efficiency. The four buildings used for the show were filled with layouts, dioramas, custom models and workshops demonstrating modeling techniques. Many of the participants are highlighted in the show program for which I posted a download link on 8/29/09. The lack of social interaction about which I have lamented in the past regarding shows stateside was certainly not an issue at this show, that is basically all the show was, an opportunity for approximately 3,000 people to share ideas during the two days of the show. It would be great fun to organize a tour of modelers from the states to visit the next show in three years. This leads me to another interesting aspect of the show, that it is only held every three years. I was curious why such an extended schedule, but it was explained that it takes the participants approximately that long to develop new models, displays or workshops for presentation at the show. As a result, the show is always fresh and exciting to attend. There was another show in the Zurich area on this same weekend, a show strictly for brass and it also was a unique experience compared our typical shows. More on that in coming posts.
The trip was short and there was a lot to digest in just two days, much of what I experienced I am still processing. Let me know if the idea of organizing a tour for the next show is of interest to you.
9/28/09 - After a great deal of discussion in recent weeks regarding wheel gauging and profiles, it has been decided to push forward with the next evolution of Kohs & Company wheelsets. The input from P48 modelers has been very beneficial in formulating our further development. A new testing program is being started and I will be looking to run some new sample models on customer layouts to gain first-hand experience with our proposed new wheel profiles.
Over the last several years we have had a number of P48 modelers contact us about offering P48 versions of our models and I have written to some extent what the related issues are and have been. At the same time, once a number of these modelers have done a comparison of our wheelsets and profiles to what the P48 alternative would be, the determination was made that for the little difference, it really wasn't worth the trouble and financial hit to go the P48 route. The new effort will be to get what we are doing even closer to the P48 standards in terms of profiles, obviously there is little that can be done in terms of gauging. We are not likely to convert avid P48 modelers and that is not the intent of this effort, I recognize and admire the dedication those modelers have to what they are doing and I will try to support that dedication with some of our future efforts, primarily with P48 standard trucks and wheelsets.
As I have explained on numerous occasions, I certainly wish that the O scale segment of the hobby had gone the true-scale route, but that will not change any time soon due to the massive existent participation in O scale as we have come to know it. The big push now in the hobby to adopt standards essentially the same as what I have employed for going on twenty years is certainly interesting and long overdue. Our next evolution will be even better!
9/14/09 - I have big news to start this update; Kohs & Company has it's first super-dealer! Jim Hawk of Maryland is the first individual that has met the stringent criteria for becoming a Kohs & Company authorized dealer. Far from simply requiring a storefront to qualify for dealer status and all that comes with it, Kohs & Company has required a lighted exterior sign. Shown below is a photo that Mr. Hawk submitted with his application that shows his sign, he indicates that his neighbors really do not mind that he has the sign in his front yard. Some might say that the gauging of his lettering is off, but gee, it looks great to me. Congratulations Jim on a job well done!
Several weeks back I floated the idea of initiating a Kohs & Company forum where our enthusiasts could exchange thoughts and ideas. The response to the idea has been very positive, but many have recognized the potential hazard. Almost to a person, most everyone that has commented has suggested, recommended or implored that only real names be allowed for signing into the forum site. I am reviewing the best of the software available for the purpose and also consulting with our hosting provider to examine the technical side of the issue. I do anticipate moving forward with a forum once all of the details are worked out and I can be assured that the maintenance will not become an overwhelming distraction.
Also several weeks ago, I posted a list of potential new locomotive projects that generated a flood of feedback. In the last sixty days, we have averaged almost twenty-five thousand visitors a month to our web site which is our best average to date. At this point I can tell you several of the prototypes that are definite contenders as new projects for Kohs & Company, they are the: C&O K-4/Virginian BA, N&W 'M' class, UP 'S' class, Rio Grande K-36 and C&O 'J3/J3a' (including the mid-series locomotives). I am thrilled that we have the reference material available for all of these subjects. The other possibilities remain so and are subject to further consideration as the feedback continues to come in.
There has been a fantastic response to the posting regarding the PRR passenger cars and much to my surprise, there have been numerous requests for new production of the cars already correctly built for the NYC and PRR. The evaluation of the situation continues, but it seems that a logical plan is falling into place for finally pursuing our passenger car project.
In response to my request for feedback regarding the production of truck sets for sale, an overwhelming favorite has emerged. The PRR 2D-F8 truck has been the most requested by far and I have heard that since I opted not sell trucks separately several years ago when our PRR GLe cement car was produced. It should be understood that all trucks produced for sale separately will be built from unique tooling created expressly for that purpose, I will not part out components from production models. I will update further as this situation develops, if you have suggestions, let me hear from you!
I want to thank everyone again that has been waiting patiently for me to do 'something' for them as I have been working diligently to get all of our projects back up to speed following the circumstances earlier in the year. The surge of interest in our projects over the last several months has been extremely gratifying, but it has also required considerable time in response. My search for the right pair of hands to dig in and help goes on.
Please check back soon for further updates!
8/29/09 - As I have had posted on our show schedule, Kohs & Company will participate in the 14th American Railroad Fans in Switzerland Convention to be held this October in Zurich, Switzerland. The organizers of the show produce a fantastic 90+ page show program in a magazine format and they have made it available prior to the show in 'PDF' format, you may download a copy of the 15MB file to review by clicking here. This is an all-scale show with a focus on American prototype railroading and it is held once every three years. If you download the program, check out some of the very interesting subject matter that has been modeled on some the layouts featured, I can't wait to see them in person. If you are interested in attending the show, please let me know and I'll provide additional details.
Additional information regarding the Fine Art Models O scale passenger cars mentioned yesterday has been posted to a new page, please see the site index or click here to view it.
8/28/09 - During the last several years I have received numerous inquiries on the subject of the two series of Fine Art Models O scale Pullman Standard passenger cars that were produced in the New York Central 'Twentieth Century Limited' and Pennsylvania Railroad 'Broadway Limited' liveries. These remain the finest O scale passenger cars ever offered by far, but it is well known that the Broadway Limited sets were never completed and there were detail accuracy issues with a couple of the cars that were produced. I have been routinely asked whether I would ever consider producing the head-end cars that were not completed and also if I would consider redoing the cars that were not accurate for the Broadway Limited consist. Until now, I had only intended to do the heavy-weight style head-end cars to finish the train, but after discussions with my builder, we are now considering the production of the streamlined diners and also correct versions of the cars with detail inaccuracies. I will be posting a new page with more details on what has already been produced by Fine Art Models to clear up some misinformation that has persisted and also what we are considering for new production. The cars being considered for new production would be produced only on a reservation basis and they would obviously require adequate interest and support to move forward with the project. If you are one of the individuals that has expressed interest in this train, this is the opportunity that you have been asking for, so spread the word to other owners about this situation.
8/09/09 - It has been suggested by several people that a forum or interchange point be established that would provide an online location for Kohs customers to discuss subjects of mutual interest. I am willing to undertake the effort if in fact there is a level of interest to justify it. I am evaluating software now that would support such a site and I would be interested in hearing suggestions regarding the parameters for participation from those of you that are interested. Two certain goals would be to eliminate the use of multiple user accounts by the same participant and the use of false identities.
8/05/09 - I can confirm for those of you that have inquired, I am evaluating the possibility of developing some of our O scale projects in very limited quantities in other scales. That is all that I can confirm at this point unless additional details leak out! I am also restarting the truck development program that was started last year and in response to many inquiries, I will be willing to offer P-48 versions of the trucks that we produce if there is enough confirmed interest. A special project site will be developed within this web site to provide further details and from which to solicit feedback on potential projects.
8/02/09 - It has been brought to my attention that Joe Giannovario Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of O Scale Trains Magazine has responded on his web site to my comments posted her on 7/6/09. In my 'rant' or 'screed', whichever of Mr. Giannovario's characterizations you prefer, I attributed actions and comments to Mr. Giannovario that he disputes. I'm not going to waste much time in responding, I will simply document two of the three situations that I referred to, for those who care. The third situation was a verbal exchange between Mr. Giannovario and myself, so you'll have to decide based on your perception the validity of my comments in that instance.
In my 'rant' I raised the issue of Mr. Giannovario supplying a photo, produced by Get Real Productions, of his Kohs Y6b model to one of his frequent advertisers, Sunset 3rd Rail, to use in their project ad without proper attribution as a Kohs model. If you go to the following link, you will see the photo still in current use and the credit given to O Scale Trains Magazine with no mention of Kohs & Company (in case the web page is taken down view this screenshot and photo)(8/7/2009 - links removed at the request of Joe Giannovario, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of O Scale Trains Magazine), the original full-page ad ran in 2005 (the online version of the magazine has now been edited). I further attributed the following quote to Mr. Giannovario, 'I have to hang my head in shame. The problems I'm having with the Y's are due to bad track laying on my part', a screenshot of his original e-mail to me can be viewed here. The operating specification quoted to Mr. Giannovario was a 60" radius for curves which is reflected in his e-mail message, he had no difficulty in obtaining that specification, he asked the question and was given the answer. He later decided to attempt to operate his models with much smaller radius curves, so during the free repair of damage he caused, free adjustments which required altering prototypical detail were made to accommodate his new desire. Even though the adjustments made were outside of our quoted specification, that fact apparently got in the way of Mr. Giannovario trying to make his point (further e-maols will substantiate the facts). The point of my original 'rant' was that for Mr. Giannovario to be making public proclamations on the subject of standards and transparency was a bit much for me to stomach based on my experiences with Mr. Giannovario's standards and transparency. Is it a coincidence that of the two importers named and negatively mentioned by Mr. Giannovario, one is not an advertiser (Kohs & Company) and the other is deceased?
Going to the greater issue of providing pre-sale information to potential customers and post-sale support, Kohs & Company remains as the most accessible importer in the business. For more than one of my fellow importers it is not possible to find a phone or fax number or even an e-mail address to contact them for any reason, because they rely on dealer sales. My archive of over forty-one thousand e-mail messages is testament to my efforts of being accessible and Joe Giannovario knows that from personal experience, whether he wants to admit it or not.
7/31/09 - A special visitor leaves Michigan after participating in Train Festival 2009. In the sequence below, Southern Pacific 4449 pulls out of the yard after servicing in Durand, Michigan which was formerly a major stop and facility for the Grand Trunk Western Railroad. She is heading east toward a 'wye' that will allow her to turn the entire train to head southwest out of town. In the second photo 4449 has already backed up the northbound leg of the 'wye' and is pulling into the Durand station to pick up passengers before heading toward Chicago on the first leg of her trip back to Oregon. In the third and fourth photos she has gained her legs and is running approximately 50mph heading into Bancroft, Michigan another small town located between Durand and Lansing along what is now the Amtrak mainline. The festival was a rare opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and smells of not just one classic locomotive, but more than eight thanks to the great efforts of the organizing committee.
7/23/09 - Just a general update of special interest; the 2009 Train Festival is being held this weekend in Owosso, Michigan which is less than an hour away from my shop so I ran out to take a quick look. The following are just a hand-full of sights to be seen at the event. The 'Daylight' was already out on the road and with so much work to be done, I couldn't wait for the excursion to return. In case you are interested, click HERE to view the event web site.
7/20/09 - A further update regarding the newly updated NMRA Standards and Recommended practices. After reviewing what I believe are the final documents, the net result with regards to Kohs & Company is that I will do as many of you have suggested and continue to use the standard that I developed almost twenty years ago. There were interim versions of the NMRA documents that actually showed some promise in terms of correcting a couple of problem areas, but apparently the documents did not correctly reflect the intent of the organization and they were 'corrected' prior to the final release. The new S-4.2 standard actually makes the situation worse for those interested in operating finely detailed O scale models. If the NMRA really wanted to accomplish something for the standard O scale hobbyist, they would have developed an actual 'wheel gage' standard as they have done for the 'Fine' and 'Proto' scales. Hopefully the next time the NMRA gets around to doing updates, they'll seek more validated input.
7/10/09 - The previous update generated a considerable amount of positive feedback and I sincerely thank those of you responsible. A number of additional questions were also raised, most of which I answered directly, but one question in particular was so common that I decided to respond here from the perspective of one importer. Generally speaking, the questions were along the lines of who or what governs what types of brass models are produced and imported, this question obviously emanates from the same source that was sited in the previous update. First of all, I would not be one that would classify any group as 'big buck', that carries a very negative connotation to my way of thinking. Although Kohs & Company sells high-end models, there are very few of our clients to whom money is no object. The vast majority of our clients are individuals that work hard to earn their money and have to carefully allocate what they spend on the hobby, I am honored that so many find our models worthy of such an expenditure. Is any group of modelers being held 'hostage' by the preferences of another in the O scale hobby, let me simply say no. As with any type of business in a free market place, demand will govern what products are produced and anyone that recognizes a demand that is not being met should be encouraged to attempt to meet that demand. Kohs & Company routinely solicits those interested in the hobby to provide feedback regarding potential projects and I will continue to follow that lead in selecting what I produce.
7/06/09 - The confusion revolving around the new updated NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices continues. After reviewing the documents for which I posted links on 6/30/09, I found mistakes or inaccuracies and have been further advised by the NMRA that there are problems with different versions of the documents that have been made available. As a result of this, I have taken down the links to all of the documents until the NMRA figures out which documents are correct. I can tell you that the new proposed 'standards' have been approved as of July 3rd. Although the revisions were under consideration for more than two years, Kohs & Company never heard a word from the NMRA committee considering the changes and I know that several other importers also did not. Apparently the experiences of an importer that has delivered more than four thousand brass models using a standard relevant to the new 145 standard were not important. As previously mentioned, once I have sorted through the correct documents, I will provide my thoughts regarding what the new standards mean for Kohs & Company customers, if anything.
I took the opportunity over the holiday weekend to catch up on the numerous e-mails that have accumulated in the last 3-4 weeks offering general observations about the O scale hobby and some of the things that have appeared on the Internet and in writing. Rather than responding individually to each message, I decided to offer my perspective below to save time.
Regarding the Internet forums and groups that disseminate misinformation, it's not worth the time or effort to respond to the typical uninformed ranting's or the lies that are told, that only draws attention to the individuals responsible which is exactly what they are seeking. Rather than responding to the lies online or in print, it has been a better experience to confront some of the individuals responsible for the lies in person and watch them waffle and quake like little boys, when asked to explain their lies (Ed the 'Brasman' knows). When these sites knowingly or otherwise allow the use of multiple names so 'contributors' can talk to themselves, what's the point in paying any attention.
Regarding the Internet distributed 'Photo Essay' concerning two of the C&O H-8 models that I produced, most everyone that I have heard from now recognizes that effort for what is was; a 'make-work' project that served as a smoke screen for the creator's own inept handling of the import project he was responsible for developing and prepping, that resulted in numerous models being returned. What I never did hear from anyone involved in that saga, including the model owners, was an explanation for why neither Kohs model was returned for 'repair' under the 'Limited Lifetime Warranty' if there were legitimate issues, curious, to say the least. The bottom line is that every original Kohs owner does have a warranty they can depend on and it is also interesting to note that an H-8 owner just sold one of his 'terribly deficient' extra models for $6,250.00 so it would seem that owners should not be too concerned about the assessment delivered in the 'Photo Essay'.
A more troubling situation is the writing of Joe Giannovario, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of O Scale Trains Magazine. I have read with great interest Mr. Giannovario's call for 'transparency' and 'standards' directed at manufacturers and importers and the hypocrisy is too great to ignore. Of particular interest was the 'Observations' page in issue #45 of OST where Mr. Giannovario alluded to having difficulty in operating his two Kohs models on the layout they were intended for, when he made reference to them requiring 'tinkering' for correct operation. What Mr. Giannovario didn't tell you was that he acknowledged to me in writing that the problems he was experiencing were of his own making, "I have to hang my head in shame. The problems I'm having with the Y's are due to bad track laying on my part", the facts apparently got in the way of trying to make his point. Not the first such lapse in credibility. Previously, Mr. Giannovarios produced photos of one of his Kohs Y6b models and supplied them to one of his advertisers for use in an ad for a project of the same type which he then published without proper photo attribution. When asked about the situation, the explanation was less than candid to put it politely. More recently, during a conversation at the April TCA Meet in York, Pennsylvania when asked about the intentions of an ad he published in OST that again was in direct competition with two of my projects, Mr. Giannovario acknowledged that he did not believe that the projects were ever intended to be completed and that he also believed that the sole purpose of the ad was to damage Kohs & Company, another shining example of OST's publishing 'standards' and 'transparency'. Is the sudden interest in NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices by OST coincidental to that same advertiser's efforts to discredit Kohs & Company, because we advanced beyond the outdated NMRA standards years ago? If it's a genuine concern, where were the articles highlighting the issues, explaining in depth the need for updates and exploring what factors the NMRA should have considered prior to the passage of the new standards on July 3rd? The NMRA has been reviewing the standards for more than two years without a mention by O Scale Trains Magazine until now, is this simply another advertiser support program, using, half-truths, disingenuous statements absent the Kohs photo this time? Kohs & Company provides a warranty to protect it's customers, what does O Scale Trains Magazine provide it's subscribers to ensure they are being given the true facts within it's pages?
I take no pleasure from calling into question the intentions or motivation of others in the hobby, but I do have an obligation to defend my customer's substantial investments from being jeopardized by misinformation and lies. My end goal through positive efforts is satisfied customers, as it should be for any businessperson. While I have yet to produce the perfect model and never will despite how hard everyone involved in the process tries, it would seem that Kohs & Company products have developed a niche in the O scale market that our competitors can only envy and attempt to tear apart. With every locomotive model produced thus far sold and the value appreciating an average 26%, based on secondary market sales in the last two years, I accept as a badge of honor the fact that Kohs & Company has not had to rely on advertising for several years to achieve this result. Return customers tell the whole story.
7/01/09 - It was reported to yesterday that there was a problem with the text size changing on portions of different pages making it difficult to read. I have re-inspected the most recent pages and I believe that the problem has been corrected so the text should be a uniform size throughout paragraphs. The text size used has not changed since the beginning of this site so there should not be any issues in adjusting it using your browser's text size control now that the recent technical issue has been resolved. Please let me know if you encounter any further issues with difficult to read pages.
6/30/09 - The following is a list of potential projects that has developed over the last several years based on my original business plan, personal preference and customer feedback. My experience to date with research has changed my project selection process, because all too often original sources of promised material have failed to deliver the necessary reference and I have been left hanging trying to locate alternate sources. The change in approach is to provide an idea of what I am actively working on without raising expectations to a fever pitch until we know for sure we can proceed. A couple of projects listed are definite with complete reference packages and simply have not been placed on the schedule pending the development of projects previously announced. Some on the list will be definite projects assuming that the remaining reference material can be assembled. The remainder are potential projects that I have been actively researching as a result of customer feedback and if support is strong enough they will move forward. A major reason for listing projects is to seek assistance in assembling the necessary research material to produce them, so I again stress that if you can offer assistance with material or guidance in locating reference material it would be greatly appreciated and your efforts will be rewarded appropriately.
There has always been a reluctance on the part of importers to show their hand by listing projects, for fear that some other importer will 'jump' the project, that's happened to me twice so far, but at this point I am confident enough about my support and ability to produce the best models that the potential benefits out weigh the risk. I'm not going to categorize the projects based on current status so if you are interested in a particular project, do not take anything for granted if the project has not been listed on the site index as an active project. I am aware that several of the projects listed below have also been listed by other importers and subsequently dropped due to a lack of support, I do need to hear from you to increase the likelihood that your project of interest moves forward in development. Keep in mind that a number of the listed projects are common or very similar prototypes shared by multiple railroads.
The proposed updated NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices for standard O scale railroading previously mentioned and provided for download on 6/10/09, were either not accurate and/or incomplete as provided by O Scale Trains Magazine. The correct and complete proposed updates are listed below and available for download for your evaluation. I will be offering my perspective on what these proposed changes will mean for Kohs & Company customers in a soon to be posted update. There will also be further reflection on the issue in my technical pages under both the 'Wheel Gauging' and 'Track' links.
(Link removed, see 7/6/09)
(Link removed, see 7/6/09)
(Link removed, see 7/6/09)
6/21/09 - Having just returned from the 2009 O Scale National Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, I wanted to offer a most sincere thank you to the host committee, Baltimore O Scale, LLC and The Baltimore Society of Model Engineers, for all of their effort in staging a fantastic event. It is unfortunate that the hosts did not receive the support of the O scale community in terms of attendance, but that was not due to a lack of effort on the part of the committee. There was a great mix of vendors on hand and the tables were full of models and supplies that were not the usual 'things' toted from show to show. Speaking for myself as one vendor, my sales were great and more importantly, I had the opportunity to see a number of people that have been customers from the beginning of my business that I have not seen in recent years at other shows, so thank you committee for all of your effort!! One additional sidelight; unfortunately for my diet, there were some great and unconventional places to eat...................so I ate and ate until my wife stopped me!!! I was just trying to support the local economy.
6/10/09 - Additional topics have been added to the 'Technical' index page, this section has generated considerable interest and I am trying to update the individual pages and information as quickly as time allows. I remain open to suggestions, so please feel free to pass along your ideas.
Since the discussion of wheel gauging began, it has been brought to my attention that the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) has been considering an update to the standards for the past couple of years. This link (link removed, see 6/30/09 post) will provide you with a list of the proposed specifications. In addition to these updates, the NMRA is apparently considering changes to the track standards, but I am unaware of the specific changes at this time. As more is learned, it will be made available either on this page or the technical information page.
5/18/09 - I have several pieces of update news to share as of this date; we have new updates on our UP Challenger and PRR N5/N5b project site, so be sure to check them out. The feedback from my first technical data postings has been extremely positive and I wish that I has started the process sooner. The technical information will take a while to be fully available, but be assured that it is coming! Quite frankly, the reaction has been so strong that I am looking at making the information available in print form once it is more fully developed, but we'll have to see where it leads with a little time.
I will be posting in the near future, a list of potential projects that we are actively working on in terms of collecting data. When I say we, there are a number of dedicated individuals that have been assisting my efforts in terms of research and data collection and I most certainly consider them part of my team. When I started Kohs & Company I selected a number of prototypes that I wanted to model and we have been successful more often than not in getting those projects to market, but there are still a couple that we are struggling with. The idea of posting a working list of potential projects is to let everyone know, including our fellow importers, what we are actively working on and to solicit feedback and assistance before we announce them as firm projects and wind up bogged down due to a lack of data. I do not expect cooperation from other importers, because that has never happened in the past and I am certain that it will not in the future. If another importer decides to 'jump' one of our listed potential projects, that will not dissuade us from moving forward assuming that the data falls into place. There is no secret that it takes Kohs & Company longer than other importers to develop our projects and I believe that most people understand why at this point. I also understand that it can be very frustrating when we have a project listed and we are struggling to make progress, hopefully we can avoid some of the frustration in the future. Please let me know what you think of the potential projects once they are posted.
I have received a number of inquiries about Kohs & Company developing some C&O hoppers, so to save a lot of speculation, I will acknowledge that we are in fact doing so. I do not know how the information has gotten out, but I will not be saying much more on the subject. This is a privately commissioned project which is not intended for resale, the cars will be used on a private railroad. Unless the individual responsible for ordering these models changes his mind, we will not be reporting or offering any additional information, I hope that everyone understands.
Kohs & Company models continue to do well on eBay or in this case Kohs & Company parts are doing well! A set of twelve containers from one of our PRR G22b gondolas just sold for $345 and a pair of trucks from the same model sold for $182.50. This seems to confirm what a great value our G22b's are at only $650 for the whole package. $650 is not inexpensive, but you receive a lot for your money, a piece of rolling stock built to higher standards than most locomotive models.
My updating will continue, so please check back often for the latest information. I do appreciate your interest!
5/10/09 - The expansion of our web technical pages seems to have really hit a high note based on subject titles alone with many that follow our web site on a regular basis. We have received a number of requests for specific types of information regarding our models specifically and brass models in general. With the level of feedback that I have already received, I felt it appropriate at this point to lay out in a little more detail exactly what I have in mind for these pages that are being updated and/or created in whole for posting in the very near future.
The first objective is to provide another resource that more fully explains the capabilities of our models that owners can refer to. Our instruction sheets try to provide a good general overview of each particular models functions and features, but many times there are lingering questions that never get asked. Since we provide repair services for existing owners there is no concern in that regard, but for owners that acquire models through the secondary market and want to handle general maintenance servicing themselves, I hope to offer information that will make that task easier. A common issue for original owners as well as secondary owners alike is that of installing DCC decoders in their K&C models. I will provide information that will make that situation a financially safer proposition for those hiring the work done and easier for those choosing to do the installations themselves. I want to avoid having our owners told that 'these K&C models are just so complicated that they take several hours to disassemble' and being charged for work on that basis. In fact, our most complicated models (N&W Y6a & b's) take less than fifteen minutes to completely disassemble if you know the process or bother to ask what the process is. Most importantly, I want to avoid owners having their models seriously damaged by basement hobbyists that offer installation services that prefer to cut models apart rather than ask for guidance when they can't figure a model out. It needs to be understood that we have installed DCC decoders in every type of locomotive model we have produced to date without any loss of operating features, our sound & control systems are fully compatible with DCC technology if you know what you are doing.
In addition to the owner resources, I plan to provide information that will be helpful to those new to the hobby for judging the quality of brass models and on which to base purchase decisions. Not everyone builds their boilers the same way and with the same level of detail. Yes, there really is a difference between 'etched' rivet detail and 'punched' detail and I will illustrate those differences. Based on feedback, the process of casting development and production is not well understood, so I will cover that topic in words and photos. Not all fireboxes are created equal and I will explain that in detail. Not everyone follows the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) recommended standards and practices for electrical wiring and wheel gauging, I will explain why, and yes, there really are differences between many of the commonly available brands of track, rail and turnouts, I hope to offer some insight into those differences.
As with all subjects, we seek your further feedback using any means listed in our contact information.
<5/04/09 - The issue of wheel gauging persists as of today's date, with Kohs & Company having received a request sent to all major importers by Joe Giannovario Editor-In-Chief/Publisher for wheel gauging specifications to be published in O Scale Trains Magazine. The expressed purpose of this request follows: "By requesting the information from the major importers I am trying to understand the scope of the issue and maybe develop a new standard for both track and wheels. I'd like to see track made to P48 standards and wheels made to something between the NMRA O and P48 standards". As a matter of information and fairness, I have provided the exact wording upon which I determined that Kohs & Company would not honor the request to publish our proprietary information. Kohs & Company customers need not fear, we will not be making any changes to how we build our models, but it is important for those of you that have a serious investment in O scale model railroading equipment to understand all the factors at play in this ongoing saga. Watch for further comment on the issue of gauging in our 'Technical' pages under the link for 'Wheel Gauging'.
4/20/09 - If you are a regular visitor to our site you may notice as you view various project site pages that we have changed the formatting on many of the pages. The changes have been made in order to provide a more consistent viewing experience and to also provide more predictable printer output. On most of the changed pages we have not modified the 'update' date unless there was also new content added to the page. We hope that this effort on our part makes your future visits more enjoyable.
4/13/09 - One of our great customers in the Netherlands owns and operates a very large traveling modular layout which is shown in the photo below. The photo was taken at Rail 2007 in the Netherlands which is an annual event. In 2007 they pulled 103 american prototype four-axle cars using either four Atlas diesels or a pair of KTM 'Big Boys'. After reading about one of our customers here in the states that has pulled approximately 150 hopper cars with his Kohs & Company C&O H-8 Allegheny, he took that as a challenge for the 2009 event. For 2009, they have more than 200 cars waiting, the total length of the 'consist' can reach approximately 60 meters (195') in length before the leading locomotive will be 'biting' the tail end of the train as our customer explains!
Shown below is another view of the layout which gives a little better 'feel' or perspective for it's size.
Shown below is our customers H-8 in the workshop test area with five specially built heavy-duty 'wagons' waiting behind for their test load. The testing was being dome in preparation for the 2009 event and the challenge of pulling more than 150 cars. The special 'wagons' were constructed to support very heavy test loads that can not be distributed over a large number of cars due to space limitations in the work shop area.
Shown in the last photo are the 'wagons' with the test load (plate glass sheets and a computer CPU) in place. The total weight of the test load is 38 kilos (approximately 85 pounds), keep in mind that this load is spread over only ten (10) axles, the rolling resistance of this load carried by only ten small O scale axles is enormous! The custom built KTM 'Big Boy' coupled to the wagons in this photo was unable to move them with the pictured load. The Kohs & Company H-8 further up the rails in the photo had more success in moving the test load, the calculations indicated that most all of the 200 available cars will be required to 'stall' the H-8 on the big layout.
4/11/09 - I have to make note once again of all the expressions of condolence that our family has received from our many friends in the modeling community. The number of cards notes and letters that we have received since the passing of my mother almost two weeks ago has been extremely humbling. We sincerely thank you all again for your kindness in taking the time to offer your comforting comments.
4/10/09 - Over the past few days, there have been comments from Kohs & Company customers regarding a public mis-information campaign being waged concerning one of our recent projects. I am fully aware of the material being distributed to a select group within the O Scale community, and what subsequent rumors have been spread concerning our products and business policies. Unfortunately, events such as these have been all too common in our hobby when individuals attempt to drive their personal and business agendas to some sort of an advantage.
I feel that it is important for Kohs & Company customers to know that the current mis-information has been generated and distributed by Roger Lewis and Gary Schrader, both of whom have direct business relationships with Key Model Imports. Past experience suggests that when certain importers cannot compete in terms of prototype fidelity, quality of construction, technological innovation, or just plain value for the dollars spent, we can expect the behavior we are once again experiencing.
Be assured that Kohs & Company will continue to concentrate on and excel in all areas of importance to our customers. We will continue to produce products that have not only received world-wide acclaim, but, most significantly, are considered by our customers to be "The Finest in O Scale".
4/05/09 - As I become fully re-engaged in the business of building the finest models our team possibly can, there are a few house-keeping issues to be discussed and or dealt with. It has been over two months since I withdrew from the day to day business activity to deal with our family situation and the last involvement was my attendance at this years O Scale West show and what a pleasure it was to be back in Santa Clara. For several years off and on there has been a conflict with our participation at the Nurnberg Toy Fair, but this year I made the decision to return to Santa Clara instead of Germany and I am happy that I did. O Scale West provided the opportunity to meet with many of our West Coast friends and customers that unfortunately I do not get to see at any other event around the country, so I thank Rod Miller and his crew for again putting on a great show.
There were a number if interesting discussions at the show this year, but the most frequently reoccurring topic was of course the economy and more specifically the value of the models we have produced over the years and how well they seem to be doing in comparison with models produced by other importers in terms of resale value. More than one individual lamented that if he had invested more money in our models rather than the stock market he would be far better off financially than he otherwise is. Point of fact is that when our models are coming up for sale, they are doing exceptionally well with premiums of routinely 20-25% being paid with as much as almost 100% premium being paid in some cases. Very recently a GG-1 offered for sale on eBay sold for more than $4,500 when the original price was $2,800. Also on eBay, one of our PRR N5c cabin cars sold for $911, it's original price was $485. Examples of our first project, the NYC J3a Hudson have been routinely selling for more than $4,000, N&W Y6a's and Y6b's are selling for more than $5,000 if you can find one and I have a waiting list for people looking for UP 9000's. We will be publishing a comprehensive listing of our projects including all of the unique variations that have been included in our production runs, until now these have not been discussed and except for their owners, no one has been aware of their existence. Along with the listing, we will be offering suggested resale prices in an effort to help our current owners and more importantly, those handling the estates of our current owners at their passing. We will be doing even more to help those charged with handling estates, but that will be discussed in future postings and also in the forthcoming printed update that everyone on our mailing list will receive. Needless to say, anyone that has one of our models and has maintained it's condition should be very happy with their investment, although we have never suggested buying any of our models for investment purposes. Our models are meant to be enjoyed, but retained value certainly helps with justifying their purchase!
Also during O Scale West a fellow brass importer, Key Imports or Key Model Imports or whatever their name is at this point, announced the Southern Pacific 'AC' series cab forward as a new project. The only importance here is that apparently Key and/or their faithful minions are claiming that Kohs & Company 'jumped' on the same project after Key's announcement. Key says their 'AC' project has been in the works since September of 2007, so there's only one problem with their story, we first listed our cab forward project in a printed update in January of that same year. So if you care about such things, is their story based on ignorance of the facts or a lie? No one should be surprised, this situation has happened over and over again, but judging by the messages I have received, there is still a great deal of disappointment with the lack of integrity in the brass model business. There is a simple explanation for why this continues to happen; importers that cannot compete in terms of product delivered have to try to be the first to market so they can sell 30-40 pieces to those individuals desperate to buy a model of a particular prototype before a standard has been set that they cannot compete with. As it has happened in the past, the next play in the book is to spread rumors about what Kohs & Company has or hasn't done, how bad our models are or better yet, that we are going out of business! It's all been said before, so stayed tuned for your own enjoyment and watch where the 'junk' comes from, it will all lead back to one place. To our friends and customers, don't be upset, facts are facts and lies are lies. No one can change the fact that we have sold out every locomotive project of not 30-40 models, but 100-150 models without 'playing' with our prices for anyone or using secret deals with special-friend-dealers to sell excess models that otherwise would not sell. As customers you have invested in that success and you own the best examples of the chosen prototypes that have ever been produced. We have routinely delivered a product better than was promised and have done so without fanfare or hype, we have never had to promise that our next project really will be better than our previous. We value your trust and have never sold you short in the past nor will we in the future, I speak for my entire very dedicated team that makes our models possible.
Although I cannot explain why, the above situation has always proven to be of benefit in the past. When Key produced the PRR J-1 when we were looking at undertaking that project, the demand for us to do the project has grown substantially since the completion of the Key project. Likewise, when Key announced the Southern Pacific GS-1 after we did, the demand for us to move forward on ours has again gone through the roof since Key completed theirs. With any luck, maybe Key will take on every project we have listed!
Online project updates will commence over the next few days. The long overdue UP Challenger printed update will be in the mail to reservation holders in the next 1-2 weeks. As mentioned earlier, there will be a printed update mailed to everyone on our mailing list just as quickly as it can be completed. I plan to take part in each of the shows that I currently have listed on our show page, and I am actively looking to add additional show opportunities, if you have suggestions please let me know what they are.
Finally, to all of those who have been patiently waiting for me to do something for you over the past couple of months, that is the first order of business in the next few days. I sincerely appreciate your patience as does my family!!
4/04/09 - The past few days have been made infinitely more bearable by the numerous very kind messages that I have received from my modeling friends regarding the passing of my mother. I wanted to take just a moment to thank each and every one of you that have taken the time to offer your thoughts and prayers, each of you will receive a personal response from me, but I wanted to offer a general acknowledgment in the meantime since it will take just a bit of time to handle the volume of messages that I have received. I offer my sincerest thanks to you all!
3/31/09 - As many of you that have followed the development of our projects already know, there has been an ongoing series of serious health issues with my 97 year old mother. In particular, the last two months have been particularly difficult and forced my absence from shows where many of you had hoped to discuss our projects in person. Our modeling efforts have taken a back seat on many occasions and rightfully so, it should not have been any other way under the circumstances. Today, I regret to inform those that have expressed interest and concern that my mother passed away at home this past Sunday after a valiant struggle. She was in large part the influence in my life that showed me that most everything was either worth doing right or not at all with very little compromise, she continued to teach me about life until her final hour and for that I am very grateful.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my customers/friends that have shown great patience as I have been distracted from my usual business routine, that has made it possible to provide the care that any person of advanced age deserves. I expect our modeling efforts to get back to normal in the next week or two and that will be signaled by a new mail update which will provide an overview of the current status of each project, like information will also be posted on this web site. We have exciting project information to share and are very anxious to do so, so begin to check for updates very soon.
3/19/09 - Due to a very serious health crisis within our family it may be impossible for me to attend this years March Meet in Chicago. I will try to make it for at least a few hours on Saturday if at all possible so that those of you that have been looking forward to discussing our projects in person will have that opportunity. Your understanding is greatly appreciated in this extremely difficult time.
2/28/09 - We have had many inquiries about what we are up to since we have been very quiet (no web updates) since O Scale West. In short, it was a rush trip home from O Scale West to place my mother in the hospital where she remains today in critical condition. 12-15 hour days at the hospital every day have prevented a lot of work from being done, but a sincere effort is being made to get back up to speed on a number of important issues. You'll notice that there are several new updates posted on project sites and there are more to come as we plan out our future production schedule. There have been numerous inquiries regarding the status of our Southern Pacific GS-1 project due to the release of the Key Imports model of the same prototype, that will be addressed on that specific project site within the next day or two. We have made significant progress with our research efforts on several projects, both old and new, the progress on old projects has been updated on the specific project site while new projects will be mentioned here. Specifically, in addition to the progress on the Niagara, we are acquiring reference material for the New York Central 'Mohawk' class prototypes with an eye toward making one or more classes future projects. We have also located and are acquiring drawings for the Chesapeake & Ohio 'Greenbrier" class locomotives, a personal favorite which will definitely be an upcoming project. We are also preparing the offering information for two of our rolling stock projects for which the reservation process is long overdue, the Pennsylvania FD-2/FW-1 flat cars and the Chesapeake & Ohio steel cabooses. We will also be updating the projects that are currently in production as quickly as we can. There will be additional postings very soon as we try our best to get all of the new pertinent information presented. Check back frequently over the next few days.
1/29/09 - As many of you know, we have been working to put together a research package for the Southern Pacific AC-10, 11 & 12 Cab forward locomotives and the good news is that the package is complete. Having just paid a return visit to the California State Railroad Museum, the last of the needed material was sourced and we are confident that we have enough material to do this prototype justice. The fact that this prototype is our builder's favorite only means that this project will receive extra special attention. We will be creating a project site in the next few days, so check back for further details and information. There is also news regarding other existing projects as a result of this research 'mission' and we will be posting updates on several projects in the next couple of days.
Southern Pacific AC-10
Southern Pacific AC-11
Southern Pacific AC-12
1/22/09 - We have to report a rather unusual situation regarding the E-mail communication with our company. In the last few weeks we have been receiving an extremely high volume of electronic communication intended for the Kohl's Department store, both intra-company communication as well as messages originating from outside the company, but seemingly interned for employees within the company. Although the situation has been reported to Kohl's and network administrators the situation continues and we have received enough confidential information at this point to run that organization. The purpose in mentioning this situation is to advise anyone that may have tried to E-mail us and have not received a response that there may have been an issue that prevented the messaged from being correctly delivered to us. We are not aware of any such situations, but please let us know if you have had difficulties in communicating with us.
1/13/09 - The image now on our homepage seems appropriate now that the holiday season is fading in our memory, Santa Claus say's goodbye from the 'traditional' end of the train. The photo was taken by Dr. Steve DeLoach, one of our great supporters down in Tennessee. The image features one of Dr. Steve's Kohs & Company N&W cabooses running behind several PRR G22b gondolas on his fantastic layout. We have featured several photos from Dr. Steve's layout in the past and we will be posting some new shots on our 'In-Service' page that he provided which highlight some of the new developments on his road. As always, we thank Dr. Steve for his submission and we encourage other owners to forwarded us photos showing their Kohs & Company models in action. If you are a collector that has an interesting way of displaying your models and would like to share that with others please feel free to forward photos of your displays as well.
During the holidays we took the time to review the status of currently listed projects in an effort to determine the feasibility of moving forward on several of the projects that have been listed for quite some time. This was done in preparation for announcing some new projects and trying to get them set in some reasonable order for development and production. We are also considering modifying our approach to data collection in an effort to save on some physical storage space and money. We have routinely spent thousands of dollars in research for each and every project we have undertaken, including the ones that unfortunately have not progressed as far as we would like and there is no return on that investment until the production is completed. Our data collection on some projects has been very straight forward and and fairly painless, while for some it has been extremely frustrating for a variety of reasons. In the coming days we will be updating the current status on each of our currently active projects in preparation for announcing some new ones that may be advanced in the production schedule as a result of current project situations. Your comments and feedback will certainly be welcome.