|Union Pacific 'Big Boy' Project Update|
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Availability - This project has been sold out for a number of months and is moving to final production. If you would like to pursue the possibility of a reservation cancellation or the future availability of a model, please contact us directly using any means provided in our Contact Information.
Versions Offered: 5
Production Quantity: 100
4/14/23 - As of this date, I am making very good progress on the reorganization of the Big Boy project and have determined who will maintain oversight and guidance for the project in South Korea at my direction. I am actually very excited about the arrangement that will certainly yield better results than the original plan that was in place prior to the pandemic. The original plan would have given us a model pushed to the next level of features and quality, being an improvement even on our UP Challenger which most consider the finest model ever produced. The background and experience of the new team is second to none and will allow us to expand our objectives even further while providing confidence going forward. We are moving totally away from any Chinese involvement for obvious reasons if you listen to the news and/or follow my posts on this page and the General News pages regarding the advisories released by the United States Department of State. There are a number of additional issues to be dealt with and I will need to work through them one at a time.
The planning will remain somewhat publicly obscure and will eventually be detailed in an update letter and documents that will be provided to all current reservation holders. The need for this approach is simple. post pandemic, the few remaining brass model importers that have survived are all pretty much scrambling to get their projects back in order and I'm not looking to share ideas in a marketplace that has always been very competitive. The exceptions to this COVID experience are the hand-full of importers that have pushed forward throughout the pandemic, continued production untimely delivering sub-standard products as noted in many hobby related blog posts in recent months. It has been a common practice pre-pandemic for many importers to never visit their builders or inspect their finished projects prior to shipment while still receiving at least marginally acceptable results. That has changed with the start of COVID and despite maybe the best intentions of some builders, the impact of labor and supply issues have taken a toll on the resulting projects.
Be assured that all efforts going forward will be to deliver a project that meets my standards and with the current efforts, I expect them to be elevated! I look forward to sharing more details with reservation holders on a time appropriate basis.
2/12/23 - EffortsPlease see the 2/12/23 update on the General News page of this website. Project specific updates will continue to be posted to the individual project sites. Many thanks for your interest!
12/15/22 - Efforts to reorganize and restart our Big Boy project continue. A great deal of 'ground' work is being done prior to making my first return visit to South Korea, which will most likely not happen until after the holidays at this point. Careful planning, both financial and otherwise is required to make certain that this project remains viable. The airfares to South Korea have been 2-3 times what was typical prior to COVID and during the holiday season they have been historically extremely high with a great deal of travel back and forth for visiting families.
Aside from the political issues concerning China which I have previously mentioned has been a source of cheap labor for most Korean builders, I am very aware of problems that importers have had with the work being done there during COVID. My awareness has only reassured me that my decision was correct to not continue work without in-person inspection being possible. Reorganizing the project includes avoiding a reliance on China wherever possible.
Most of the suppliers we rely on are still struggling to get their operations back to a reliable and predictable state of operation and this is making my planning difficult as well. It's pretty much a daily effort to make contacts in an effort to source what is needed and at pricing that makes sense. While the situation remains very difficult, it is getting better so continual effort will ultimately pay off I am quite certain, persistence and patients will allow me to deliver the finest models ever!
10/23/22 - Please refer to the General News update of this same date for new information regarding all of my projects including the Big Boy. New additional data and information for this project will be posted shortly, so please check back in the near future.
9/05/22 - As I have described during the course of producing my various projects over the years, achieving the characteristics Kohs models have become known for has greatly depended on specific components being supplied to my builders for inclusion in the project production. The process is much more involved than just telling a builder give me one hundred of 'these' although that is the way some importers have operated over the years and still do in some cases. Components such as motors, electronics, lights, both incandescent and LED, gears, glass and even some specialized raw materials for fabrication have all been part of this mix. Often times the use is required by specific specifications, sometimes by evaluated durability or a combination of these factors.
The effort to coordinate with suppliers is very much an active endeavor at this point with this project. It seems that we are all dealing with the same post COVID issues of materials supply and in many cases, labor shortages that are slowing the process of getting inventory and likewise product access back on line. There are unfortunately no shortcuts for using the correct supplies if there is an expectation of specific best results.
Components that have become one of the most serious considerations in recent years are those related to DCC operation and sound. For anyone that has experience with one of the Union Pacific Challenger models that I produced you already know the choices made for that project and in large part why they were made. In short the decisions were based on optimal digital performance without compromising the analog capabilities. The Austrian company Zimo was the source of supply for the Challenger DCC/sound components and are again being used for the Big Boy. This company often times doesn't even come up on the 'radar' of people talking DCC, I suspect because the company does not heavily advertise their products. Originally selected because their technology addressed many of the inherent shortcomings of the DCC published standards and subsequently the performance experience, their technology and development continues to be cutting edge. For a more in-depth understanding of the Zimo product line and why I have selected it for our use I suggest that you take a look at the latest Zimo Newsletter which you can access from my technology page Sound & DCC Operation or directly at this LINK.
All efforts and decisions will continue to be made to further the Kohs & Company legacy of further advancing the art of brass modeling with each and every project.
8/14/22 - As circumstances slowly change for the better in terms of allowing me to move forward with the Big Boy production, there are certainly a number of factors that have to be continually assessed. Government regulations, airfares, builder status, as well as circumstances related to suppliers and service providers all have to be harmonized in order to be successful. I have held off doing direct reservation holder updates by mail for the simple reason that the vast majority have either been following the Online updates, have contacted me directly or both and the available information has been limited. As I move ever closer to making serious project progress, I will be reaffirming the reservation status with each holder and also advising of the plan going forward, notice of this activity will be posted in advance. International clients will be contacted by email as well since international mail delivery is still suspect at best based on recent experience.
I again must thank everyone for the patience and understanding exhibited throughout the last couple of years!
7/10/22 - A new posting with relevance to this project is available to read on the General News page.
6/03/22 - Earlier in the planning of this project, I had made mention of documenting the production effort for our Big Boy considering the special nature of the undertaking. Obviously a great deal of unanticipated things have happened in recent months that have greatly affected not only this project, but everything else that has been planned. As a result of the many conversations that I have had about this project and my efforts in general, the documentation idea has been expanded beyond just the Big Boy project. To learn more about what is planned now, I again direct you to the General News update of this same date.
5/25/22 - The change in travel restrictions that I have been hoping for are soon to start happening meaning that our projects can begin to be pursued in good order. Please see the General News update dated 5/25/22 for the details of the situation that is developing.
3/23/22 - Just a brief follow up based on the influx of feedback following the last posting on this update. I have to admit a level of surprise at the number of clients with Big Boy reservations that took the time to let me know that they agree with my approach to a very difficult production situation that has been the topic of discussion for a number of months. Most surprising are the comments from clients that paid in-full at the outset, that level of trust is not common in today's world unfortunately, but is certainly sincerely appreciated. To sum it up, more than one client made the comment that for more than twenty years, Kohs & Company has never failed to deliver a project for which money had been accepted and they don't expect that to start now.
A very sincere thank you to all who took the time to write or call, your loyalty will be rewarded in grand fashion!
3/18/22 - The 3/10 update again generated a number of comments and a focused concern about a path forward for not only this project, but for model production in general. Seemingly, most everyone I've spoken with understands the difficulties of the current situation if they have taken the time to understand the goals of this project and what has to be accomplished to achieve them. The only client-based suggestion that I have received so far in terms of dealing with the situation was to accept the models as built, relying on the builder for quality and accuracy and to then do my inspection upon arrival. for what purpose at that point I do not understand. The individual offering the suggestion further stated, "have products from other importers and that is exactly what they do without quality being compromised whatsoever". My simple response to this suggestion is that is the rationale that has generated countless Big Boy models in various scales, none of which were truly accurate in features and details with varying levels of quality. I doubt that the majority of my clients, being serious modelers/collectors would be satisfied with the inevitable results. The frustration level at this point is understandably high, but a rational level of informed thinking and planning has to be employed to protect the investment of all involved thus far.
As I have explained on the latest General News update, as a result of my continual communication with overseas contacts in the Far East, including South Korea and China, I have taken the step of engaging a personal representative that has governmental relations experience and he will assist in coordinating all efforts going forward with the hope of lowering some of the hurdles we have been facing since the COVID situation became an issue.
If this is a project of importance or interest to you, I remind you to review the General News page on a regular basis. Our current production situation has impacted all of my projects and there is no point in posting the same update information on all the active project site pages, so the General news page is the go-to source for most information except when current information pertains to a particular project only.
2/15/22 - Just a brief update to remind anyone that is interested in this project to check the General News page as much of the information posted there in recent months has a direct affect on this project. The progress on this project remains as the primary focus of all efforts going forward.
1/07/22 - As we start a new year with our Big Boy project, as I have previously described and explained, we remain at a critical juncture for the project where any mistakes made from this point on will not be practically correctable if not caught early. In-person inspection remains critical to ensure that not only the work that has been done is acceptable, but also to ensure that qualified workers are in place to do the production work in an acceptable manner. Builders both in South Korea and China have been hit hard by the loss of qualified workers and some are pushing forward with projects using any available hands and the results of the work are telling. I continue to communicate with well-placed individuals both in-company and outside the company to know what challenges have been and are being faced on a regular basis.
11/28/21 - You may have noted a good deal of activity on a regular basis on the technical information pages, specifically related to DCC control and sound. While the information presented there is certainly of value for our past projects, specifically the UP Challenger, even though brass model production has been severely hampered by the COVID situation, the development of new technology and the revision of existing products is taking place on a regular basis and needs to be evaluated for our Big Boy effort.
I have provided brochures and product bulletins on the site so anyone interested could follow along with the latest information about new technology. The software updates that I have written about on the technical pages are in large part updates that bring some of the new technology to existing equipment that some Kohs & Company customers have already invested in and have been using. It should be no secret that the chip shortage that we have all heard so much about related to the auto industry is also affecting electronics supplies for model railroading. This is another factor that I have to monitor very carefully so that we have what is needed as the Big Boy project moves forward.
The system technology that I chose for our Challengers was far and away more advanced than that used by other importers. Incorporating DCC in our models does not and should not require special preparation in order to operate them on analog DC as some others do. State-of-the-art DCC should always take into account those owners choosing to stick with analog DC, the nice feature with our chosen system is that one form of operation does not negate the use of the other, at any point the owner can decide to change. More of the special features of the latest Zimo system will be highlighted in future updates.
11/04/21 - I have had several calls from reservation holders in recent weeks and I have to thank them again publicly for the very supportive nature of their calls. We obviously share a mutual frustration, but also have confidence that the project will progress and be the best ever completed by Kohs & Company or anyone else.
A couple of subjects raised during the phone calls were the idea of weathering their individual models and their value when they are completed. I will repeat here what I said during those calls; I have only used one individual for model locomotive weathering since I originally offered that service and that individual was Lee Turner from here in Michigan, there are a number of photos of his work on this website. Unfortunately, it is fairly well known at this point that Lee has retired from doing commercial work and is concentrating on his own projects, it is also fairly well known that Lee has been suffering from eyesight issues which I believe contributed to his decision. I have not attempted to replace his services, since quite frankly, there is only one other individual that I would be interested in using and it is logistically unrealistic to do so. I have seen a couple of models that I produced weathered by a very well known individual on the west coast and I would consider those models to have been ruined. If at some point I see work in the future that I feel is worthy of consideration by my clients, I will certainly pass along the information.
Concerning the value of our completed Big Boys, all I will say at this point is that if for any reason there should be a model available for sale at the end of the production process, it will not sell for the original reservation price. I would also suggest that if any reservation holder would want to sell their model, it should sell for substantially more than they invested. I will be more specific with individual clients if asked, but I will leave it at that for now.
The promised written update is near complete following interruptions due to family issues and responsibilities (all is well) and should be in the mail soon. I am still working hard daily to deliver good news as soon as possible!
10/05/21 - The printed update that will be mailed out to reservation holders is nearly complete and as I have stated previously, I will post when it actually hits the mailbox so the anticipation of actual delivery can officially start. The focus of the update addresses some of the many issues that are being faced as I push ahead in advancing our production efforts. It's not only an issue of coordinating/negotiating with a builder, there are unfortunately political situations related to other countries that are a major factor and the previously unmentioned issue of dealing with suppliers that have been and are facing many of the same issues that Kohs & Company is. Critical components such as motors, electronics, drive components and lights for example have to be sourced and the builder's work relies on having timely access to these parts. The update will provide more insight into these issues.
My discussions with other importers and individuals involved in model production here in the states as well as overseas continue and the information shared factors into my thinking and approach going forward for this project and all others planned. Some of what has been said can be generally shared and I will do so in the pending update which I am trying to keep as current and relevant as possible. I have chosen not to post this type of information on the website as I would rather that others with a similar business interest do their own 'leg-work' and reach their own conclusions since the time and effort involved is considerable.
I have to say again that I sincerely appreciate the positive and supportive nature of the phone calls and emails that have been received regarding our Big Boy project and our work in general. It seems to be well understood the problems being faced and that if there were more that could be done faster, it would already be in process. There appears to be no doubt that our mutual ultimate goal is to complete the absolute best possible project and to again set a new standard, bettering that set by our UP Challenger project.
Check back frequently for the latest information and developments.
7/28/21 - Since the first of this year I have gone back and forth on the issue of mailing out project updates and reservation statements to those with reservations due to the incredibly poor postal delivery being experienced around the country and certainly overseas. At this point I am going to go ahead and prepare an update and the statements to in affect reestablish our line of communication with all involved and in particular those not regularly using the Internet to access my Online updates. I do ask everyone potentially affected to be patient once I give the high sign that the mailing has happened. I have had First-Class letters that have taken more than a month to travel to me from two states away and there are several pieces of important mail still missing with little hope of recovery. I have also had to request that three documents be resent after waiting several weeks for delivery and to date still have not received the replacements. At this point I will not attempt international postal mailing and will use email instead possibly with a document transfer service such as WeTransfer as I have experienced problems with document attachments on emails I suspect as a result of all the SPAM flooding the Internet. I will provide the delivery details so everyone will know what to expect and I will deal with the problems as they occur.
Verifying everyone's reservation status and details is important now as I continue to work on making project progress and establishing workarounds for some of the problems we are still facing as a result of both political as well as COVID-19 concerns. I do thank everyone again for the incredible patience you have shown and expressed in communications with me regarding our Big Boy project, it has been extremely frustrating for everyone, but no more so than for me I can assure you.
6/05/21 - This update will share a bit of discussions had with technically knowledgeable modelers and reservation holders. There is no doubt that Kohs & Company has already produced the most technically advanced model in the industry, it is on that effort the our Big Boy design and development is based.
As I previously indicated, the electronics for our Big Boy will again be the product of Zimo Electronics in Austria, the same manufacturer that equipped our Union Pacific Challenger model. Zimo's development has advanced considerably since we used their top-of-the-line MX series decoders in the locomotive (a lessor function decoder in the tender) and we will use their newer MS series decoder this time around. The obvious question was why Zimo? The answer to this question was based on several factors beginning with the overall build quality of their products which uniquely are manufactured in Austria rather than China.
Prior to making the decision for the Challenger project, all the available systems from different manufacturers were evaluated using feedback from actual users. Although the NMRA writings were put in place to standardize DCC operation for the hobby, it hasn't quite worked out that way with some manufacturers as many modelers have found. In the evaluation process it was easy to determine that the Zimo decoders offered the greatest expanse of features, many of which were unique to Zimo. In addition to the features previously described in regards to the Challenger, there are even more unique features offered now and you can review some of them on the latest Bulletin offered by Zimo under the heading 'Specialties'. The ease of installation during the Challenger project production with reliable results was a serious consideration and that has to be attributed to the multiple safety features built into their decoders. The final consideration in making the decision to continue with Zimo was based on the fact that I have had zero reports of problems since delivery of the Challenger models to their owners which quite frankly was a very pleasant surprise.
I was extremely reluctant to make the switch to DCC operation for our models simply based on all of the problems reported by users in my solicited feedback, the fear of overwhelming support problems was very daunting to say the least. It was obvious from the direction of the hobby that DCC had to be seriously considered for inclusion in our projects and the results to date have proven my decision to be correct. The ultimate control offered by reliable DCC and the programmable automated features available using standard DC operation is an unbeatable combination adaptable to most all users.
Also, during the spool-up for the reservations on this project, there was a great deal of discussion about whether or not a version of the current restored 4014 would be offered and to the disappointment of a number of people I said there would not be an excursion 4014 offered. The rational for this decision was that the restored locomotive and tender would be substantially different than the last in-service Big Boys when their service ended and that the changes or modifications made would not be well documented, at least enough to correctly model. As more and more information has been presented in print about the restoration and the many photos available, it is plain to see that the decision was correct. As with many excursion locomotives and equipment 'cleaned up' for display in parks and museums, the work done has typically been completed without regard for the original design and for operational purposes. In large part, these display and excursion locos serve the same purpose to a much great degree as the models I strive to produce, an inspiration for reflection on the 'Good Ole' days when these giants originally ran the rails.
Regarding our production; I am continuing to monitor the travel restriction situation and hoping for significant changes soon! I will continue to update as new information or situations arise.
4/19/21 - My overseas evaluation process continues, communicating with friends, current and former suppliers both to gain as much Intel as possible regarding the immediate business climate as well as the state of the virus situation in both South Korea and China. There continues to be growing glimmers of positive news, at least it is not all negative at this point. I have written elsewhere on this website about the model production situation in general, but my comments here are aimed specifically at this project. As many know, this project is being produced by a South Korean company that relies on production work in China, like so many other 'Korean' builders these days. As a result, I have to be very mindful of the situations in both countries and in particular the political state of affairs between the Chinese government and the United States. Again, what I am looking forward to is unrestricted access to both countries as I had pre-COVID.
I have been delaying the written project update and accounting statements looking for the delivery services of the USPS to improve to an acceptable state. As I write this, I am waiting on the delivery of specific pieces of mail which were sent out over three weeks ago which is certainly unacceptable to most people. My fear in sending out a large piece of mail to all my clients is trying to manage the resulting issues created by the poor mail service, with some people maybe receiving their mailing in a timely manner and others never receiving it. I am very familiar personally with the feelings of expectation when you know you are to receive something and you have to wait....wait...wait. I will jump in and do the mailing just as soon as I feel it can be accomplished without creating more problems in the process.
I will continue to update everyone on these issues here on the project site as often as possible when situations change.
2/22/21 - As I mentioned previously, the extra time created by the COVID-19 delays in production are being put to good use in project development. The latest efforts are in regards to the DCC sound/control system used for this project. Based on the success of our use of the Zimo MX695 sound decoder in our Union Pacific Challenger models, the plan has been all along to stick with the Zimo product line for our Big Boy. Rather than use the exact same decoder, we are now looking to upgrade what we use to the MS series decoders that Zimo recently released. This new series of electronics offers a substantial advancement primarily in sound reproduction and features, they will make our models state-of-the-art in all aspects. As this change is further 'fleshed out' I will provide more technical information and a comparison to our previous configuration.
Our postal mail project update and account statements have been slowed a bit by the influx of new project inquiries and inquiries from reservation holders seeking assurance that they are up to date with their payments prior to receiving the official statements. This will be handled near term.
I have to again thank all my reservation holders for the great patience exhibited, it has certainly made dealing with a terribly difficult situation much easier!
1/16/21 - The holiday season has passed and it's full concentration on getting 'things' done. As I mentioned going into the holidays, the plan has been to release a new printed update and account statement for all of my reservation holders, that work is underway now. Although the USPS delivery system is obviously still a mess based on my continued problems in receiving and sending mail items, there is no telling when the situation will improve, so it's time to move forward and hope for the best in terms of delivery. All international updates/statements will be emailed since there seems little likelihood that reliable delivery will be realized in these cases, this adds to the processing time for getting the individual files prepared, but there is no doubt that this is the best path forward for now. Please be patient when it comes to the delivery, I have had First-Class letters coming from two states away take more than two weeks for delivery with a couple still in limbo.
I will provide updates regarding the actual mailing and any reporting that I receive regarding the delivery. I also have to again thank all of my reservation holders for their patiences and understanding regarding the current situation related to COVID. I have had the chance to speak to many of you either by phone or email and there seems to be a common sense that when the Big Boy is finished, it will be the best model ever done and I am doing everything possible to make this happen!
12/20/20 - As this year closes out heading for 2021, hopefully a far more productive year for Kohs & Company, I have tried to update regarding the modeling situation overseas as often as new information dictated. With the advent of the COVID vaccine, I have already begun to see changes taking place that will lead to this project moving forward......finally. After we are through the holiday rush, particularly the postal rush, I will be mailing a full printed update to all reservation holders along with an account statement. Please pay special attention to the account statement since there were several reservations behind in payments and as I mentioned previously, those reservations have not been included in the final production order. It remains to be seen at this point if those reservations can not be reinstated even with updated payments. These situations will be dealt with on an individual basis based on the known factors involved. Getting the individual accounts in order is the first step in getting the project moving towards a successful conclusion.
I want to thank those of you that I have heard from and that offered support and patience as this process has evolved over the months. The payoff is coming and that will be the finest model yet from Kohs & Company!
11/15/20 - I've written in the past about the development process for a high quality model and the fact that you reach a point when you have to draw the line on spending more time and money on research before beginning production. This was not to say that you would ignore blatant mistakes or omissions if they were apparent, but rather not being able to afford extended research beyond evaluating the best resources available. I say with confidence that there has never been nor will there ever be a perfect model produced in any scale, the goal is to come as close as possible within the strictures of a commercially viable endeavor and that is my daily mission.
If there is a bright spot to be appreciated regarding the impact of the COVID situation on our Big Boy project, it is that the delay has afforded additional time for new and previously unevaluated data to come to my attention that will make our models even better than where we left off with the design. Honestly, given the choice between proceeding with the production based on our originally completed designs or taking into account the new data, it would be hard to justify the delay, but with no choice, I certainly feel better about being able to make the models markedly better as a result.
I've explained over the years that I have been producing brass models that I do not proclaim myself to be an expert on any of the prototypes that I have modeled. I also do not rely exclusively on the directives of the acknowledged experts on our chosen subjects. My approach is to develop my own thoughts regarding the design and then cross reference them with what has been previously said or published and when there is a discrepancy, the research is expanded to see what is more correct. It never ceases to amaze me where previously unshared data comes from and it is seldom from the usual readily available go-to places. It's more typically basements and attics that have collected material that the owner knew wast too important to trash, but until queried as a result of a shared hunch, really didn't know what to do with it.
Our design updates as a result of the new data are nearly complete and when appropriate, I'll shared some of what has been learned. Again, thanks to all for your patience with this project, I can ensure you that it will pay dividends in the end.
I have also made some additional comments on the General News page that pertain in part to this project. More news will be shared as it comes to light.
6/29/20 - The struggle goes on as we wrestle with the affects of the COVID-19 situation, one day brings positive news and the next a negative setback as the world grapples to get the situation under control. We continue to maintain contact with our builder and those companies providing essential components for our Big Boys. Six countries are involved with our supply chain so keeping an eye on their individual health situations alone keeps me very busy. I can assure everyone that progress is being made whenever possible based on government controls that affect the day to day operations of the companies involved. A hard-fast time line is impossible at this point, but as I continue see what is actually happening, I will certainly pass the latest information along using this web page and/or printed updates where justified.
On the subject of printed updates, with the postal service returning to some sense of normal at this point, I plan to go ahead with the long planned update along with updated account statements. As the project gets closer to completion, I want there to be no surprises for reservation holders since there have been a number of accounts requiring updating for one reason or another. I will provide an actual time-line for the mailing and electronic copies will also be provided for international customers to make certain that this important information is at hand. The mailing may well be done in two parts, but that has yet to be decided.
I also want to sincerely thank our reservation holders for their incredible patients, the 'normal' issues experienced during a major project are difficult enough to weather, but with the pandemic added into the mix, it has been a new level of frustration for us all to deal with. I will answer your questions when they come up although it seems that the situation has been well understood I will continue to provide updates here whenever there is news to share.
3/22/20 - As is well understood at this point, progress on our Big Boy has been slower than I would like or than had been anticipated for several reasons. Not the least of which, we have designed and are creating the most complex model ever and are using new processes to do so. With nearly 5,000 individual parts required to complete one model, you can well imagine the complexity of the design and the interrelation of all the parts. The end result will be unmatched by any other model in any scale. A more detailed discussion of the efforts and difficulties related to this project are being provided in the pending update to reservation holders. I can say at this point that work is continuing now that the COVID-19 situation in South Korea and China is somewhat under control. Many, but not all businesses there have been allowed to return to work and the effort to 'take stock' and make plans moving forward are under way. I'll continue to update on this as time or circumstances dictate.
Considerable progress has been made on our project and we have worked through difficulties with software and other factors to get to a point where the parts have been created for our production sample. You can see many of the parts in the images that follow. Immediately below are the 'makings' for large fabricated assemblies such as boiler sections, firebox top and side sheets, turret casings, running boards and cabs.
The next two images show the hard tooling required for forming the sand domes and turret casings. The tooling is used in large industrial presses to 'squeeze' brass sheet material into their correct shapes. These are the only parts that require this type of tooling, all of the other radiused parts you typically see on a model are hand-formed, often with the assistance of a press brake and 'jigs'.
Shown in the five images that follow are the parts used to create smaller fabricated assemblies for the locomotive. Many of the parts require additional forming either by hand or with the use of a press brake to create precise angles. The individual parts are then set into 'jigs' to hold them for alignment while being soldered into completed sub-assemblies.
The two images below are all cast parts. You're probably aware that for each cast component a master pattern has to be either hand-built or created using 3D printing techniques. Based on the type of part and in particular, the type of detail required, a decision is made about which process to use to create the master. As you can see, each part is labeled for it's usage.
The image below represents the cast parts required to complete one locomotive model. The size of the pile can be gauged by the size of the trailing truck side frame castings visible at the lower right corner.
3/14/20 - I have been mentioning a forthcoming project update for several weeks, but with the rapid changing situation, I have held off in sending an update in favor of hopefully offering the latest possible information regarding the progress on this project. I have been in repeated contact with the several builders involved with my projects and at this point I believe it's time to go ahead with the planned update. The patience of all involved has been greatly appreciate and the information that I will offer in the update will offer a positive outlook. More details regarding the update, when and what to expect, will be offered shortly.
12/14/19 - As I have commented on the General News page, life in the last several weeks has been more than a handful. I'm am catching up at this point and am currently preparing a year-end account statement for this project which will be mailed out with an in-depth update and status report during the holiday season. This is not an ideal time for a mailing, but it has been delayed too long at this point so I'll hope for the best delivery wise. International clients will also receive an emailed version to help avoid a further delay and possible delivery problems.
9/18/19 - I have been delaying posting a new update for our Big Boy project anticipating the completion and arrival of the production sample literally at any time in recent weeks. Understanding the growing anticipation, sharing the latest news is the best course at this point. In very candid discussions with the builder, this project has been described by him, based on his many years of experience, as the most demanding, complicated and resource intensive project he has ever seen. Simply stated, our collective design effort resulted in an absolute monster of a project, correct to the smallest detail, but ultimately an extremely difficult model to manufacture requiring many new production procedures to make the required detail and features possible. There has been no effort to shy away from building what was designed, it has boiled down to allowing the builder to allocate his resources in a way that preserves his business and still allows our demanding project to move ahead albeit at a somewhat slower pace than I or you would prefer. The alternative to this arrangement would be a substantially higher price for the project which obviously means that you would pay considerably more than what is a reasonable selling price all facts considered. Having a builder that is capable and willing to undertake a project like our Big Boy should not be taken for granted, there are no other importers undertaking or even planning projects approaching the production demands we have generated for our Big Boy, so to attempt to hold the builder to some artificial time standard would only lead to another builder going out of business as so many already have as a result of even lesser demands. The builder has indicated that he plans to be able to deliver our production sample this month.
Regarding the project update and accounting statement that has been planned, but that has been delayed, it will now move forward in the next few days. As a result of the my recent posts concerning administrative matters and the delinquent status of some accounts, there has been an influx of payments made to bring accounts up to date and that has required time and effort to log those payments in and deal with the production orders as a result. The more things happen outside of regular order, such as less than timely payments, the more difficult it is to keep communication and all other efforts current. Kohs & Company is not a force of many, but rather the efforts of a single individual working 16-18 hour days. Just to reiterate, Kohs & Company has not canceled anyones Big Boy order for lack of payment, it's very simple, if someone hasn't made the required payments, they have defaulted on their reservation and I can not afford to speculate on anyone's intentions to pay in the future. Thankfully, at this point this is a very limited situation following the recent payments and many thanks to all reservation holders that have honored their commitments!
Hopefully there will be 'fun' news in the very near future!
6/23/19 - There are a number of topics to discuss in this update and I'll take them one at a time. First and foremost, the planned project update mailing for this project has not gone out as yet, pending new information from my builder regarding the project and some administrative matters that will be addressed in the update here informed my decision to delay the mailing. Again, as I mentioned in the last posting, I will provide an actual mailing date for the printed update when it actually goes out in an effort to minimize the anxiety and anticipation.
Needless to say that developing and producing a project such as this is an involved and time consuming endeavor even under the best and most predictable circumstances. My effort as always is to produce the absolute finest model possible with no excuses, including the usual "I told the builder to do it and he didn't listen' which has been the common refrain for years among other importers. I have never failed to deliver a project that was beyond expectations in the more than twenty years of Kohs & Company and I'm not about to start now, even if it means an additional wait, the reservation holders that I frequently speak with also deem this to be a proper decision. I wish that every project that I have delivered had gone more smoothly and FASTER, this project will be no exception. For Kohs & Company, this project literally started the day that the business was formed more than twenty years ago, the accumulation of data, the research and the development of modeling techniques have all been approached with this 'ultimate' project in mind. For reservation holders though, the time has been considerably shorter, but still painful, approximately three plus years since the reservation deposits were first collected, the official start of the project. The best thank you for the wait will come from me in the form of the BEST Big Boy/scale model locomotive ever produced and for the couple not so patient, the loss is theirs.
A brief comment regarding the design, development and production process, I have heard and have had repeated by onlookers what other importers are saying about their processes in comparison to mine and they either do not understand what I am doing or are misrepresenting their own approach. There is not other importer doing what I am doing in concert with my builder, I have explained our new approach in detail over the months and except for some models being produced where there is little concern for the final results, no one else is moving from final design to production sample for which there are numerous positive ramifications as I have previously explained. Using 3-D software to design a model and then building a sample for revision is not what we are doing.
Regarding the administrative matters; after multiple account statements being sent to each reservation holder, a small hand-full of accounts remain delinquent. I have tried to be as lenient as possible on this requirement out of consideration for the wait, but we're getting down to the wire. The situation was explained with the mailed account statement last September and a warning was also mentioned on this website, that if you had a balance due on the incremental payment and it remained unpaid, the production of the reserved model would be in jeopardy. Official notification has not happened as yet, but a couple of individuals having made an inquiry are now upset that their models are not currently included in the production order with the builder, I have not canceled reservations, this is simple matter of not building a model that hasn't been paid for, not very complicated! I mention the situation here out of respect for the vast majority of responsible individuals that have honored their agreement in a timely fashion or have made appropriate arrangements to do so when possible. In fact, two reservation holders that were aware of delinquent reservation holders, oddly enough the two that are now complaining, have questioned me about this situation feeling that they were being taken advantage of and wanting to know how I would deal with this inequity. As of the pending account statement that will be mailed shortly, individuals owing on their accounts will be informed that there build has not been scheduled in the final production order. These individuals will be given thirty days to bring their payments up to date or sell their reservation to another buyer, I will honor a transfer of this type as long as the total payment in my records is brought up to date by the new buyer within the thirty day period. It is unfortunate that I have to make this situation a public matter, but for those reservation holders that never look at their postal mail and are reading this, consider your own personal situation. In spite of the circumstances as explained, I am certain that the usual Internet trolls will rampage and rumors will fly that Kohs is being mean, unreasonable, that the Big Boy project will never be completed (like the Challenger wasn't) and that I am also killing babies in my spare time, facts never seem to matter to some people! Details of this situation will be updated as necessary.
The latest information from the builder will be included in the pending written update, again, stay tuned for the actual mailing date to avoid going crazy over mail delivery which I think we all do on a regular basis these days.
6/01/19 - A new color photo project update is being prepared for mailing this week along with reservation account statement for all reservation holders. This was planned earlier, but was delayed pending additional update information and an expansion of our printing capabilities to make processing the update and other printed material faster and more efficient. This expansion is also mentioned on the General News Update page at this date. A date certain will be provided for the mailing to ease the anticipation of delivery by the USPS which is always a concern!
4/04/19 - Additional tender sample photos have finally been posted HERE. The work load since the Chicago March Meet has been been very heavy requiring me to go in multiple directions at once which is always a challenge! More update detail will be posted shortly as the focus shifts to other projects temporarily. Stay tuned!!
3/21/19 - A big topic of discussion at the O Scale March Meet in Chicago was certainly the anticipated arrival of the Big Boy sample model. Unfortunately the locomotive did not arrive, but the production sample of the tender (shown below) did and was on display. The builder ultimately used his best judgment based on previous instructions that I had provided, not to ship the model if it would significantly impact the production effort, the only issue being a communication gaff regarding the intention to ship it time for the show.
At the outset of the project the stated goal was to produce a model that is better than our UP Challenger which seems to be universally accepted as the best to date. There was little understanding of how it could be better, but when the most critical of modelers and the competition alike make statements along the lines that this tender represents the best model they have ever seen, the belief that the goal has been achieved begins to sink in. There is still work to be done obviously, but I am confident at this point that our new development/production process is yielding the results that I had hoped for. We are not only achieving increased quality, but taking steps to insure our ability to produce models in the future through cost saving steps in the development that offset increased production costs.
A complete portfolio of photos is being created of the tender production sample that will highlight the level of detail created and the quality of the construction as well. The photos will be posted on this site in a next day or two along with further comment related to the sample. I should also mention that based on what was seen with the production sample, the tenders are in full production without any changes being made, the first time in thirty years that the first metal produced is production ready.
This is a version number one tender.
3/12/19 - As I await the arrival of the Big Boy production sample that I will take to the Chicago O Scale March Meet, I have added some new reference material to the project site. On the Project Information page, I have added links to illustrations of the five model versions, these illustrations were created from the actual 3D model design drawings so they do accurately represent the configurations for the five versions. I had delayed in posting this information considering that there have been other planned 'Big Boy' projects lingering in the marketplace, but it seems that there are no other active projects at this point. The illustration while showing the basic configurations, do not do so as to be immediately usable for new model designs. As I have done in the past with other projects, some 'trick' features have been added to or deleted from the illustrations without altering the usefulness for our purposes so that any future designs by others can be monitored for copying our work.
Following the Chicago March Meet, photos will be taken of the production sample and posted to the project site. I look forward to discussing this project will all that are able to attend the March Meet!
2/21/19 - There has been a whirlwind of activity since the holiday season and there are several issues to update regarding our Big Boy project. The annual O Scale March Meet in Chicago is coming up very soon, March 15-17 in the usual location. I am very happy to advise that I will have a final production sample model of our Big Boy available to display at this show. I look forward to being able to explain in detail the work that we have been doing to make this model the best ever.........yes, even better than our Union Pacific Challenger! As I mentioned elsewhere on this website, I will again be hosting an after-hours gathering in an upstairs suite, this will provide an opportunity to discuss in a degree of peace and quiet the efforts that have gone into not only developing this project, but also how we will be proceeding in the future based on my most recent experiences. If you contact me at the show I will provide the location and timing for the gathering.
I have provided the final production orders to my builder for the individual models that will actually be produced and I will be sending out confirmation letters to all reservation holders reiterating the details of each order so there will be no mistakes. These confirmations will also reflect the payments that have been received to date. I also have to acknowledge that any reservation that was delinquent in terms of payments has been dropped from the production since I will not be producing any models based on speculation, I do not want there to be any surprises when the deliveries start, but there really shouldn't be since I did provide a reminder in the last August 2018 statement. I will post another update as soon as the statement/updates are actually mailed in an effort to relieve as much anticipation as possible related to mail service.
12/10/18 - I am happy to advise that a very important milestone has been reached with our Big Boy project, the 'go ahead' has been given for the build of the production sample based on the successful completion of our research and development work. To put this in terms relative to our previous locomotive projects, this would equate to the final approval of all the corrections formulated based on a review of the first sample model and corrections made to it.
As I have labored to explain since the start of this project, a new approach was required for our future productions, first to advance the desire for even greater quality, features and accuracy with our models and secondly to help control the cost of development and production thereby keeping prices as reasonable as possible. As explained, the basis for a new approach has centered on the use of state-of-the-art 3D design software for which I cannot claim credit for initiating, but what I have done is make full use of the capabilities of the technology to advance the art and cut the costs. You have seen other builders/importers illustrate the early concepts for a project with the renderings created by the software used followed by a first sample model that is used for further review and corrections. There is no cost savings with this approach since once tooling is created for a first sample, it is very difficult to convince a builder to redo it in an effort to make a model more correct. In this scenario the hope is that the use of good software has at least improved the initial design before the classic battle of fighting for corrections begins with the builder.
What I have done with this project is leverage every bit of advantage from the software design to avoid having to fight for hard-part corrections. Initially this concept was not fully understood even by the builder doing the project, but with time and proven examples offered, the potential results became clear to see and the reluctance was no longer an issue. As a result, we waded through seventy-seven pages of corrections which were based on the design originally offered for consideration earlier this year, that does not included the reference material used to make the corrections which numbered in the hundreds. With every previous project I've done, I always had to come away from the corrections negotiations being happy if I could gain acceptance for only a portion of the corrections, typically those most important for visual acceptance of the project. Concessions have always been a serious part of the project development, so this is the first time that I have presented every issue that I found or developed and been able to actually incorporate it into the finished project.
Quite frankly this approach has been met with some skepticism if for no other reason than that the project has not been visually exciting to this point lacking the many photos that an early sample provides. Perhaps the results will find more understanding and acceptance going forward, not withstanding the facts that without a changed approach I would most likely not be producing models much longer. So with parts being produced as their designs were accepted in recent months, the process of building a complete production sample model has begun. Given the choice of model version to use for the sample, version #1 was chosen since it is most representative of the 4884 class.
Another project update is being prepared for delivery after the holidays and there will be photos of the construction included. The promised updated account statements for those that have made recent payments will now be completed with my intense review work completed. Never enough hours in the day or night to do things the way one would ultimately like!
10/17/18 - The development and production of parts continues for our Big Boy and I honestly could not be more thrilled. Seemingly everyone that knows our Challenger has been skeptical about my statement that the Big Boy would be better, but as I see the project coming to life I am very confident in what I have represented. With my previous build situation I routinely threw out challenges in terms of doing features and detailing that had never been done in the past and Mr. Lee always took up the challenge. It has taken time to develop the same sort of relationship with my new build situation, but we are there! The work that I have requested has been incorporated without fail in this project and it is taking the results to a whole new level and I am thrilled. The extended research has generated a level of detail and version accuracy that has never been accomplished with any Big Boy model in the past and will have to be seen to be understood and believed. More on this subject as the project proceeds.
As a result of the recent mailing there have been many new payments received, new account statements will be processed and sent out in the next week or so for those reservation holders affected. Thank you again to those who responded, it is sincerely appreciated!
9/20/18 - Just a brief further update regarding the recent postal delivery update for reservation holders; I have heard that the update has now reached Australia. Seems we have an approach going forward for successful mailings after a lot of grief!
9/18/18 - The feedback regarding the latest mailed update has been positive this time with receipt acknowledged at both coasts and more recently overseas. There is no way to avoid the postal delivery system with many clients still avoiding the Internet and E-mail, so the effort to manage the deliveries will continue for future mailings. The patience of all involved is sincerely appreciated.
With the background situation regarding the project explained in this last update for reservation holders, we have been pushing forward and making very good progress on the project. The last drawings presented for review were by far the best I have seen for any model project and the detail the process is allowing could not be achieved by any other method of design. One benefit of the delays experienced has been the extra time for research and that has paid dividends. A number of significant details/features have been added, modified or more correctly correlated to specific versions of both the locomotive and tender. I've had the opportunity to review the last several Big Boy projects produced by others so I know well what has been lacking and what flat out was done wrong. Information regarding some of our more significant advancements will be shared in future updates directly with reservation holders, this to avoid helping other importers design Big Boy projects they have announced.
With the approach I have taken in reorganizing my production efforts and establishing a 'hub' system for cooperation among supplies working with me, it has attracted the attention of a significant software developer that is now working with me to streamline a number of processes technology wise. The focus of the efforts has been to help control costs associated with my models even though they are becoming more sophisticated in their content.
As I have explained about the new approach to production that eliminates the first sample model, we are at the point in the Big Boy effort where software parts are being turned to metal. While there still may be some modifications required to various parts, these modifications should be minimal in nature and actually necessary as a result of pushing the design limits tolerance wise to increase quality, so some hand fitting may be required in some areas and is being anticipated. This is a fiat trade-off for a better model.
The photos in this series are of master patterns used for casting detail parts. The master patterns are created and then a silicone mold is made of the master and that resulting mold is used to create the waxes for the final 'lost wax' casting process. Although we are using rapid prototyping to a great degree and have established that as one of our 'hub' processes, a large portion of the patterns are being hand built for the Big Boy.
While rapid prototyping has become an extremely useful tool in the production of brass models as a matter of necessity resulting from a lack of skilled pattern makers, hand built patterns still offer real advantages especially with particular types of parts. I am extremely happy that we have an absolute master pattern maker working on this project and not only are the patterns beautiful, the resulting castings will be exceptional as well, the man making the patterns will actually oversea the casting process all the way through to completed parts. I've learned more from this man in a relatively short time than I have from all the previous casters combined over the thirty plus years I've been producing models.
The updates on the site and in the mail will become more regular at this stage and the long awaited photos will be coming at a regular pace as well. The patience and persistence have paid off and our Big Boy will undoubtedly establish a bench-mark that will eclipse even our Challenger!
9/03/18 - Great progress is again being made on the Big Boy project and the Online updates will continue as soon as our reservation holders have a chance to receive and digest the information in the latest printed update. The delivery of the latest update is underway both by postal delivery and electronic delivery in addition for those overseas. Photos will begin being posted very soon.
8/22/18 - The new and revised project update has been completed along with new copies of the account statements. These documents are being processed for mailing and should be out the door shortly. I am headed for Rockville, Maryland to attend the O Scale National Convention, but I have already started to send electronic copies to reservation holders overseas and that while continue even as I travel. One way or the other this information will be delivered so everyone will know the current status....finally!
8/05/18 - In addition to moving the project work along, I have been trying to resolve the ongoing postal delivery situation and there is a potential path forward that could provide accountability. In the meantime, the work on the Big Boy project is starting to move at a pace that has made the intended update which many reservation holders did not receive outdated. Rather than redo the last update, I am preparing a new update that includes the latest information and they will again be sent out with account statements. Needless to say, there has been a great deal of wasted time, effort and money, but those are the cards that have been dealt and I move forward. The patience of reservation holders is sincerely appreciated!
7/08/18 - A brief update tonight regarding the update and statement mailing. Unfortunately I am experiencing the same issues with this mailing that that have happened in the past, with a number of reservation holders having a delayed delivery. To start with, I will be sending electronic copies to everyone outside the United States and to anyone requesting same in the states. I will also follow up with new mailings as needed so stay tuned, your patience is appreciated!
6/06/18 - Just a brief update to assure our reservation holders that the very latest information coming out of my most recent overseas visit is included in the printed project update that is going out for delivery. Some of this same information will be shared here on the project update page in due course. It is still possible to produce 'Best' quality models, but the effort is more difficult with time and does require persistence and patience on the part of all involved. As I have often heard said about many difficult tasks, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it and that has never been more true regarding brass scale models than it is today.
5/13/18 - I'm very happy to report that great progress has been made with our stalemate situation regarding the production of our Big Boy. I have planned several times to send out updates to reservation holders and each time wound up holding off pending the latest news. This week an update will definitely be sent out based on the latest developments detailing what has been transpiring over the last several months. The great patience of our reservation holders has been sincerely appreciated and I have routinely heard that the quality is more important than the timing, but I know that the wait can be frustrating! The update will include the long promised account update as well.
3/21/18 - The O Scale March Meet was held in Chicago this past weekend and I posted a general update regarding the meet on our General News page, but I wanted to discuss more specific information related to the show here since it pertains to our Big Boy project. The meet offered the opportunity to again host a gathering of reservation holders for this project and owners of some of our other models to discuss and answer questions regarding our current project efforts. Much of what was discussed is information contained in the current project update that will be delivered shortly to all reservation holders, but it's worth mentioning here as well.
The major take away for me from our discussion was that everyone really misses the usual photos that have been a big part of our visible project development over the years, they provided an insight into what was being done with each project. The second bit of information that hit home with those in attendance was how difficult it would be to transition from our previous builder, Mr. Lee at S.J. Models to a new builder, let me deal with that first.
It was common knowledge that Kohs & Company had to transition away from Mr. Lee as a result of his doubling the FOB pricing for our next project, the UP Big Boy. That translated means that he actually burned out from the demands of our projects and couldn't face an even bigger challenge with our Big Boy project than the last, our UP Challenger. The fact is that no builder had previously delivered a project at the level of our Challenger and none have since. My job was to select a new builder and develop the relationship and capabilities that resulted from an almost thirty year relationship with Mr. Lee and do it in short order so that our next project, our Big Boy, could be delivered in a reasonable time frame with results compatible with our mission statement of each new project being better than the last. Add to the complexity of the challenge a transition from the old model development method to the new, using and totally relying on 3D software development of every part in our project, cutting out the waste of trial and error sampling and the related expense.
The net result of using 3D software development is intended to deliver a more precisely built and accurately detailed finished product, but the interim downside is the lack of scads of photos of all the sample parts and models that have until this point been a part of our project efforts. As I indicated early on in this project, there wouldn't be the usual flood of photos to entertain everyone prior to the model going into the final stages of assembly. The purpose of the software approach is to eliminate the waste of time and materials in doing lots of samples until a part is accurately created, if all goes according to plan, final approval of parts is accomplished in the software and then the parts are manufactured for final assembly and photos begin happening when the parts are available for final assembly. There are a couple of importers that have followed our lead in using 3D development, but for some reason they are still producing lots of parts and samples which defeats the whole purpose of the software development. In our discussion, I referenced the Challenger model that we produced as an example of why a change was required. The Challenger took nine and a half years to produce from start to finish which was ridiculous, there was no profit for anyone! There were hundreds of photos and sample parts along the way and when all was said and done, all the sampling from the first eight years was scrapped and while the photos were entertaining for many, they held little value at the end.
Because of the rising production costs of brass model building and material costs I see this approach as the only path forward and it will hopefully delay the day that the type of models we produce become economically infeasible. I truly encourage questions, I'm one importer that is totally accessible at shows, by email and phone.
3/13/18 - With new projects being added to the site, there may be concern about the development of the Big Boy project taking a backseat in the whole scheme of things. The absolute opposite is the case, I suggest for anyone that is curious, please go back and read the posts on the General Update page for approximately the last half of 2017. The addition of projects is being done to 'occupy' the attention of our builders to a greater degree in order to gain the level of quality and improved timing we all desire not only for this project, but all of them. A more detailed explanation is included in the forthcoming reservation holder update.
3/11/18 - Apologies and no excuses, just a simple explanation for the long delay in getting the promised project update and accounting out to all reservation holders. Despite evaluations to the contrary, I'm still suffering from the residual nerve pain of the shingles which started before the holidays and it's making any prolonged tasks extremely difficult. I've heard from a number of customers that have had the experience and understand what I'm whining about. Your patience is sincerely appreciated, the updates are printing as I write this. Once the printed updates have been distributed additional update information will be posted about the project.
12/17/17 - An apology is in order regarding the account statement and project update that was to go out last month. Travel and personal challenges prevented a timely follow through on that commitment, but I can tell you that I am hard at work preparing that mailing for this week. I intend to hold the mailing a couple more days at this point to allow the flood of holiday mail to be processed as I normally have difficultly realizing a timely delivery under normal circumstances. Your patience is sincerely appreciated!
I am happy to report that my change in approach to production is already yielding positive results that will only make our Big Boy results that much better. If you have paid attention to the difficulties others have had in delivering high quality models, that is exactly why I have taken the approach I have, to avoid the same type of issues and frustrations for my reservation holders. Only 'Best' quality is the goal and the only standard that will be accepted by me for my projects! As surprising as it is to me, there are supposedly serious modelers who cannot tell the difference between my final production PRR cabin cars and flat cars and those rejected junk models of the same type produced by EK Models in South Korea. Ultimately, that matters not as I certainly know the difference and most of my owners do as well, the new builders I am working with since Mr. Lee at SJ Models are learning as well and are happy for the experience.
11/09/17 - A brief note to all reservation holders for our Big Boy, an updated account statement as well as a new printed project update will be going in the mail early next week, I am 'shooting' for Tuesday. The project update will highlight some new features that have been added to the project, both detail wise as well as functional and I can tell you that I am very excited about these developments. Our progress has been too slow up until now, but the effort will start moving far more quickly for a variety of reasons that I will endeavor to better explain in the update. There is no doubt that we are improving on the state-of-the-art status that our Challenger project holds and although I wish the progress had been faster, the results are going to be beyond what has been hoped for, something we'll all be proud of!
9/17/17 - The updates on our production have become unacceptably slow and I am disappointed with the lack of progress made in recent weeks. The issue seems to boil down to the simple fact that simple, less detailed projects are easier to push forward in an effort to make fast money and projects like I have typically produced are by far more demanding and time consuming. I do admit that Kohs & Company projects are by far the most demanding projects being produced, but the prices paid to our builders is by far more than all other models as well. Skilled labor is certainly a priority to successfully complete one of our projects and as I have explained on this page and elsewhere on our website, that is a problem for all importers, but more significant due to my demands. A reorganization of my efforts remains under way and following my upcoming trip I expect to have made important strides in overcoming the delays as well as fortifying our production situation for the future. Additional light is shed on the situation in new posts elsewhere on the website and while I will not provide all of the details for competitive business reasons, it should be clear what my intent is. I will not let this project drag on like our previous project/projects so no worries and stay tuned!
A printed update will be sent out to all reservation holders following this next inspection visit to provide the very latest news along with an updated project account statement.
6/02/17 - In my last update posted below, I failed to mention the development work that has been done for the sound and control system for this project. Based on the overwhelmingly positive response I received from our Challenger owners, the Big Boy will again be equipped with DCC, but it is being taken to the next level in terms of the sound and the sound control. As with the Challenger, the system will be compatible with analog DC and the automated lighting and sound features can be configured to individual taste, manual control will be limited to DCC operation. For DCC operation all aspects of the lighting and sound will be totally configurable for automated as well as manual control just as with our Challenge. What will differ is the number of sounds, the fidelity and the very precise automated sound control correlated with the type of operation the locomotive is experiencing, light to heavy load in combination with grade aspect, up grade, running on the flat or drifting down grade. I can't go into too much detail in describing these features at this point since all involved want to maintain an element of surprise for the release. It will be the most sophisticated sound utilized to date in any scale.
5/31/17 - Although I have been quiet here, I have been pounding away in a number of directions to make progress on several fronts including this project. There are several update topics to cover and I'll go through them one at a time.
First and foremost work has continued on our Big Boy, all be it, not as fast as I would like. In short, the process is very much a matter of learning for both the builder and myself. Having a new builder, you can talk through all of the processes and specifications required to produce one of my projects, but until it's hands on you don't know for sure the level of understanding of the assembled production staff. With Mr. Lee at SJ Models, we worked together for almost thirty years advancing my standards with each project, I would present the challenges and together we would figure out a way to accomplish the intent. This continued until our final project together was completed, the Union Pacific Challenger. That ultimately became the starting point for our Big Boy project with my new builder. I indicated at the outset that the goal was to take this project at least one step beyond where we left off with the Challenger so that would be a huge challenge for any builder, even Mr. Lee!
Many of the processes and design procedures that we had come to take for granted in the later years working together now have to be newly scrutinized to make certain that the desired results are achieved. This is a slow and tedious process, sometimes involving new techniques required by advancements in technology which ultimately better our results. In fact there is not a great frame of reference for what my models require for any other builder since I am not aware of any builder that has tackled a project as complicated and demanding as many of those my 'team' has completed over the years. With that said, I am confident that the work currently being done is going to lead to the results we all want and with a bit of luck, by the end of this year.
I know that the new design and development approach we are now using, relying on our 3D design software instead of multiple repetitions of corrected sample parts, has been somewhat frustrating for those watching this project. Over the years with previous projects I have presented hundreds of photos leading up to the final production and so far that has not been possible. I can tell you for certain at this point that this project would not be possible taking our old approach for design and development simply based on the cost. I'll be sharing more information about the techniques and technology being employed for this project in the Model Construction section of this site. I'll have a more detailed report after my next pending visit overseas after which I will be preparing another printed update that will go out to all reservation holders.
On another administrative matter, I am now processing the remaining incremental payments that have been received and as soon as that has been completed, new account statements will be mailed out to reservation holders. Shortly after the statements have been sent out, models that have not been paid for up to date will be made available to people on the project waiting list. If you are on the waiting list, stay tuned for your opportunity!
More news will follow soon!
3/14/17 - Just a brief update for tonight, but there is more coming very soon. I wanted to let reservation holders know that I am currently processing new account statements after many of you have provided the requested incremental payments for your Big Boys. I'll post the date when the statements are actually mailed so we can keep track of the delivery process as best we can.
Please stay tuned!
12/04/16 - I am happy to report that I have not had any reports of missing updates since the second mailing was sent out, what a relief! I wanted to let everyone that received the updates know that I will be sending out updated project account statements in the very near future as I work through getting caught up from the overseas 'adventures'! Thanks to all that have provided timely responses, it is sincerely appreciated.
11/03/16 - The new updates are in the mail and fingers are crossed that the mailing will go much better than the last!
10/25/16 - Just a brief update to advise that the project update mailing is being completely redone. I have no way of knowing exactly who has received the first mailing and who has not, there has obviously been a serious problem with delivery once again and little satisfaction from USPS. If you are curious, you may want to Google 'postal mail dumping' and you will be shocked at what a serious problem this is, I'll leave it at that and you can draw your own conclusions regarding the source of the problems. Again, my apologies for this situation, I am going to pursue alternative solutions for the future since the waste of time and money is totally unacceptable.
10/17/16 - As a result of several inquiries regarding the delivery of the printed update for this project and the fact that I have not heard of any deliveries thus far, I made a formal inquiry at the post office of record and will report back as soon as I have a response. Frustration does not begin to describe my feelings! Please be patient and the situation will be dealt with.
9/29/16 - The printed project update for the Big Boy project is finally hitting the mail slot! Many thanks to all for the patience while I pulled together the latest information for the project. A further update will be posted here following the Brass Expo show in Chicago this weekend.
8/15/16 - The last of the new printed updates for this project are being printed now and will be going in the mail very soon. I will be including updated account statements with the updates so that anyone that has made an optional payment will have a current accounting. I'll post the exact date that the mailing hits the mailbox so we can collectively all cross our fingers that the updates make it to the intended addresses. This update will not be posted on line as it is intended for our reservation holders and there is little point in promoting the project at this point based on the status of sales, but some of the information will be provided in future Online updates for general consumption. Once the notice goes up that the mailing is out the door, please be patient waiting for the delivery before you assume it has been lost. Based on recent experiences, please allow at least ten days for delivery within the country and at least a couple of weeks for overseas delivery.
Updates will start to increase in frequency as the production takes shape.
6/12/16 - There has been a long delay in getting the promised printed postal mail update out to reservation holders due to a problem with our large format printer that was used for printing the color updates. The printer has been out of service for about six weeks now and I have been waiting on a repair. The good news is that I have located and purchased an appropriate replacement for the old printer and am now able to move forward with the updates as soon as the unique characteristics of the new setup are fully implemented. There is a great deal of information to be shared and I'll get it out as quickly as possible at this point!
4/09/16 - It seems that the latest letters to reservation holders have been reaching their destinations, even overseas! I have not received any reports of missing letters so that is great. There have been several letters that were forwarded to new addresses, so I remind all involved to please keep your contact information up to date.
In the previous update I mentioned the status of the project reservations, I can now tell all that there are three reservations now available following my recent audit. These are available on a first come first serve basis.
The printed project update is now in the works and will be mailed very soon. I am hopeful that these can be delivered without problems, I will advise as soon as the updates go out so reservation holders can be looking for them in the mail.
Stay tuned, more news is coming shortly!
3/20/16 - I have been unfortunately very remiss in getting client related paperwork up to date, but I have just dedicated several days to that effort regarding our Big Boy project. I'm happy to say that the records have been thoroughly updated and new reservation statements will be mailed out to all reservation holders early this week! A printed color update is also nearly complete and will be mailed separately shortly after the statements go out.
As a result of this thorough audit, I've found that the project is basically sold out. I say basically, because there are some reservation slots that had been held pending receipt of deposit payments, which is a typical courtesy for existing clients and in some cases the payments were never received. Knowing this, I have made the appropriate individuals aware and provided an opportunity to maintain their status, but these remaining unsecured reservations will be very soon opened on a first-come-first-serve basis until they are all spoken for.
More detailed project update information will be posted shortly once the mailing are completed. Many thanks to all reservation holders for your patience!!
2/04/16 - There is a further comment that should have been included in the update yesterday. A sharp eyed knowledgeable reservation holder quickly brought to my attention his concern about a feature shown in the images below that is in fact incorrect. This was intentional, as I indicated when previous images were shared, they also contained inaccuracies included for the benefit of our competitors who do not hesitate to share our information. You are welcome to confirm with me any concern that you have, but fear not, we have a pretty good handle on our research. It is unfortunate that these 'games' have to be played, but such is business these days.
2/03/16 - It has been too long since I have taken the time to update regarding our Big Boy project, but that obviously doesn't mean that we haven't been busy working on it. A more extensive update will be posted very soon, but the images below are just a teaser about the progress we have made. The five image 'captures' were taken from the 3D design work that has been completed for the project, these represent the base as-built version of our model. With our most recent project completed, our PRR cabin cars, the Big Boy will be moving into production near term. A final review of the various versions is underway and upon completion of that work, it will be time to make metal!
Be sure to check back soon for more details and for those of you with reservations, the long ago promised written postal-mail update will be on the way very soon.
11/11/15 - A great deal of time has been spent in recent weeks developing the all-important production matrix that lays out the absolute details of each production version, there is one for the locomotives and also one for the tenders. Each matrix is not only a collection of written cues for everyone involved in the development and production, there are also images link to each important aspect so there will be no misunderstanding on the part of the technicians that actually assemble the models during the main production, they can actually see the specific detail appropriate for each version.
By far the most valuable document to result from this project development, it is based on every form of available reference data starting with the builder's drawings and photos followed by a series of over a thousand additional in-service photos that were used to develop a time line for the implementation of specific known details. In addition the in-service photos are invaluable as they provide the details of previously unknown modifications that were made during the service period, but were never documented with actual drawings from either the builder or the railroad.
Not unlike the previous development projects that I have run, I encountered major feature drawings that were never committed to metal and as mentioned, features committed to metal that were never documented. That is the challenge of developing a model project correctly and why all of the various forms of reference are required in large quantities. My practice remains to never reference the work of other builders or importers except in terms of improving the techniques of replicating particular types of detail.
Going forward I'll share some of the more interesting aspects of detail that have been developed, but it will have to be done in a way that does not support those who count on Kohs & Company projects supporting their modeling efforts. The project updates will be coming at a more regular pace with the conclusion of our PRR N5 cabin car project almost in hand.
10/04/15 - With our rolling stock projects almost brought up to date, our full attention now shifts to the Big Boy project. The work has never stopped and much that has been accomplished has not been mentioned for a lack of time. The project updates will be more frequent and more attention will be paid to all of you that have reservations in place for this project.
9/03/15 - The bad news regarding our Big Boy project is that I still have not caught up on all of the paperwork, the good news is that reason is that the time has been spent on actually developing the project to keep it on schedule. A mailing will be going out to all reservation holders very soon and that will include the printed update that has been completed. Order confirmations will also be included in the mailing so that phase of the project will be complete. We are very near a full reservation status with only a couple of slots that are going to be made available very soon, when those are gone the reservation process will be complete! Many thanks to all that have chosen to support this project, you are going to be rewarded with a fantastic model.
More detailed information will be posted very soon, but the printed updates need to get out to reservation holders first, many thanks to all for your patience!!
6/23/15 - Just a brief update to let reservation holders know that the first project update is being printed now and as soon as that is finished, it will be going out with the promised confirmation letters. As it always happens, everything is happening at once now that the PRR flat cars are in the shop and being processed for shipping. It will all get done with some long days and nights!
A reminder to those individuals that had asked for a reservation slot to be saved until their orders arrived; there are a number of outstanding promised orders and the time that I will have to turn those openings loose is fast approaching in order to be fair to all concerned.
More news about the project itself will be posted shortly, so be sure to check back frequently.
5/20/15 - A more comprehensive update is coming following my recent inspection/development visit overseas, but there are two important pieces of information that I wanted to get out before there is time to produce the more complete update. First of all, I am currently working on getting the reservation confirmations out to everyone that has submitted an order form or spoken with me directly about ordering a Big Boy. This is a time consuming process and it is my current priority so there will be no doubt with those that have ordered a model/models, this process should be completed by early next week. Considering the ongoing issues especially with overseas mail, I will be sending email copies of the confirmations to all overseas reservation holders in addition to the postal mail copies.
On a very exciting note, the reservations for our Big Boy have nearly reached the 90% mark, not including some pending orders. This will be the quickest sell-out in Kohs & Company history and while I am extremely pleased, I am not really surprised. I have to thank all of our existing customers that have already ordered for their incredible loyalty and ongoing support and also extend a hearty welcome to the newest members of our modeling community! Once the reservation confirmation letters are processed and delivered, the first project update will be produced and sent out to all of our reservation holders, this will be an ongoing process as new milestones are reached with the project.
More project news will be coming soon, so check back often!
4/27/15 - Well, I knew it was too good to be true, that the USPS was actually doing their job and delivering mail in a reliable manner. I have receive feedback from three customers today that they have not received their offering packet for the Big Boy project. All domestic addressees should have received the offering by now and the other part of the story is that if these pieces of mail could not be delivered for some reason, they should have been returned to me. If you are wanting the offering and have not received your copy as yet, let me know and I will send out another copy. If you have moved recently, please make sure that I have your current address. Copies of the same information is available for download on the Project Downloads page in the interim.
4/26/15 - Our offering mailing has been on the move for approximately two weeks now and is just now reaching some of our customers in far away places like Australia. With the nature of the mail service these days, it's nice to know that people are actually receiving the mailing! In fact, the results of the mailing have been extremely gratifying, not strictly based on new orders, but more importantly the renewed contacts with many of my original supporters that have been somewhat on the sidelines for a period of time. It has been wonderful to reestablish many of those contacts and to learn what life has served up over the past few years and that their original models are still being enjoyed. If you are an existing customer and have not received your mailing, please refer to the General News update of this same date. I'll be happy to do a replacement mailing if the situation suggests that is appropriate.
The project development is moving ahead nicely and is actually ahead of schedule. I have been working through the difficulties of isolating versions and variations which typically comes up later in the process based on previous experience, so it is simplifying matters knowing more precisely where we are headed early on. I can tell you that there are six (6) tender variations required to accurately model our five selected versions. The variations in tender design often times leads back to changes on the paired locomotive or at least answers questions regarding the observed differences between locomotives. As the project progresses there will be a breakout of version characteristics provided much the same as I did for our Challenger project. As I have often pointed out, I prefer not to do research for our competitors so please be patient as I release the specifics of our project at what seems to be appropriate times. Reservation holders will be receiving this type of information in the updates they will receive by postal mail in the coming weeks.
If you have received your Big Boy offering and have questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch so I can answer them for you. New drawing will be posted very soon, so be sure to check back frequently!
4/11/15 - For everyone that has been asking, the offering mailing for your Big Boy project is in the mail and I know that several people have already received their copies. More than 600 packets were sent out to existing customers of Kohs & Company and another 115 packets will be going out shortly to modelers/collectors that have expressed interest in the project. The bottom line to this information is that the demand will far out strip the supply so do not delay particularly, if you are an existing customer, the follow up mailing is going to those that have expressed a serious interest in ordering and they are likely to jump on the opportunity when they receive their packets. All hype aside, I am trying to handle the reservations in as fair a manner as possible.
My attention has been on the completion of the PRR flat cars and pushing the PRR cabin car project along so there have not been a lot of updates on this project lately. That is not an indication that there has been a lack of activity, on the contrary. There is a great deal of new information to be processed and that will happen in the next few days. The image capture below is just a taste of what has been happening with the design, this image is actually several weeks old at this point. Once a substantial number of the reservation slots have been filled, our first printed update will be prepared and sent out to those new reservation holders. There will be information shared in those updates that will not appear on the project website. I had originally thought of developing a 'reservation holder only' section to the project site, but there are a sizable number of enthusiasts that either do not have access to the web or have chosen to avoid the medium, so the printed format will continue with this project.
Stay tuned for more frequent updates as our other projects are resolved and reach the delivery stage.
3/25/15 - There was certainly a great deal of interest regarding our Big Boy project during the Chicago March Meet and a lot of additional interested was generated by seeing one of our UP Challenger models operating on the table tops. Many Challenger owners were not aware of many of the electronic capabilities. The Challenger electronic setup is the starting point for our Big Boy system, so more emphasis will be placed on explaining the capabilities as the project proceeds. I'll be providing technical documents related to the operation in advance so owners should know exactly what to expect when they take delivery.
The development of the model is progressing smoothly and the process of 'making metal' is about to begin. It is very exciting to get to this point without having gone through the laborious process of having to correct errors in tooling and remaking metal parts, that is not to say that the process will be problem free from this point forward, but far less time and money will have to be spent than ever before in our development process, ultimately the reason why our pricing was able to be keep as reasonable as possible.
One final point for today; all individuals that have been a customer of Kohs & Company at some point, regardless of the model, will receive the Big Boy offering by postal delivery. Be assured that no one will be left out. My only caution is that hopefully anyone that has moved has updated their mailing information, any mail that is returned will not be resent whether there is forwarding information provided by the USPS or not. The cost of mailing is through the roof for larger pieces of mail. The service that the USPS is providing these days is also less than desirable, which is why the offering/ordering information for the Big Boy is available for download.
Stay tuned for more information coming very soon!
3/10/15 - As mentioned in the General News Update of this date, we will be having a gathering of interested modelers at the Chicago O Scale March Meet. This will be an opportunity to discuss the Big Boy project and the new technology that we began introducing with our Challenger models and that will continue with the Big Boy. If you're interested in this project, this will be a great opportunity to gather informally and have any questions you may have answered.
2/03/15 - The progress on our Big Boy has been steady with a great deal accomplished through the holidays, there are new 3D build images that will be shared in the very near future. I decided to hold off on the reservation mailing until after the holiday season, so with that past, the mailing will begin next week for all existing customers. Once existing customers have had a fair chance to review the offering, the mailing will continue for all new potential customers. The orders that have been received using the forms available for download on the Project Downloads page will be factored into the orders received from the customer mailing so the existing customer preference will not be lost.
The feedback that I have received regarding our new development approach has been very gratifying, many thanks to all that have taken the time to comment. There are more surprises to come so be sure to stay in touch with the update page if this is a project of serious interest to you!
12/26/14 - The images below are a little special Christmas treat for anyone interested in this project. These are the first images from the 3D locomotive construction to be released and it seems like a perfect time as 2014 winds down. It's been an exciting year with a lot of new challenges including a new approach for advancing the state-of-the-art in brass model building and I'm thrilled to share that excitement with all the modelers that have faithfully followed what Kohs & Company has been working to accomplish with our projects. With each bit of information that I provide, I am trying to offer as much insight into our project as possible while still protecting certain aspects of our build from the questionable practices of other importer/builders.
The first image below is an overall underside view of the full Big Boy chassis from our 3D build. The boiler, electronics and drive mechanism have been removed for this view.
While this build remains as a work in progress, you can see from the type of detail already included, that there are no shortcuts being taken and nothing about the build is taken for granted. The fit and interference of each part is carefully considered as it is designed and incorporated into the 3D construction. Even the safety chains on the engine truck are already present and many other 'fine' details are being developed, among them the piping on the air compressors.
In the next image you can see the prototypical fasteners used on the valve-gear and side rods. The hollow-core drivers are going to be a next generation effort following what was accomplished with our Union Pacific Challenger driver centers. We can never afford a step backwards, the new always has to be better than the last project. Features like the hollow core main axles that have been touted as a new feature on other importer's models have already been a part of previous Kohs & Company models and will be again with our Big Boy, this level of prototypical detail is not new to us, it's a feature that is expected at this point.
A standard feature on our models from the beginning is illustrated below, prototypically designed equalized suspension complete with fabricated leaf springs. Additionally you can see the lubrication line detailing beginning at the mechanical lubricators leading to critical points on the chassis. You can also see the functional automatic centering device that helps the lead engine track properly just like on the prototype.
It's very important to keep in mind that these images are not just interesting model train pictures, they represent the parts of an actual model in every regard, just as if they were made from metal. This process is allowing for closer tolerances with better fit and alignment than even the best pattern makers can achieve in a workable time frame. Many modelers and collectors that use this same technology in their own businesses and various industries have already commented on the value of this carefully executed process. It does not solve all of the problems we face, but it certainly serves as a means of precisely implementing the results of our extensive research.
12/23/14 - This project update is a bit behind, but so is everything else, except for the progress on our actual projects! I have not updated on this project since the show in Germany and as you might expect, the interest level at the show there was intense. It's been non-stop action since then with progress on our projects moving forward at a very rapid pace. The offering mailing is behind time and many have been wondering if they've missed it or were left out, neither is the case. I have decided to go ahead and post the order form along with the project brochure which has already been available on the Project Download page. The project offering mailing will still go forward as quickly as possible and I will still be managing a preferential ordering period for existing customers. No matter how you choose to order, all orders will be acknowledged and confirmed on as timely a basis as possible.
The 3D build of the locomotive is well along at this point and new images of that build will be posted very soon. Progress is ahead of schedule at this point which is a new experience for me as is the 3D build process. Our new processes are definitely allowing for the correction of mistakes and needed modification much more effectively with less lost time and certainly less wasted money. All things considered, our new approach is a greater success than I had hoped for and the proof is in the first actual models resulting from the new processes, namely our PRR FD-2/FW-1 flat cars and PRR N5 cabin cars.
New updates will continue throughout the holiday season, so please be sure to stayed tuned for the latest!
11/09/14 - As I have indicated already, the design and development work on this project is moving along at an intense pace. I've also mentioned that we are using new technology for the design work and that it is replacing the traditional first sample model which has always been of marginal value to the overall project. I want to take the opportunity of this update to introduce the new technology and help to familiarize those interested with the capabilities.
Shown immediately below is the traditional 2D design view that we have been using for many years, commonly referred to as 'AutoCAD', it has done an admirable job in many industries to help bring tens of thousands of products to market. With this drawing technology each and every part is individually drawn as a separate entity and great care has to be taken in planning for interferences and parts fitting together for proper alignment and function. Those are the most basic considerations following this design path.
Shown in the next image is a fully rendered 3D view of a 25-C-1 tender. While we have been using 3D software for several years, it's use has been limited to specific parts such as driver centers and more recently for use in making master patterns for casting parts using rapid prototyping. This is just one view captured to highlight the complete detailing viewable from any angle. With the proper software installed on a web site, this 3D model could be manipulated to any viewing angle, but I have decided not to be that charitable towards other importers/builders that would copy the data.
Our sharing of the development process for our projects has been one of the most appreciated aspects of our business approach, but if you read some other importer web sites, you'll see that they have paid great attention to our intended features. That being the case, some of the drawings that I will be sharing going forward have some intentional inaccuracies added for the presentation here, so fear not if you happen to see something that doesn't look just right. If our good friends want to copy they'll have to figure out what is wrong, otherwise it will be very easy to tell that they have copied our work when viewing their models should they ever come to fruition.
Shown here is a close up of the side frame and suspension of the tender. You can see the incredible level of detail included in this view and it is at the same level through out the 3D design. The various colors have a purpose, first of all, each color represents a unique part. Further, a particular color can represent what type of part it is, a casting, a fabrication, etc. You can see that each leaf in the suspension springs is a different color, that is consistent with the fact that our models include fabricated leaf springs with individual leafs. There is no guessing with the clearances, alignment and fit of individual parts using this technology.
While each part still has to be drawn, rather than winding up with a stack of paper drawings that are only related by common dimensions, when working in 3D, once a part is created it is placed in an 'assembly' which virtually builds the complete model. The image below is of a bearing box which is shown in the assembly above. Each part can be extracted from the complete model to reference it's dimensions and to use for making the actual part. Each and every different color you see in the drawing represents a part that can be extracted just like this bearing box.
The view below is a wider perspective showing more of the components included in the design. As you might guess, parts that are used in the model more than once, such as the bearing box, need only to be drawn one time, duplicates of the part drawing can be used to create the complete assembly.
As the project moves forward I'll expand the explanation to cover some of the more advanced functionality that we are taking advantage of. With what we accomplished using the old 2D technology, image what we will be able to do now!
10/28/14 - Good news........the production schedule for the remainder of this year and 2015 has been set........long story short, the reservation process for the Big Boy can now begin! More details regarding the scheduled delivery will be included with the reservation information packet that all existing customers and those that have expressed interest in the project will receive. Understanding that there is a huge number of people eagerly awaiting the information, I will make note here of exactly when the information hits the mailbox for customers and again for everyone else. I can say at this point, that based on the work that is being done on this project, absolutely no one will be disappointed!
9/17/14 - Just a brief comment regarding the specifications listed for our Big Boy project; they do not represent our wish list of ideas, they represent our starting point for this project. Our Big Boy is not planned as a model in a new 'special' series, for our project development team it is business as usual. All of the specifications listed have been incorporated in a previous project, the latest being our Union Pacific Challenger. So when I say that is our starting point that is the development platform that we are working from. As with every previous Kohs & Company project, our goal is to deliver more than promised and we haven't missed yet. In addition to pushing the development envelope, we plan to deliver this and subsequent projects in a much faster time frame than has been typical, so anyone interested should be prepared!
9/14/14 - With another 15,000 air miles logged, another overseas inspection visit has been completed and I am thrilled with what I have seen. I have seen the most impressive design work that I have ever seen related to a model railroad project. As I explained some time ago, we have been working to achieve better results with our models while cutting costs so that the pricing of our projects can remain as reasonable as possible. The real trick in trying to accomplish this goal is to cut costs without cutting corners on quality, accuracy, features and detail. The traditional project sample model has always served as a good tool early in the project process, it's purpose better suited to project promotion than actual development of the project. By fully employing the most advanced 3D solid modeling software for our design work the usefulness of an early sample model has been greatly minimized, to the point of not making any sense in continuing that aspect of our project development due to the cost. Our Big Boy is the first project where we are fully committed to this approach in project development and from what I have seen at this point, I consider the results almost magical!
I have seen 3D solid modeling used in conjunction with model train projects before, typically when a portion of a model was to be made from diecast material or plastic, the computer design was necessary to create the molds used for these production processes. I have never before seen a fully detailed model, such as our UP Challenger, created in a 3D software environment. Our Big Boy design is approximately 75% complete and the results are stunning to say the least. The fit and interferences as well as the alignment of every part is readily accessible. It is difficult to describe to you all of the capabilities this technology provides without you being able to see the design work, so in the near future I will present portions of the design so that you will be able to see the layering of details, from the core components of the drive mechanism to the outermost small casting details. Inherent in this process is the ability to extract individual component part drawings for the production process, so it's much more than a pretty picture of a proposed model. Many of the parts can go immediately to the Rapid Prototyping process that I have discussed at length beginning with our Challenger project, so each part or component needs to be drawn only once saving a great deal of time. We will all learn more about how this technology can be leveraged going forward and it promises to be a very exciting experience if you are interested in 'Best' quality models.
With the above said, the reservation process is beginning and will proceed as usual with a direct postal mailing to all existing customers, followed by a mailing to anyone that has expressed an interest in the project. I will be trying to make the reservation information available online in an equitable manner giving the promised preference to existing customers and will advise further about this in the next few days. I again offer the advise that an early response to the offering will be necessary to assure that you secure a reservation slot.
8/25/14 - Considerable new information has been added to the Big Boy project site and the project brochure is available for download now on the Project Downloads page. The launch of the reservation process is now very near, a traditional mailing to all existing customers will begin very soon. In addition, the order form for this project will be made available by special advanced link for download. Due to the problems encountered with postal delivery, I want to make certain that everyone has a fair chance to gain access to the project materials on a timely basis so there will be no undo disappointment. The demand for this project continues to grow so a swift response to the beginning of reservation taking process will be necessary to ensure that those interested secure a reservation. Please be sure to continue monitoring this update page for the latest information regarding the reservation materials and the project in general.
7/14/14 - As already hinted at, this project will now be the next locomotive project that will be delivered. Based on the incredible success of our Union Pacific Challenger project, the unique opportunities related to the return of Big Boy 4014 to excursion service, the effort to keep the pricing as reasonable as possible by following in the footsteps of the Challenger project and most of all, the overwhelming clamor for this project to be produced now, the schedule change was made.
As a result of the restructuring of our business relationships in Korea, my very real expectation is for this project to be delivered this time next year. As I indicated throughout the development and production of the Challengers, the development of our Big Boy was moving along at a rapid pace as well. It seemed to be a reasonable conclusion that the transition to this project would go much smoother with the Challenger work fresh in all of our memories; mine, the designer's and most of all the construction technician's. With the formalities out of the way, the development updates will begin to come very quickly and the reservation process will be initiated in just a matter of days at this point.
The reservations for this project will be handled as all previous projects have been, with existing customers having the first right of refusal. Reservation information will be sent to all existing customers followed by subsequent mailings to everyone that has expressed an interest in this project. Please consider this your short-term notice that reservations will begin very soon.
This promises to be our most exciting and demanding project to date!
6/29/14 - You will note that there have been some updates to the Big Boy project site including a change in the number of versions to be produced and the addition of pricing information. There will be additional information added in the next day or two, so be sure to check back regularly.
I have again reduced the number of version to be produced in an effort to keep the project pricing at a point that is acceptable to the vast majority of potential owners. The latest version to be dropped was the oil-fired variation of which there was only one prototype that operated for a limited time on an experimental basis. The test results seemingly did not meet the expectations of the railroad and as a result, I felt there was a diminished need to model this particular variation. A single stack version was also considered, but was again ruled out in favor of concentrating our efforts on the essential commonly 'seen' locomotives that built the historical legacy of the Big Boy.
With the great success of our Union Pacific Challenger project, there are great expectations for an even better model than that which is a tall order. My personal goal since project number one has been for each successive model project delivered to be better than the previous and I do not intent to change that practice with our Big Boy! Based on the feedback received from my Challenger owners, I expect that the Big Boy pricing will be well received and a bit surprising. I look forward to hearing from all of you that have expressed interest in this project, many of you from day one of this business. I encourage you to check this project site frequently in the coming days so that you do not miss any important information or announcements.
5/23/14 - As has been mentioned previously, the demand for our Big Boy project has been extreme since day one of the establishment of Kohs & Company, but it has officially reached the crazy level with both existing and potential new customers. I want to reassure all existing customers that you will automatically receive the reservation information for this project when it becomes available. Until then, there will be ongoing updates leading up to that time which will allow adequate time for those interested to financially prepare. Admittedly, new customers will face a more difficult process based on the projected production quantity and the over whelming demand. The first step for new customers is to have your name and contact information on the 'interest' list and to check the project web site occasionally so you will know in advance that the reservations are starting. If you are on the list, you will receive the reservation information once existing customers have had their opportunity to reserve their models. To clarify a bit further, an existing customer is someone that has purchased any model from Kohs & Company, it does not matter whether it was a locomotive or a piece of rolling stock. When you have received the reservation information, regardless of whether you are a new or existing customer, respond as soon as possible, that has always been my advice, but in this case if you snooze you will seemingly lose!
The newly heightened demand I suspect is the result of the recommissioning of 4014 and even more so by our extremely successful Challenger project that has been widely heralded since the delivery process began. While having this level of demand is wonderful in most regards, it does create a concern about handling the reservations and sales as fairly as possible and not needlessly disappointing anyone. If this is a project of interest to you, please pay close attention to this page periodically.
2/18/14 - Having just mentioned the recommissioning effort on 4014, the photo below was supplied by the Union Pacific Historical Society several years ago and it had been labeled by the Union Pacific as having been taken in 1950. Judging by the paintwork and a couple of other key factors, I suspect the photo was actually taken right after being 'freshened up' for display at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pamona, California in the early 60's.
2/12/14 - The tender information presented on the new Tender Version page added to the project site yesterday has been updated and corrected. Information provided by a usually reliable published source was originally included in the information provided, but after hearing from an individual personally involved with Big Boy 4014, I reviewed the information and had to agree that the tender classifications were incorrect. I should have know better immediately having just spent so much time on the Challenger project, but that's what happens when you do updates in the middle of the night. The tender classification information has been corrected thanks to Paul Guerico rattling my cage!
I have now added a link on the Project Reference page that will take you to the Union Pacific 4014 project page so you can regularly review what is happening with the recommissioning of 4014. As I become aware of other sites of interest in that regard I will add them as well.
2/11/14 - New information has been added to this project site, including information about the two tender types that were used with the Big Boys and that will be included in this project. I have also begun the process of adding more prototype photos to the site so there will be ready reference for the various versions we will be producing, but there are many more to come.
1/01/14 - This project continues to stir more comment and questions than any other project that we have completed or have planned. Based on the requests for update information specifically for this project, I already know and have to caution that the demand will far outstrip the supply. I have to remind the potential new customers with this project that our existing customers have the first right of refusal when our Big Boy reservation process starts. The reservation process will start in 2014.
8/13/13 - If you have taken the opportunity to visit our Challenger project site and seen the type of detailing that we have done with that project, you will have a good idea of what is in store with our Big Boy. Also, you may have noticed that the project information page has been updated with more specific version information, this information again links directly to the design work that we did on the Challenger. You may have also noticed that we are including two tender types in this production, aside from the detail changes made throughout their service life much like the Challengers, the Big Boy class of locomotives actually started in service using two tender types. To my knowledge, no other builder/importer has ever correctly modeled the two tender types in any configuration based on service period.
I am in the process of adding numerous prototype photos to the project site so there will be ready reference for the different versions that we plan to build. There have already been many questions about the appearance of the different versions, but I am just a bit behind the demand curve in getting the images posted.
The project information page will again be updated very soon, to incorporate the features and model detailing techniques that we used for the Challenger. As with every project we have done, the modeling development starts where the last project left off and will be pushed far beyond our previous efforts in the end with this project. The Big Boys offer some unique modeling opportunities even compared to the Challengers, so it promises to be a very exciting project!
7/10/13 - If our 'Big Boy' project is a focus of your interest, you will want to pay close attention to the development of our 'Challenger' project which we have previously mentioned closely parallels the 'Big Boy' in many ways. As we have research the 'Challenger' and found many deviations from what has been modeled in the past by other builders/importers, we have paid close attention to the 'Big Boy' at the same time. Many of the same inaccuracies exist in the models previously produced. Even on the most expensive examples produced to date, there have been substantial mistakes made that once you know about them, you can't ignore or overlook them. Once you are able to see what we have developed with our 'Challenger', you will understand why we have waited until this point in our work to move forward with what many consider to be the ultimate prototype to model. It never has been and will not be our purpose to diminish what others have produced, but clarification will need to be made as we proceed with this project regarding what we are doing and why.
The decision has also been made to move this project up in our scheduling so that our 'Challenger' work will be fresh in our memory going forward. The versions we will offer will be updated very soon to reflect what we have learned and more information will be provided regarding the type of new detailing we will offer. This will be a wonderful and informative subject for the previously mentioned book that is planned that will document all of our work, but that will focus on this project in particular in terms of development. Our latest research will allow for many interesting comparisons from years and productions past.
Check back soon if this is a project of interest to you!
2/09/10 - I continue to receive numerous and frequent inquiries regarding the timing for the production of this project. To date I have remained mute on the subject for competitive reasons, but I would like to offer some current information for those asking.
It is not a secret that the Big Boy shares numerous components with the Challenger and actually a couple of other Union Pacific prototypes. I made the decision at the outset of the Challenger project to pursue a simultaneous development of the Big Boy project for logical reasons. At this point, we have completed the initial design drawings, selected the versions that will be produced and have started making some of the interchangeable parts for the first sample model. The Big Boy project will not immediately follow the Challenger into production for obvious reasons and the debut of the first sample model will come as a surprise when it happens. For those of you that have been anxious literally for years about this project, take heart in the fact that the project is tangibly under way.
The new prototypically dimensioned wheelsets that we are developing using a Challenger model will definitely be part of the specifications incorporated into the production Big Boys. I have added some new reference resources on the Reference Page and there will be additional prototype photos added to those that are already part of the project site in the near future.
6/16/09 - Our 'Big Boy' project has not been updated in quite some time. The demand has certainly been building as we have worked through other projects, but the time is drawing near to push ahead on the 'Big Boy. We are currently reevaluating all of our remaining previously announced projects to make a firm determination of what our production schedule will look like for the next 18-24 months and that will govern what we do with the this project.
As I have worked on the development of our Challenger project, the versions of the 'Big Boy' to do are more clearly defined now and that information will be posted in the very near future, but in the mean time, the version count does remain at six.
7/06/07 - Our 'Big Boy' project continues to move towards production, unfortunately, not as quickly as most would like! The order of production will most likely change in the near future based on the lack of progress in obtaining reference material for other planned projects. If you are waiting for this project be assured that it will definitely be produced, we have over three thousand drawings on hand and a complete set of builder's photos, so all is in order to move ahead when the time is right. Be thinking about the versions that we should produce and do not hesitate to let us know your thoughts on that subject. Stay tuned for further developments in the coming weeks.
4/3/02 - This project has a new position in our schedule. A further update will be posted in the next few days.