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Benchmark models

4140 Views 28 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  6991
Elsewhere I mentioned the fact that Roco's début steam model, the BR58 raised the bar for every manufacturer when it was introduced. To this day, no other model has had such a profound impact upon the market and although eclipsed by better and more expensive models, Roco's BR58 still remains a perfectly good model but it was its impact upon the market that made it special.

I challenge others to name (or shame) by nominating another model that has had such a profound effect, please may I suggest this is not just a 'list of favourites', some justification is needed behind the choice.

Over to you.
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I think that rather than specific models, 1985 is a pretty watershed year for EU manufacturers. That is the year that stock started coming out with NEM coupler pockets.

In Marklin's case the Wurttemberg C (1985!) was a huge step forward, why they never continued along the motor vien, I have no idea.This years class 64 is also pretty important as well. At last a locomotive to compete with Brawa detail wise.
I guess we all have our personal benchmarks in some way, and here's how some of mine came about.

I guess my first whitemetal kit was a kind of benchmark. The BEC models 73XXX standard 5MT 4-6-0 to fit on a Triang Britannia chassis, and yes, you guessed it, TTgauge - mid 60's. I went on to get a 2251 class from GEM (I think - distant memory). These TT kits taught me you don't have to stick with what the commercials want you to buy.

I changed to N-gauge in 1967 - Arnold had very good detail on their electrics, I had an E40 but this wasn't really a benchmark. I guess it was the minitrix 01 class in early 1968 that changed things - in my eyes, it was the first N-gauge loco that had all the Heusinger/Walschaerts valve gear bits actually on and working and really did constitute a breakthrough in something so small.

ROCO also changed things around in the mid-late 70s with the quality of their N-gauge rolling stock - when you put all the ventilators and other bits on, the Hechtwagen coaches really stepped up the detailing available in the commercial N-gauge arena. I'll put a picture on tomorrow or so of a close coupled N-gauge Hechtwagen set, with a suitable piece of motive power.

I only started H0 in 2002, so am not qualified to comment on real breakthroughs, however, I do have a Roco 58 class though !

Train Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle Rolling stock

still looks OK, 72C (wished I'd coloured in the wheel centres!).



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As the OP for this thoughtful discussion, my intention was to coax members of the forum to reveal what was their personal benchmarks. As some modellers have been involved with modelling continental railways for over 45 years, it was inevitable that some models, though innovative at the time, cannot stand withstand scrutiny against today's models.

It is praiseworthy that most (but not all) of the responses have attempted to qualify the reasons for their choice.

One last comment From Richard Johnson's post, only Hornby moved to China, Bachmann's production was always in China. It is unwise to suggest that Brawa has done anything particularly new or innovative, their modern production history is relatively short compared with established manufacturers and comparing their efforts with earlier Fleischmann is akin to comparing apples with oranges, albeit both are fruit.

Brawa's current production range might please those with shorter memories but they are merely good models with more detail (at an appropriately higher price). For those who remember Brawa before they moved Eastwards, their products were distinctly crude.
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Yes, agreed, however my benchmark is realism from top to bottom, not an attempt to compare older with newer models, and as its only recently that EU brands are embracing reasonable wheel look and quality, my personal benchmark is only recently being achieved.

My comment was specific to that FLM illustration - to each his own of course, but to me, the coupler gap was far less abhorrent than the very nasty wheels!

Re Bachmann, yes, of course, but the re-endergising and total retooling of the chinese production capabilites made the change possible: Over many years I've visited those factories before and after, and they are now aa totally different level of facility and expertise... with a different professionalism and pride in results

Brawa did indeed do lots of quirky and mediochre stuff, I have owned some of it over the years...but again, Brawa now and then are different in attitude to the market - I have no doubt it was a change they had to make to stay afloat in a growing sea of ever improving product - but their position is now consciously high end, and that appeals to me.

Comparing similar HO scale prototypes, I'd say that among those I have handled in the main they are significantly better models plus finer detail and more of it - not merely good.

Importantly to me, Brawa is at least now consistent with their product release quality level... It still appears to me most EU brands just dabble with excellence whilst maintaing a mass of "average to good" offerings.

If this trend accelerates and RP25 or hopefully finer becomes the norm, then it means not having to re-wheel my fledgling fleet of EU loc'os, and that appeals greatly - encouraging me positively towards EU modelling at long last... I don't mind doing it but I already have enough high quality UK 4mm and NZ S scale kits to build to last two lifetimes!

Kind regards

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QUOTE Importantly to me, Brawa is at least now consistent with their product release quality level... It still appears to me most EU brands just dabble with excellence whilst maintaing a mass of "average to good" offerings.

If your range is less than ten years old, there is no ability to release new clothes on old bodies, unfortunately the older manufacturers cannot afford to replace all the older products.
***Yes, of course, however my personal benchmark is realistic wheelsets, and an ability to work on finer scale turnouts, so thats not really the point.

I made no comment about other brands as I do not wish to make a brand by brand issue out of a simple comment... They do what they have always done and for many modellers thats fine and I have no criticism of their choices, but because of that, they simply fall short for me...

Whilst I understand that set track layouts, the need for tight radii and old modelling habits habits need to be catered for, deeper flanges are habit not a necessity as they certainly don't aid track holding on average to well laid track at all... and wheels are not a hard thing to change as they all need a final turning anyway.... so there's simply a spec change, not a big tooling cost or anything else really stopping "other" brands offering the option of proper wheels to compliment many already otherwise quite excellent products - And certainly very many of the offerings from several brands are excellent models riding on less than excellent wheelsets.

I can't help thinking that this failure to properly adopt what are now almost global wheel standards costs them dearly - and they are also careless:

For example, Trix want to play in the large US market and make someOK US locomotives that run mechanically very well when they try yet their loco's are frequently uncomfortable transiting NMRA standard turnouts as their back to back is still set wrong even when they use RP25 wheels!

This carelessness also affects Bachmann UK and Hornby models, which DO have nice wheel profiles now but are very inconsistent in BTB... whereas US prototype stuff from the same factories with the same wheel profiles are properly set up back to back wise - its not at all sensible!


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I just found out that it's a bit more difficult taking half decent pictures of N-gauge models. But referring to my above post, these Hechtwagen are Roco releases from the 70's. I came across this particular group in 1986 - it was the previous owner that put the destination boards crooked, not me!! - and well pleased I was too I got this set + a 38 class. The loco isn't too shabby either - thats an 80's minitrix 03 class, which I bought in 1992.

Train Rolling stock Mountain Sky Track

Train Mountain Sky Rolling stock Vehicle

You can have them (nice price) if you want Goedel....



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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 14 Nov 2008, 22:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>My comment was specific to that FLM illustration - to each his own of course, but to me, the coupler gap was far less abhorrent than the very nasty wheels!

The look of the wheels (although not corrected in flange size) is much improved with the "blackened " wheelsets
then the oversize flanges are not as noticable
It's been an eventful week, which started with my computer dying at home, it's still dead. It has some pictures on that I would post.
I want to post a picture of the latest version of the GFN 64 class (item 4061 released in 2001 or so) to compare with the '72 picture above. When you see these photos you may not see too much difference, but sometimes the photography of the ultra close-up with a digital camera is not too forgiving. Maybe even now the flanges are a bit big but it's all about perspective. I reckon they've made minor changes both above and below the footplate. This loco, however, perhaps captures the essence of the prototype : a chunky small tank engine capable of all it was designed for. In Eisenbahnmagazin of May last year, after the Roco release, they did a 1:1 comparison, and while the Roco engine obviously came out on top, they still acknowledged that the GFN loco was outstanding value for money (even if conceptually30y old), and only lagged in a couple of areas. It would be really interesting to see where the vaunted Maerklin release would fit. Funny thing is, the GFN loco is about 200g heavier than the Roco, and when I get 64 247 out, I know I'm holding a significant mass of loco. I'll do my own tests when the Roco model arrives in the next couple of weeks - less than 24 months after release and down to 100-120 Euro
I'll post the picture when I have my hard drive back.

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