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Hi

Now I know this will be a bit of a contentious issue but I am raising it for a couple of reasons. As a consumer of these DCC products I want the best possible price and job done. I come from a manufacturing background and understand the cost of a one off. "Not cheap" Having looked at the pricing for decoder installs I think we are getting a good deal. A very good deal in fact. They take a lot of risks, damage to loco body, decoder etc. It is a pain taking some of these loco's out of a box let alone pulling them apart.

When it comes to the real specialized work where you have to heavily modify a loco and not have it show, how much is this really worth. When a loco goes up on a mill to be machined, and if it is the first one you have done, how do you know how to price this?

When we agree on a price for the install do we really know how much work goes in? In a way I am lucky I have seen Richard for example spend over 1/2 hour on one of my steam loco's watching it go up and down the track adjusting cv's just to get the right chuff rate, speed curve etc. Now that has got to eat into the profits when you sell a sound decoder. It may be part of the great service.

I for one think we don't pay enough for the specialized installs and if people have a difficult loco or whatever they should be prepared to pay a fair and reasonable price.

Maybe in this DCC age the loco is only 1/2 the cost and you got to be prepared to shell out if you want the works.

Your thoughts on this subject.

m
 

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I hope you're not encouraging Richard to put his prices up?


Some locos are a real hassle to do installs on and time is a factor. I have limited time to work on my layout so when I know a job is going to be time consuming I tend to pay for it to get done, so I can work on the things that I enjoy doing. If you think about it in terms of an hourly rate then the rates are generally reasonable although having said that there is a definate threshold of what I am prepared to pay.
 

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Just another modeller
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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 28 Jul 2008, 06:47) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I hope you're not encouraging Richard to put his prices up?


Some locos are a real hassle to do installs on and time is a factor. I have limited time to work on my layout so when I know a job is going to be time consuming I tend to pay for it to get done, so I can work on the things that I enjoy doing. If you think about it in terms of an hourly rate then the rates are generally reasonable although having said that there is a definate threshold of what I am prepared to pay.

***LOL - I wish :) :). No, I don't think thats Martins objective here. His point is that a professional job takes time - its the same with anything, for example with high end car stereo, a good install takes 40+ hours, and the difference between a bad quick install and a proper job is huge in sound quality achieved.... so the overall budget is indeed "double the cost of the gear " in may cases.

In terms of hourly rates, DCC install is WAY undercharged - it costs $100 an hour for a spotty teenage apprentice to look at your BMW and do bugger all except tickle a computer... I doubt if I really charge more than $20 an hour when time actually consumed by doing each install properly is taken into acount.... especially when the needed "rebuilding" of many supposedly good loco's is accounted for!

With DCC installs - The biggest issue isn't the things I know need to be done when I tackle an install, its the "invisibles" -

Two quick examples:

(1) last week, I did a new Bachmann Jubilee.

The owner told me he thought it'd be DCC sound ready but it wasn't - same old Fowler tender with no pickups and no holes for the speaker.... but that wasn't the problem - when I pre-tested it, it ran like a drunken sailor, loping along with a tight spot once per revolution.

The loco looked very very good and the valve gear looked OK so I stripped the chassis - sure enough in the first axle slot, some flash on the casting that forms the bearing area - same with the centre driver slot. Clean these up very carefully and it now it runs luvverly! It'll also pull well now as a careful cleaning of the centre slot took away a bit of flash that also made the axle run lower than the outside ones... very careless component QA during assembly!

Also got back a Duchess I'd added sound to - sound and DCC was still really nice but the valve gear has knitted itself into a knot!

NOT my problem really but the customer has nowhere to go wit hsuch problmes here in OZ really... so I stripped it again, this time removing all valve gear and wheels and rebuilt it. EVERY rivet was sloppy and several rods bent.

It is badly designed as a set of walschaerts valve gear with the valve spindle and set rod too far back, no correct offset on the piston rod boss and no motion bracket at all so the slide bars can move freely and the union link and rod are not positioned well because of the incorrect radius rod/valve spindle/rod positioning so they are knock kneed once per revolution.

Hornbys walschaerts valve gear is a right cock up really - they now do some things very well and they MUST resdesign it! (Bachmann do it way way better)

So - back to the rebuild - Fixed it, adjusted some positioning slightly and tested - it now runs like silk and the Hornby wobble that is present on almost of their pacifics and larger loco's under load has now gone totally too.... because the valve gear can not wobble left and right as it always can ex sloppy assembly at their factory!!

But: That is two NEW loco's needing major rebuild - total wasted time 3 hours+ that I will never be able to charge anyone for really. THATS what increases costs eventually - not the doing of a good job with the DCC.....

Richard

PS: Before anyone says "UK quality" and takes the P out of H and B .... I've had the same sorts of problems with Roco, Liliput, Brawa, Trix, US Bachmann, other US brands etc etc... and don't get me started on $'000 ++ brass models ex USA - they are a real pain often!
 

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Paul Hamilton aka &quot;Lancashire Fusilier&quot;
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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 28 Jul 2008, 06:47) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Some locos are a real hassle to do installs on and time is a factor. I have limited time to work on my layout so when I know a job is going to be time consuming I tend to pay for it to get done, so I can work on the things that I enjoy doing.

Funny thing is that I reckon I will be unlikely to pay anyone to do an install as I simply love it too much myself
Yes, sad as that may be, I found nothing better than pulling out the entire chassis of a Hornby 2P and working out where to out the chip, where to run the wires, what pickups needed to be isolated, what needed to be connected etc, etc.

If you don't like doing that you really would have to pay for someone to do it but I think mostly its fear that prevents people having a go in the first place. A little encouragement is all we need and a have a go attitude and that's what I get from dealing with people on these forums and fellows local to me like Richard.
 

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Just another modeller
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QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 28 Jul 2008, 12:50) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>mostly its fear that prevents people having a go in the first place. A little encouragement is all we need and a have a go attitude and that's what I get from dealing with people on these forums and fellows local to me like Richard.

*** Absolutely: Modellers are always reluctant to have a go for fear of making a mistake, and they shouldn't think that way!

I do the work as a service when others don't want to but I really do love and prefer it when I can show someone how to do it themselves - learning is all part of the hobby and many modellers miss out on so much thats enjoyable through fear of failure, which is a real shame.

I think that teaching others is also a responsibility for all of us really... after all, whilst I do try to be creative and make my own path in many areas, much of my own core knowledge of the basics came to me "freely given by others" over the years, so I in turn it should be passed on so its not ever lost....

Richard
 

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Premium Member
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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 28 Jul 2008, 15:15) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>*** Absolutely: Modellers are always reluctant to have a go for fear of making a mistake, and they shouldn't think that way!

I do the work as a service when others don't want to but I really do love and prefer it when I can show someone how to do it themselves - learning is all part of the hobby and many modellers miss out on so much thats enjoyable through fear of failure, which is a real shame.

I think that teaching others is also a responsibility for all of us really... after all, whilst I do try to be creative and make my own path in many areas, much of my own core knowledge of the basics came to me "freely given by others" over the years, so I in turn it should be passed on so its not ever lost....

Richard
Would you still provide your UK sounds for DIY instals? I have quite a few to convert still and if it's cheaper would be happy to get some practice in.
 

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Just another modeller
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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 28 Jul 2008, 13:32) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Would you still provide your UK sounds for DIY instals? I have quite a few to convert still and if it's cheaper would be happy to get some practice in.

***I'll provide pre-programmed decoders, yes - but not the sound files by themselves.

Richard
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 28 Jul 2008, 16:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>***I'll provide pre-programmed decoders, yes - but not the sound files by themselves.

Richard
That's fair enough and completely understandable. I'm looking for things I can do in the house now as it's getting very cold outside. Converting my backlog of stealth locos seems to be one thing I can do.
 

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QUOTE Also got back a Duchess I'd added sound to - sound and DCC was still really nice but the valve gear has knitted itself into a knot!

NOT my problem really but the customer has nowhere to go wit hsuch problmes here in OZ really... so I stripped it again, this time removing all valve gear and wheels and rebuilt it. EVERY rivet was sloppy and several rods bent.

I thought I was the only one, who every now and then has to rebuild a motion set. I had one customer who did a great demolition job with a black 5 by running it on a Hornby Rolling road where the rollers were not lined up. He then spun the loco flat out until something gave and manged wreck the entire motion. The Duchess does seem to be a favorite for wrecked motion I've done several of those, and the earlier Merchant navy as well.
Full marks to Hornby I wrote and explained that this bloke had had a problem and I got a complete motion set for free. but it still took time to sort out. Actually from general observation I think hornby have improved their quality over the last couple of years, for mass production it's not that bad. It's a pity they don't retro some of the recent improvement into some of their old models, both the models and the packaging.
 
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