Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

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Chops
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Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Chops » Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:42 pm

Maybe old hat to you blokes, but fairly new for myself. It is a fair guess that Sam has made an impact (a positive one) on the model train industry.
Now, to be honest, not everyone likes him. That is almost de rigueur for the hobby. His detractors, while few, are vocal. It is almost surprising that
some of the major manufacturers have not put a contract out on his head.

For those of you who don't know this guy, he has 100K subscribers and over 900 videos, all of which
deal with model train review in HO, OO, and O scale. He does mostly British range, but also does
quite a few important American range models, particularly Bachmann. He is independent, and his
reviews are fastidious, and sometimes breathtakingly harsh when he gets a piece of junk. He
pulls no punches. If a piece is particularly good, he is impartially positive about its merits.

Having been burned quite a few times when buying overseas models of British OO, I now will not
buy any product unless I see his review first. He has never steered me wrong. I don't just get
everything that scores high, I go by the aspects most important to me, such as mechanical
soundness and reliability.

This video is a parody of a man whom I have come to respect and enjoy immensely. I hope you
get a giggle, even if you don't follow Sam.

https://youtu.be/JNC3813r2HM
Nessie rocks!

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Mountain
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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Mountain » Sun Apr 25, 2021 11:22 pm

As I can get faceblindness, I did not know who it was until I saw the layout! I did not realize it was you until I saw the castle. You are funny! Has Sam seen it? (I hope he has a sense of humour! Poor Sam!)

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Chops
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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Chops » Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:31 pm

It was fun to do, an the entire thing was done extemporaneously. I had absolutely no plan and merely picked up whatever gadget or
prop that came to hand. Sam does impressive work. Manufacturers produce some fine pieces, but reasons that are not clear, they also
routinely launch stink bombs mixed in with the quality stuff, and it is impossible to know at face value. To wit, Sam demonstrated the
hours required to replace a disintegrated motor mount on an expensive brand name locomotive and the nearly inoperable characteristics
of another major manufacturer. Both units were in the 150 to 200 BPS range.

In speculating as to the common denominator, Chinese manufacture is undeniably cardinal. I have pieces embossed with "Made in Britain," bearing metal gears that are as old as I am, that bear no repair markings, that run better than extremely expensive pieces embossed with "Made in China."
It is of surmise that when the production runs are contracted out, at no small expense, the name brand is then at the mercy of the distant and unaccountable manufactory. How does one press legal action against a firm in a communist country, for failure? How does one have any control
over quality with a firm 4,000 miles away? The lure of cheap production costs (supported by exceptionally cheap labor) must be irresistable, even
in the face of reputational damage.

It should be remembered, that Tyco, which once dominated the "low end" model train market, moved its production to China, and a steep decline in quality, particularly that of the electric motors- what you would call a "Ringfield," of astonishingly poor build and design, eventually caused an implosion of sales and dissolution of a once strong company. Certain manufacturers, and we won't say who in accordance with Forum guidelines, have become heavily associated with disastrous design and build failure at high prices. They must be making some kind of short term profit, but as consumers get burned, they will turn elsewhere, unless there is an endless of fund of fools, such as myself once was.

At what point is it better for the long term to return manufacture to the countries of origin, like the UK and the USA? I know that Kadee, which
produces exceptional models, still makes their stuff in the USA, as I last heard. Yes, their stuff is pricey, but you get what you pay for- which is a stellar product almost immune to the failures of breaking plastic couplers churned out abroad.

Conversely, Sam has had high praise for some low end pieces, reviewed under his "El Cheapo" moniker. These pieces, despite their low cost
and rudimentary detailing, were actually well built, in many regards. Also, he has done little experimental videos, for fun, like freezing units
in liquid nitrogen, or laying track with a 4 inch radius in OO. In all videos, he follows a comprehensive and methodical analysis.

Some modellers, such as yourself, Mountain, have a positive gift for creating masterpieces out of essentially nothing. Myself, this is well
beyond my ken, and am at the mercy of manufacturers to follow a high standard. I have spent many hundreds of dollars indulging myself, and
it is a fright when the piece, from a large manufacturer is a hopeless dud riddled with design and production flaws. As I import internationally,
it is a high loss equation to simply mail it back.
Nessie rocks!

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End2end
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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby End2end » Mon Apr 26, 2021 2:31 pm

Totally silly. Totally funny. :lol:
And weathered too! :lol:
Not sure where to buy those caboose's though. :?: :mrgreen:
Thanks
End2end

Edit. I honestly thought it wasn't going to move. :lol:
"St Blazey's" - The progress and predicaments.
Welcome‎
Planning
Building
St. Blazey's Works & Depot thread

Bigmet
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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Bigmet » Mon Apr 26, 2021 4:03 pm

Chops wrote:...the name brand is then at the mercy of the distant and unaccountable manufactory...

Ahhhh, but there was no such risk at all to Hornby when they transferred manufacture to China, as firstly their UK product was generally of dire quality, both appearance and mechanism; and the Chinese manufacturing contractor they engaged was the proven competent Sanda Kan. So 'instantly' in 2000 their UK customers were able to purchase product under their brand name that was of 'baseline' quality to be regarded as a model in HO. Not just better than before, but vastly better than anything previous in the range, it was a leap forward; and by exploiting Sanda Kan's experience incremental improvements were possible for years of future introductions. (I had abandoned UK made RTR OO as a teen in the 1960s, knowing it to be way inferior to what was then being delivered in RTR HO; and moved to kit building as the way to have adequate models of UK prototype, and this was pretty much the general approach in railway modelling at clubs.)

Even the normally subservient UK model railway press' complacent demeanour slipped for a moment when presented with the first of the newly tooled Chinese made Hornby, the rebuilt Merchant Navy. Comments in the style of "Can this really be from Hornby?" greeted this product. In other words, 'we always knew their UK product was poor, but weren't prepared to ever risk printing that'. (My interpretation, other understandings are possible.)

Chops wrote:... Manufacturers produce some fine pieces, but for reasons that are not clear, they also routinely launch stink bombs mixed in with the quality stuff, and it is impossible to know at face value...

Equally hilariously, the UK model railway press when confronted with the Bachmann 'Blue Riband' introductions of the late 1990s (such as the 57xx, N class 2-6-0, WD 2-8-0) refrained from frankly pointing out that these models blew UK made Hornby products into the weeds. The decades developing an uncritical 'review' technique had destroyed any ability to discriminate the better from the worse. (My interpretation, other understandings are possible.)

The contrast with German and US model railway reviewing, where direct and often quantified appraisals recognised advances, and identified elements that were off the pace and needed improvement, is very marked.

So there isn't the criticism required in the UK model railway press; but the internet forums have performed much better, both in immediate appraisal and spotting developing problems from a relatively large sample of users; something which the dead tree media could never emulate. The manufacturers have used this information, (although some have gone off in a snit) and I hope that the likes of Sam's trains are included in that: because for my money it's useful information about what an underinformed purchaser makes of your product, you need to do a better job of education. (I had a hilarious time back in the 1970s with a couple of Olympus photographic employees showing me what the great British public made of their lovely OM1 SLR; having hitherto only been accustomed to the likes of the rather more robust Zenit, Praktica, Nikon and Canon SLR's which would usually stand up to being drop kicked into the car boot...)

I have directly addressed Simon Kohler on better range segmentation: these are our best models, need to be handled with care and ideally operated on a flexitrack layout, this is mid-range and will do well on set track layouts, this old junk is for kicking around on the carpet. He wasn't interested, could see HEGO.

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Mountain
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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Mountain » Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:10 pm

I will say that when Hornby first moved production to China they took the Margate designs and improved them. We started seeing beautiful 5 pole ringfield motors in the DMU and the issues where the Margate DMU's were sometimes bouncing off the track were solved in the Chinese made versions.
In more recent years there have been very subtle but very effective improvements to their little budget 0-4-0's which really made a difference. It is the patience they had to find ways to improve them that the Chinese are so good at... There was nothing really wrong with the Margate examples apart from the excessive top speed the 0-4-0's had... I will give credit to the Chinese and the British before them who also do great work.
What I believe I see that created difficulties is intricate new designs where the pressures are on the Chinese to keep the prices down at the same timw, and to be fair, any country that has to do this with any manufacturer will be in a situation where some shortcuts will be made and eventually something is going to give, and when it does, one has realized that the boundaries have been pushed a little too far.
Hornby is in a difficult situation as it has loans to pay off with interest, so they have a lot less leyway then if they had no loans to pay... So wherever the models are made, they have to cover these costs so there is a little less finance to play with. They are unable to raise prices too much as they would lose too many customers, so it is not an ideal position to be in.
Having said that, they are doing marvellously in these difficult circumstances, and hopefully the increase in sales in this lockdown has given them some breathing space...

The older designs I like because they are nice and simple. Simplicity makes them easy to repair. And one thing Hornby are famous for, is parts availability. Though they maybe struggling in some areas with this, they are really making the effort in this regard, and I have to say "Well done".

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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Chops » Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:45 pm

Thank you Bigmet and Mountain for most educational replies. This is a lot of new information to me, and it is welcome. I had not been aware, for
example, that the Hornby line was deteriorating whilst in the UK, that is troubling.

While having been shafted by all the manufacturers at one time or another, I also have had some excellent experiences. The ratio of good experiences versus shafting is roughly 3:1, but I tell you the "1's" left a very sour taste. Most recently I purchased, and am slowly breaking in a Bachmann Duke Dog, the brand of which I have been very critical of for a long time having been burned and watching friends getting burned in a serial fashion. Bachmann does one thing typically, and that is it makes under represented models that are very interesting. Sam's analysis of the Duke Dog showed that it was not only interesting, but of a good and sensible construction, and thus far it has exceed expectation.

One manufacturer that I've never purchased from is Rapido. They are unabashedly expensive. However, ever single review I've ever seen is nothing but praise. Their sold out Sterling Single, which is like a Victorian Muscle Car, I last saw in eBay auction at about 33% over MRSP. Someday, I will buy something of theirs, like Bachmann, they produce some really exquisite and unusual pieces.
Nessie rocks!

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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Mountain » Mon Apr 26, 2021 6:07 pm

Chops wrote:Thank you Bigmet and Mountain for most educational replies. This is a lot of new information to me, and it is welcome. I had not been aware, for
example, that the Hornby line was deteriorating whilst in the UK, that is troubling.

While having been shafted by all the manufacturers at one time or another, I also have had some excellent experiences. The ratio of good experiences versus shafting is roughly 3:1, but I tell you the "1's" left a very sour taste. Most recently I purchased, and am slowly breaking in a Bachmann Duke Dog, the brand of which I have been very critical of for a long time having been burned and watching friends getting burned in a serial fashion. Bachmann does one thing typically, and that is it makes under represented models that are very interesting. Sam's analysis of the Duke Dog showed that it was not only interesting, but of a good and sensible construction, and thus far it has exceed expectation.

One manufacturer that I've never purchased from is Rapido. They are unabashedly expensive. However, ever single review I've ever seen is nothing but praise. Their sold out Sterling Single, which is like a Victorian Muscle Car, I last saw in eBay auction at about 33% over MRSP. Someday, I will buy something of theirs, like Bachmann, they produce some really exquisite and unusual pieces.


I won't say it was deteriating while in the UK. What I saw was that the initial move to China improved the older designs. Several changes have been made since and some have been good, and others may have been not so good. I tend to stick to the budget 0-4-0's due to my narrow gauge needs which have really improved, though they are nice and simple in design to begin with.

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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Bigmet » Mon Apr 26, 2021 9:50 pm

Chops wrote:...I had not been aware, for example, that the Hornby line was deteriorating whilst in the UK, that is troubling...

A good example is that from the early 1970s Hornby began abandoning the basic but sound XO4 motor design, in favour of a tender drive unit which would also power CoCo diesel models. Initially this drive was a Fleischmann design (presumably licenced) , solid construction, quiet and with good torque, which drove on all three axles and performed well, if you were prepared to tolerate traction tyres. But what followed was cycles of cost down on this drive which resulted in a feeble two axle drive which either screeched or rattled along, with poor torque which meant a jackrabbit start to get moving if any sort of load was to be hauled.

Hornby survived what might have been a lethal competitive attack from Airfix GMR and Mainline, only because their finances went awry, and the parent company abandoned the project, respectively. As pretty much 'last man standing' Hornby then limped on with only Lima (usual pronunciation 'Lamer') to trouble them, until Bachmann made their OO probe. That finally provoked Hornby's move to China, and the emergence of 'better'...

Chops wrote: ...One manufacturer that I've never purchased from is Rapido. They are unabashedly expensive. However, ever single review I've ever seen is nothing but praise. Their sold out Stirling Single, which is like a Victorian Muscle Car, I last saw in eBay auction at about 33% over MRSP. Someday, I will buy something of theirs, like Bachmann, they produce some really exquisite and unusual pieces.

The sole Rapido product I own is that Stirling single, produced for the NRM. Very difficult subject in which to install a fully concealed and tractively competent drive, very awkward to construct as a model, as parts such as the cylinders which usually separate from the body to enable the mechanism to be removed, are smoothly faired in through the footplating, very complex Victorian period livery which is a challenge to replicate. The model is a knockout, a real triumph worth every penny.

The Stirling single was not so much a muscle car, but the Concorde of 1870. If you wanted to go as fast as was then possible and live, this was the business. (You could jump out of a balloon at altitude to go faster, but you wouldn't live to talk about it!) It could go well over the 80mph mark, and the Great Northern Railway had a first class mainline on which such speeds could be sustained in regular service. (There are wonderful photographs of them in high speed action, with volcanic eruption at the chimney top flattening in the slipstream no more than 2 feet above the chimney top.)

I grew up alongside the line on which they ran, and the Doncaster works which constructed them went on to build the UK's first wide firebox Atlantics, and then the UK's first successful Pacifics, which demonstrated to the very conservative UK railway companies that wide firebox express traction was the optimum path for sustained high power output.

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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Chops » Tue Apr 27, 2021 3:42 am

Most interesting and remarkable. The Stirling Single sold out. One on eBay where the bidding was still a day and a half out at over 360 BPS. If you ever, Mr. Bigmet, want to relieve yourself of that Stirling, seriously, please give me first refusal.
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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Bigmet » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:40 am

Are you good for a long wait? I have already designed a display case for 'The Doncaster Achievement', should it ever look likely that I am to be banged up in a care home due to incapacity in old age. Stirling Single, Ivatt large Atlantic, Gresley A1, A4, V2, P1, P2, Peppercorn A1, A2.


Sadly, I doubt that the NRM will order a rerun of the Stirling single, unless Jason Shron is prepared to agree a relatively short production run. The preorders enabled expression of tender choice and as it turned out were only sufficient to justify tooling the large tender that the loco ran with when last in regular service. The odd little Sturrock/Stirling tender that it was long paired with in preservation did not 'make the cut', so demand overall cannot have been that great. (The accepted account is 2,000 produced, but only Rapido and NRM know the truth.)

Incidentally, there was an invisible fault on the model. Removal of the tender body is required to install a decoder. The admirably clear instructions identified the two screws on the tender underside that had to be removed to release the body, nice and easy. Except that the body did not then lift off, and I found it necessary to apply rather more force than was comfortable to remove it, considering the crushability of the coal rails. The problem is that the two posts to take the screws are either side of the MTC socket blanking plate, which was jammed between them. A little filing of the post sides sorted out a 'free and easy' decoder installation...

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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Bigmet » Wed Apr 28, 2021 11:58 am

Chops wrote:...While having been shafted by all the manufacturers at one time or another, I also have had some excellent experiences. The ratio of good experiences versus shafting is roughly 3:1, but I tell you the "1's" left a very sour taste. Most recently I purchased, and am slowly breaking in a Bachmann Duke Dog, the brand of which I have been very critical of for a long time having been burned and watching friends getting burned in a serial fashion. Bachmann does one thing typically, and that is it makes under represented models that are very interesting. Sam's analysis of the Duke Dog showed that it was not only interesting, but of a good and sensible construction, and thus far it has exceed expectation...

I would suggest Bachmann UK is a very different animal to Bachmann USA.

When first established in the UK in about 1991, they probed the market potential with a 'cheap and cheerful' range largely based on the old Mainline toolings that had been produced for that operation by Kader. Clearly they obtained a good result, because the next development was a steady progression of newly tooled models to a much higher standard, initially branded as 'Blue Riband'. These items were comfortably the best mass production RTR OO ever seen in the UK up to that date, and Bachmann UK have maintained that standard ever since. The exterior appearance is at the level of an expert kit builder and painter: right dimensions, looks like the subject, well finished, run well, would be a fair summary.

The construction of my first Bachmann 'Blue Riband' loco purchase, the WD 2-8-0, is recognisably much as all later steam models, and the same applies to the diesel traction, coaches and wagons. Attention to gear ratio was an immediate contrast to Hornby's 'everything goes at 300mph'; the 40:1 ratio on the WD 2-8-0 made it a slow plodder, just as it should be. Those first purchases still run as well as ever 21 years later, and the same has been true of all my subsequent purchases; largely the smaller black locos that were 'everywhere'. Bachmann are at 100% on the mechanism side, and high up the scale on fidelity, on my numerous purchases; and about 80% of what runs on my layout is from their range, because they concentrated on the commonplace items that were ubiquitous in the period and location that is my modelling interest.

Hornby's all new Chinese toolings from the year 2000 onwards, compared to Bachmann's 'Blue Riband' range. They were in 'catch up' mode until 2006 in steam locos, when the Britannia was released, and then truly 'got with the programme' of introducing the more commonplace items from about 2010, to very good effect. Now, half of the steam locos on my layout are Hornby as a result, overall a good match for Bachmann, and the most recent definitely superior: long time coming, but very welcome. Their generally very good coaches tooled in China, on my layout about 15% of the coaches are from Hornby. Wagons, some very neat models, but so few as to be negligible among the Bachmann horde.

'Others': Heljan, Rapido, Oxford Rail, Dapol, mostly traction, all of it good, but only a drop in the bucket. There's a crowd of recent competitors, yet to make anything I or friends need, so still to be assessed 'as and when'.

Where Bachmann UK go from here: there's evidence that they are reacting to Hornby's steam model progress, and when they finally get the all new tooled V2 out I will be able to assess that for myself. If I am anything like typical of late BR steam period modellers, then Bachmann have a problem with this sector of their market: the product is fine, but apart from the rare new introductions, I can now supplement what I have very economically second hand. I haven't bought new Bachmann products since the first release Thompson coaches, 2017 to 2018. Make with the new introductions guys!

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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Bigmet » Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:05 pm

Chops wrote:...his reviews are fastidious, and sometimes breathtakingly harsh when he gets a piece of junk. He pulls no punches. If a piece is particularly good, he is impartially positive about its merits.

Having been burned quite a few times when buying overseas models of British OO, I now will not buy any product unless I see his review first. He has never steered me wrong. I don't just get everything that scores high, I go by the aspects most important to me, such as mechanical soundness and reliability...

A friend yesterday sent me the link to the Sam review of the Bach 9F, which has apparently caused some 'debate'.

It's fun to see someone who has little background knowledge assess a product; and I do hope the manufacturers and retailers are paying attention to this, because he well represents the inexperienced customer; and these are the people that really matter if you want to grow your market. Got to provide a positive experience if the new customer isn't going to be discouraged, and quite possibly just walk away in search of something more satisfying, while telling others about their recent pile of doggie doo experience.

The really interesting aspect was the age of that 9F model: I have no idea when TMC received this version, but the catalogue number suggests it would be approaching 10 years ago. I know what I would do with a 'new, old stock' model in addition to such routine stuff of checking over the outside rods for fouling before attempting a running test, I would want to look inside the gear train to make sure it isn't all glued up with dried grease. But the inexperienced customer doesn't know any of this stuff, and shouldn't be expected to; unless the manufacturer or retailer makes the effort to provide the education or improves the product's robustness, poor results are always likely...

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Re: Sam's Model Train Review: A Parody

Postby Chops » Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:56 pm

https://youtu.be/WoxtnAYGwrc

This turned up in my feed. Definitely gave me a broader view of the challenges of creating a design and getting it to market. No easy day, this. Model rail craftsmen, many herein this Forum, who pick up seemingly random pieces are turn them into fine art boggle the mind. I suppose it was their ancestry who were the ones that made a better flint arrowhead and advanced technology to where we are today.
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