Saturday, February 15, 2020

Can Model Railroading Change the World?

Reminder: We are crowdfunding this project and it is vital that you make your pledge to back our project on our IndieGoGo page by March 9, 2020 or it will not move forward. We were able to extend the funding period once. The IndieGoGo terms allow a maximum 60-day funding period, and we cannot extend it beyond that date.

Can Model Railroading Change the World?

Well that seems like a bold question.

Robert Fripp, guitarist for King Crimson, posed a similar question to the band - "Can music change the world?" But it got me thinking, and I think that the answer is, "yes, model railroading can change the world."

Or at least our little part of it.

I think this is human nature. Whether it's movies, sports, video games, or model railroading, we like to share our passions with other like-minded individuals. My modeling often takes a back seat to helping others, going to operating sessions, train shows, etc. But it's also those get-togethers that inspire me to do more, so I have something new to share. It's also not just sharing my successes, but helping my modeling buddies and celebrating theirs.

It's about a Community

It's a small community of people operating to a common goal, making a small part of the world, our own world, a better place. And in the long run, I think it influences us in the rest of our lives, trying to find ways to replicate the fun that I (and we) have with modeling.

That desire for being a bigger part of the community is part of why I started my website. I figured if I found something interesting or useful, there's probably somebody else who would too. So I'll make it accessible.

I found the same thing working at True Line Trains. That by and large, the people I met online, via email, phone, and in person, all are excited and passionate about their modeling, and want to share it.

What I think differs in modeling than, say, a community of sports fans, is that it's a creative endeavor.

We are improving ourselves as we learn new skills and get better at others. We can also share those skills to help others achieve their modeling goals and dreams, and take advantage of the skills of our modeling buddies in ours. It's more than just reminiscing about that big win. It's a steady stream of small and big wins across our own localized modeling community. And most of my friends have other modeling buddies outside my immediate circle, spreading the goodwill farther than just my circle of friends. With the internet, it spreads even farther.

So yes, I think we can have an impact on the world, and I think we do whether we know it or not.

This isn't new of course. Formal and informal communities have had an impact on the world around them for as long as there have been people. The Amherst Train Show donates thousands of dollars each year to different projects and organizations, such as Railroad Museums, which have an impact on their local communities as well as tourists. Another local train show is to raise money for the High School Band. It's really part of the message of the, "Greatest Hobby in the World," shows.

I know it has certainly changed my life, with loads of new friends. It's changed it enough that I feel that one way or another I need to be part of the industry itself. To be a part of making the hobby itself what it is.

That's part of our Business Model

That was one of the big sparks for Prototype Junction - the "why" behind Prototype Junction. Sure, John and I want the models too. But we can get and build the Westerfield kits for the Santa Fe cars, and I have the Sunshine kit for the Rock Island car. We could scratch-build the auto cars, or hope that Speedwitch or somebody else might produce them, or even produce them as 3D prints.

So it's not really about the models. It's because we want to to be part of that community of modelers who are passionate about the models we're involved in bringing to market. I have no idea if/when True Line Trains is going to be producing anything else.

I can't afford to fund such a project myself. I've got a daughter who is disabled to the degree that she lived the first 8 years of her life in the hospital. Our savings is long gone. We all have our issues, and this isn't to say I'm special or my problems are worse than somebody else's. It's just a challenge I have to address to become a model train manufacturer.

So what options do we have? And what options do we have to share the experience, the fun, and the excitement of being part of the process with others? 

The answer, at least to us, is obvious. Crowd funding. Then it's not just our project, or John's and mine. It's our project. We all get to contribute, and we all get to be a part of the experience. We have some very, very excited contributors that really want to see this work. For us, but also for them. Not just because they want the models. They get it. It's bigger than me, or John and I, or even a dozen people.

We think there are a lot of people who want to have a bigger part of manufacturing models, but without having to have the responsibility of actually doing it. That's fine. I've met many, many people who have suggestions of what "should" be made.

John and I are willing to stand up and say, "OK, let's do it."

But you, the modelers, need to do your part and help us get there. Let's make this first project a success not only to get some cool models, but to set up a framework to produce more models. Even better, we'll have a Community of modelers that can work together to decide on future models.

So tell us about how model railroading has changed your world. And if you are as passionate about modeling as us, join us in our Community of Backers and let's make some models.


Project #1: The Models

We are producing models for all of the following cars in this run:
  1. ATSF 124000-125999 Bx-11/12/13 classes
  2. ATSF Bx-11/12 classes with 8" extended roof
  3. ATSF Bx-11/12 classes with 12" extended roof
  4. ATSF Bx-11/12/13 classes rebuilt with steel sides
  5. C&O 289450-290349 series tall Pratt truss auto cars
  6. C&O 289350-290349 series Pratt truss box cars (converted from auto cars)
  7. CGW 80000-80978 series Pratt truss auto cars
  8. L&N 46000-46399 series Pratt truss auto cars
  9. PM 89350-90349 series tall Pratt truss auto cars
  10. PM 89350-90349 series Pratt truss box cars (converted from auto cars)
  11. RI 141000-142999 series tall Pratt truss box cars

All models will be produced Ready-to-Run with class and era-appropriate details and lettering with an SRP of $50. All major paint schemes worn by the cars will be produced.

Reweigh dates will be within 6 months of when a paint scheme was applied, or as close to that as our research allows. Additional reweigh decals will be included.

Decorated or undecorated kits will also be available at the same price, but will include extra parts.

Parts will also be available separately.

We are crowdfunding this project and it is vital that you make your pledge to back our project on our IndieGoGo page by March 9, 2020 or it will not move forward. We were able to extend the funding period once. The IndieGoGo terms allow a maximum 60-day funding period, and we cannot extend it beyond that date.

Other Variations

There were several other variations of these cars. A number of the Santa Fe cars received roof hatches for special service, newer steel side rebuilds with flush sliding ("plug") doors, and others that received Transco steel sides are a few. All of these are variations that we'd like to consider, providing the project raises enough additional funding.

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