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What's going on here?

posted Feb 3, 2016, 8:41 PM by Randy Hammill

Ahh, the good old rumor mill. As there has been a lot of discussion about us and our models (generally a good thing), and folks have questions, I'll cover as much as I can here (again). Basically things haven't changed all that much from the usual, such as what I posted here last year:

http://www.truelinetrains.ca/home/news/whatsnew

Wait, that's not entirely true - we actually have some models!

As I'm sure you know now, the C-Liners (4-axle freight for MILW, PRR, NYC, CP and CN) are here. Due to the last few years being extremely tough for us, we're having to do some of the work ourselves. By ourselves, I mean Darren. He has the locomotives up north and is installing decoders and couplers, then testing each one before shipping out to dealers. So they are getting out there a little at a time.

PSC cabooses are in production and should ship very soon. The plan is for the factory to ship to us before the Chinese New Year (starts Feb 8th if I recall, although production might continue a bit longer). However, we finally received our pre-production sample just before the Springfield show. We (and others) have noticed some minor issues, so we're working on correcting what we can. We're hoping this won't cause further delay, but we do want to get it right. There are a lot of dates that I've seen posted on the net, from 'they have already shipped' to the 4th, 7th, 8th, and I've probably seen more. I'll be clear, neither Darren nor I have given a specific date to anybody. The stock answer is "The factory has assured us they will ship before the Chinese New Year, but they also assured us they would ship before the end of December, so..."

As there has been some confusion, SRP is $84.99 CAD in Canada, and $84.99 USD in the US. Your dealer may charge less (or more?), but that's our SRP.

For the last several years, we've been challenged by a lot of business and personal issues. I'm the one responsible for communication, the website, etc. and have been largely failing spectacularly.

As I've mentioned before, it's all about cash flow. No models to ship? No cash flow. Which impacts how quickly we can get models as well. So Darren and I are both working multiple jobs, just for the privilege of making models for you. Well, and us too. Me mostly, Darren doesn't have a layout. Most of our additional help do and they like models too.

Combine that with the usual and some not so usual life events, sometimes (frequently) things go by the wayside. My day starts at 6:00am and usually doesn't end until 1:00 or 2:00 am. Midnight if I'm lucky. I'm usually a moderately disorganized procrastinator, so squeezing everything into a day can be a challenge.

This weekend reminded both Darren and I why we keep doing this. We had a blast at the Springfield show, and especially hanging out with each other. It has been quite a while (two years?) since we've been able to actually get together in the same room. That also makes it difficult to do what we do, but we do the best we can.

This year is starting strong, and if our factories continue to deliver it should be a very good year for us. In addition to the things on deck, we have a number of new announcements we'd like to make, but it's a bit too early for that.

Right now we can say that after the PSC cabooses, we should be seeing the Canadian wood and transfer cabooses (including the GTW one) following shortly behind. The SW1200RS locomotives are also in the production queue for this year, along with the plow and the NYC/Rutland cabooses. It's an aggressive schedule, and we're looking at possibly working with another factory to make it work.

I wouldn't expect any other announcements until later in the year. Those projects alone will take us through most of 2016.

What you will not see us doing is providing specific dates. While things have improved immensely, delivery dates are still too fluid to say anything specific until it actually happens. We don't mind sharing what we do know, but most of the time it's very tentative and we're a bit wary (from past experience) to be specific when we're not confident that we'll meet a given date.

You now know what's in the immediate production queue. If it's not in the list I mentioned above, then it's probably not shipping this year. We can't even guarantee that everything on that list will ship this year. But that's our current goal.

Something I have heard from a number of people, and not just about our models, is that they are waiting to place an order until after they can see if a particular error is corrected. Hello! If you see an error in our drawings, or sample models, tell us. Maybe we missed it, maybe we didn't. But if you don't let us know until after it's made, then we probably can't fix it. You should do that for every manufacturer. Really.

While we (I) have not been making regular updates, I always try to answer emails, even if it takes me a while. We try to be as open and transparent as we can be. I'm an avid New Haven prototype modeler, and I'm a stickler for detail on my own layout. I don't presume to think that my way is the right way for everybody, but when it comes to producing models being a 'rivet counter' helps. A lot.

Another thing that is really important to understand is that we're not in this alone. While I'm sure it's not always obvious online, anybody who comes to see us at the show will tell you that we're here for you and because of you. We want to produce the models that you want, and do them right. But there are only two of us. We consult with a lot of experts in their fields, but we are also always interested in honest, but civil, feedback from you. Sure 'we should hire somebody else' you say. Well, OK. Perhaps we should hire ourselves first and start actually getting a paycheck too. Just not going to happen any time soon. Some companies have lots of cash, or a benefactor that likes to spend their cash. That's not us.

We're a small company. We're often overwhelmed. That's life. Despite that, commentary along the lines that we're disappearing or closing is inaccurate and unhelpful. We've had more than enough reason and opportunity to close up shop over the last several years. Certainly neither Darren nor I need the headaches that come with it. This is what we do. You are the reason why we do it. If you're concerned and have a question, just ask. And be patient with us. We will continue to produce models that nobody else is...just for you!

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