The Model Railway Show – Episode 0043

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The future of RTR

In this episodeā€¦

Marty McGuirk, layout-builder.
Joe Giannovario, publisher, O Scale Trains magazine.

The future of Ready-To-Run

Just about everybody in the hobby in North America (and elsewhere) was affected when a single factory in China decided, unilaterally, to work only with the largest model railway suppliers – and boot the others out.

As hobbyists, we have become accustomed to the flow of beautifully-detailed, ready-to-run locomotives and rolling stock (and countless other goods) produced in Chinese factories and offered at competitive prices. While not as critical as, say, energy security, it’s fair to say that many builders of large layouts are dependant upon this flow of product if they ever hope to achieve their hobby goals.

Therefore, many hobbyists were understandably concerned about the future of Ready-To-Run. Questions abound: Will companies continue to import products at the rate they have in the past? Why are they manufacturing overseas anyway? And could any of that manufacturing be brought back home?

At least one manufacturer of HO and N scale locomotives and rolling stock – Rapido Trains – took the brave step earlier this year of openly explaining, online, why it manufactures products overseas and how it feels the hobby would change if companies were to repatriate manufacturing (and The Model Railway Show tips its hat to Rapido owner Jason Shron for presenting his case so publicly).

This episode of The Model Railway Show focuses on the manufacturing issue and the consumption conundrum.

To kick things off, Trevor speaks with Marty McGuirk. Marty is well-known in the hobby. He’s building a fairly large layout that faithfully models portions of the Central Vermont Railway, and blogs about it here. But he is also a former member of the Model Railroader editorial team and was, at one time, on the staff at InterMountain Railway Company, a major manufacturer of HO, N and Z scale product. His professional experience gives him a unique perspective on the issues – and the fact that he no longer earns his living from the hobby allows him to speak freely and honestly about the issues.

Jim continues the discussion with Joe Giannovario, the publisher of O Scale Trains magazine. In a recent editorial – also published on the O Scale Trains blog – Joe notes that rising wages in China and rising oil prices, which affect everything from the cost of plastic to the cost of shipping finished product – are dulling the shine on overseas production. In addition, he argues that repatriating at least some of the manufacturing would be good for the North American economy – and that modelers should support this by being willing to pay higher prices for domestic products.

This is an issue that is not going to go away. The Model Railway Show will continue to present divergent viewpoints on this issue to listeners.

We encourage respectful discussion of this issue on our Facebook Page.

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Episode 43 (mp3)

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Next time on The Model Railway Show:

Jim talks to new NMRA President Charlie Getz about his vision for the association.

Trevor speaks with Dave Arnovitz from Norfolk Southern Corp. about a model railway used as a training tool.

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