Ultrascale now closed to new orders

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Horsetan
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Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Horsetan » Sat May 26, 2018 10:18 pm

If you're that far behind, I suppose that's the logical thing to do

Maybe try again next year. Or maybe a new system of drawing lots to choose who'll be allowed to order :?:
That would be an ecumenical matter.

John Duffy
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby John Duffy » Sun May 27, 2018 2:44 pm

Is the lack of security of supply for vital components, now the biggest threat to the development of the Society?

John

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Tim V
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Tim V » Sun May 27, 2018 5:04 pm

Discuss :P
Tim V
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Horsetan
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Horsetan » Sun May 27, 2018 8:54 pm

John Duffy wrote:Is the lack of security of supply for vital components, now the biggest threat to the development of the Society?


It always has been.

See also Sharman Wheels, etc.
That would be an ecumenical matter.

Philip Hall
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Philip Hall » Mon May 28, 2018 11:49 am

I have an idea of what may be behind this announcement, and I think it is unhelpful to speculate or make silly comments as to the reasons for Ultrascale’s decision. I suggest we give the man some time and let him get on with it. As has been said before, Ultrascale is very much now a one man band, and family and personal events must take preference.

Philip

Crepello
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Crepello » Mon May 28, 2018 12:07 pm

I haven't noticed any speculation, unhelpful or otherwise, so far in this thread!
But concern about our continued ability to pursue our chosen activities is understandable, particularly as supply from other sources has become problematic.

RichardS
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby RichardS » Wed May 30, 2018 10:24 pm

Philip Hall wrote:I have an idea of what may be behind this announcement, and I think it is unhelpful to speculate or make silly comments as to the reasons for Ultrascale’s decision. I suggest we give the man some time and let him get on with it. As has been said before, Ultrascale is very much now a one man band, and family and personal events must take preference.

Philip


I'd hope that nobody in a mature society such as S4S would ever be critical of a person prioritising their personal life. It is regrettable that the proprietor of Ultrascale finds himself in such a situation and we should wish him well.

Nevertheless if the issue is depersonalised it does raise a serious issue for this society and indeed any average modeller wishing to model 4mm scale in a wider guage than 16.5mm or those who do but who wish to fit wheels to their kits or improve the wheels of their rtr models.

There are, I am certain, very few modellers who can manufacture their own wheels. The vast majority of society members rely on a commerical supply of wheels to enable them to undertake their modelling. Remove this supply and that's it. End of. Game over.

Being a relatively new member of S4S and unskilled in an engineering sense I had to assess whether I could realistically pursue the 18.83 discipline. I identified wheel supply as a risk to this. Frankly Ultrascale were too generally too expensive for me to consider so while Gibson remain my needs can be met. But other than these two I am not aware of any supplier of wheels to P4 standards.

Markits I believe supply ex Romford wheels suitable for OO and EM gauge.

It is a perilous situation for the P4 modeller. It is also one where any assessment of the situation runs the risk of comments suggesting: 'so what are you (the writer) going to do about it?' Of course if I could, I would, but I have neither a clue where to start nor what to do, nor yet the skills to do so.

It does make one wonder whether it is worth investing time and money in a new P4 project if the supply of critical components such as wheels cannot be relied upon even in the short term. Would people such as me with little heritage in the niche of P4 and consequently virtually nothing 'laid by for future use' actually be better off staying with OO or falling back to EM as a compromise.

Without a secure, enduring, readily available and comprehensive supply of wheels I struggle to see any future for P4 modelling except as a niche oddity for a very few elite modellers.

And on that gloomy note, I will close.

RichardS
Kind regards
Richard

I'm not always a railway modelling heretic

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Bernie
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Bernie » Wed May 30, 2018 10:45 pm

It's hardly the time to get a sad on. "If you build it, they will come!" Pertinently, if the demand is there, they will build it.

The geezer might be training someone up later in the year, buying new kit in the next year. Who knows? It is metal, dimensions and skill (milling, lathe, etc, yada yada). All learnable. After all, this is the S4 society, no?

Chin up!
Bernie

andrew jukes
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby andrew jukes » Wed May 30, 2018 11:39 pm

Some of this reads as though I never made my announcements of 5th and 15th May.

Exactoscale carriage and wagon wheels will be available, with the end of July as the targe date. We may have to hold back a little on this as sorting out supply of axles and bearings is proving more difficult and it would be best to be able to start with a comprehensive range.

Loco wheels are a separate question. There is little reason why we shouldn't offer the range that was previously available and I wouldn't rule out adding designs, subject to good drawings and finding a toolmaker to design the form of the moulded centre. Initially, any new designs would have to be able to use the existing range of rim sizes. All this would be many months away. Carriage and wagon wheels and track come first.

Regards

Andrew Jukes
No. 1054

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Jol Wilkinson
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Thu May 31, 2018 7:25 am

Bernie wrote:It's hardly the time to get a sad on. "If you build it, they will come!" Pertinently, if the demand is there, they will build it.
Bernie


Recent history shows that such an optimistic outlook might be rather misplaced.

The Ultrascale announcement shows the fragility of supply of some products essential to those that kit or scratch build their models.

Sharman Wheels have effectively disappeared, unless you are willing to commission a batch of one type, with an investment of at least £500. The quality of the last two examples I have seen was not very good, perhaps an indication of the age of the tooling, besides other factors. The effective cessation of Sharman production has left some of us that model the pre-grouping railways in a difficult position.

Ultrascale, whilst generally regarded as the best available had a more restricted range . For that reason I have never used them, as there is nothing to fit the models I have built that I couldn't get elsewhere with my preferred choice of steel tyres.

The same applies to Exactoscale, where there was nothing which matched the kits I have built (or are still in their boxes). I had however adopted the C&W wheels as my preferred choice and look forward to their reintroduction.

Other makes have come and gone over time, so for P4 steam loco wheels we are now effectively left with AGW. Colin Seymour has improved the product and while the range covers more types than any other wheel producers' still has many "holes" in it. Whether it is viable to fill in the holes is the question

One other supplier to our hobby has been looking into supplying wheels but the technology he is researching is so far unproven.

I believe that modellers of diesel and eclectic locos have a little more choice, so may feel less concerned.

Wheel production requires a different business model than kit design, with greater investment in tooling and machined components. The same applies to motors, where we are in a difficult situation since the closure of Mashima. None of the alternative being touted as suitable replacements offer the selection of options that Mashima provided, none have been objectively assessed (as the EMGS have done in the past) or proven themselves in use over a period of time.

John Duffy
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby John Duffy » Thu May 31, 2018 7:31 am

andrew jukes wrote:Some of this reads as though I never made my announcements of 5th and 15th May.


Regards

Andrew Jukes
No. 1054


I think the point is, Andrew, that only with your announcement have we realistically secured a supply. What if you had not been in a position to do that? We have always seen kits and in some cases ranges of kits, come and go, rebrand, reappear, be bought and then vanish etc. These, in a general sense, tend to be specific to a particular railway, piece of stock or time period. As was mentioned by someone earlier in this thread the long-term supply of what might be considered fundamentals such as track parts and wheels may influence modellers considering a move to P4. Improvements in RTR, especially in trackwork, may be a consideration for modellers considering moving to P4, my concern is that any perceived threat to the supply of such fundamentals may persuade them not to make the move.

I feel its important that this topic, the future supply of key components, be at least discussed and this being the discussion forum, it seems a good place to start. The Society may not be in a position to do anything, it may be content to adopt a laissez faire approach to such matters and that ultimately may be the end of the discussion, but to at least consider the matter would be preferential to the diet of platitudes that we have been fed over the last few months.

John

nigelcliffe
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby nigelcliffe » Thu May 31, 2018 8:32 am

RichardS wrote:Nevertheless if the issue is depersonalised it does raise a serious issue for this society and indeed any average modeller wishing to model 4mm scale in a wider guage than 16.5mm or those who do but who wish to fit wheels to their kits or improve the wheels of their rtr models.

There are, I am certain, very few modellers who can manufacture their own wheels. The vast majority of society members rely on a commerical supply of wheels to enable them to undertake their modelling. Remove this supply and that's it. End of. Game over.

Being a relatively new member of S4S and unskilled in an engineering sense I had to assess whether I could realistically pursue the 18.83 discipline. I identified wheel supply as a risk to this. Frankly Ultrascale were too generally too expensive for me to consider so while Gibson remain my needs can be met. But other than these two I am not aware of any supplier of wheels to P4 standards.



There are ways to manufacture wheels which are possible for small societies to undertake. I have very detailed knowledge of 2mm Scale Association wheel manufacture, and I think the 3mm Society has its own stuff.

However, there is an issue, and its in the last paragraph. Stuff made in small volumes costs money. If modelling on a low budget, then either decide that you make one loco per year, and per-year its not overly expensive, or use Hornby/Bachmann/Dapol and OO, because their costs are far lower per shop-item.


3D printing is probably the way out. We've seen 3D prints of driving wheels in plastic for years (Bill Bedford has had them at Scaleforum's in the past, as have others), and more recently I've seen some directly printed steel wheels of superb quality for 2mm scale (metal printing at iMaterialise.com). Combine those with CNC produced rims and axles, and there are the wheels which don't require a lathe, mill and 7 year apprenticeship to build. But, will be more expensive than Romford or Gibson.


- Nigel

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Jol Wilkinson
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Thu May 31, 2018 9:51 am

Nigel,

the 3MM Society wheels were manufactured for them by David Stapleton (Sharman Wheels). I don't know if that is still the case.

Jol

Philip Hall
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Philip Hall » Thu May 31, 2018 11:50 am

Other makes have come and gone over time, so for P4 steam loco wheels we are now effectively left with AGW.


I am happy to say this is not so. Ultrascale are still there, and likely to be so for a long time yet. The original post relates to their temporary suspension of new orders. Whilst speaking to David Rogers today I found that my thoughts as to the reason for the suspension were correct; I will not go into details but suffice to say (as did the original announcement) that family matters are increasingly requiring time that would usually be spent working. I guess we have all been there. Therefore it was felt that continuing to increase an already bulging order book was not wise or fair. As I said before, David is seeking time to deal with life which is throwing a few things at him, family wise, at the moment, so once some degree of normality is restored, orders will be taken once more.

I am in agreement with those who worry about the cessation of essential supplies, but this is not one of those occasions. Sharman, Kean Maygib, Exactoscale, these have all gone and now Exactoscale will be happily restored to us. Alan Gibson is still there, busy, and provides supplies which most of us rely on. So we have three wheel suppliers, a similar number as there has been for many years. I don’t there is need to worry, particularly since explorations are beginning to be made in the realms of 3D printing, as Nigel has said. But that comes at a price.

Philip

RichardS
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby RichardS » Thu May 31, 2018 4:01 pm

Philip Hall wrote:[..... we have three wheel suppliers,
.....
Philip


Without wishing to appear pedantic we don't have 3 wheel suppliers. As I write we have one. Gibson's is the only source I can buy a P4 wheel from today.

Mr Jukes has stated an intention to reintroduce his range. An incredibly welcome announcement obviously and one which all should be very grateful for. But it is an event which is yet to happen and will no doubt take time to settle down.

Ultrascale has always been a mystery to me. When I investigated their website previously I was always a bit shocked by the delivery times. I was never sure whether such were special orders while 'standard' products could be supplied immediately or whether this applied to everything. Being objective if there were several months worth of back orders and his time for work is limited presently, and with new demand during the production interruption creating a new backlog it could conceivably be years before it is possible to acquire wheels from this source. With the average age of railway modellers being on high side - I doubt some can wait that long.

Of course there are new technologies emerging but I cannot see a comprehensive wheel supply emerging from his source very soon.

How vital AGW is at this time.

The issue is not whether there are suppliers - it is rather the fragility of those supplies that needs to be considered by anybody wishing to pursue a long term project in P4.
Kind regards
Richard

I'm not always a railway modelling heretic

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Horsetan
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Horsetan » Thu May 31, 2018 7:50 pm

RichardS wrote:.... Ultrascale has always been a mystery to me. When I investigated their website previously I was always a bit shocked by the delivery times. I was never sure whether such were special orders while 'standard' products could be supplied immediately or whether this applied to everything. ....


Everything was done on a strict date order basis, as far as I know, so if order no.1 was for Princess driving wheels, the tooling for that would be be set up to fulfil that order only before moving onto order no.2 which might be for diesel wheels, even if order no.37, 43, and 77 were for the same Princess wheels. Hence no queue-jumping, even if it might make sense to deal with a single type spread across several orders in one go.

The only "standard" things that were commonly turned out in my experience were axles, which is why I was very surprised to have an axles-only order (for Irish 21mm gauge) turned out in just two weeks. Possibly the same applied to gears and crankpins, but it's going to be a good long while before the order book opens again. That's why I reckon it'll be the New Year before we're allowed to pitch our orders in.

Meanwhile, anyone flogging Ultrascales on eBay during this period is probably going to do well, as it will truly be a grab-it-while-you-can situation.
That would be an ecumenical matter.

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby grovenor-2685 » Thu May 31, 2018 8:30 pm

to the diet of platitudes that we have been fed over the last few months.

I haven't noticed this, where were they fed?
Regards

RichardS
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby RichardS » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:21 am

Horsetan wrote:Everything was done on a strict date order basis, as far as I know, so if order no.1 was for Princess driving wheels, the tooling for that would be be set up to fulfil that order only before moving onto order no.2 which might be for diesel wheels, even if order no.37, 43, and 77 were for the same Princess wheels. Hence no queue-jumping, even if it might make sense to deal with a single type spread across several orders in one go.
.


Thanks. It's quite a unique personalised service for the modern world. It avoids capital being tied up in stock I suppose but where demand is known (extant orders) all the time and effort to change machinery for each peculiar order in turn seems an unusual investment of resources for any business.
Still, it's how it is.
Kind regards
Richard

I'm not always a railway modelling heretic

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Craig Warton
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Craig Warton » Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:52 am

Thanks. It's quite a unique personalised service for the modern world. It avoids capital being tied up in stock I suppose but where demand is known (extant orders) all the time and effort to change machinery for each peculiar order in turn seems an unusual investment of resources for any business.
Still, it's how it is.[/quote]

It is actually lean manufacturing in its purest form. Concentrate on reducing the change over times rather than batch producing. I have no doubt they have a stock of moulded centres and tyres at hand , but the actual finishing is done on an order by order basis.

If you are a one man band it is probably the easiest way to do things unless you want to carry a lot of completed stock.

Obviously, they are successful even with the lead times, otherwise there would not be the lead times. Personally, I made a point of ordering wheels when i purchased a kit and that way I do not have the delay when I get the urge to do a particular kit.

Regards,

Craig Warton

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Horsetan
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Horsetan » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:56 am

Craig Warton wrote:....I have no doubt they have a stock of moulded centres and tyres at hand , ....


Er, they didn't even have this. Everything was done "as and when".

If you are a one man band it is probably the easiest way to do things unless you want to carry a lot of completed stock.


When they did try carrying stock (generally after being asked to produce a steel-tyred variant), they found there was little or no demand. David Rogers showed me a bag of 400 steel-tyred P4 "Duchess" driving wheels which he said nobody seemed to want!
That would be an ecumenical matter.

andrew jukes
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby andrew jukes » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:50 am

All a bit surprising. If you want to get tyres made, the unit cost falls steeply with batch size (and I can't see why that would be different if you made them in your own workshop rather than buying them in). At least with tyres, one size can usually, with few compromises, be used for a range of different wheel designs.

Moulding centres into tyres is likely to be a small batch process. Once set up, the mould for a particular wheel will have to have the tyre placed in position (and also the centre, in the case of an Exactoscale wheel) before the mould is closed and the injected centre moulded. Done one at a time and maybe do a dozen or so with that set-up, depending on demand. No sense in producing a large stock of complete wheels. Provided tyres are in stock, it is possible to respond quickly to demand for more wheels.

A problem we have had with a few Exactoscale driving wheels using this process is finding that the tyre is not accurately square to the axle. This is almost certainly because, when the tyre is placed in position in the mould, it is too tight and does not seat properly. As part of reintroducing the driving wheel range, I want to be sure we have sorted this out. I also would like to have some stub axles made in stainless steel so we can replace the plastic ones used previously.

Andrew Jukes

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Le Corbusier » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:10 am

andrew jukes wrote:All a bit surprising. If you want to get tyres made, the unit cost falls steeply with batch size (and I can't see why that would be different if you made them in your own workshop rather than buying them in). At least with tyres, one size can usually, with few compromises, be used for a range of different wheel designs.

Moulding centres into tyres is likely to be a small batch process. Once set up, the mould for a particular wheel will have to have the tyre placed in position (and also the centre, in the case of an Exactoscale wheel) before the mould is closed and the injected centre moulded. Done one at a time and maybe do a dozen or so with that set-up, depending on demand. No sense in producing a large stock of complete wheels. Provided tyres are in stock, it is possible to respond quickly to demand for more wheels.

A problem we have had with a few Exactoscale driving wheels using this process is finding that the tyre is not accurately square to the axle. This is almost certainly because, when the tyre is placed in position in the mould, it is too tight and does not seat properly. As part of reintroducing the driving wheel range, I want to be sure we have sorted this out. I also would like to have some stub axles made in stainless steel so we can replace the plastic ones used previously.

Andrew Jukes


Is it the mould that is the expensive part of the process, or is it the pattern for the mould? ...or both?
Tim Lee

andrew jukes
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby andrew jukes » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:46 am

I don't see how mould costs have anything to do with the issues I covered.

Andrew

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PeteT
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby PeteT » Fri Jun 01, 2018 1:28 pm

Horsetan wrote:When they did try carrying stock (generally after being asked to produce a steel-tyred variant), they found there was little or no demand. David Rogers showed me a bag of 400 steel-tyred P4 "Duchess" driving wheels which he said nobody seemed to want!


Yes, I have a few of those - no use for any Duchesses here, but I like Ultrascales' and will be using them under Jubilees (just not in forward gear, as the 1" difference in cp throw prevents it. However I didnt get them by return of post, as the crankpins to go with them needed manufacturing specially! Not that I needed or wanted them immediately so it wasn't an issue.

andrew jukes wrote:I don't see how mould costs have anything to do with the issues I covered.

Andrew


It might not be your point Andrew, but I think it was a leading question from Tim. As with my above Duchess/Jubilee example, there are plenty of other wheel types which share a common tyre size but have different wheel centres. Brits and Standard 5s have different wheel bosses, Ivatt 2 tanks, Standard 2 tanks and 9Fs share 5' wheels but have different wheel centres...

From what I understand, the cost of the wheel centres is the expensive part of the development - hence these examples not all being supported by the trade.

edited for spelling

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Ultrascale now closed to new orders

Postby Le Corbusier » Fri Jun 01, 2018 1:29 pm

andrew jukes wrote:I don't see how mould costs have anything to do with the issues I covered.

Andrew


They don't, it was just a question I had prompted by parallel thoughts..... and given your expertise I hoped you might be able to answer.

Someone mentioned 3d printing of wheels earlier. I assumed that this was for the centres and not the tyres. I was vaguely wondering if you could 3d print a master from which a mould could be made? Of course it depends on whether the main expense lies in the production of the master or the mould ... or in both.

What I should have asked of course was if there was anywhere to read up about the differing methods of wheel production. Just curious as I am ignorant of the whole process. ;)
Tim Lee


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