Securing supplies of track components

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junctionmad
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Securing supplies of track components

Postby junctionmad » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:46 pm

Given the reported issues on Rmweb of the difficulties with C&L , is is not time that the society ensures it sources and maintains stock of the relevant functional chairs , this being the only major component not carried by the society

These are very strategic items and best not left to the vagaries of a single supply

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Flymo748
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Flymo748 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:23 am

junctionmad wrote:Given the reported issues on Rmweb of the difficulties with C&L , is is not time that the society ensures it sources and maintains stock of the relevant functional chairs , this being the only major component not carried by the society

These are very strategic items and best not left to the vagaries of a single supply


Hi David,

The supply of track components, the future supply thereof, and possible alternatives, is something which is periodically discussed at Committee.

Looking at the thread on RMWeb, then there seem to be concerns over fulfilment of orders, but having seen the C&L stand at the Warley Show and spoken with Phil, it doesn't seem that it is going to immediately collapse. Having personally taken over a "business" in the model railway world which looked from the outside as though it was well organised, but then found it was not what it seemed, I can strongly empathise with Phil on discovering that it is not possible to just take C&L "off the shelf" and run with it.

We'll continue to monitor the situation in Committee.

Cheers
Paul Willis
Deputy Chairman
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

billbedford
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby billbedford » Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:44 am

junctionmad wrote:Given the reported issues on Rmweb of the difficulties with C&L , is is not time that the society ensures it sources and maintains stock of the relevant functional chairs , this being the only major component not carried by the society

These are very strategic items and best not left to the vagaries of a single supply


There will always be a single source of supply for these chairs for as long as there is a single set of tools to mould them on. If anyone finds that unacceptable then the answer is to commission new alternative tooling.
Bill Bedford
Mousa Models
http://www.mousa.biz

40C
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby 40C » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:13 pm

My own recent experience with C&L is that it took three and a half months from ordering/full payment to delivery.

Gordon Luck

Terry Bendall
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Terry Bendall » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:32 pm

Flymo748 wrote:I can strongly empathise with Phil on discovering that it is not possible to just take C&L "off the shelf" and run with it


Paul is quite right. Having got to know Phil Reid fairly well during the last few years and had a couple of conversations with him recently there is a vast amount that needs doing to get the business into good running order. Those who have never tried such a venture have no idea of the complexities involved. Phil is a railway modeller and he knows very well what the hobby needs. We need to remember that the traders who supply our needs are often one person organisations who have to find the finance for the business, get all the bits made, often from several different manufacturers , sort and pack everything for sale and very often go to shows where they hope to sell sufficient to cover their costs in going, which will often involve a hotel stay and hopefully at the end of the day make a profit. Not an easy task! :(

We have all experienced delays and frustrations in the supply of goods - at the start of the year I waited 3 months for six white metal kits of military trailers which was annoying but they came in the end. Perhaps time to give a bit of consideration. :)

Terry Bendall

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Le Corbusier » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:39 pm

I received a set of track gauges and some chairs reasonably quickly after transfer of funds .... so perhaps the take over is beginning to settle down?

Also very helpful on the phone as I had made a mess of the on line order :thumb
Tim Lee

dclift
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby dclift » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:37 am

Le Corbusier wrote:I received a set of track gauges and some chairs reasonably quickly after transfer of funds ....


Tim, could you tell me how you remitted payment to C&L? I placed an order GBP90 worth of track parts almost two months ago but cannot seem to find any way of paying online which is the easiest, and in many cases the only, option for those of us who do not reside in the U.K. I have emailed Phil twice asking for advice on this but have received no reply. I am aware of the difficulties that he might be facing and indicated as much in my second email. I also said that I am prepared to be patient, but, in view of the prompt, courteous and efficient service that I always received from Brian Lewis and subsequently from Pete Llewellyn, I find Phil's silence somewhat disconcerting. I note that my order is still shown on his website as "Processing".
David Clift.

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Le Corbusier » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:40 am

dclift wrote:
Le Corbusier wrote:I received a set of track gauges and some chairs reasonably quickly after transfer of funds ....


Tim, could you tell me how you remitted payment to C&L? I placed an order GBP90 worth of track parts almost two months ago but cannot seem to find any way of paying online which is the easiest, and in many cases the only, option for those of us who do not reside in the U.K. I have emailed Phil twice asking for advice on this but have received no reply. I am aware of the difficulties that he might be facing and indicated as much in my second email. I also said that I am prepared to be patient, but, in view of the prompt, courteous and efficient service that I always received from Brian Lewis and subsequently from Pete Llewellyn, I find Phil's silence somewhat disconcerting. I note that my order is still shown on his website as "Processing".

I did an online transfer via paypal ...followed by a phone call letting Phil know it was on the way. I have sent e-mails via the web site in the past with no response. However he was very helpful and obliging when I called him directly and things happened relatively quickly. I suspect the E-mail side of things are not fully up and running yet.

Hope that helps

Tim
Tim Lee

dclift
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby dclift » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:02 am

Thanks Tim.
David Clift.

Albert Hall
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Albert Hall » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:34 am

When I worked for Pete one of the problems with e-mails was the need to weed out those which related directly to orders and those which were general requests for information and unlikely to result in a sale of any kind.. Some people tended to treat us as an advice bureau which we were just not equipped to do even with 5 members of staff, 3 of which had little or no experience of modelling. Obviously we tried to be as helpful as we could but when someone comes into the shop and says "I haven't had a train set since I was a kid. Can you design me a layout to fit on a coffee table", the best advice was to suggest they join a local model railway club or buy one of the many instructional books for beginners. Otherwise we could easily lose a half day's productive time trying to explain the basics of track and wiring. It did happen like that on several occasions.

Some have been critical of Phil on RMWeb but working as a one man band means that there is no way he can offer the sort of next day service we aspired to and he knew this when he took it on. It has been suggested that his business model is simple - order components, repack them and send them out in the post. If only it was that straightforward. As well as reordering stock which sometimes has a long lead time, there is a good deal of assembly work (track & point kits), quality control, dealing with couriers, keeping his accountant happy, preparing for exhibitions etc. He needs a very clear head in order to prioritise his time otherwise he will drive himself into the ground through overwork and lack of sleep. Possibly the answer is to employ a member of staff to share the load but then I have no idea how badly that would affect his overheads (a pension scheme is now essential) and profit margin. Alternatively maybe a partnership.

It isn't ideal trying to run this operation as a one man band but the alternative had he not stepped in when he did was the see the whole product range go down the pan. I know for sure that if a problem is raised with him face to face or by phone he will do his best to resolve it or at least let you know what the delay is all about.

I could be nasty and vindictive about the guy who made me redundant but that was always going to happen one way or the other short of making a bid for the business myself. Two of us did think about that but not for very long especially as we knew that the old mould tooling was going to need some capital investment sometime soon. Phil was brave to take it on in the first place and I hope for his sake and that of the hobby that he eventually gets on top of things.

Roy

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Jol Wilkinson
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:44 pm

I fully concur with Roy's comments that some modellers expect Smaller Suppliers will provide an information and advice service, which is often very time consuming and, too often, not productive. However, a supplier may not be aware of the enquirers "genuineness" until he has put the time into providing an answer. People expect a reply and, if one isn't forthcoming by return, too often publicise what they consider poor service.

So the supplier is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Retailers have a simpler get out, they can just claim that they didn't make it, so don't know.

In the age of the internet, increasingly many people don't bother to carry out any research for themselves, just expect someone else to be willing and able to provide the answers for them. This is also evident in online forums, especially that other place.

dal-t
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby dal-t » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:48 pm

Really missing that "hear, hear!" button again ...
David L-T

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Le Corbusier » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:56 pm

Jol Wilkinson wrote:
In the age of the internet, increasingly many people don't bother to carry out any research for themselves, just expect someone else to be willing and able to provide the answers for them. This is also evident in online forums, especially that other place.


Perhaps not expect .... rather hope .... and usually after some attempt at research - but guilty as charged mi lud :thumb
Tim Lee

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Noel
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Noel » Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:45 pm

Jol Wilkinson wrote:In the age of the internet, increasingly many people don't bother to carry out any research for themselves, just expect someone else to be willing and able to provide the answers for them. This is also evident in online forums, especially that other place.


Very possibly all too true in some cases, but specialist information can still be very difficult to find, as the internet doesn't have all the answers. Even when it does, it may be buried somewhere obscure, and you have to know where it is before you can look for it. It can take a large chunk of your lifetime to acquire the background knowledge to enable you to even ask the right question, sometimes. With railways, some answers can depend on decisions taken in the past, over many decades, and if you have come to modelling railways without any background knowledge, a lot of what information is available may make little sense.
Regards
Noel

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Jol Wilkinson
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:50 am

Very true Noel, but some people don't appear to carry out even the basic research before asking someone else to do the work for them. Not so much here on the Scalefour Forum, more evident elsewhere. RMweb and the MG Owners Club forum are particularly rich examples.

"This is the age of the interent, don't think, just ask".

Jol

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Guy Rixon » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:20 pm

I agree with Jol that people should at least try to find answers before asking for help, but I also agree with Noel that finding those answers is costly in time and money and it's a a lot of duplication if everybody has to go back to primary sources. The best way seems to me to be that designers of parts and kits should publish the research they do to make the designs. When I put something for sale on Shapeways I try to express in the product description what I learned while making the CAD.

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Paul Townsend » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:40 pm

Guy Rixon wrote: The best way seems to me to be that designers of parts and kits should publish the research they do to make the designs. When I put something for sale on Shapeways I try to express in the product description what I learned while making the CAD.


Excellent...a proper academic approach and quoted sources I hope.
Mines a pint of Proper Job please :D

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Le Corbusier » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:53 pm

It's an interesting debate.

I have benefitted massively from the input of people to my thread .... including a fair dose of patience. I sincerely hope that others reading the thread have also benefitted from some of the discussions. Simple comments have not only sparked fascinating debate ... but also pointed me off in the right direction to do some of my own research and then feed back in.

Personally, I think that so long as it is not abused, the Forum is a fantastic and underused resource, and certainly generates in this beneficiary the wish to give back whenever possible - I suspect that the vast majority fall into this bracket. One aspect which I think is very useful is when more experienced or knowledgable contributors point you in the direction of other threads (or indeed people who might help).
Tim Lee

Terry Bendall
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Terry Bendall » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:04 am

Le Corbusier wrote:Personally, I think that so long as it is not abused, the Forum is a fantastic and underused resource


Yes it is and long may that continue. Seeking advice via the forum is one thing, expecting small suppliers to do the same is another and I know from talking to some of our suppliers that they can spend a great deal of time on the phone and end up getting little "proper" work done.

Think before you gripe perhaps? :)

Terry Bendall

Enigma
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Enigma » Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:31 pm

Terry Bendall wrote:
Le Corbusier wrote:Personally, I think that so long as it is not abused, the Forum is a fantastic and underused resource


Yes it is and long may that continue.
Terry Bendall


Only the 'fantastic' bit surely Terry. The 'underused' part is disconcerting and one wonders, in this supposed electronic internet age, why this is so?

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LesGros
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby LesGros » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:51 pm

One of the problems which arises is that the search engine is not very good, and is hindered by so many topics go wandering off on a tangent.

As this one has
:D
LesG

The man who never made a mistake
never made anything useful

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Le Corbusier » Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:10 pm

LesGros wrote:One of the problems which arises is that the search engine is not very good, and is hindered by so many topics go wandering off on a tangent.

As this one has
:D

guilty as charged mi lud :thumb
Tim Lee

junctionmad
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby junctionmad » Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:29 am

I wish Phil well, he definitely needs to get on top of his IT issues and move to a prepaid , in stock only order process, this removes following up orders, cheques ( a time waster) and getting wrong amounts, back order etc , all a huge waste of time


However, given the society supplies components to make Brooks Smith track , it seems straightforward it should now supply functional chairs, given we have largely moved on ?

These could be sourced in bulk from C&L , it wasn't my suggestion that new wholesale suppliers were needed, more an alternative retail one.

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Flymo748
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby Flymo748 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:56 am

junctionmad wrote:I wish Phil well, he definitely needs to get on top of his IT issues and move to a prepaid , in stock only order process, this removes following up orders, cheques ( a time waster) and getting wrong amounts, back order etc , all a huge waste of time


However, given the society supplies components to make Brooks Smith track , it seems straightforward it should now supply functional chairs, given we have largely moved on ?

These could be sourced in bulk from C&L , it wasn't my suggestion that new wholesale suppliers were needed, more an alternative retail one.


Hi David,

The Society has a long-standing policy of not stocking products which we would be selling in direct competition to other retailers. They have to make a living out of supplying goods to our hobby. We merely rely on the goodwill of Jeremy...

There is a false comparison with the Brook Smith components, as these are not available elsewhere, barring the EMGS who are in the same non-commercial situation that we are.

As I've said before, the Committee is following this topic, and *if* anything needs urgently to be done, will consider action.

Cheers
Paul Willis
Deputy Chairman
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

GTi
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Re: Securing supplies of track components

Postby GTi » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:44 pm

Whilst I fully understand and agree with the Societies policy of not competing with Suppliers, it is the products that disappear when businesses are sold on that concern me the most.
Large P4 layouts can take years, if not decades, to build and therefore it is continuity of supply that concerns us the most. Ideally we want reasonable assurance that the items we purchase in year one will still be available in year five and year ten and this is where I think the Society can play a part.
For instance, it is my understanding that Exactoscale rolling stock items (wheels and couplings) are not currently available. To a finescale modeler these are important items. The working screw coupling is the Ducati of couplings. Not only does it look good, it WORKS too. Now I dare say there are dozens of ways to couple up items of rolling stock from etched and lost wax brass to bent paper clips but the Exactoscale coupling D links are stamped from a ferrous material and so can be coupled and uncoupled simply with a magnetic shunt pole as well as being sprung with a coil spring and stamped metal washer and therefore can be made removable for stock painting etc.

Now, I am pretty sure that the previous owners of the range did not burn the midnight oil stamping and machining the parts for these couplings, but bought them from a third party workshop.
If these items were to disappear from the product range, would it not be possible for the Society to purchase the rights, for an agreeable sum, from the current owner and then commission the third party to produce a batch of parts for us to sell to our membership through the stores, thus maintaining continuity of supply?
I have no doubt some may see this as competing with paper clip manufactures, but does it?


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