Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Report from the Toy Fair in Germany

The  International Toy Fair Nuremberg, Germany, ended Tuesday Feb 5. The LGB world was eagerly awaiting any news from Märklin/LGB about the new owner and any - hopefully - good news for new products and the abysmal spare parts market. Well, the word is out, or not, or never. Yours Truly is not really kidding. The news turned into no news. Simba-Dickie, the new owner wasn't so sure after all if they still wanted to go on with the take-over. A new date for further information about that subject is set for March. We will keep you posted.

Meanwhile back on the ranch at Märklin headquarters the decision stood NOT to provide any further spare parts for the LGB program.

No further LGB products are scheduled for the American market.

The LGB New Items 2013 catalog is available here: ( click on www.lgb.de/de/produkte.html )
on that page click on the left photo  for narrow gauge locos, cars, and sets and on the middle photo for standard gauge items. You can use your Google translator or email Yours Truly with questions. There are no  US  locomotives available from LGB (exception see below). The catalog notes them as "manufacturing ceased". Out of 13 new narrow gauge locos none is available at this point. The only available US loco(s) is/(are) an F 7 A and B unit 330 and an F 7 A unit 333. It seems that many locos presented in 2011-2012 as new items were not available for the longest time and are now marked as "manufacturing ceased". Seems they never ever manufactured them in the first place? Strange policy...Yours truly wonders what will happen with the "New Items 2013" ?

The Toy Fair itself did not provide any head turning news to begin with. There was not a real focus on electronic toys nor on old-time, traditional toys either. The market seemed to be in a holding pattern/waiting-for-Godot-mode. No breakthroughs in decoder technology for model trains, nor in control systems nor in fine collector's models. Nada.

A lot of Asian "visitors" were noticed. Did they come to check out new technology (that wasn't there)  or did they want to buy for their own ever growing toy demand? No word on that either.

So, where do we LGB fans go from here? Straight to eBay?  Yours Truly has an observing eye on eBay UK (United Kingdom), Germany and USA and sometimes Italy. Prices for LGB locos in good to mint condition are going up while volume offered is going down. Spare parts offers are going down, in volume while prices go up.

Are there any good news to be had?? YES ! Your Famous Klaus aka TrainCraft is now offering:
 Estate Management. 
What is that - you're asking? We help everybody and anybody who wants to sell or buy LGB trains made before 2006 with our own database. We advise you on your loco (you want) to sell regarding value and possible restoring/repairs to increase the value of your item, we inform you about demand,  we appraise the value for resale and we list you- the collector- for engines you want to add to your collection. Any loco or car that passes through Traincraft will receive a certificate stating clearly the year it was made (complete LGB # from Original LGB box required, or else Klaus will estimate), the precise technical current state and condition, the collector's value and the currently viable market price. Klaus charges a very reasonable fee for his service which will depend on the number of stock he manages for you. For further information please email Klaus at klaus@traincraftbyklaus.com or call at 770-886-6670. Our web page will have complete information about this new service by next week.
 French Mikado (!) -- SOLD !!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super"food" for super engines or how to run 24/7 for a very long time

We're talking about dynamic stress, applied load, impact, forces. There are quite a few LGB operators out there who run their locos literally 24/7 or 18/7 or 12/5 . Yours truly is talking about true workhorse locomotives in toy shops, botanical gardens, children's hospitals, real estate offices, restaurants, museums just to name a few..............The engines are operated for at least 8-10 consecutive hours every day. Imagine the wear and tear on those locos!

Where the problem starts:The plastic housing of the locomotive makes/is the bearings for the axles. The plastic contains glass particles to enforce the strength and stiffness of the housing. During the operation the axles work themselves into the plastic resulting in a widening of the plastic bearing. In the end the locomotive axles start wobbling in the way too large (axle) opening of the housing. The plastic gear wheel on the axle of the locomotive will not be defined in its position anymore resulting in excessive wear on the plastic gear wheel.
"Quick fixes":Once problems arise with the plastic gear wheel one might tend to exchange the plastic gear wheel. However, this would be a short lived fix as the gear wheel will wear out pretty fast, again. The regular problem fix would be an exchange of the motor block housing. In case of a daily, continuous operation   the engine will end up with a worn out motor block housing soon, again.

The professional Solution: This calls for the  installation of a different kind of bearing, e.g. ball bearings, roller bearings or sintered bronze bearings, to enforce the motor block housing to a degree withstanding the continuous impacts. However this kind of installation requires a massive re-work of the axle/ motor block design including these activities: remove the loco wheels from the axle, put the new bearings in position on the axle and re-install the loco wheels with the correct quartering in case of a steam loco. The  position of the former bearing in the motor block needs to be widened to accommodate the new bearing. This work step requires exact industrial precision since the position of the bearing is crucial for the smooth operation of the gear work in the motor block .(Please do not try this at home- not even if your wife is not home ) .

Precision manufactured bronze bearing

                       Klaus' Professional Solution:                Your Famous Klaus took a different approach by developing and manufacturing a specific sintered bronze bearing. This bronze bearing is C-shaped and provides an easy change of the axle while taking care of the 'bearing-job' as well as enabling the axle to position itself precisely. This may be applied to all LGB engines.  Even for those engines where the motor block is very worn out and would need an exchange motor block which is not available any more. Even in this situation the bronze bearing treatment can be applied and will save many a historic and valuable LGB locos.
The finished product
The Result: Super"food" for super operating locos! Take note:your general average LGB loco, made in Germany, is constructed to run for 800 to 1200 hours in her lifetime no matter if she runs literally 24/7 or 2 hours on Christmas morning. That translates into just 125 days at 8 hrs of continuous operation per day. Klaus gives you 5800 hours of continuous operation!! Which equals 5 - 8 times the life span of your engine.
Price: US$ 95.00 
for the bronze bearing treatment plus installation workshop hours according to locomotive type. For further information call Klaus at 770-886-6670 or email at klaus@traincraftbyklaus.com

A Note About Wear and Tear: to fight wear and tear on mechanical components regularly calls for grease. Grease is needed within the motor block starting from the worm gear of the motor through an intermediate gear if present down to the plastic driving gear wheel on the axle. Few people are aware of the fact that metal loco wheels and power shoes need to be greased as well. Putting some lubrication on the tracks will double the life expectancy of loco wheels and power shoes instantly. Once the nickel plating on the wheels is gone the rest of the brass wheel will disappear even faster. So do yourself a big favor and add a little grease  e.g. "W D 40", on to the track. Klaus recommends to spray about one (1) foot of the track about every 150 feet once a week. The wheels of the train will carry the lubricant around the layout.