A Few Weeks In China

Nee How! Hello from China!

As those who read our regular newsletters know (and if you’re not already one of them, please click here to sign up) as Jason sits home waiting for his newest family member to arrive I am in China working with our factory staff to iron out the final production details on both the FP9 and Canadian projects. This is an exciting time – it’s wonderful to see a project that you’ve worked for so long on finally come into its final form. Production is already underway on many of the parts required, and final adjustments are being done on the few bits that are not quite ready to go. I will be here for the next couple of weeks, and as I have time I’ll keep you updated on the progress. Please be sure to keep checking back for new blog entries.

There are a few items that were not finalized during our last visit. One of these was the lighting boards for The Canadian. As those who saw the samples that Jason took on tour may have noticed we only had one prototype board produced for the diner to prove the concept. Because of the design of both the boards and the car interiors each and every lighting board is unique (if it was easy, it wouldn’t be Rapido!). Well, we now have samples of every board and I’ve tested most of them. All use small surface mount LED’s in each compartment and above each aisle, and I have to tell you that they look just like small HO light fixtures! I haven’t had a chance to take good photos yet, but here are a couple of grab shots to give an idea what they will look like. Remember, these are black test sample parts and the interior walls will be light tan or gray on the production cars.

Here’s a quick snap of the crew section of the baggage-dorm car. Note LED’s over each compartment or bunk section.

The baggage section with a single row of lights down the middle – just like the prototype! These will make it easier for the HO scale crew members to find the water cooler (Under the left hand light).

I spent much of the last several days meeting with our tooling people and checking on progress on a few outstanding issues. I’m happy to report that all is very much on track. I’ve also been working with the decoration department approving color (sorry, colour!) samples for the FP9s and going over the artwork for each scheme with the factory engineers. Here again, we seem to have outdone ourselves! Every FP9 is being produced with a specific set of details and decoration variations to match specific units at specific times in their career (full details of each can be found on our web site). Including the un-numbered versions we have 28 different product numbers that cover the various CN and VIA schemes. To keep things straight during production each variation needs its own lettering and production parts diagram. There are 27 different diagrams! (I’ll let the adventurous among you figure out which two are alike!)

We have also tested and accepted the final FP9 decoder sample from Soundtraxx, and finalized the speaker choice. It’s a joy to watch and listen to these locos in action, I know that you’ll be happy with the final results.

For my fellow US modelers (if you’ve read this far), I also inspected the tooling for the HO 37’ meat reefer and should have final samples before I go home. I have also been working with the factory to finalize design on another project, but you’ll have to wait until the end of January for that announcement!

I must admit that this trip hasn’t all been hard work. The guys from the factory have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable while I’m here, and I did get take a little time with them Saturday afternoon to do a little touring, some of which of course included trains! They took me to see an SY 2-8-2 that has been preserved in a local park along with a couple of passenger cars. We then enjoyed a visit to the Kenyuan Garden art museum and park for the rest of the afternoon before heading out for dinner.

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