Audio Episode

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Jim Martin: Jim's radio broadcasting career includes both the private sector and the CBC, Canada's national network. During his many years on air he was a reporter, announcer, news director, talk show and news magazine host, and his favorite part, interviewer. For many years he was also the book review and video review editor for Canadian Railway Modeller. More recently he has been writing articles for Railroad Model Craftsman. He also enjoys presenting backdrop painting clinics to local groups and train shows.

Trevor Marshall: Trevor cut his teeth in radio at Standard Broadcast News, a national radio newswire service in Canada. The radio news writing style has served him well in his current profession as a freelance writer for clients in the transportation, life sciences, and government sectors. Trevor's articles for the hobby press have appeared in Model Railroad Planning, Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman and other publications and he regularly presents model and prototype railway clinics on a variety of topics. He finds everything about the hobby interesting, but is particularly interested in the process that goes into a well-thought-out, prototype-based layout.

Chris Abbott is our Technical Director. Jim and Trevor would still be talking to each other without his help.

Otto Vondrak is our Creative Director. That awesome badge and banner on the site? That's his doing.

David Woodhead is our Music Director. If you find yourself humming our theme song, well - you're not alone. Jim and Trevor have had it stuck in their heads for weeks now. Well done, David!

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In this episode…

Keith Wills, Collector Consist columnist, Railroad Model Craftsman magazine.

Christopher Howard, president, Railflyer Model Prototypes Inc.

 

 

Collector Consist

 

To some, the model trains of the past are crude toys. But in their day, they were marvels. And one would have to be a tough nut indeed to not be charmed by the models of the past, as anyone can tell you who has visited the U.S. National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

 

It’s good to remember that the technology wonders we take for granted today are only here because those so-called crude toys captured the imaginations of the model train enthusiasts that came before us.

 

For the past 30 years, Keith Wills has served up that reminder monthly, as the author of the Collector Consist column for Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. Keith joins Jim to talk about his column and his lifetime appreciation for the model trains of the past.

 

 

Railflyer Model Prototypes

 

Here’s something to think about: Until January 9, 2007, mobile phone manufacturers were busy adding buttons to their devices, up to and including full keyboards. Then Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone – a sleek glass and steel construct with a single button on its face, with all other functions performed on a touch screen. And it turned hardware manufacturing upside down.

 

What does this have to do with model trains? Lots. In this hobby, it’s easy to continue to do things a certain way because, well, that’s how they’ve always been done. But the best innovations happen as a result of disruptive technology. Think laser cutters. Think resin. Think 3D printers.

 

And think Railflyer Model Prototypes.

 

This start-up company is rethinking the traditional model diesel. Instead of producing a plastic shell on a die cast frame, Railflyer is designing, building and marketing diesel components and assemblies in the same way that a full-size locomotive builder would – but 1/87th the size. The modeler orders what they need, in the same way a real railroad would select options from the EMD catalog. The advantage? Once all the parts for the first model are in production, it’ll be relatively quick and easy for Railflyer to develop additional parts to offer additional locomotives.

 

Along the way, Railflyer is developing some innovative technology, including HO scale axle-hung traction motors that are sure to find application in other scales and gauges as well.

 

Railflyer Model Prototypes president Christopher Howard joins Trevor to talk about how he became a model locomotive manufacturer, his unorthodox approach to locomotive building, and when modelers can expect to see Railflyer locomotives on customer layouts.