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Orion Models business philosophy & New Strategy
The primary objective of this business is to design and build model steam locomotives and carriages in Gauge 1 to the highest possible standard of accuracy within the very real constraint of a reasonable and affordable price,
( not to mention the rather coarse standards required to maintain compatibility with existing models and track).
A main objective is not to make money (though that would be a bonus) but to provide enough income to cover the development cost of up to 4 locomotive designs per year.
A secondary objective is to make enough profit to cover the development costs incurred so far.
All locomotives are designed to be as accurate as possible, which involves a lot of research. Most of the research has now been completed for the 50 or so locomotives that I intend to produce.
All are designed for radio control. Ready-to-Run locomotives will be supplied with R/C as standard.
All models are designed to be easy to assemble and maintain.
The current business model of supplying etches through a 3rd party (who also supplies all the mechanical components) is plainly failing to cover development costs, so a major change in business practice is required.
For future production I am planning to produce (per annum) approximately:-
2 new tank loco designs
2 new tender loco designs
8 new carriage designs - approximately 4 to match each loco.
As this is a one-man business (with some bought-in components) I am planning to limit annual production as follows:- 5 tank locos as RtR (Ready to Run)
4 tender locos as RtR
6 carriages as RtR
Note these will be limited to just the new designs. This is probably about the upper limit of my production capacity.
When each batch is sold out, no more will be built by Orion Models - but see below for future production and kits.
The reason for this change in strategy is that the kits are not selling in sufficient quantities to cover their development costs. This is particularly true for carriages, where the sheer size of the etches makes them expensive to produce, though development is quick and easy compared to locos.
I intend to produce a lot more of the mechanical components myself.
A very small number of kits will be available.
Etches and design drawings will be available for those who feel like tackling more of the construction themselves. Extra parts (cylinders, boilers etc.) should be available from Just The Ticket.
This all sounds rather ambitious - I just hope I can keep to these targets.
When I have completed the above production figures, each loco or carriage design will be passed on to a separate company that will be responsible for future production and support.
I will continue to provide support for those actually sold by Orion Models.
All models now come with a fully integrated computerised radio control system - still under development as at February 2019.
I expect prices for Ready-to-Run items to be around the following figures - note the locos include radio control -
Tank locos £2,000 £200 less for oscillating steam motor version
Tender locos £3,800 £200 less for oscillating steam motor version
Kit prices will something like -
Tank locos £1,100 £130 less for oscillating steam motor version
Tender locos £1,800 £130 less for oscillating steam motor version
Etch & design prices will be something like -
Tank locos £350
Tender locos £500
Prices for kits and Ready-to-Run will be dependent upon specification - some use more parts, pushing up prices accordingly.
I am currently taking orders for the forthcoming (in this order) -
LMS 3F 0-6-T (Jocko/Jinty) - prototype awaiting final testing
GWR 14XX 0-4-2T - prototype awaiting final testing
LSWR T9 4-4-0 - prototype awaiting final testing
LNER J69 Buck Jumper Note - this is too small to take the ARM1G cylinder set, so is only available with my Oscillating Steam Motor at a slightly lower price
LSWR O415 Adams Radial Tank 4-4-2T
GWR Steam Rail Motor & Auto Trailer as preserved at Didcot
GWR Collett Goods 0-6-0
SECR Birdcage trio set
LMS PI Suburban set
LSWR carriage sets - 4½-sets for the T9, pull-push set for the Adams Radial tank
Orders are taken on a first come, first served basis with no obligation - you can cancel at any time, at no cost, until your particular loco/carriage starts building.
Later orders will be put on a reserve list or passed on to the company doing the future production.
All kit orders will be forwarded to the company doing the future production.
As always, future production may be delayed, and this may have some impact on my ability to produce new designs.
On the plus side I have invested in SolidWorks 3D software which should speed the design process (eventually) and enable me to get the designs right first time.
Although expensive, it should pay for itself over the first 10 loco designs in reduced etch cost alone. It should also eliminate the need to go through at least one evolution of the prototypes, speeding production.
By taking care of the relationships between the various parts, it will ensure that everything fits, all the holes match up, nothing clashes (a real problem with all the pipework and other bits connecting a tender to a loco
- a problem exacerbated by radio control) and free me up to concentrate on the best way to fit the bits together and make assembly as easy as possible.
Unfortunately the transition to SolidWorks is taking longer than was anticipated - it is one hell of a long learning curve, fundamentally different from the way 2D packages work. It is also turning out to be rather clunky, crashy and time consuming. It does, however, provide me with a means of producing very high quality illustrated instructions with 3D exploded diagrams.