Orion Models business philosophy & New Strategy


Objectives

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.

Design

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. All locomotives will be supplied with R/C as standard. This is because the radio control is fully integrated into the design. Deleting the electronic water level system and the pressure gauge largely pays for the radio control electronics, so no extra charge will be made for the R/.C system. The user will need to provide their own mobile phone or tablet to control the loco.
All models are designed to be easy to assemble and maintain.

Production

The previous business model of supplying etches through a 3rd party (who also supplied all the mechanical components) plainly failed to cover development costs and also resulted in quality concerns, so a major change in business practice has resulted.

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) and a small number of kits
       4 tender locos as RtR and a small number of kits
       undefined number of carriages as kits
Note these will be limited to just the new designs for the locos but anytime for coaches and maybe loco kits. This is probably about the upper limit of my production capacity.
When each batch  is sold out, I may be able to produce more but they will have to fit in  with the production of the latest batches, so supply may be erratic.
   The reason for this change in strategy is that the kits are not selling in sufficient quantities to cover their development costs..
I intend to produce a lot more of the mechanical components myself.
Etches and design drawings will be available for those who feel like tackling more of the construction themselves. Extra parts (cylinders, boilers etc.) may be available from Just The Ticket.
This all sounds rather ambitious – I just hope I can keep to these targets.

All models now come with a fully integrated computerised radio control system  – still under development as at February 2022 – hopefully available mid 2022.

See the prices page here for current availability and prices (also future model production) but note that currently inflation due to various external influences is tending to raise material prices and probably will affect my costs.

Ordering

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.
As always, future production may be delayed, and this may have some impact on my ability to produce new designs.

Software

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.