Spring Mills Depot and N&W Caboose project

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org
Thu Mar 5 09:58:13 EST 2020

I, for one, and I bet there are more, want to see the project 
completed.  I pre-ordered 10 caboose models and would love to have them 
in my hands now.  I'm sure everyone would.  I'm sure Fred would like to 
have his models as well.  I agree that when we have paid for something, 
we are invested and we should be given updates by Spring Mills more 
often - say quarterly or twice a year - that assures us they are working 
on the project and where we stand.  We should not have to initiate all 
of the contacts requesting updates.  I sure hope they get those DODX 
flat cars out of the way soon.  I can't use them and have no interest in 
them.  I appreciate all the work that the work Steve and Fred have done 
(I suspect there will be more before production begins) and want to 
thank Fred for the detailed update.  I can wait, at least for a couple 
of years, I hope.  Since we have so few options, I will wait.  I _am_ 
tired of seeing those Athearn models on my layout, however.

Just a thought: Since there is such a delay, I wonder if Spring Mills 
would open up the pre-production 10% discount for 30 more days.  It 
might help their cause and maybe soothe some of the disgruntled. I mean, 
it's not like we are going to see them this year or anything like that.

Walter Davis, Youngsville, NC

On 3/4/2020 8:12 PM, NW Modeling List wrote:
> To all:
>       I can offer a small update on Spring Mills progress. They have received
> test shots of the DODX flat car and have shown them at a recent show per
> their 12/17/19 update on their web site. My understanding is they look good,
> indicating decent capability on the part of the new manufacturer. This is a
> significant step in moving forward on all projects as losing a trusted and
> proven manufacturer is hard to recover from for a small volume company.
> Don't underestimate the communications difficulties as well, I've been to
> China twice and worked with vendors there and even with the backing of a
> huge multinational it takes work and time to get results. I'm looking
> forward to hearing production dates on the DODX project.
>      That's as much of an update as I can offer right now, but I would like
> to "unburden" a bit on the subject of the caboose project as most of you
> probably don't know much of the history. Steve Smith and I partnered to
> approach Spring Mills Depot to try and get a correct N&W caboose built. They
> were picked because their prior products have been spectacular, and they
> have a business model that supports modest production quantities with lots
> of product variance. They were receptive but set a high bar for technical
> input that Steve and I exceeded by purchasing every applicable drawing from
> NWHS and providing them to SMD, along with copies of the lovely Bowers
> caboose book. (This, by the way, ensured that NWHS got a nice bit of
> up-front money, there are lots of drawings!) SMD then agreed to the project
> and the really hard work began. While Steve started a "spreadsheet from
> hell" to document every physical variation on hundreds of cabooses (more
> than what is scheduled for production) I wanted to ensure we could benefit
> from the Bowers caboose slide collection to visually verify the details on
> as many cabooses as possible. That wish, along with a pending retirement
> desire to get involved in a meaningful way with NWHS led me to start
> digitizing the Bowers collection. While I started with the cabooses, it felt
> right and fair to complete the whole task so that's where the 38,212 slide
> images that are online came from. Even with that many slides I think Steve
> has probably put in as many if not more hours on the project. Field trips,
> searching for elusive images, organizing all of the build details,
> contacting all of the respective interest groups for the wayward cabooses
> that left N&W for other roads, searching for accurate colors, and on and on.
> Note that every caboose SMD is offering has had its physical attributes
> verified by one or more images. Where we are now is we think (hope, pray) we
> have a complete technical package for all the cabooses in the hands of SMD,
> with the exception of final color selections where a bit of outside expert
> help is being obtained. When they are able to move forward they have what
> they need.
>      While that was long-winded, it's important to understand that thousands
> of hours have gone into the caboose project. Neither Steve nor I are looking
> for pats on the back, expressions of appreciation, or any of that, we are
> doing it to satisfy our own desire to see the project happen. What we would
> like, however, is a bit of patience. It seems companies like UTI can plan a
> brass sleeper release, take their time, and not flood us with communication
> and it is fine. And it is fine, I have my reservation in and will be excited
> when the 10-6s show up. But every time SMD gets mentioned on this list there
> are those who immediately chime in with complaints about the project. It is
> getting old. If you want to support the project, advance order, and be
> patient. If you don't want to support it, wait for product arrival and take
> your chances on getting what you want. Or go buy brass. Or build laser kits.
> But whatever you do, could you please stop complaining? It hurts to have put
> so much into this only to see it blasted in print periodically.
> Best Regards,
> Fred Boettner
> Roanoke, Va.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
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