Spring Mills Depot and N&W Caboose project

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org
Fri Mar 6 16:01:54 EST 2020

 Found the ordering form for Spring Mills N&W Cabooses.  Does anyone know where photos may be found of the various prototypes to help me decide which to order?  Would definitely order 2 or 3.
Bill Demarest

    On Friday, March 6, 2020, 09:40:08 AM EST, NW Modeling List via NW-Modeling-List <nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org> wrote:  
 I personally would like to be able to put in an order for a couple of these cabooses even if it is a couple more years before they show up. I've tried submitting orders to them twice via email and never received a confirmation. I don't care about the preorder discount, I just want to make sure I can actually get the models.

Aaron Falis

Sent from my android device.

-----Original Message-----
From: NW Modeling List <nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org>
To: NW Modeling List <nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Thu, 05 Mar 2020 9:58 AM
Subject: Re: Spring Mills Depot and N&W Caboose project

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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