Narrow-Minded Notes: Change is Good

Narrow-Minded Notes: Change is Good

2019 On30 AnnualWelcome to the fourteenth issue of the On30 Annual. Hard to believe I’ve had the privilege of welcoming you since 2006, but here we are! They say time flies when you are having fun, and I can assure you, I am still having a blast.

When I started the On30 Annual, I had two simple goals. First, to show that On30 was as legitimate and viable to model narrow gauge as any other scale or gauge; while having the freedom to enjoy it in as creatively or “rivet counterery”a fashion as you want. Second, to create a publication that inspired me and that I enjoyed reading, and thereby other modelers were likely to enjoy also. Thanks to the efforts of many, many outstanding modelers and authors, I think we’ve accomplished those goals. As a part of that goal, I wanted to do those things with excellence over an extended period of time and as this is issue No. 14, I think we are starting to achieve that as well.

None of this would be possible without you, the readers, so thank you! Every time you purchase an On30 Annual (or, our sister publication HOn3 Annual), you are saying to your fellow modelers, “Your ideas have value and I appreciate you sharing them,” and that allows us to continue to spread those ideas over a wide audience, in a handy, portable and durable format; an ink-on-paper document that can last long after the authors or I are gone. The internet down? Pick up an Annual!

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is quoted as saying, “Change is the only constant in life,” and there has certainly been change for narrow gauge modelers in the last year. First, there was the bombshell announcement that Grandt Line was closing, and then that my friends at San Juan Car Co. wished to retire. Rail Graphics also announced their intent to close and as we go to press, hobby staple NorthWest Short Line plans to stop taking orders in August. That is a lot of change, but as our friend in the toga reminds us, that is life. Taking the long view, companies going out of business or changing owners is really the norm, and the hobby is no different.

What we forget while wringing our hands, is that change is often positive. As most of you know, both Grandt Line and San Juan were purchased, along the associated lines and Rail Graphics this month by the owners of The Leadville Shops and the new company, San Juan Model Co., is up and running. I stopped by their shop recently and talked with them about the purchase and their future plans. You can read about it starting on page 84 in the 2019 On30 Annual.

Want to be in the model railroad business? Opportunities exist and I often hear about them. If this is something you are interested in, get a hold of me and we can talk. My background is in business, sales, and marketing, so I love talking about that aspect of the hobby. My buddy and fellow Colorado & Southern nut Rick Steele availed himself to that a number of years back. Rick was working for the Union Pacific in Cheyenne when he heard that LaBelle Woodworking was for sale. Their slogan, “Nothing is a Good as Wood,” is mine, by the way (you’re welcome). Determined that the long-time supplier of narrow gauge and earlier-era standard gauge wood craftsman kits not be consigned to the dust bins of history, Rick bought the company, a truckload of basswood and started making sawdust and casting white metal. Recently, he added the Mainline Models and Ye Olde Huff n’ Puff lines.

When I left Lionel for On3 at the tender age of 9 or 10, the first kits I built were a Russ Simpson 24-foot West Side logging flat and a Mainline Models Rio Grande Southern stock car. I later bought a Mainline Models reefer, but decide to upgrade the hardware with a slew of Grandt Line parts. It’s nice to know that models that got me started in narrow gauge and the companies that produced them are still around and their new owners are making models for new and old narrow gaugers alike. That’s change we can all embrace.

—Chris Lane, Editor

This article was posted on: December 19, 2019