General News Updates 2018

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11/07/18 - Just a very brief, but important update for today. There are several project updates in the works, but I wanted to take time to mention the passing of a very important innovator in our hobby. I was notified today that Stewart (Stu) Kleinschmidt of 'Kleinschmidt Drive' fame has passed away. I do not have any further details at this point, but I wanted to acknowledge his passing without delay, as further information becomes available I will pass it along. I offer my very sincere condolences to Stu's family.

Although I knew Stu for many years, I seldom talked trains with him. We shared an interest in vacuum tube high-end audio and classic cars, his efforts on those areas always seemed to take priority in our talks. Stu has been a bit of a legend in the model railroading hobby and he will certainly be missed! RIP Stu.

10/24/18 - Another TCA York Meet event is in the books after this past weekend and despite the poor management of the event, it was a worthwhile outing. Many thanks to the customers that took the time to stop by say hello and hear the latest regarding our projects. Thank you also to a number of members that came by to express their condolences regarding the passing of my brother Gary Kohs and to discuss Fine Art Models in general. Several of the gauge-one modelers/collectors I have not seen since the days that I actively represented FAM at the York meets more than twenty years ago, that lapse of time is frightening to say the least!

Among the topics discussed was the lack of quality rolling stock production for gauge-one with only limited offerings from Row & Company years ago and of course what FAM had done in past years. Several specific recommendations for projects were offered and I did commit to seriously consider those ideas and to solicit more feedback on the subject. In the meantime, if you happen to read this and have an interest, do not hesitate to get in touch to make your thoughts known. I will present more specific information going forward as time allows.

In addition to available inventory displayed at the show, I displayed the first of our finished individual model leaded-glass displays. The response was extremely positive, to the point where the cases will be a limited offering to owners of our models to begin with. If our ability to complete these cases can keep pace, they may be offered on a more general basis in the future. Photos of the first cases will be posted in the near future.

With the Golden Spike celebration coming up next year, May 10, 2019 to be exact, I've had a number of conversations about exactly what will be happening during that time. Several international clients have mentioned wanting to attend the festivities so I sought out more information to share for those interested. There is a website dedicated to the event which would be a good place to start in planning for an active involvement, the web address is: https://spike150.org. If I become aware of additional credible information I will be happy to forward same in future posts here on our news page.

More information regarding our rolling stock and crane projects will be posted soon, so stay in touch!

9/25/18 - The Indy O Scale Convention was held this past weekend in Indianapolis and I wanted to thank those that stopped by to say hello. Websites and mail updates are certainly a means of maintaining communication with modelers interested in our work, but there is nothing like speaking face to face which is the opportunity provided by the shows and conventions held around the country during the year. Attendance has been an issue for most all gatherings in recent years, but I remain hopeful that the right formula will be put together that will entice modelers and collectors alike to make the effort to attend a show near by in the coming months. As always, I remain interested in ideas that would make the idea of attending a show more interesting for anyone reading this post, give it some thought and please let me know.

I very recently received a note from Mr. Lee at Sun Jin Models, my original builder, that he was closing down his model production business. This was very sad news having dealt with Mr. Lee for more than thirty years, even though he no longer produces my models. Still a very good friend, Mr. Lee will continue with his model museum which is open to the public, I have highlighted the museum in other posts to this page earlier in the year.

Considering the impact of Mr. Lee's work has had on the model railroading hobby having produced 99% of the models for Fine Art Models, all of the locomotive models for Kohs & Company to this point and most recently, the finest O scale British profile models ever produced, this is a history that must be preserved. I have already discussed with Mr. Lee the idea of a book project to document the many production and special projects he has worked on over the years and this is something we hope to jointly bring to fruition in the coming months. A documented history of Sun Jin Models will provide some solace for the great loss Mr. Lee's retirement from model production will be.

9/20/18 - This weekend, Friday and Saturday, the Indianapolis O Scale Show will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana. I look forward to seeing as many of the modelers in the area as possible! I am excited about the production planning and project development that has been accomplished in recent months and am eager to share information about that with anyone that is able to stop by my display. Generally speaking, more of this same information will continue to be shared on this website in the form of general news and on project specific web pages going forward. The efforts made are beginning to pay dividends and I am very hopeful for the future of my brass modeling efforts.

9/03/18 - There are only two days left for the 20% off book sale on our Library page.

8/27/18 - This past weekend was the O Scale National Convention held in Rockville, Maryland and as you may know from my post on 8/14/18, I held a giveaway drawing for some models. The lucky winner of a PRR FW-1 flat car with load was Mr. Gerry Taipalus from Lake Orion, Michigan and the winner of a version #2 PRR cabin car was Mr. Jim Sycks of Virginia Beach, Virgina. There were many questions at the convention about why I was giving models away and to put it simply, it was an effort to support attendance at the convention by offering incentives. The models were originally offered to the convention committee to be used for that purpose, but their only proposed plan was not acceptable to me. I've also had a number of inquiries about the convention since returning home and it's best to just acknowledge that it was very disappointing in most regards. The bright spot was meeting a couple of my customers that I have never met in person previously and several regular followers of this website that are not customers....yet......... great to see you guys!

I need to put out a warning about a seller on ebay from Japan that is trying to sell the junk PRR flat car and PRR cabin car models that I rejected quite some time ago now that were produced by EK Models in South Korea. A complaint has also been lodged with ebay about that seller using Kohs & Company in his listing. It would seem that most buyers are aware of this situation by now, but I did have a couple of questions at the convention. If you missed the story about this situation, please visit the following links on this website: Cabin Cars and Flat Cars.

8/22/18 - I have finally made progress on the subject of DCC conversions for our older production models, there have been numerous requests for that type of service and I hope to have a local source finalized in the near future. I have personally done a number of conversions in the past, but there just aren't enough hours in the day to do this any longer. With a local source I will be able to maintain control and insure the quality. If this is of interest to you check back here occasionally for updates. Once the service is established a dedicated page will be established to provide the ongoing details.

8/14/18 - The O Scale National Convention is coming up next week, beginning the 23rd. Although I have the event listed on our schedule, I have had several inquiries about whether I would be attending, it probably would have been helpful had the convention organizers included a vendor page on the convention website. I look forward to a good crowd at the event this year and to help encourage that, I plan to do a model give-away at the end of the event, approximately $3,000 in models will be given away and all you need to do to have a chance of winning is to show up at the event! The rules are simple:

  • You must be a registered attendee at the convention
  • You must visit the Kohs & Company display at the convention to register in-person
  • Multiple entries will be a dis-qualifier for winning
  • You must be present at the time of the drawing to be held on the last day of the Trading Hall sessions (Saturday the 25th), a precise time will be provided at the time of registration for the drawing
  • A legal form of identification (state or local government issued photo ID) must be provided to claim a prize
  • No members of the organizing committee or administrators of the event are eligible to win
  • Kohs & Company must have permission to make the winning names public for the purpose of validating the results

I look forward to seeing you and good luck in advance!

8/05/18 - First item of interest in this update is a sale on all books listed for sale on our Library page, take 20% off all books you would like to purchase. Keep in mind that the book prices do not include shipping and that will be quoted on an individual basis, shipping will not be discounted.

You may have heard in recent weeks about importers being left without production arrangements with no warning, this has happened in both Korea and China. The reorganization of production effort that I have endeavored to explain in my General News updates over the last several months has been undertaken to avoid this exact situation, being left mid-project without a builder/supplier and all that potentially means to all involved. Thankfully my effort has been a bit ahead of the curve and the progress that has been made not only provides security for the future, but will allow a more timely production, limited only by the available support for our projects including rolling stock. I will continue to explain my approach to production when the time is 'right' and I can honestly say that the best models ever are yet to come so stay tuned!!

7/08/18 - It has been a busy month since my return from overseas, the follow up communications pertaining to my many builder visits and making final decisions on project placement have preempted until now the intended sharing of more information from my travels about the general state of the brass model business in both Korea and China. I believe that sharing as much information as possible is important due to the level of incorrect and misleading information that has filled the Internet blogs in recent times. With that in mind and knowing that there are few secrets within the industry in Korea and China, careful decisions are required regarding what information to share so that the work of other importers is not directly impacted and to avoid sharing too much information about my own build arrangements which could result in the loss of any competitive advantage and production sources.

In a related matter, regrettably for the first time ever, I opted to not provide assistance for another importer that requested my assistance in locating a new builder for his production. For more than thirty years I have tried to support, cooperate with and assist other importers and service providers in our industry/hobby for the greater good of the hobby and to date that has yielded individuals taking advantage and in a couple of cases a proverbial knife in the back. The most recent request came from one of the multiple importers that I have met or communicated with that were the victims of the recent fire at FM Models in Korea. I say victims, since to a person, the fire has been described by those affected as being suspicious in nature and there seems to be little possibility for the importers being compensated for their losses.

The issue of cost of labor remains at play in the Korea more so than ever and the little discussed fact it that it is in China as well although to a lessor degree. It use to be almost impossible to put a number on how many active builders existed in South Korea, but now I have been given nearly the same number by multiple sources (active builders), approximately thirty active builders that are functioning in some capacity including as sub-contractors. The financial status of many of these companies is a serious concern and a major factor in considering where to invest in production. There is virtually no protection for importers so it is well advised to proceed carefully. Regarding being careful, Mr. Shin at EK Models, the company that originally handled my infamous PRR N5 and PRR FD-2/FW-1 flat car projects has teamed up with a new partner and is actively seeking new victims.

On the subject of model production and quality, as an importer, I hold myself responsible for the final results of my projects. It's my responsibility to interview and evaluate the capabilities of a builder before he or she is given a project to produce and then to provide oversight throughout the duration. This was the purpose for my most recent travels, to update my information about builders of interest. I have been regularly traveling to South Korea for more than thirty years and to China for only about the last four years. From my first visit to China I was very surprised by the massive output of the model builders there and the quality of their products. I have read and heard the all too frequent disparaging comments regarding the quality of Chinese built models and I'm here to tell you that those responsible are ill informed pretenders typically feeding off the attempts of a single former U.S. importer that failed to deliver quality models out of China. I wish it was not so, but if there is a long-term future for brass modeling, it will not be based in South Korea. The only factor that could change this is the potential reunification of North and South Korea which could provide an influx of inexpensive labor for manufacturers in the south. Several South Korean builders have set up shop in underdeveloped countries looking for an inexpensive viable labor source and all have failed.

The truth be told, the production quantities coming out of China dwarf those of Korean builders and just as in Korea, the quality Chinese builders are delivering quality models when appropriate oversight is provided. There has been a dirty little secret for several years; importers delivering models labeled as 'Made In Korea' when the projects were subcontracted by a Korean builder and actually built entirely or a substantial portion of the components used were built in China. I obviously will not mention names, that's not the important part of the story. Today, one of the largest remaining South Korean model companies has moved it's production entirely to China. I can also tell you from first hand knowledge that the most sophisticated production capabilities are being used in China. A key factor regarding Chinese quality seemingly is the level of experienced South Korean involvement in their operations. For better or worse, to make judgments about quality based on the country of origin alone is a serious mistake. If you have geopolitical issues with buying Chinese models that's a different matter, but odds are you already have a house full of non-model products from China and I'll leave my political comments at that. It has always been a dream to be able to produce brass models here in the United States, but that is likely the only form that thought will ever take based on costing research I completed more than twenty years ago when the odds of success were far better.

As I have noted in previous posts on this page and also last year, I have been working to restructure the sourcing for Kohs & Company products and that is now nearly complete. Going forward, I will be relying on production sources in both South Korea, China and elsewhere in an effort to have a reliable and more timely production output. The sources are both large and small depending on the nature of the project that each individual builder will handle. Placing projects with a builder that has the appropriate skill sets and experience has taken a great deal of research and effort, but will lead to results that anyone interested in our projects can be proud of. The production of rolling stock is more difficult than ever since most all of the builders have considered this type of project to be low profit compared to using their production time for locomotives. A new and somewhat unique approach to this issue will hopefully lead to an ongoing reliable chain of production for our projects and I will continue to adjust as needs require, more information about the process when the time is appropriate.

How all of this information is related to our current and future projects will be reflected in new project updates which I will start posting as of this date. I will continue to look down the future road of the hobby not only as an importer, but also as an interested modeler and I will continue to report on the issues we will all face.

6/02/18 - Now back from an extended overseas visit, it's time to unpack, not only clothes and travel essentials, but also the large amount of data accumulated during the trip. Oversight on our Big Boy project was certainly a primary objective for the trip, but planning and placing my future projects was just as important. All of the project specific information will be posted on the appropriate sites over the next few days and I'll be sharing what I can about other matters here on the General News page. With visits to a dozen builder facilities in both Korea and China, a good overview of the state of the industry was achieved and some of that information will be shared. In addition to all of the model related activities, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon touring the facilities of a major 1:1 scale railroad supplier in China, a really impressive and educational time. We ultimately had dinner with the General Manager and his family, his son is currently studying Mechanical Engineering in Columbia, Missouri.

Let me start the unpacking by sharing some photos from the museum created by an old friend Hyun-man Lee, better known as Mr. Lee of SJ Models fame, the builder that I worked with for almost thirty years and the producer of my last locomotive, the Union Pacific Challenger. This was actually the last stop during this trip and I have unfortunately not taken the time to visit Mr. Lee for a couple of years due to time constraints and other obligations. Since our last project together, Mr. Lee has scaled back his production efforts and converted much of his production space to a model museum complete with an in-house cafe. Mr. Lee's building is located adjacent to the major park in Incheon so there is direct access for the many thousands of visitors that spend their time in the quite beautiful park throughout the summer. The photo immediately below is a view of Mr. Lee's building from inside the park.

Below is a view of the museum entrance from the street side of Mr. Lee's building.

Immediately outside the main entrance, you are greeted by the brass Eiffel Tower model that Mr. Lee built several years ago and that was featured on this website when it was originally constructed.

As I mentioned, there is a cafe in the museum where you can select from a variety of beverages including many specialty coffees and lattes. The delivery system is of special note and will be highlighted in subsequent photos.

The next three photos show the large centrally located train layout that Mr. Lee personally built, it features operating trains in multiple scales and the operation is totally automated.

Also featured throughout the museum are large and well lighted glass cases displaying a wide variety of models, most of which Mr. Lee's company built over the years. There are examples of all the models built for Kohs & Company and also Fine Art Models. It was a bit overwhelming to see all of the model projects that I personally worked on during our thirty year relationship displayed all together.

With some of the smaller scale models in the background, Mr. Lee poses with his 1:16 scale Big Boy that we featured in one of our displays in the Nuremberg Toy Fair and also the NMRA National Train Show that was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin several years ago.

There are booths for seating while enjoying your beverages around the perimeter of the museum and even the booths themselves include models displayed in lighted cases. You can also see the trains that operate around the perimeter of the room at eye level.

As mentioned, the delivery system for the beverages you order is also very unique. A scale model of one of the eight-wheeler golden spike locomotives custom built by Mr. Lee will arrive at your booth behind glass doors that will automatically open.

There are multiple display cases around the room and it takes a good bit of time to digest everything that is presented.

Another large scale model that is very unique is that of a German rail gun that was used during World War II. This was a model from another museum that had fallen into disrepair, Mr. Lee restored the model for presentation in his own museum.

A 1:87 scale model of 'Big Muskie' built by Mr. Lee's former partner Mr. Han is shown tucked in the corner below. Again, one of the operating trains that circle the room can be seen above it.

Some of the construction models visible in the case below were built during the period when Mr. Lee and Mr. Han his former partner were still working together and doing work for Classic Construction Models in the United States.

The visit with Mr. Lee ended with a wonderful dinner that he hosted the night before I left to return home. His hospitality has always been first-class and there was no shortage of Korean Soju, a rice based whisky that goes down very easy, but always makes a flight home the next day very interesting. I have to note that not all of the green Soju bottles visible in the photo were mine, if they were, I would most likely be dead! To this day, I have the greatest admiration for Mr. Lee and his work, I think of him as a brother. I wish that the high level of effort required for our projects had not taken the toll that it did over the years, but we agree that there is one project that we still want to produce together, the subject of that project will remain a secret for now.

5/26/18 - Just a brief update from along the trail, you may note the date is a bit ahead if you are actually reading this the day it was written, I'm reporting in from Korea at the moment. I wanted to let all of those who have been trying to communicate with me in the last week know that I am again traveling, but will be back soon. It has been a grueling trip starting in China and will end this time in Korea where I will meet an old friend, Mr. Lee from SJ Models who I have unfortunately not taken the time to get together with in far too long. Events of the last year have only reinforced how important it is to take advantage of the life you have while you can, it's over far too soon!

There are some really good things to report from this trip and I am happy to say that the reorganization of production opportunities and a bit of a pressure plan have begun to pay dividends, this is the most optimistic I have been in quite some time and I know that our resulting projects are only going to be far better for the effort. There will be a full report about some of things I have learned along the way this time and there will certainly be a number of project updates and maybe even some new plans to announce.

Until back in the good old USA, best to all!

5/19/18 - Over the years being involved in importing brass model trains, there have routinely been numerous questions about the builders who create the models that importers deliver and certainly questions about the Korean lifestyle in general. The idea of organizing an excursion for those interested in seeing for themselves just what South Korea is all about.has been considered, but until now never been pursued. During an upcoming visit I intend mentioning the idea to 6-8 builders to see if they would be seriously interested in hosting a group of visiting modelers in their facilities to show first-hand what the model building process is all about. Other general sightseeing could certainly be included, not to mention some of the more interesting drinking lounges. If this would be of interest to you, drop me a note so I have an idea of just how many people would potentially take advantage of such an opportunity. Depending on the level of interest, special travel and hotel rates could potentially be arranged.

5/13/18 - There are a couple bits of news to share and there will be follow up information coming in short order. Following the next visit overseas several of our planned projects will be placed in the hands of the builders we have been cultivating for several months. With the new approach that has been taken in developing the production plans for our projects, it has been critical to understand the strengths of each builder we are talking to, every builder is not well suited to producing each type of project we have planned. Be watching for individual project updates where the plans for each will be shared in the next few weeks.

They have been a long time coming, but the first of the leaded glass display cases that have been planned for quite some time have just been picked up from the stained glass specialist. The first group of cases are sized for my Challenger or similar length models (32") and are the finest that I have ever seen. I have several personal cases from different makers over the years, but none as good as what has just been delivered. The glass used is single strength so it is thin and provides for an extra thin beading at the edges and it is museum grade so it is crystal clear unlike regular glass. I'll be posting photos of the first case very soon. I will be offering a variety of length to accommodate each of the models that have been offered over the years and custom lengths will also be possible.

More soon!

3/21/18 - The annual O Scale March Meet was held in Chicago this past weekend and as usual, the Hill family lead by Melissa, did another outstanding job of orchestrating a trouble-free event. I'm already looking forward to 2019! I want to thank everyone that stopped by our tables and especially those that came great distances just to see what Kohs & Company had to offer. Again this year I hosted a gathering of reservation holders and model owners to provide an opportunity for questions and hear face to face what is going on with our current project development. I sincerely thank those who attended since it was held at a late hour to avoid conflict with eating, drinking and layout tours. After each show experience, especially in Chicago, ideas come to mind to make it a more meaningful use of time for those that attend and a couple of new ideas came to mind this year which I'll look to incorporate for next year. Hopefully we can get even more participation in 2019.

Many thanks to all!!

3/11/18 - Progress is being made on a number fronts, thankfully, and I'll be posting the news in the next day or two. The details of the PFE reefer project are nearly finalized and the plans, specifications and pricing for the HO scale Union Pacific Challenger will be released. This is all part of a new production arrangement that also involves and supports our ongoing Big Boy project.

Check back soon!

1/30/18 - 2018 has gotten off to a rough and slow start, the reason why I have been pretty quiet since the holiday season. Heading into the holidays I was struggling with a respiratory ailment and Walking-Pneumonia, no Flu thankfully....yet, but in the course of that just before Christmas developed a case of Shingles. The most apt description I can give to Shingles is like having, in my case, a 30'x8' cold-sore wrapped around my midsection, any movement leading to cracking and pain as the rash healed. That was the easy part, the residual nerve pain that still persists is driving me crazy to the point of distraction! Without movement the situation is tolerable, but you don't get much accomplished on that basis! I'm pushing ahead at this point on project updates and mailings which are long over due and I can hardly wait for the anticipated overseas travel that is planned. My builders are anxious to get started on the new projects we have planned for this year and I have to say that I am very excited as well with the new potential that has been developed over the last several months.

Your patience is sincerely appreciated and I'll be posting new updates shortly.

1/11/18 - I have an important maintenance update regarding work at that will be done on our severs beginning at 7:00PM EST today. This maintenance may interrupt the normal access to this site, but it should only be for a short period of time this evening.

Additional updates for the new year will be posted shortly once the maintenance is complete.

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