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What To Expect From Lionel Model Trains?

Lionel model trains have been in production since 1901. For them it all began with a single train that made use of a motor that was intended for use inside of an electric fan. This train had been made purely as a decoration for a storefront window display. Everyone who saw it in the window wanted one just like it, and before long Lionel trains were being manufactured in their hundreds.

Since then, Lionel has put a great deal of effort towards ensuring that their model trains provide years of entertainment for whoever owns one of them. Today, their trains are not only well-known, but trusted too; for their durability, longevity, and easy-to-use characteristics.

Before 1959 Lionel trains were the market leaders in the model train industry. Those who purchased sets during this time are today owners of highly valuable sets, because in the present day, older Lionel sets are scarce and rare which make them a collector’s dream.

Lionel always has and always will focus on its customer services. From when they first began, they realized that due to the amount of competition in the industry the best way for them to lead would be to ensure that their customer services were excellent, and this is another reason why Lionel train sets are as sought after as they are today.

Types Of Lionel Model Trains And Accessories

A company that began with a single storefront window display train expanded into one of the most influential model train manufacturers in history. As technology evolved, Lionel chose to keep up with the trends and today the amount of model trains and accessories that they have to offer is remarkable.

Besides manufacturing sets that replicate trains from the different eras of railroading, Lionel also manufactures the following:

  • Single locomotives.
  • Freight cars.
  • Operating cars.
  • Passenger cars.
  • SuperStreets vehicles and roadway tracks.
  • Power packs and control systems.
  • A wide selection of track.
  • And more.

They also offer hobbyists a number of accessories such as:

  • Railroad crossings with flashing lights.
  • Control towers.
  • Yard lights.
  • Controllers.
  • Model airplanes.
  • Bridges.
  • Freight terminals.
  • Billboards.
  • Buildings and houses.
  • Figurines.
  • Model cars.
  • Smoke fluid.
  • And so much more.

These are just a few examples of the accessories that Lionel has produced. Due to the fact that hobbyists can find absolutely everything they need for their model railways through Lionel, those who start out in this hobby with a Lionel model train; if they have the funds, may never need to look further than Lionel for all of their modeling needs.

Lionel After Sales Services

As mentioned previously, Lionel has an outstanding reputation in the model trains industry when it comes to customer services. This is another reason why any penny spent on a Lionel model train or Lionel accessories is a penny well spent.

All Lionel products are covered by a warranty and as far as replacing parts for Lionel sets goes, hobbyists can quickly and easily find what they are looking for by searching for it on Lionel’s official website. All the hobbyist will be required to do is key in the name or product name of the part they are looking for, and within moments it will appear on their screen with details on how to it can be obtained.

Hobbyists also benefit greatly by joining the Lionel Railroader Club. This club keeps it members up to date and allows them to take advantage of discounts and special offers on model trains and equipment. Members also receive the ‘Inside Track’ magazine, which keeps them informed on the latest happenings in the model railroading world.

In conclusion, Lionel takes very special care of those who support them. From the day Lionel model trains first came into being, Lionel has provided its customers with top-notch quality products and excellent after sales services, and those are two very good reasons why the Lionel name is as respected and successful as it is today.

What Are Grey Goods and Are They Legal to Sell?

Grey goods are those items that are traded through unofficial, unauthorized, and unintended routes of distribution. Contrary to common perception, these goods are not illegal goods; the only difference between them and the other items in the market is that they are not being sold as intended by the manufacturer. Although the grey market goods are imported into a country legally and necessary duties are paid, they fall in the grey market category because they are sold by unauthorized individuals or firms.

Why Does The Grey Market Flourish

This phenomenon flourishes when manufacturers adopt skimming strategies in some markets leading to short supply of some products, or when the manufacturers mark up the prices substantially. Moreover, when a new product is launched like the latest iPhone, the manufacturer might not allow the product to be sold in many countries. People resort to buying these goods in bulk from the countries where they are being sold, importing them into another country where the manufacturer does not allow the sale, and then paying the necessary duties and selling them as grey goods. Different types of goods and services have been sold in grey markets throughout the world. These include video games, wines, photographic equipment, college textbooks, pharmaceuticals, broadcasting delivery, and even automobiles. Traders, sometimes, tend to mix counterfeit goods along with the original items in order to make a fast buck. However, this is illegal because the intellectual property of the manufacturer is being infringed upon.

Is It Illegal to Sell These Goods?

All major export regions of the world have faced the damaging side effects of grey market activities. In the United States, Section 526 of the Tariff Act of 1930 had prohibited grey goods and disallowed the importation of goods manufactured abroad without the permission of the trademark owner. This law, however, has been interpreted differently by the courts and the U.S. Customs Service due to ambiguity. Trading in these goods is thus prevalent in many places.

Positive Aspects Of Grey Market Activities

An important advantage of grey market trading is that the prices are forced to come down because they form an arbitrage. People are able to obtain brand name goods at lower prices, and when the local manufacturers face competition from imported grey goods, they have to bring down their prices also to stay in the competitive market. A gradual increase in sales is noticed in those markets that are not competing directly with authorized dealers. Distribution bottlenecks that are caused by local government regulations are also cleared. Many government authorities prefer to turn a blind eye to the grey markets because it takes a lot of time and effort to monitor and shut down these activities. An important aspect of uncovering this activity is that the manufacturers can get an insight into customers’ purchase patterns.

Negative Aspects

There are many shortcomings for companies if there is a proliferation of grey goods; their distribution systems go haywire and they find it difficult to enforce quality-control norms. Their exclusivity is diluted and their existing business relationships are damaged. The global image of the brand is likely to get tarnished as well because the local dealers of their products would not be willing to give the earlier standard of services in order to compete with the grey market products. Their overall marketing strategies would also become less effective because they would find it difficult to pursue their traditional pricing plans. Finally, their reputation would get tarnished due to the poor performance of counterfeit goods that are sold under their brand names and infringe their intellectual property.

How Companies Can Counter Impact Of Grey Market Goods

Companies would need to modify quantity-discount schemes, bridge the gap in prices in different markets by making it lower than the shipping and inventory costs, and sell products with different specifications and names to differentiate them in varying markets. Web and Internet technologies can be used to keep track of those who are running the grey markets in different locations. A vigorous information campaign can also be undertaken to educate the customers regarding the risks of buying these goods due to the absence of warranty obligations and lack of service facilities. Authorized and legal goods can be made more attractive if alluring rebates are offered so that the price differential between them is minimized.

Black Market Products

The basic difference between grey market goods and black market goods is that whereas the former are brought into a country in a legal way by paying the necessary duties, black market goods are imported secretly and without payment of any customs duties. It is illegal to deal in black market goods, but grey goods do not have that illegal tinge to them. In many markets, counterfeit goods are also displayed along with the black market goods, alluring potential customers with their low prices.

Why Some Trolleys and Sack Trucks Fall to Bits

Sack Truck, Trolleys and Bogies – Made in Britain?

The sack truck, bogie and trolley we know today is an import from the Far East, made from low grade under specified steels and materials, they are not of industrial quality but are still used as such. Sadly imported trolleys, sack trucks and barrows have put millions of UK workers on the dole. Now people want the industrial standard products and few are left with the core skills or knowledge to produce them.  At one time this equipment would last anything up to 10 to 12 years, today 10 to 12 weeks is a long time.  Now five million jobs later against a raft of skills so scarce they make television programs about them, Great Britain has deteriorated into Little Britain, suffocated and stifled by an internet selling unqualified mountains of unregulated tat, that provides nothing for our apprentices or future metal workers. Our steel industry is a mere shadow of its former self.

You can still buy quality but only if you know where to look but it is a dying trade.  I wonder how we got here? I was in Yorkshire a while ago and reminded myself with a trip round our industrial past how it used to be in years gone by. Properly built equipment is 50% cheaper and lasts 28 times longer that cheap imports. Imported sack trucks, trolleys, bogies and barrows are the most expensive items you can buy. We seem to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. How could we have let it all go?

Mill Life

In between factory surveys, I try to get some exercise on my bicycle and for the Bank Holiday weekend where better, than to visit our industrial past in the heart of Yorkshire’s mill country.  We arrived at Oxenhope in time for the midday train and stepped into a bygone era, only saved 40 years ago by the Friends of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railways who have restored the line, now famous for its stage set of the Railway Children.  We also visited Saltaire.  In keeping with a number of mill sites this was a small town built to accommodate the staff and workers of the Saltaire Mill.  These amazing structures survive largely due to the goodwill of their benefactors and their historical importance of an era long since gone.

I can remember in the 70′s these mills working and men handling quarter ton botany bales, taking its name from the wool in the bale which in the early days of Saltaire linked to a wool sorting operation, must have been a living hell of disease, not least of all from Anthrax spores housed in the wool.  Quite apart from the workers living practically in their own excrement, disease and danger was the inspiration for improved factory conditions and the reason for total business communities like Saltaire coming into existence.

The subject of television programs

The canals and railways are particularly important to my family as we have our engineering routes inextricably buried deep into the industrial revolution.  The harnessing of steam power and the means of fuelling it revolutionised from the Worsley Bridgewater Canal Mines transformed our abilities to manufacture the base materials we needed to feed and clothe ourselves.  A simple supper with a bottle of wine, all the cutlery and plates and cooking facilities from scratch would require trillions of pounds to put on any table today from a standing start, even the clothes you wear represent breathtaking sums of investment.  At the time of the Industrial Revolution not only could you not have afforded to buy them, you would have had to wait over a hundred years to take delivery of them.  The revolution in clothing alone is partly responsible for our ability to conquer the Arctic and the mountain tops of the Himalayas.   In other words the success of generations of time and money invested into the infrastructure we have today is still very delicately balanced and reliant on quality and trust like never before.  One hung Parliament and a volcano is all you need to upset the delicate balance!

One of the wheels on a steam locomotive bogie could be measured in tonnes.  You can feel the ground move under its weight.  Fully laden I would estimate this steam locomotive would have weighed in at a hefty 60 to 70 tonnes which means bridge building is a serious pastime.  Add to this dynamic loadings and you have got yourself an engineer’s mathematical paradise.

They don’t make ‘em like that these days

The old railway station sack barrow and the humble bogie was made with great love and precision, wrought iron and the blacksmith’s hammer have fashioned its distinctive shape.  The powerful solid inch diameter axle on to which is mounted its cast iron wheels, all fitted to a beech or oak framework, denotes these sack barrows as the workhorses of their time.  The angle at which they sit is precisely balanced to enable it to effortlessly rotate its load (in excess of 500 kgs sometimes) in perfect balance on to the very precise fit of the bearings on to the axle.  It is with some horror that I see £12.00 sack barrows from China with a life expectancy of 9 months mounted to half inch axles of inferior steel to which wheels are offered because the word ‘fitted’ is totally inappropriate, they don’t.  The clearances between these and the precision with which I was trained is the difference between the entrance to Dartford Tunnel through which a bus could easily pass.  Equipment I manufactured in the 70′s is still in use today, including wooden sack barrows and traditional carts which we still supply on precision axles and fit for many industrial applications.  This makes our Chinese ‘cheapies’ nearly three times more expensive because you would have to buy 28 of them for the same life span and even then they do not take half the weight the suppliers think they can, that is because the entire weight should be taken on one wheel with a 50% safety factor.  This rule has simply been forgotten but it is lovely to look at the build quality of these old handling systems and the metal in the train wheels which work faultlessly thousands and thousands of times.

So as we left Haworth Station I reflected on a bygone era whose foundations are still providing the corner stones of our modern economy. The same railway lines prepared and started over a hundred years ago are still functioning with the same bridges, the principles of the bogie and steering arrangements on tracks are still very much in use today as are the foundries and methods that created many of them, although the foundry businesses that created them have long since gone.  However bogie wheels on tracks and the metals used are still very much in evidence in our crane systems and material handling equipment so my little trip out to the industrial past of Yorkshire meant a lot to me taking in the canals, railways and mills which are still there thankfully to be enjoyed.  All we have to do is to keep them in good order of which the Rochdale Canal is a fine example of restoration with one of the deepest locks, if not the deepest lock, in the country – a far cry from the days when it used to catch fire due to the high levels of pollution.

As I said farewell to Oxenhope at the end of the line, I reflected on the Railway Children’s final scene containing the famous line ‘Daddy, My Daddy’ uttered by Bobbie played by Jenny Agutter to Michael Kitchen who plays Daddy.  However it is the face of Richard Attenborough who played the old, influential gentleman that really sticks in my mind and when I think of places like Saltaire and the real improvements that we have seen over the years and throughout our nation since those dark years of the industrial revolution.  It is this sort of person and character who has influenced the real changes in our lives.