...supporting yesterday's, today's and tomorrow's urban rail transit modelers...
Our Current Catalog:
Our Business Plan:
Custom Traxx was founded in 1992 to support the contemporary group of HO scale urban rail transit modelers by developing and supplying authentic detailed decal finishing sets, heralds, destination signs, parts and other markings for streetcars, and interurban railway vehicles as they ran and still run in most American and Canadian localities. We concentrated on decals sets for the many largely unpainted off-shore fabricated brass traction models that had been imported the previous thirty years. While we mainly made decals in HO scale, we did make a small number of decals for electric railway vehicle modeling in 1:50, O and 1:24 scales.
Directly below are three examples of current urban rail transit:
Above left is car #1146A, of the 77 Siemens S70 partially low-floor vehicles that currently operate in Salt Lake City. 23 older Siemens SD100s and 17 Siemens SD160s also operate in that city. Salt Lake City also has 29 UTDC LRVs purchased from San Jose (Santa Clara VTA).
In the above center photo is San Francisco F-line PCC car 1058 in Chicago colors, formerly Philadelphia Car 2124. The car wasbuilt in 1948 and has been in operation for over 65 years. Twelve other ex-Philadelphia PCC's, built in 1947 and 1948 are in service in that same city on their F line.
Tucson Sunlink car #103, a product of United Streetcar, is shown above right. This is an example of the modern low-floor streetcar and one of eight vehicles that went into service in 2014. Such modern vehicles are in service in many US cities and have been built by Brookville, Inekon, Siemens, Skoda and United Streetcar.
By 1995, we began to attend model train shows and began to examine the changing demographics of our customers and noted the changes in their modeling desires. We started to notice the the passing of several of our contemporary modelers but did not see many replacements. Although Los Angeles had just opened their first LRV line, the Blue Line to Long Beach, we noted that the United States had been in an electric urban transit "holding pattern" for the last fifty years. Except for San Diego, there had been no new urban electric railway systems created since Boston opened its Riverside line in 1959. Even the attempt to replace the aging PCC cars in San Francisco and Boston in the 1970s resulted in the Boeing-Vertol Light Rail Vehicles, which are reputed to be among the worst (if not the absolute worst) such vehicles ever made.
By early 2000, it was soon obvious that one of the reasons that there were no new urban transit modelers was that there was nothing for them to model. Persons with interests in transit modeling usually try to model what they see and then learn the fantastic history of electric urban rail transit. This led Custom Traxx to team with the Bowser Manufacturing Company to produce a very successful HO scale line of San Francisco "F-line" PCC cars and the New Orleans 900 class streetcars, all of which are operating in contemporary transit systems in both San Francisco, California and New Orleans, Louisiana. The F-line represented 20th century transit running today. The F-line PCC cars models were well received and there were repeated runs of them. We ensured that these models were either DCC Ready, DCC Equipped or DCC/Sound Equipped. In order to ensure that upgrading from DCC Ready to DCC/Sound was as simple as possible, all cars were equipped with speakers and a 21-pin plug so that upgrading from DCC Ready to DCC/Sound could be accommodated with no soldering...just plug in the decoder.
This led Custom Traxx to begin to push for models of contemporary electric urban transit vehicles, which fell on deaf ears with the majority of current model railroad manufacturers. Many of them had been predicting that the model railroading hobby was dead for many years and were now determined to live out their self-fulfilling prophesy. Starting around 1990, new light rail systems began to appear and somehow the streetcar came "out of the closet" and began reappearing on many United States streets. By October 2016, modern low-floor air-conditioned streetcars were carrying passengers in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Kansas City, Seattle, Tacoma, Tucson and Washington D.C. and planned in another half-dozen cities including Milwaukee and Oklahoma City. In May 2016, rail transit returned to the Los Angeles to Santa Monica corridor after an absence of over 60 years. Ridership was so great that it has overwhelmed the transit agency. They just do not have enough equipment.
Around the same time, we began to notice the growth of electric railway modeling in N scale, particularly the street railway track from Kato and some modern streetcars manufactured by Tomytec that brings the computer "plug and play" concept to model railroading. To be a model railroader, it is not longer necessary to be able to make a passenger car out of popsicle sticks to enter the model railroading hierarchy. So we, along with the Southern California Traction Club (SCTC) are beginning to explore urban railway modeling in N scale. We now carry N scale trolley poles and more N scale items will be coming. So stay tuned and follow their progress in the Trolleyville Times.
Beginning in May 2015, we stepped up our program to attract tomorrow's urban rail transit modelers. These hobbyists will come from the increasing numbers of persons riding our increasing numbers of light rail, modern streetcar and commuter lines. With new electric rail transit already operating or coming to localities that had not seen electric transit in 50 years, the possibilities for substantial numbers of new hobbyists are fantastic.
Is seemed strange that despite the fact that modern urban rail transit vehicles have been burnishing urban tracks in the United States cities since 1981, only one HO scale model has ever been commercially mass produced. That vehicle, the Boeing United States Standard Light Rail Vehicle, ran in only two cities and the model ran as poorly as the prototype. So there has been obviously until recently, resistance from the current crop of model railroad manufacturers into developing and producing an HO scale model of a current urban rail transit vehicle and this resistance has spanned over thirty years. But recently, Atlas Model Railroad Company, a firm that makes the majority of HO scale track used in the hobby, announced an HO scale model of an entire North New Jersey commuter train with an unusual dual mode locomotive. (See the July 2016 Trolleyville Times for more information). Urban transit ridership in the United States in 2013 was the highest recorded in the nation's history. There were over 510 million boardings of light rail vehicles alone during calendar year 2014. To help bring some of these new transit riders into what has been called "the World's Greatest Hobby", Custom Traxx is attempting to encourage today's current model railroad manufacturers to develop and produce models of today's urban rail transit vehicles. We were convinced that if they do not "jump on the bandwagon" some new manufacturer will and could dominate this possibly large future market. It appears that Atlas has gotten the message.
Accordingly, we are now totally committed to the active pursuit of the development and production of HO scale models of Light Rail Vehicles and/or Modern Streetcars. We have considered the Brookville "Liberty" car (Dallas, TX), the United Streetcar/Skoda/Inekon 10T (Portland, OR; Tucson, AZ; Seattle, WA; and Washington D.C.) and the C.A.F. Urbos (Cincinnati, OH and Kansas City, MO). Currently, we are working the Siemens S70 vehicle now running in San Diego, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Houston, TX, Minneapolis, MN; Norfolk, VA and Portland, OR and other locations. We are working closely with Volkmar Meier of France to develop test vehicles using 3D printing to achieve that goal. We received the first test vehicle in July and used it to evaluate the body shells as this unit was equipped with two Halling drives. We received test units 2 and 3 with Bowser power on October 14. With one powered truck, the units were extensively tested and appear to run well. To complete the testing process, unit 3 was converted to two Bowser powered drives and is currently being tested. The next photo shows unit 2 undergoing testing on the Southern California Traction Club's LRV Display in October 2015 during a model Train show in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. If you have questions or any interest, please let us know.
We still carry many of the HO scale Bowser Ready-To-Run streetcars in both DCC ready and DCC Sound versions. Some of these cars are long out of production and are no longer readily available.
Custom Traxx currently maintains a large inventory of HO traction decals and all are produced by Rail Graphics of South Elgin, Illinois. Some of our decals are out of stock due to lack of demand. Serious modelers should note that many of our decal sets contain more than one sheet. The lack of just one sheet can cause a set to be listed as "Currently Out Of Stock". Modelers are urged to inquire as to what portion of "Currently Out Of Stock" sets are available and arrangements can be made to provide individual sheets. We can and are willing to accommodate special runs of at least 25 decals sets but be advised that runs as small as 25, or any amount less than 50 can be expensive, resulting in costs at least twice the cost of the decal set as currently priced in our catalog. Partial prepayment may be required for such orders. Please feel free to contact us for more detailed information.
Custom Traxx has also embraced Digital Command Control (DCC) and participated with Train Control systems in the design of their M4T, the first decoder designed for HO traction. We also worked with Soundtraxx for the first high-quality sound decoder for PCC cars and with ESU LokSound for the sound for the New Orleans 900 series streetcar. We are now working with ESU LokSound for a new generation of decoders for the next traction projects. We would be interested in discussing these possible projects with you. Look us up on our Facebook page. For up-to-date happenings in the HO traction world, check the monthly Trolleyville Times, normally uploaded on the first of each month. For hands on traction activity, check out the Southern California Traction Club's new E-Membership, described in recent issues of the Trolleyville Times. Feel free to contact John McWhirter, SCTC Board of Directors.
Custom Traxx still offers traditional traction parts including selected A-line traction repowering items; Bowser HO scale traction mechanisms, drives and parts and HO scale ORR girder rail, turnouts and crossings. Also available are special parts from Bowser and other manufacturers for the operational trolley modeler.
Miniatures by Eric model Trolley Poles are still manufactured for and available from Custom Traxx in both HO and N scale. Consult our catalog for more detailed information. We maintain an adequate supply.
We still aim for complete customer satisfaction. Prompt service is the norm not the exception. Orders are often sent within hours of receipt and rarely later than next day. We do not keep orders in suspense for days and weeks at a time and we try never to be too busy to talk to customers, trolley fans, and traction modelers. We encourage traction-related calls at 310-990-5422 during normal business hours (Pacific Time). Our business number is a mobile phone to avoid missing your call but we can not take orders when mobile. Our main purpose is to assist you in getting the information that you require for your hobby enjoyment!
We encourage you to fax your order to 310-475-5597 or email your order to email@example.com at any time. We will acknowledge your order as soon as possible.
Custom Traxx accepts Mastercard, Visa and Discover credit cards for your convenience! See our catalog, section VI, Ordering Procedures, for more details!
Our official catalog is now on-line and is updated constantly so the latest information is always on this site. Accordingly, we no longer publish printed catalogs except on very rare occasions.
For our complete six-part catalog, click here!
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