Last Update - September 18, 2017

Custom Traxx
...
"For the Dedicated Streetcar Modeler"...

Our Current Catalog:

1. The following decal sets are now available:

HO scale:

>CN-449 - San Diego 400-449 Class Cars and other older streetcars - $9.95
CN-2052 - San Diego MTS Siemens S70 finishing decals - $5.95
CN-3002 - Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) 1963 "Crying Trolley" - $5.95
CN-4100 - Toronto CLRV Streetcar - $34.95

N scale:

NN-2052 - San Diego MTS Siemens S70 finishing decals - $4.95
NN-3002 - Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) 1963 "Crying Trolley" - $4.95

These Custom Traxx decal sets are now available from Arnie's Model Trains, Westminster, CA!

2. Toronto Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) Streetcar Model Decals - HO scale!

Because some of you have informed us that there are HO scale models of the Toronto CLRV available again and would like us to re-run our CN-4100 decal set that has been out of print for some time, Custom Traxx is now assembling the latest run of Toronto CLRV decals due to requests made by a few modelers. Set CN-4100 will be available before the end of this month. Advise all who want these decals to get your orders in ASAP as there is a limited amount. The current price per set is $34.95 and you are reminded you that each time we run a set the prices rise due to continuing increasing printing costs.


One dozen models produced by Miniatures by Eric decorated with Custom Traxx decal set CN-4100!

2. Light Rail Vehicle Model Availability:

We are pleased to announce that by the end of this month, two modern Light Rail Vehicle HO scale models should be available on Shapeways. The 3D Printed HO scale models of the Siemens S70 Ultrashort LRVs as used by San Diego MTS are already available from the Interurban Models Shapeways Store. HO scale models of the NipponSharyo P865 cars that brought urban rail transit back to Los Angeles should be available at the West Coast Traction Supply Shapeways Store by the end of this month. For the latest status, check the Interurban Models Shapeways Store for the S70 and the West Coast Traction Supply Shapeways Store for the P865. See more about these items in the September 2017 Trolleyville Times.

We are now providing a powering kit for either model, SKU 125158, for $59.95. A Flywheel Upgrade Kit is also available for $8.00. See more about these items in Section VI (Other) of our catalog.

HO scale Decals for the SDMTS S70 are already available and we are working on a set of decals for the both the LA Metro P865/2020 and the new P3010 vehicles. Thsee decals should be available soon.

1. Latest news on traction decals:

Our Current 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 were still running in some American and Canadian localities. We concentrated on decal 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.

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 opened their first LRV line, the Blue Line to Long Beach in 1990, 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 We have continued to notice the newer Light Rail Vehicles and Modern Low Floor Streetcars being re-introduced in some cities such as Cincinnati, OH; Kansas City, MO; Oklahoma City, OK and Tucson, AZ which abandoned their predecessors as far back as 80 years ago. We also noted that there are almost no models of these contemporary vehicles commercially available and none were forecast.

Custom Traxx began to begin to push for models of contemporary electric urban transit vehicles, which continued for many years to fall on deaf ears with 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. Rider ship was so great that it has overwhelmed the transit agency. They just do not have enough equipment.

Directly below are three examples of current urban rail transit:

Above is car #1146A, of the 77 Siemens S70 partially low-floor Light Rail 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 photo is San Francisco F-line PCC car 1058 in Chicago colors, formerly Philadelphia Car 2124. The car was built 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. 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, C.A.F., Inekon, Siemens, Skoda and United Streetcar.

Originally these 3D printed models were very expensive in HO scale but the engineers have modified their drawing techniques and competition in the 3D printing field has continued to increase so prices are starting to come down. But the models still have to be painted, lettered and powered after the shells and floors are obtained. We have ceased having discussions with current model railroad manufacturers as we have deemed it a total waste of our time.

We also know that there are still a lot of traditional modelers left in the hobby, so we have changed our direction on decal production. Our main supplier, Ron Roberts, known better as RailGraphics, of South Elgin, IL, announced his desire to retire at the end of 2017. So we began our search for a new supplier and have started business relationships with other decal suppliers, including Microscale Industries of Fountain Valley, California and Labelle Woodworking in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

On May 19, 2017, we released the first of our new decals for specific "one-of-a kind" electric railway vehicles. These new decal sets are available in both HO (CN-3002) and (NN-3002) scale. The first set is for Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) PCC car 3002 which was decorated as the "Crying Trolley" for the last days of service in 1963. The prototype car is shown below:

Also in anticipation of undecorated models of the Siemens S70 eventually becoming available, Custom Traxx also released on the same date a decal set for decorating HO and N scale models of the San Diego S70 partially low floor Light Rail Vehicle and other "San Diego Trolley" vehicles. These decals are also available in both HO (CN-2052) and (NN-2052) scale.

Both sets were unveiled at the East Penn Traction Club / National Trolley Meet in Allentown, PA on May 19-20, 2017. Prices for the HO scale CN-2052 and CN-3002 sets are $5.95 and for the N scale NN-2052 and NN-3002 sets are $4.95. After May 31, 2017, these decals will be available directly from Custom Traxx and from Arnie's Model Trains in Westminster, CA .

Now we have experimented with these decal sets ourselves and just completed installation of the CN-3002 set on an older Q-car PCC body with the results being shown below. These decals release from their paper backing much quicker than we have been used to and they are much thinner so they must be slid from the backing onto the surface of the vehicle. We recommend that you apply them in no more than 2 inch segments. Placing the red mouth on top of the front anti-climber and positioning the red and yellow music notes will require some skill and a good decal set solution will be useful once the decals have been positioned and dried.

Volkmar Meier is using the NN-2052 set on his N scale S70 models. N scale decal application is detailed work that requires a steady hand and good eyesight but you can see some of Volkmars' work below. Yes these two shells are N scale:

So there will be some experience available at the East Penn Traction Club Meet in Allentown on May 19-20, 2017. When Custom Traxx started selling traction decals in 1992, most of them were $9.95 each. These new N scale decals are priced at half of that price and it is 25 years later. So we are suggesting that you first time N scale decal applicators buy TWO sets to begin with. If you mess up during the learning period, you have a backup.

During the same period, we found that the Japanese and European Model Train manufacturers had not "written off" the model train market as it seems that the U.S. manufacturers had done. Instead of complaining that all kids wanted today were computers and smart phones, Roco, Fleischmann, Marklin and others found ways to permit the operation of model trains with their smart phones. Thus was born the Roco Z-21 system. We discovered this system when one of our customers, an attorney in Calabasas, CA found the unit while surfing on the internet and pro cured it for his large garage HO scale layout. The more we saw, the more we liked. Not to be outdone, Bachmann has just released their smart-phone compatible EZ APP system. It will even run trains on DC if you have their locomotives.

At right is a Bowser New Orleans car being operated by the Z21 system using a iPhone 5S on one of Custom Traxx' demonstration HO scale modules. The system work will almost any smart phone or tablet

Custom Traxx currently maintains a large inventory of HO traction decals. 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 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.

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.

We have several Bowser HO scale streetcars available for sale. All of these streetcars are equipped with the 1999 Bowser drive with dynamically balanced flywheels. They are either DCC ready or equipped with DCC and Sound by either Soundtraxx or ESU LokSound. For a current list of available Bowser streetcars on sale, click here.

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.

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 rider ship 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 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. As a result, we partnered with Volkmar Meier of Paris, France who has created excellent 3D drawings of the Siemens S70 Ultrashort Light Rail Vehicle and thus far has produced excellent models of these vehicles in both HO and N scale.

HO scale unit 4, in SDMTS colors along with N scale unit 1, which has since been completely lettered as SDMTS 4011!

We will continue to work closely with Volkmar Meier to develop test vehicles using 3D printing to achieve that goal. We received the first HO scale test vehicle in July 2015 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 14the of that same year. With one Bowser 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 was tested extensively. After such testing it was found that one Bowser unit could do the job and do it well. The next photo shows unit 2, dressed at SDMTS 4012, 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. At this time, we have several HO scale units under testing, including four dressed in the colors of the San Diego MTS, one representing the Atlanta streetcar and another in Metro (Minneapolis) colors. We eventually hope to have one in Utah (Salt Lake City ) TRAX dress.

This car and other S70 models are continuously demonstrated at Southern California Model Train Shows along with other model Light Rail Vehicles on the modules of the Southern California Traction Club (SCTC). Next showings of both HO scale and N scale models of the S70 will be at the East Penn Traction Club meet in Allentown, Pa in May 2017 and at the Great Train Show in Pomona, CA in July 2017.

HO scale Test Unit #2 with Bowser power under testing - November 2015.

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. So we, along with the Southern California Traction Club (SCTC) began to explore urban railway modeling in N scale. We began to carry N scale trolley poles and more N scale items will be coming. Kato recently announced that they are making a version of their Unitram with American type road markings. So stay tuned and follow their progress in the Trolleyville Times. So after most of the issues were worked out with the HO scale S70 model, attention then turned to the development of an N scale model.

Using almost the same 3D program as the HO scale model, the first N scale Siemens S70 model, shown above, is shown above in January 2017 undergoing testing in France using Tomix street railway track. Two modified Tomytec drives were used for propulsion of this first unit.

N N scale Test Unit #1 as arrived, just before testing began in February 2017!

Meanwhile, in late February 2017, the first test N scale S70 model, powered with two Tomytec drives, arrived for testing at Custom Traxx. This unit is shown below left before lettering with Custom Traxx decals. The first unit was followed by three additional units, all of which were displayed at the National Trolley Meet (NTM) in Allentown, PA in May 2017. Here are two of them, now lettered SDMTS 4001 and 4021 operating at the NTM on an N scale layout fabricated mainly with Kato "plug and play" components.

 

On August 31, just as we went to press on this issue, we were shown the first of the West Coast Traction Supply HO scale model P865 (The 54 Los Angeles Blue Line NipponSharyo cars that opened Los Angeles first LRV line in 1990!) and we have a photo of the car along with the working Dellner coupler which is also under testing. One of the features of this coupler shown in the same photo is the adjustable drawbar. We are working on a set of decals for this car that will include the original RTD striping and the initial MTA yellow striping.

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 decals@customtraxx.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 have ceased publishing printed catalogs.

For our complete six-part catalog, click here!

 

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