Last Update - April 1, 2014

Custom Traxx
...for serious HO traction modelers..

April 2014 Catalog

Custom Traxx' Updated Business Plan:

Custom Traxx continues to support HO scale traction modelers by supplying authentic detailed decal finishing sets, heralds, destination signs and other markings for streetcars, and interurban railway vehicles as they ran in most American and Canadian localities. There are also a small number of decals and parts that can be used for electric railway vehicle modeling in 1:50, O and 1:24 scales.

When we first opened our doors in 1992, there were no 'serious' HO scale ready-to-run traction models, unless you stretch the definition of scale to include the Bachmann Brill and PCC and the IHM/IHC Brill (In reality a Toronto Class F streetcar) and Boeing USLRV. Bowser Manufacturing of Montoursville, PA realized that the days of their four metal bodied but unpainted traction kits (PCC Streamlined Trolley, Brill Suburban 1906 Semi-Convertible, IRR Lightweight Interurban and LVT 800 series Jewett) had run their course. They had updated the drive unit used for decades in 1999, but that did little to spur renewed interest in the cars. It was obvious that some sort of ready-to-run, painted and decorated traction vehicle was the only answer.

Bowser formed a strategic alliance with Custom Traxx in 2007 to pursue a ready-to-run trolley. After considerable thought the team developed the F-line PCC, visited China in 2008 and selected their supplier after evaluating several. In 2009-2010, they released HO scale models of all fourteen of the ex-Philadelphia PCC cars that opened that now famous line in 1995. The team then released HO scale models of PCC cars that ran in Birmingham, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Shaker Heights and Toronto. All of Bowser PCC cars now featured a dynamically balanced flywheel and motors mounted with sound insulation, making these some of the most smoothly and quietly operating models after break-in. By this time other manufacturers had gotten the message. Bachmann answered with their 1930s Baltimore Peter Witt and offered it in many different road names. They later released a very nice Birney Safety Car and offered it is a variety of road names. Con-Cor offered their 1938 model Air-Electric PCC in various road names along with the CSN&M Electroliner.

Meanwhile the import of HO scale brass traction models continued to decrease and was given the most serious blow when the last importer, MTS Imports, Inc closed their doors in 2013. Painting and lettering of HO scale traction models has continued to diminish and accordingly the demand for developing and producing decals has been reduced. Several of our decal sets now state "This set is currently out of stock. No plans to re-run at this time!".We are keeping these decals sets in our catalog as we are willing to re-run these when we get firm orders for 25 or more sets of any of these decals. As of now, we are keeping the artwork for these set available for such re-runs. All Custom Traxx decals are produced by Rail Graphics of South Elgin, Illinois. Runs of 25, or any amount less than 50 are expensive costing almost twice the cost of the decal set as originally priced in the catalog. Partial prepayment may be required for such orders. Please feel free to contact us for more detailed information.

The Bowser/Custom Traxx alliance continued to support HO traction and decided to evaluate other streetcar models for release. At least three other streetcars were considered for development and production. The first of these was the New Orleans 900 series streetcar. An update of their Brill Suburban streetcar is under consideration with the goal of offering that car in a Ready-to-Run model. There is also another conventional car and another PCC currently under study. If these projects come to fruition, a line of street railway track and special work (switches and crossings). would be produced. Unlike the currently available ORR special work, these would be designed two-rail operation. If you have input to either of these ideas, please do not hesitate to email us at decals@customtraxx.com. We would be interested in discussing these possible projects with you

Economics of the times has dictated that Custom Traxx now appears at only a few model train shows, limiting our appearances to local California major events and a few outside that area, such as the East Penn Traction Club Meet (next one - May 2015), held in the Greater Philadelphia, PA area.

Custom Traxx still offers specific traction parts including selected A-line traction repowering items; Bowser HO scale traction mechanisms, drives and parts; HO scale trolley poles by Miniatures by Eric 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 were instrumental in assisting Train Control Systems in the development of the first plug-in DCC decoder designed for a PCC trolley, the M4T. This highly successful decoder has since been upgraded and is known simply as the M4. We were also instrumental in recording sounds for the all-electric PCC cars and conventional cars such as the New Orleans 900 series streetcar. We have made some suggestions to Bowser to improve their products. Some of them included the simulated super resilient wheels now on all PCC models, addition of windshield wipers and the simulated B-2 truck "sideframes". We also carry the HO scale Ready-To-Run PCC Cars from Bowser in both DCC ready and DCC Sound versions.

Bowser is now planning the next release of PCC cars, including some very colorful bi-centennial paint schemes. Watch the Trolleyville Times for more information.

Product improvement activity has led to the overhead-track power switch being relocated on the bottom of the New Orleans car, eliminating the need to disassemble the car to make that change. See the next photo of the preproduction car and the location of the switch indicated by the red arrow:

Future releases of the PCC cars and any Bowser traction product will also have this same feature. Bowser will be introducing the New Orleans 900 series streetcar as a "DCC/Sound Ready" streetcar. What this means is that all cars will have a speaker already installed in the car and using a 21-pin plug can upgrade their DCC Ready car to DCC/Sound by simply plugging in the decoder. Sounds for the New Orleans car and future PCC cars will be provided by ESU LokSound.

First articles of the New Orleans 900 streetcar were delivered last month to us for examination. An example is shown below. Sounds have been recorded for these cars and they will be available with ESU LokSound decoders. The cars will be decorated not only for New Orleans but for other cities such as Atlantic City, Chicago, and Philadelphia (PRT & PST).

The good news is that cars are now scheduled to be shipped from China at the end of April 2014. The bad news is that some of them are already sold out at Bowser. Demand far exceeded initial projections. To get some of these cars, modelers may have to go to their dealer, Walthers or other distributors.

Miniatures by Eric HO scale Trolley Poles are still manufactured for and available from Custom Traxx, although not shown on the Miniatures by Eric web site. We obtained a large supply in July and quite a few of them have been sold already. They are still $29.95 [HT-XX] per pair and $32.00 [HT-XXs] per pair with Bowser 12508 brass pivots and roof insulators.

Trolley poles with different pole bases available are:

HT-P1/HT-P1s - Greenamyer pneumatic trolley base [Used on Pacific Electric/Sacramento Northern];
HT-P2/HT-P2s - Ohio Brass Form 11 [Used on PCC and current heritage cars];
HT-P3/HT-P3s - Ohio Brass Form 1 [Used on early cars, 1900-1920 era];
HT-P4/HT-P4s - US (Union Standard) 13 [Simulated four spring base with two springs for better operational reliability];

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 are never "...too busy.." to talk to our 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! Our main purpose is to assist you in getting the information that you require for your hobby enjoyment! We are becoming more knowledgeable in Digital Command Control (DCC) every day and were instrumental in designing both the TCS M4T decoder (now replaced with the M4P-1"); the KAT14 and KAM4 decoders with with "Keep Alive" capabilities that makes operation from overhead wire much smoother and more reliable in the DCC arena). We are actively supporting the change from Soundtraxx to ESU LokSound for the PCC cars and the New Orleans streetcar currently in progress at Bowser. Watch for some magnificent decoders from ESU LokSound.

We do not take orders while mobile, so we prefer that your fax your order at any time to 310-475-5597.

Note: All reservations for future items should be submitted preferably via email. The email date determines the order in which orders are filled. This can be critical for items for which there are just a few available.

Custom Traxx accepts Mastercard, Visa and Discover credit cards for your convenience! See section VI, Ordering Procedures, for more details!

Our on-line catalog is updated constantly so the latest information is always on this site. Accordingly, we no longer publish printed catalogs except for special occasions.

For our complete six-part catalog, click here!

San Francisco's Sometimes Almost Unbelievable 'F-Market' Line:

In 1995, the PCC streetcar, after disappearing from every major North American city that proudly introduced them beginning in 1936, made a big comeback in San Francisco, California.

When in that city, always take time for at least one ride on the F-line to Fisherman's Wharf and note the cars in service other than the car on which you may be riding. San Francisco, unlike other cities, has embraced the colorful and lovable streetcar and and made them a vital part of their transit system. Service has been increased by over 240% since the line started in 1995. Bring your camera or camcorder, and enjoy the ride and the city. We recommend riding early in the day and boarding at the 17th & Castro terminal as the popularity of the line continues to grow beyond all original expectations. You can always check the internet or your smart phone to see where all the cars are on the line all the time. You can even watch the movement along the line. To find out what cars are in service and which way they are going, just click here.

Click here to view our current catalog.

 

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