Author Topic: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.  (Read 10358 times)

Keith Taylor

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Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« on: November 14, 2014, 09:49:07 PM »
When they are cast, you should have extras made in aluminum to sell in the gift shop.  Again, super work coming out of Texas.

Bernie

Why aluminum? Bronze foundries are numerous and the plates would look better. Just be sure to clearly and permanently mark them as reproductions.
Keith

Bernie Perch

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Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2014, 10:15:11 PM »
I believe aluminum is cheaper and is quite lighter when hung on the wall and can be painted and for the average railnut wouldn't matter.  After a lifetime making small batches of reproduction plates, mostly in bronze, I find that most people wouldn't pay for a bronze plate unless it was specifically made for their locomotive.

I personally dislike aluminum plates except for the numbers on the RDG/CNJ nose plates which were aluminum on a cast iron backer plate.  If you go to CNJ 113's new website (rrproject113.org), click on the patternmaking page, you will see a silicon bronze whistle bell polished and I love the bronze color (made for Hansel).  Go the shopping page and you will see a reproduction builders plate from my collection which is bronze and highly polished (made from my pattern).  The ones on the locomotive are cast iron and painted.  The plates I had cast for #11 (Purchased by Stephen) are bronze or brass.

Bernie

John McNamara

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Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2014, 10:19:53 PM »
Aluminum would also have the desirable quality of identifying them as reproductions.

Keith Taylor

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Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2014, 10:26:19 PM »
Aluminum would also have the desirable quality of identifying them as reproductions.
Then why not make them out of an epoxy resin....no question then if they are repros, and if painted would look the same as painted aluminum. And no foundry would be needed.
Keith

Keith Taylor

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Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2014, 10:46:52 PM »
Here is a photo that Bernie just sent me showing a beautiful builder's plate made from one of his patterns.
The casting is aluminum.
Keith

Bernie Perch

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Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2014, 11:16:06 PM »
Keith,

Thanx for posting the photo.  Bronze plates like that were made for the locomotive which is under restoration.

Epoxy resin would be cheaper and Lighter.  Last week I ate at a restaurant in Altoona which had Pennsy locomotive builders plates hanging everywhere.  They looked great and were probably resin.

Bernie

Wayne Laepple

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2014, 12:25:22 AM »
Are you sure they were reproductions, Bernie? In Altoona? The PRR made them by the dozens at the South Altoona Foundry. I have a real one sitting on the bookshelf not 10 feet from me. As the Pennsylvania RR was retiring its steam locomotives in the 1950's, orders came from Philadelphia to remove the builders plates and number plates and return them to the storehouse at Altoona. They were offered for sale to employees at $5 for builders plates and $10 for number plates. The I-1sa plate I have was purchased by an employee, and it came off an I-1 that was scrapped in mid-1959. His brother gave it to me after he died two years ago.

Bernie Perch

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2014, 12:51:29 AM »
Wayne,

They looked so good and there were so many, I just assumed they were reproductions.  I did not look at them close up or try to tap one.  A dear friend passed away and Joanne & I took his widow and sister out to dinner when we got out there, so they caught my eyes but that was about all. The topic of conversation wasn't centered on the restaurant's decorations.  Does anybody reading this get to Hoss's Steak House in Altoona just to check it out?

Bernie

Jack DiSarro

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2014, 08:01:22 PM »
I would love to buy a reproduction builder's plate in either aluminum or bronze, to help support the #9 project.  Either metal seems so much more like the real thing, that I would pay 3 or 4 times more for a metal plate than a resin one.  As an only occasional visitor/volunteer member, I think a #9 plate would be a great thing to bring home from Alna or the Springfield, MA show.  Whichever can raise the most for the museum seems best.

Jack D

Stephen Piwowarski

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2014, 10:26:24 PM »
I think having a single example available in the gift shop for people to see might be a good idea. Based on that example, people could choose to order replicas. I suggest this because it has the potential to be a popular item among railfans. If people want them, it is also likely that they would be willing to wait for them. Maintaining an inventory on such a large and potentially costly item might not be the best business decision.

Steve

Wayne Laepple

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2014, 12:20:07 AM »
That's a good idea, Stephen. The repro plates could be offered in resin, aluminum or brass/bronze. Potential purchasers would have to understand there would be a wait for their choice, since the museum would want to have a number of them cast at once to reduce the unit cost. In addition, there would be some work involved in finishing and painting the plates which could be done in-house. They would have to be priced in such a way as to cover the cost of shipping, too, unless folks wanted to pick them up themselves.

Bernie Perch

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2014, 02:03:27 PM »
If you were to go the above mentioned www.rrproject113.com website, there is a shopping page.  The usual shirts, calendar, etc. are priced and sell well.  CNJ/RDG styled number plates, builders plates, and even our steam whistle can be purchased.  There are no prices listed for the latter ones and it says to inquire about prices.  I questioned Bob, our president, about this and he stated that when people find out the price and how long they have to wait for something to be made, they will not be interested!  We'll find out.  It costs quite a bit to make a good reproduction out of original materials.  It takes more than a mouse click to make this stuff the olde fashioned way.

Bernie

Win Nowell

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2014, 09:55:51 PM »
When I was in the hobby shop business, items always sold better when they were "on the shelf". These are impulse buying items and if the customer has to wait he will usually walk away. If he can "buy it now" he will usually reach into his pocket and take it home with him. We found that to be the case on custom painted body shells and other items. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The investment in stock is worth it, just don't go overboard.

Win Nowell

Andre Anderson

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2014, 10:16:45 PM »
I have to agree with Win, most of what you are selling is impulse buys and if they have to wait they will probably not buy the item.

Andre

Stephen Piwowarski

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Re: Reproduction Builder/Number Plates - Materials, etc.
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2014, 01:02:11 AM »
I wasn't suggesting that the museum shouldn't sell number plates, rather that it should not kept in stock. A deposit could be made, and the piece would be delivered when ready.
Unlike a typical retail item, the number plate is a unique item made in a somewhat limited quantity. People who really desire one should be willing to wait. Who is the audience will be for such a product? My business sense tells me that if someone really wanted a steam locomotive number plate, they would be willing to wait for it.

Although this isn't the best analogy, it is the best one I can think of at the moment:
Candy bars are placed close to the register at grocery stores because they are considered impulse purchases. Their price is less than the median cost of an item one would buy on the grocery shelf, thereby making it attractive to someone craving the particular candy offered.
The number plate is unlike the candy bar for the following reasons:
 - It would likely be the most expensive item in the entire gift shop, thus not appealing to most visitors as an impulse purchase.
 - The candy bar has (almost) universal appeal to buyers while the number plate has niche appeal
 - I believe the number plate seems to fall outside of the target demographic of the gift shop, although I don't know this to be a fact.

If reproduction builders plates were offered for sale a nice compromise might be to take make a limited initial casting run for the plate open to the public by advanced order.
This could achieve the following:
 - It could help gauge interest in more plates being produced for sale.
 - It could reduce foundry costs because of the greater quantity being poured.
 - The costs of the replica plates could be used to offset the cost of the one being used by the museum.
 - The appeal of having a "first run" plate might motivate potential buyers to be willing to wait out the production time.

Steve
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 01:04:53 AM by Stephen Piwowarski »