Philip Light - Owner Light Scale Models
Light Scale Models was founded on a simple principal. I enjoy scratch building and designing locomotives, rolling stock and structures. My modeling attempts started at around the age of 5 when my dad got me a Post War Lionel N&W J class. Due to the O scale engine being too big to model a layout, I petitioned my parents to buy me an N scale version of the locomotive. I spent my early childhood building structures from kits and scratch building for a 4x8 N scale layout in my bedroom. Now, as a Father of two young children, I returned to modeling. The last several years have been spent modeling the N&W in N scale in my home.
I built numerous structures and rolling stock kits in N scale. I'm blessed with perfect vision and steady hands, but the tiny nature of N scale got to be too much. Seeking a larger scale, I remembered my childhood days of riding the East Broad Top railroad which was only about 30 minutes from where I grew up. I started researching the EBT models available and realized I could model in HO scale but have similar track parameters as N scale in HOn3. Most of my time since has been consumed with attempting to acquire EBT locomotives and rolling stock in HOn3. I've now acquired all 6 EBT locomotives and will continue to post in the blog about my progress on the layout.
I don't simply design products to sell; everything I design and produce has a place on one of my layouts. Opening an online shop was the result of wanting to share the time and effort put into the models I create. For example, my line of 4 wheel rolling stock kits were designed for a little mining layout I built for my kids to have in their play room. The layout is only 36" x 42" and spirals around to create a multi leveled loop. With such tight radii I needed small rolling stock and locomotives. Therefore, I designed the tiny mining cars and logging disconnects for that layout. I decided to offer these designs to other modelers. The same goes for the 0-4-0T porter currently in production. The engine is needed on the mining layout to add character to the scenes and give my kids something "old fashioned" to run around. Rather than scratch build a "one off" model, I designed it to be replicated in kit form.
As I model the EBT, I'm designing the structures from scratch. As a result, I'm amassing a collection of molds for the roundhouse and stone house. This will probably lead into structure kits for the EBT in HO scale somewhere down the line. As I've acquired EBT motive power, I have gotten quite good at repairing and painting brass models. To finance the purchase of the EBT Mikados, I bought and sold around 100 brass models in various states of disrepair. The models were all stripped and re-painted to resell and gain experience. As with my model kits, I decided to offer brass repair and painting services through Light Scale Models. Again, this is more as a result of my interest in the work rather than a money maker.
In addition to Light Scale Models, I own my own 3d Illustration business. This affords me flexible time in working on both model railroad related items and creating architectural illustrations for clients. The 3d modeling background has proven to be an invaluable skill for creating MRR master patterns. All of the 0-4-0T Porter components were modeled in 3D to verify assembly dimensions and to create rapid prototyped master patterns. Several new technology breakthroughs have resulted in a promising future for model railroading. New injection molding techniques have opened up some new possibilities for my products. Expect to see some cutting edge products from LSM in the near future!
The United States is in a state of adjustment with regard to model railroad models. Labor prices in China and Korea have skyrocketed due to increased pressure by unions to improve labor environment conditions and wages. In addition to the labor cost increase, the price for transporting items over great distances has increased. This not only impacts the shipping fees for completed models, but also has increased the cost of raw materials. All of these factors have resulted in a sudden jump in the prices of RTR models from the East. When we look at other countries like the UK, Japan and Australia, we see a different market for items like locomotives. Companies like DJH in the UK are producing amazing locomotive kits in mixed medium format (pewter, resin and photo etched parts). Smaller cottage industry builders have sprung up in these areas and offer their own kits and kit building services. The net result is that UK and Japanese prototype based models are available from local builders for similar to lower costs than imported RTR models from Eastern builders. This concept hasn't fully caught on in the US. I strongly believe that the industry will change in the US and US customer's expectations and requirements will change as well. There is an opportunity to both strengthen our own economy and get back to basics with regard to modeling in the US. By buying kits and models built right here in the US, we all gain a sense of unity and accomplishment as a country. The pride that goes along with knowing that you're helping support local economy is a powerful thing. The pride in knowing that you built your own locomotives and rolling stock will come back. I am committed to developing American made models for the American market.
I hope this insight into my past, present and future gives you some comfort in dealing with me on a business level. I am a very open person to communication and invite anyone interested in my products or even related subjects to contact me at any time. Even if you just want to chat about trains!
Light Scale Models
philip (at) lightscalemodels.com
724-835-4448 (M-F 8:00am - 9:00pm EST)