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Kickstarter: ME Models Tracks for both metal and ABS only track pieces

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Dear LEGO Train Fan,

As you are aware, ME Models has been working towards producing a LEGO compatible train rail product over the past three years. Progress has been slow, however, we’re finally at a point where we are asking for everyone’s assistance in bringing this project to a reality.

If you are not familiar with the KickStarter program, it is a funding tool used by various entrepreneurs and inventors to gain capital to complete various projects in return for product. In our case, we are offering various reward levels that will exchange any pledges that you make towards our project for rail products in either metal or ABS.

Our project goal is $79,000. This amount will allow us to purchase the tooling required for ABS plastic rails, the remaining tooling needed for metal rails, as well as the raw materials needed to produce the products. We realize that this goal may seem high, but when considered that ME Models has already exceeded this amount in personal capital investment and well exceed this amount in man-hours, it puts it into perspective.

As a potential customer of our rail products, we’re seeking your help in attaining this goal and bringing this project to life.

You can read more about our project at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/memodels/me-models-railway-system

We will also be providing project updates via KickStarter as well as our social media outlets:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/memodels

Twitter: https://twitter.com/memodelslego

We promise that this is the only e-mail notification you will directly receive from us regarding this project and look forward to your continued support in making this a full reality.

Best Regards,

Mike & Eric

ME Models

Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/memodels/me-models-railway-system

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I'm going to do the $49 option as soon as Amazon decides not to have my payment account randomly disabled.

Are there going to be metal R104 curves eventually?

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Greetings fellow train enthusiasts,

Yes, you have read correctly...we have begun a KickStarter campaign to finish what we promised to the community. We know that it has been awhile since the original launch, however, we have still been diligently pursuing a full finished product line.

First off, we thank you for the valuable insight that you have all provided to us along the way telling us what we were doing right and what needed improvement. Without your assistance, we wouldn't be where we are today.

I'm sure everyone here would agree with me when I say that we all have wanted wider radius track and varying length straight sections since the LEGO train line was first launched. When we first undertook this project, we knew it would be a big job, but didn't realize that it would involve 10 lbs of engineering, 100 lbs of coin, and 1000 lbs of sweat. We knew that for this project to become successful, it would take the right recipe of versatility, compatibility, affordability, and quality. After reading everyone's feedback over the past three years, we realized where the shortcomings were and spent the next two years perfecting the product to the point where we are confident you will be satisfied. As hobbyists like you, we have demanded perfection of ourselves.

We came to you for help before to recognize the strong points and weak points of our product. Now we come to you again asking for your help in making this system a reality for everyone in both metal and plastic. Our goal for this project may seem a bit high, but our ultimate goal here is to ensure that we have "something for everyone" whether it be in length, sweep, or color. Once we complete this phase, it will allow us to move into more complex arrangements such as switches, crosses, and alternative gauges. We're always open to your suggestions. We may be the ones liaising with the manufacturers, but at the end of the day, this is still your project.

Again, we thank you all for your support of this project over the past three years and hope that together we can make this project a reality.

All the best,

Mike & Eric

ME Models

KickStarter Project: http://kck.st/1tcUvN1

Edited by Eric J. Olson

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I have supported the project. I was very happy with the pieces of straight track I purchased for my Engine Shed, and I'm looking forward to R104 curves with great anticipation.

My main concern is my ability to ballast the curved track to the PennLUG standard, but I guess the only way to know if its possible is to get them in-hand. I don't doubt that its possible so much as my ability to minimize gaps.

--Tony

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Greetings fellow train enthusiasts,

Yes, you have read correctly...we have begun a KickStarter campaign to finish what we promised to the community. We know that it has been awhile since the original launch, however, we have still been diligently pursuing a full finished product line.

First off, we thank you for the valuable insight that you have all provided to us along the way telling us what we were doing right and what needed improvement. Without your assistance, we wouldn't be where we are today.

Looks good and I've hopped on board. Though I am going with the "build your own" collection. My preference is for one complete loop of R104 and one loop R88 (that should have been one of the pledge levels if you ask me).

I'd personally prefer them in metal, but R56 is not sufficiently different to get my interest. So I'll start with plastic and hope the future turns metal.

At any rate Eric, a couple of questions for you.

First off, as I recall from the original batch of metal rails, the instructions eventually said, "not intended for track powered models", presumably because of poor conductivity at the rail joints. Is that being fixed in the new design?

Second off, what is the color of the ABS rails? Dark blay?

I have supported the project. I was very happy with the pieces of straight track I purchased for my Engine Shed, and I'm looking forward to R104 curves with great anticipation.

My main concern is my ability to ballast the curved track to the PennLUG standard, but I guess the only way to know if its possible is to get them in-hand. I don't doubt that its possible so much as my ability to minimize gaps.

--Tony

I bet these tracks will be a lot easier to ballast than the one piece lego track. Instead of using 2x8 ties right below the rails, you could use 1x2 plates to move your support down one or more plates, giving clear space for ballast (or use the 1x2's in the ballast color rather than the track color). Also, I suspect the special track connectors are only really necessary for connecting to lego track sections. As long as you are using the ME rails, I bet you could just use normal plates to hold everything together.

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Hi,

This looks like a great concept and I've been following discussions on this board for a while. I just asked this same question on the Kickstarter site, but thought I would post here in the public forum as well.

There is only one pledge level that includes curved and straight ABS track (I think at $45). Most of your options are for loops only. These are great for existing builders that are only looking for some new radius options, but not so much for newcomers that own no track yet and are just now designing their train layouts. It would be great if you could offer a pledge level in the $100-150 range that would include a full loop of either R56 or R72 (or two) in ABS along with a good selection of all the different straight track sizes. A good size "starter" set if you will.

You'd have my immediate support if an option like this is added.

Thanks for the consideration.

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Supported!

Many thanks for your work on this project and I certainly hope you meet your funding goals! Your efforts and innovations a great service to the LEGO train community.

Best regards,

LEGO9Vtrainfan

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You'd have my immediate support if an option like this is added.

Check the FAQ on kickstarter, it explains that if you want package A and package B, pledge the combined cost under one or the other. Then at the end of the drive, they will ask what you want and you should get both A and B (but triple check for yourself)

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Check the FAQ on kickstarter, it explains that if you want package A and package B, pledge the combined cost under one or the other. Then at the end of the drive, they will ask what you want and you should get both A and B (but triple check for yourself)

Zephyr,

Thanks and I did check the FAQs, I was just a bit confused as to what to do, but I got an email from the ME team and they set me straight. I pledged initially for the $34 level and then upped my pledge to include the $35, $42 and $45 rewards as well. I then changed to the $45 level reward and the rest will be straightened out before the rewards ship. That should give me a good starter set of track to build my Lego town.

I hope they succeed with the funding!

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What happens if you don't reach the goal in 26 days?

The kickstarter page says this: "This project will only be funded if at least $79,000 is pledged by Sat, May 17 2014 4:22 PM AEST

."

Does that mean no track will be delivered?

Edited by K-Style

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First off, as I recall from the original batch of metal rails, the instructions eventually said, "not intended for track powered models", presumably because of poor conductivity at the rail joints. Is that being fixed in the new design?

We marketed "online specials" for awhile which were essentially seconds. Our engineer as assured us that all conductivity issues have been resolved and we confirmed this during tests of the loop.

Second off, what is the color of the ABS rails? Dark blay?

I would say that's a safe bet as that is what everyone has, but we're certainly open to any options that are requested. Color doesn't affect cost other than to hold an inventory of an "odd" color.

I bet these tracks will be a lot easier to ballast than the one piece lego track.

Absolutely!

What happens if you don't reach the goal in 26 days?

Does that mean no track will be delivered?

Correct. If we do not reach the goal, we will get no funding nor will any funds be collected from any backers.

Should we fail to reach the goal, we will have to review the project and offerings to try and find a solution that will provide the majority of backers with their requested products while reducing the line somewhat for now. Frankly, it's a balancing act and we decided for the initial campaign, we would come up with a wide variety of "starter options" which would give the majority free-range.

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We marketed "online specials" for awhile which were essentially seconds. Our engineer as assured us that all conductivity issues have been resolved and we confirmed this during tests of the loop.

Good to hear, and if there are problems, one thought that comes to mind is a piece of thin metal to squeeze between the rail joint, folded into a "V" so that it is guaranteeing contact between the two rail segments on that side.

I would say that's a safe bet as that is what everyone has, but we're certainly open to any options that are requested. Color doesn't affect cost other than to hold an inventory of an "odd" color.

I asked about the color because I am hoping they would be dark blay to match all of the lego track I already have.

At least at day one you are selling to folks who already have track, so keeping it dark blay makes sense (I personally want the tracks to blend in rather than stand out). Once you have the molds it might make sense to dabble in other colors for the rails. I would think redish-brown rails with dark brown ties would look close to your typical US tracks with rust sided rails and creosote soaked ties. Though I doubt there would be enough demand to make the brown rails viable until you have switches too. With switches, a reasonable price, and good performance, then you might be able to convince folks to replace all of their tracks.

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I just pledged $49 for a set of the metal rails, and I plan on doing several more of the same. Also, I'm going to do a $62 set next for the R104 loop. Is it possible to produce these plastic rails in an ABS colour that closely matches the steel rails, such as flat silver or pearl gray?

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I think this will be the project that makes me register an account on Kickstarter - which is to say something. I'll back for $34 - a full loop of R56 - as soon as I'm done registering. Thanks for all the work done so far! And good luck!

Edit: Backed!

Edited by antsiranean

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Any chance of a better variety of straights? I'd very much like a (say) $20 pack that contains only double length straights, and repeat for the other lengths.

I've backed at $45, but will add some curves later. Finally, will you eventually be making all these available online, long term, internationally?

Edited by cei

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Good to hear, and if there are problems, one thought that comes to mind is a piece of thin metal to squeeze between the rail joint, folded into a "V" so that it is guaranteeing contact between the two rail segments on that side.

If you take a close look at that splash picture on our video, you will see a dark stripe on the rail. That's actually a small portion that is raised at a microfraction to ensure that they touch.

I asked about the color because I am hoping they would be dark blay to match all of the lego track I already have.

Absolutely. I'm sure that will be an initial offering color.

Is it possible to produce these plastic rails in an ABS colour that closely matches the steel rails, such as flat silver or pearl gray?

I don't see any issues with that and we will definitely see what we can come up with.

Any chance of a better variety of straights? I'd very much like a (say) $20 pack that contains only double length straights, and repeat for the other lengths.

We offered the add-on option which I think should cover almost all options, but if you're looking for something along those lines, yes, I'll see what I can do.

Finally, will you eventually be making all these available online, long term, internationally?

That's the goal. If we get this off the ground and running, we will have a steady supply without fail.

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Great to hear. Straights are one of the harder bits to buy, as Lego don't sell them separately, so I can imagine there is quite a bit of demand for just straights - but the flexibility of single sizes rather than a bulk order that comes with a mix of sizes that you may not want all of. It also adds flexibility to your Kickstarter, as it means people can purchase an oval rather than a circle, which may help raise your funding.

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If you take a close look at that splash picture on our video, you will see a dark stripe on the rail. That's actually a small portion that is raised at a microfraction to ensure that they touch.

Ah, okay, cool... but also potentially a delicate balance between ensuring continuity and causing other problems. The lego 9v rails have a slight bump out that allows for long wheel base trucks to climb the rails at a rail joint. RailBricks 7 has more on the problem in "Just Like Clockwork". If you do find that problem, I suspect filing the vertical edge of the corner would probably prevent rail climbing on curves, and certainly the wider the radius, the less likely an errant wheel will try to climb. Still, if the two rails have to apply pressure on one another for continuity, it may force one or both to be loose on the underlying plates. Which is why I think a sprung based solution might be robust (e.g., the 9v rails have such a solution using the metal strip), it eliminates the need for a precise contact point that may also push one or the other rail out of alignment.

These risks are definitely solvable, but I would suggest endurance testing looking at the rail joints on curves with prototype rails before you finalize the production version. I'm hoping you eventually get to R104 with the metal rails.

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I'd just like to add something in regards to kickstarter, there are a lot of posters here talking like they just pre-ordered track, or talking as if these are completed packs for sale, which is absolutely NOT the case.

Firstly, i mean absolutely no disrespect to Eric J. Olson or any of the ME team, I'm sure their intentions are nothing but genuine, and I'm putting some money down myself.

But I want to bring attention to what Kickstarter actually is and how it works.

Kickstarter is 'crowd-funding'. Instead of a company going to a bank or publisher to ask for funds to complete a project, it instead appeals to the fans, the core base, for donations to bankroll development, with some pledging incentives for increased sized donations.

This can actually be a great thing, in the video-game world for example, projects have taken off after a large appeal to fans and interested parties has worked after the banks said 'no'. One of the big ideas that has just made the news is the 'Occulus Rift' Virtual reality headset - on pitch, from just an idea in one guys' head, it blew way over it's target, getting millions of dollars in pledge money. after two prototypes, The company was just bought by facebook for $2 bil.

However, the distinction has to me made; the money you're pledging is to help ME 'get on their feet' so to speak, and in return ME will gift you some product as thanks. This IS NOT a purchase of product from the company.

Why is this important? if, god forbid, the kickstarter succeeds but ME runs into unforseen difficulties that have unaccounted expenses etc., it's possible that they may take a long period of time to recover, or worst-case not be able to fulfill your pledge 'reward' at all. Your money hasn't gone to buying a product, remember, it was a investment towards assisting ME buying the equipment necessary for starting production. Keep in mind there is NO date for which your track will be sent to you.

There have actually been a few Kickstarted projects that have failed, a lot of Video games, for example, underestimated the funding they would need to complete their work and nothing ever was released. While I'm not saying this will happen to ME, i'm just saying there is always a risk, no matter how remote.

Kickstarter is there for the general public to be 'investors' in a venture, NOT a customer. Pledgers need to be aware of the risks with such a venture, and not automatically assume 'money goes in = track comes out'

Please, read and above all understand the "risks and challenges" section, as well as the "accountability on Kickstarter" bits. because Kickstarters always have an element of risk, and, while it very likely everything will go to plan, all of that needs to be understood just in case of the worst-case scenario.

Nevertheless, i wish ME all the best for the Kickstarter and the project.

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