About this project
This model railway system will allow toy train hobbyists to expand and fully develop their own layout just like a real world railroad.
Update Incentive (05/16/14) - For those of you who have already pledged $1,000 or those of you considering pledging $1,000 or more, we are offering the additional incentives: German E44 Engine, plus an additional $200 ME Store credit towards the purchase of any product in the online store including sets, rails, and decals.
Potential Stretch Goals:
- $85,000 - For those of you who desire narrow gauge rail, we will be manufacturing 2x6 connectors and plates. These connectors and plates will allow you to expand upon the current narrow gauge offering.
- $100,000 - If the project reaches the $100,000 level, ME Models will have the ability to produce a 45 degree cross in ABS plastic. A metal version, will soon follow. For those of you pledging $49 or more, you will receive the ABS version, estimated January 2015.
ME Models has been designing and producing custom town themed building kits using LEGO® brand building elements since 2003. Over the years, we have developed our own unique line and have made many different sets representing automobiles, trucks, businesses, houses, planes and trains. We have also produced many promotional sets for companies all over the world. We would like to thank all of our fans for their continued support!
In 2007 the LEGO® Group stopped producing the 9-volt train line in favor of a more economical solution. The 9-volt system functioned just like a traditional model railway system where train engines are powered by picking up current from electrically powered rails controlled by a transformer. The LEGO® Group produced this system for 17 years and it included straight rails, curves, a 90-degree cross and left and right switches. As more and more hobbyists embraced the line, it was evident that the system had its limitations and needed additional work and geometries to develop a mature model railway system.
The ME Models rail system is designed to expand upon the abandoned LEGO® 9-volt electrically powered line and sustain it for the future. After discussions and conducting surveys with many LEGO® brand train enthusiasts, ME Models undertook the task of producing a fully compatible “L” Gauge System. The project began in September of 2010 and ME Models released our first test “METAL RAILS” known as the “straights” in April of 2011. After a successful and well received launch, we turned our attention to developing new geometries and radii.
- 2010: Concept / Development
- 2011: Production Test / Development
- 2012: Geometry Development / Testing
- 2013: Geometry Development / Testing
- 2014 Q1: Tooling Procurement
- 2014 Q2: KickStarter Project Launch
- 2014 Q3: Delivery of Backer Rewards
Drawing circles using a compass is easy, but making toy railway track circles out of metal is as complex as putting men on the moon! ME Models has spent the better part of three years as well as substantial personal capital in the development of additional radii for the “L” gauge model railway system.
For ME Models it has been a tough road of lessons learned. We had a number of setbacks from the making of molds with the wrong dimensions, to having a supplier run 22,000 feet (yes more than 4 miles of rail!) that was improperly extruded. Despite the setbacks, we have learned a lot, stayed the course and have continued to focus on developing our rail product.
We have designed, tested, manufactured and proto-typed rails in both metal and plastic over the past 36 months. We have engaged more than a dozen metal fabricating companies, three different mold makers, two plastic parts manufacturers in our quest to deliver what we promised to the LEGO® Brand Train Hobbyists – A fully functional compatible railway system. Not only in metal, but also in ABS plastic!
Ready to Move
ME Models has contracted an experienced metal fabricator, a mold maker who makes injection molds for a variety of major industries and an injection mold plastic parts producer who has contracts with the U.S. government. All the companies that we have contracted are within driving distance of the ME Models Ohio location. We developed a personal relationship with each of these manufacturers and they are excited that we have chosen them to be part of our production process. We are confident that once we have all production systems in place, the final products will be delivered on time to our customers and fans.
As of writing this, our mold manufacturer has delivered several of our 8 injection molds. Our R56 curve in metal has been tested (see video) and the final production set up for manufacturing is being finalized. Planning for additional metal radii is under way.
Use of Capital – Where is the money spent?
Answer: Injection Molds, Metal Tooling, Fixtures, Raw Materials.
While ME Models has been a self-funded company, the expense of creating injection molds, tooling and fixtures for metal fabrication is very high. In order to meet the standards the LEGO® brand building community expects it takes a tremendous amount of investment to meet the following criteria we have demanded of our product:
Quality: Our manufacturers understand that the product produced must have the highest quality control standards in place.
2014 Rail Delivery Timeline
We will produce and make every effort to deliver on time the following NEW geometries and elements on or before the third quarter of 2014:
- *½ Length - 8 studs in length both in metal and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic rails
- Standard Length – 16 studs in length in both metal and ABS plastic rails
- *Double Length – 32 studs in length in both metal and ABS plastic rails
- *R56 Curve – In both metal and ABS plastic rails
- *R72 Curve – In ABS plastic rails
- *R88 Curve – In ABS plastic rails
- *R104 Curve – In ABS plastic rails
Please note, that curve sizes are based upon the radius of a complete circle measured, in "LEGO® studs", from the center of the circle to the center of the completed track. For reference, LEGO® standard curve track measures R40.
- 2x8 Plates - Blue Gray, Red Brown, Dark Brown, Black and any other color by demand
- *ME Models Universal Connectors – Same colors as mentioned above
*(denotes a part or geometry that has never produced by any other manufacturer)
Why did ME Models choose Kickstarter?
Over the past 11 years, ME Models has been a self-funded company. We have sold thousands of custom sets and diligently re-invest into our successful concept. The expense of financing multiple injection molds, metal fabrication tooling, fixtures and the purchasing raw materials has placed a tremendous amount of financial stress on our small firm. While we do have other funding avenues available to us, we decided to reach out and ask our fans and supporters to be a part of the creation process and to help give us a “KICK START” so we can deliver what the “L” gauge rail community wants.
As a THANK YOU and in return for your support in this project, ME Models will be rewarding ALL levels of backers with a variety of rail products as well as ME Models custom sets. Once the project is funded, ME Models will introduce a series of stretch goals that will include additional reward options.
Risks and challenges
“If it was easy everyone would be doing it.”
Making a toy railway system has not been “easy”. We have been entrenched with this project since September of 2010. While we gained invaluable insight on how to manufacture a product using metals and plastics, educated decision-making has always been our approach to minimize potential problems. We feel that we have partnered with the right companies that have extensive experience in delivering a positive result.
There is always the potential for technical problems with the CNC machines or injection molds. The good news is that the machines and tooling can always be replaced or fixed. Some other challenges in delivering our product on time could include but not be limited to fulfilling a large quantity of backer rewards, or not having enough production capacity due to a large demand for a particular product or color. ME Models will address any outage accordingly and we will make sure that every backer fulfillment will be delivered to the satisfaction of that individual. We have over 11 years of experience in shipping orders globally and will have an experienced fulfillment team in place to handle the volume of orders no matter how big or small.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Sorry, KickStarter rules do not permit this, however, we do offer the following guide for add-ons:
1. Add-ons are available to anyone who has pledge $34 or more (One complete ABS R56 loop). If you have not pledged at this level, sorry, but we cannot offer any add-ons.
2. Calculate the value of the items you desire from the pledge levels. For example, if you desired a full R56 loop in ABS as well as the "sample pack" in ABS, your total pledge would be $34 + $12 = $46. (Don't forget to add $10 for international shipping. This cost only needs to be included once.) In this example, you would simply select the full R56 loop as the desired reward and at the end of the campaign, you will have the opportunity to note what additional items you wish to receive.
3. On the ME Models Train Rails KickStarter page, select the "Manage My Pledge" button. The pledge amount field should show your current commitment level. Add the cost of your desired add-ons to the original amount, and this will be your new total pledge level. Your pledge amount should equal the original pledge PLUS your add-ons.
4. When the campaign is over, we will send out a survey to all contributors. When you complete the survey, you will need to let us know what add-ons you purchased. Please be aware that you are responsible for keeping track of your add-on items and reporting them at the end of the campaign.
Can you clarify what a "section" of track is? There seems to be three different components to a section of track: 1) 2x rails, 2) 2x "Universal Connectors", & 3) 3x - 9x 2x8 plates. Are all three components included or just the rails?
A section of track includes the rails, sleeper plates, and end connectors. Basically everything you need to "plug and play".
You do not provide any pictures of your "ABS rails". Will they be like the old LEGO 9V track with an ABS base and a conducting metal strip on top or will they be completely ABS like the LEGO "RC track" currently in production (albeit with different geomet
If you want to compare them to LEGO products, they will be similar to the 4.5V tracks that were produced prior to the 9V track. That being said, once assembled, they will be visually similar to the 9V plastic rails, however, they can be disassembled into individual parts including 2 rails, the sleeper plates, and the universal connectors. This allows the builder the versatility to place the rails directly onto a baseplate or other LEGO pieces.
The metal rails are the same concept, except the rail portion itself is constructed entirely from aircraft-grade aluminium.
We will have drawings and pictures of them all soon!
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