Manufacturer Announcements: 2019 N Scale Enthusiast National N Scale Convention

Published: 2019-07-02 - By: Jenna
Last updated on: 2021-07-23
visibility: Public
Last week, George and I attended the 27th annual N Scale Enthusiast National N Scale Convention in Chicago, June 26-30th, 2019.

Here are some manufacturer announcement highlights. We missed the Manufacturers' Breakfast but visited with companies at the Public Show.

Please see separate blog articles on the Swap-a-Rama, Layouts, Banquet, and Manufacturers' Announcements.

Atlas. According to Paul Graf of Atlas, sooner or later, the NJ-based firm will re-release all the Walthers/Life-Like toolings it purchased in 2018 with the exception of the lower-quality Life-Like models. One of the earliest Walthers re-releases we can expect to see is the Russell Snow Plow.

Russell Snow Plow

Since Atlas does not have a record of all the road numbers and paint schemes produced by Walthers, don’t be surprised if the company re-releases duplicates. Given that some of these toolings are 30 years old, there is no doubt that n-scalers will be happy to see them available once again.

Bluford Shops. Later this summer and in the fall, the company plans to ship its new tooling: International Car Bay Window Caboose, which is mega late due to the Chinese factory fiasco of 2018. There will be 5 different variations of these cars.
International Car Bay Window Caboose

ExactRail. Folks could buy the company’s latest new tooling, the Johnstown Autoflood II Hopper and expect re-runs (new paint schemes and body-mounted couplers) of the Evans 5277 boxcar (which has not been run in 10 years) sometime in August.

Evans 5277 boxcar

Chris Brimley hinted that the company will announce 2 more releases maybe as early as the Trainfest show later this summer. “Given that we did so few releases over the last 4 to 5 years, four n-scale announcements in one year is a big deal for us,” said Brimley. Sales of the Autoflood have been strong with inventory getting low for the Breast Cancer Awareness car. ExactRail, known for n-scale freight cars, will continue to revisit old toolings.

Fox Valley Models. As announced at the 2019 Amherst train show in January, intermodal containers are the main focus for Fox Valley Models this year. The company plans on re-releasing Deluxe container toolings (20’, 40’ (2 different versions) and 48’) and it has developed its own tooling for a 53’ (6 different versions) container as well. Releases are expected this fall and winter respectively.

Deluxe container toolings (20’, 40’ (2 different versions) and 48’)

Fox Valley Model 53’ (6 different versions) container

Undecorated production samples were on display. Since these Deluxe toolings are 15 years old, these containers may not fit in all well cars, especially newer releases.

Something new for the company: Fox Valley Models now sells its own stock online at

Matt Gaudynski of Fox Valley Models said the firm is still working out production issues for a number of products due to the August factory closing in China.

Products in limbo

InterMountain. Like other manufacturers caught in the Chinese factory fiasco, InterMountain is playing catch-up and finally delivering products. It expects to ship its ACF center flow 2-bay hoppers and its 4650 cf 3-bay hoppers next week.

ACF center flow 2-bay hoppers

4650 cf 3-bay hoppers

Superdome passenger cars

The long-awaited superdome passenger cars will ship in August according to Doug Dolloff of InterMountain, which now has 4 new manufacturing partners in China.

Jacksonville Terminal Co. (JTC). Steve Campbell showed me the company’s latest new release: a 20 foot standard Stolt tank container (new to n-scale), which in real life carries anything liquid but must sit on the bottom of a well car.

20 foot standard Stolt tank container

I also saw a production model of a 40 foot container chassis, which will feature metal inserts so it has magnetic compatibility with 40 foot intermodal shipping containers.
40 foot container chassis

If you own, say, some Atlas cabs, you could buy this chassis and attach a 40 foot container to it. Both new items are due for release in September/October 2019.

Known for its intermodal products, the Florida-based continues to broaden its foothold in this niche sector and plans to release 20 foot and 53 foot container chassis in 2019. It also plans on announcing 40 foot reefer containers, TOFC cars and intermodal trailers and a 53 foot (permanently attached) well car. To be sure, other well cars exist from the likes of Atlas and Kato among others. But not all containers fit in all well cars. For example, the Kato Maxi IV well cars are too small to fit non-Kato containers.

Kato. H-O versions of the recently announced n-scale E8A + Pullman Bi-level car 6-unit Chicago & Northwestern “400” train were on display at the Kato booth.

The T-TRAK Kit includes all necessary construction material

The company also featured a number of t-trak modules, two of which were made by local t-trak enthusiasts using a newly available kit: N Kato + Woodland Subterrain T-Trak Module Kits. Kato and Woodland have joined forces and now offer a kit complete with everything (Unitrack, wood, legs, foam, plaster) needed (except trees, grass, paint and the like) to build a t-trak module. “We sold out of our first batch already,” said Michael Conway of Kato. Conway explained that Kato is the main distributor of Woodland products in Japan.

Fay Chin, considered a T-trak master, has written a review of this new kit. Here is some of what he had to say: "The kits are ideal for beginners like Scouts and 4-H clubs. Surprising, the kit was quite rigid when completed. With good illustrated instructions, I was able to build the kit within an hour. I added a coat of Mod Podge (mat medium) to strengthen the foam sides." He adds: "The Kit was a fun and easy project."

The T-TRAK Kit includes all necessary construction material

The Kato kit was completed within an hour

The completed T-TRAK module.
The kit does not include scenery such
as the woodland scenic trees nor ground material.
I used Envirotec to create the water effect and 3D printed
foreground building and accessories.

Kato Field Trip On Thursday, about 20 T-trak enthusiasts traveled about 30 minutes to the Kato U.S. offices in Schaumburg, IL to learn about new Kato products (the T-trak/Woodland kit) and give the Japan-based firm feedback as well. Bruce Alcock of N-Trak participated in the event and one of the questions folks asked Kato was whether it would consider releasing a 4 axle engine (a smaller engine like the GP38, which is used for smaller consists, shorter runs and switching).

Micro-Trains. The Oregon-based firm recently announced two new products: a Weathered tie-loader gondola / Conrail and Union Pacific (3-pack).

Weathered tie-loader gondola / Conrail and Union Pacific

The tie loader (which will slide back and forth on the gondola) will be 3-D printed with an etched metal grabber.

It also recently announced the 60 foot rib side double-plug door high-cube boxcar, which it will produce earlier than previously announced and should ship in the spring of 2020.
60 foot rib side double-plug door high-cube boxcar

Originally, the company’s 78 foot heavy weight single window coach was to be produced first. “We feel the boxcar will have broader appeal,” says Eric Smith of Micro-Trains.

Smith also mentioned that the company plans on expanding its military vehicle line and will announce a new tooling for a multi-purpose military vehicle.

On the horizon: Micro-Trains has been selling metal wheelsets (33” and 36”) for some time now and it plans on equipping some of its future releases with metal wheels. Out of the 12-15 releases Micro-Trains does a month, perhaps 3 to 5 of them will come with metal wheels, said Smith. Some folks are happy with their plastic wheels so not all cars will go metal. He expects this to happen in 2020 at the earliest.

North American Railcar Corp. The 5077 single door box car (announced in January 2018) is coming this September.

5077 single door box car To appeal to a variety of customers, the company will continue to expand its Operator line (lower price point version) of locos and introduce an Operator version/$99.00 of its Tier 4 Gevo locomotive, expected in the first half of 2020. This would be the second loco offered in both Operator and Rivet Counter versions. The Dash 9 engines are available in both versions but “the Rivet Counter versions outsold the Operator version 5 to 1,” said Shane Wilson of

Tier 4 Gevo locomotive

The Tier 4 Operator will be available for $99 without sound/DCC and with sound and DCC for $189. But for a few dollars more, folks can get the Rivet Counter version (highly-detailed product) for $234.99. When asked about future products, Wilson said, “we see strength in the Rivet Counter loco sector for the company.” So we will have to see how these different price points fan out.

Trainworx. A victim of the abrupt closing of Chinese manufacturing sites last year, Pat Sanders is waiting to ship items (the truck -- Freightliner Cascadia with 53 foot container -- due out in September) he announced back in 2017.

Freightliner Cascadia with 53 foot container

He is expecting a container (from China) every four weeks over the next four months to catch up on sales. He showed me the Scratch and Dent sale items at his booth.
Scratch and Dent cars

Scratch and Dent cars

These are flawed cars (printing mishaps) that would otherwise be scrapped. But for $4 (and only at a show like this) folks can buy these and assemble a nearly complete car (except for trucks and couplers).

Please see separate blog articles on the Swap-a-Rama, Layouts, Banquet, and Manufacturers' Announcements.