Oh, my country. How could you do something so utterly stupid?
Chris White RSR 02 October 2016
Subject: Life After Red Star Railways
Dear Friends --
In my previous comment, I announced that Red Star Railways will cease to exist as a formal business effective 01 January 2017. I also said that although Red Star Railways would no longer be around, I would continue producing railway models for sale as a private individual. Since my last comment the details have started falling into place, and I'd like to share them with you.
One: I will continue to maintain a website at www.redstarrailways.com. As my long-suffering web guy Joe Zammetti reminded me, I own that domain name -- how I use it is up to me. So the domain name will remain the same. However, the website will make the change very clear. As I see it now, the website will be one long page starting with a photo of yours truly sitting at my work table (probably with one elbow resting on the table whilst I hold a copy of MAD Magazine). Instead of "Red Star Railways," the site will be labelled "Chris White -- Modeller of Russian Trains -- Formerly Red Star Railways -- Now It's a Hobby Again, but with a Difference."
Two: following on from the above, there will be a button labelled "News and Comments." This corresponds to the current Red Star Comments, but I think it will be important not to carry over Red Star Railways terminology to the new, post-RSR website.
Three: I will post photos of the models which my associates and I have developed over the years for Red Star Railways. I still have the tooling, so why not use it? However, unlike Red Star Railways, I will announce in "News and Comments" when I actually have models ready -- parts sourced, castings made, ready for painting and sale. This will work a whole hell of a lot better than scrambling to find parts (increasingly scarce parts, remember)to satisfy orders.
Four: the tough part, MONEY! At present, Red Star Railways accepts credit cards. It may be hard to believe, but the financial cost of operating Red Star Railways -- remember, it's a home-based business -- run to US$150 or more per month. At this time in my life, this is not workable. When I cease to accept credit cards, the costs of keeping my website open will drop to less than US$30 per month. Can I do this? Oh,yeah. Beginning 01 January, I will be able to accept payment via cash, check, money order, bank transfer, or PayPal.
I'll post more info as we -- my advisors and I -- work out the details. The bottom line is: I'm not going into the sunset. Not yet.
Chris RSR 31 August 2016
After seventeen years in business, Red Star Railways will close on 31 December 2016.
Several factors contributed to my decision: my wife's health, increasingly scarce and increasingly expensive parts, and the increasing cost of keeping the doors open (electronically speaking, of course!). I finally had to face these realities, and when I did I simply knew it was time to go out of business.
That doesn't mean that I'm going to stop building models of Russian trains for sale. Hell, no! It just means that I will do so as a private individual. Who knows, I might even design some new models (probably N scale).
I will continue to honor major credit cards until 31 December 2016, and I will complete models ordered through the end of December even if actual delivery will run into 2017.
I hope each and every one of you will feel free to contact me by phone or email into the future! My email is email@example.com (not routed through the Red Star Railways website). My home phone is 302.264.9853.
Thank you all for your support over the past seventeen years. It's been great.
Chris White, owner Red Star Railways 14 July 2016
Subject: New HO Scale Postal Car Model
On the Red Star Railways home page you can see the pilot model for our newest PassazhirRSR passenger car: a postal car.
Now, before you get all tuned up, YES, I know that the arrival of this model is about ten years late! When I rolled out the initial tranche of PassazhirRSR models in October 2006, I intended to fill out the line with a postal car soon thereafter. However, as we all know, the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions. My initial hand-drawn plans were inadvertently damaged,and the photos used in their preparation had been returned to their owner. The project lapsed.
Ten years passed. Then earlier this year, two events combined to push me back onto the Path of Righteousness.
First, I was contacted by Frank Scheer of Alexandria, Virginia. Frank has established a museum dedicated to railway post office cars, and inquired whether I was ever going to produce an RPO car. This reawakened my interest in the subject, and motivated me to research the subject both online and in a rather old Russian book on postal cars.
Shortly thereafter, one of my long-time friends-and-clients in Ukraine emailed me to ask the same question as Frank: was I ever going to add a postal car to the PassazhirRSR line? This gentleman, Andriy T., offered to send detailed photos of the RPO cars in which he worked for the first fifteen years of his rail-borne career. Did I take him up on his kind offer?
In a New York minute.
Using Andriy's photos, my postal car book, and a lot of photos found in the main photo gallery of Dmitry Zinoviev's magnificent Parovoz.com website, I proceeded to self-educate about Russian postal cars. I quickly learned that there are enormous numbers of variations on the postal car theme, based on varying specifications for storage space, sorting space, etc. I finally decided to select the RPO type is Andriy's photos, as a "Thank You" to Andriy.
This entailed one problem: on Andriy's car, the personnel steps were located in line with the bogies. As a result, the bogies had insufficient room to pivot. Eventually I resolved the problem by mounting the steps on the bogie sideframes -- which my friend and self-appointed conscience William "Bill the Brit" Bradson referred to as "Doing a Lionel." He really knows how to hurt a guy.
I'm working out the solutions for a couple of other minor problems, but there's no doubt about it -- a postal car is finally coming to the PassazhirRSR line.
I will post the availability of the production models in an upcoming Red Star Comment. Because the model requires all-new window castings, the estimated price is US$35. Please do not order yet, and especially DO NOT send any money until I announce the readiness of production models.
Chris White Red Star Railways 19 June 2016
Subject: Donald Trump
Dear Friends --
Ever since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States, I have received a ton of requests from overseas friends and clients to "explain" Donald Trump. By "a ton," I mean several hundred emails and even a few phone calls.
Now, please understand. I have been happy to shed as much light upon the phenomenon of Donald Trump as I can -- along with a good bit of color commentary! However, due to the many conflicting demands upon my time as I turn age 65, I need to be more efficient in addressing the issue of Trump the Chump. I can't work, address family medical issues, AND respond individually to each and every "Trump" question.
So now I will state, for the record and forever, my "take" on Donald Trump.
In my opinion, Donald Trump is the most dangerous demagogue and the most vile and detestable hatemonger to appear upon the world stage since Adolf Hitler. He appeals to people's lowest instincts -- their fears and their anger. His outrageous rantings make his supporters believe it's legitimate not only to hold views of racism and bigotry, but to yell and scream those views in Trump mobs. After all, it's always easier to mouth off such garbage when everyone else in your group is doing the same. Talk about mob psychology . . .
I am deeply troubled by the effect Trump is having upon American political and social life. Since he opened his campaign, I have seen things I never saw before in my country. Case in point: a few weeks ago, outside a large chain store here in Dover, I witnessed three young men in their late 20s or early 30s wearing Donald Trump T-shirts surround another man of about the same age who was wearing a Bernie Sanders T-shirt, and start verbally abusing him and then pushing him around. In case you're wondering, I did get involved. I walked over, told the three Trump gangsters to back off, and within their earshot phoned the local police department. Like all bullies, they backed off when challenged. And, who knows? Maybe they thought I was a crazy old man and might do something unpredictable. Hmm, maybe I am.
Does this remind you of the Brown Shirts in Germany in the 1930s? It should. And it's scary as hell to see this happen in my country. I've always believed we're better than that. But stupidity breeds more stupidity, especially when a candidate like Trump legitimizes it.
By now some of my friends at home and abroad will be thinking, "Jesus, Chris, why don't you tell 'em what you really think?" Well, that is exactly what I think, Trump stormtroopers notwithstanding.
And that's it. From this date I will not respond to any further email or phone requests to explain Donald Trump. I will simply refer the inquirers to this Red Star Comment.