Project Research & Development

Just as Kohs & Company models tend to significantly differ from others in the industry, the process by which they are researched and developed stands alone as well. The potential selection of a historically significant prototype subject is the first step in the development process. This needs to be followed by an evaluation of the previous modeling efforts of that subject by others if any exist to determine whether another production effort is justified. I have often been asked why I chose to model the New York Central J3a 'Hudson' as my first project since it had been modeled literally by every other importer at that point in time at least once and in some cases multiple times. My rational was very simple, the other importers had demonstrated their modeling concepts and abilities, so if the Kohs & Company concept was to be successful, there would be an immediate direct comparison available by which to judge. Now after almost two decades of producing O scale models my concept has continued to evolve and the input of interested modelers has played an ever growing part in the decision making and planning process.

Although a chosen subject is seen to have the characteristics for making an interesting model, there is no guarantee that it will make it through the research phase and become an 'active' project as designated on the Site Index page which lists all of the prototype subjects already chosen. While it is important to let potentially interested modelers/collectors know our plans as soon as possible, placing a prototype subject on the list is the first step in reaching out to potential sources for reference that will be required to proceed with that project. Some of the prototypes on the list have been there for several years since it has been surprisingly difficult to 'flesh' out the required research packages. With that in mind, it has been pointed out that a couple of the subjects on my list have been subsequently modeled by another importer, begging the question why that was possible, the simple answer is a matter of standards. Beginning with my first NYC 'Hudson', I well understood the type of reference material that would be needed to achieve a successful model based on my standards. With the passage of time my standards have continued to evolve increasing the number and type of research documents required.

Without a significant collection of railroad builder blueprint copies there is simply no way to accurately advance a project with my standards in mind. In addition, builder's photographs and in-service photographs are needed for cross referencing the prototype construction since not everything was built 100% according to the drawings and that is reflected in the photographs. As an example of how the reference demand has evolved, my NYC 'Hudson was developed with copies of approximately 500 drawings, for the current Union Pacific 'Big Boy' project I have nearly 4,000 drawings on hand. In short, there are untold numbers of hours and thousands of dollars spent on a potential project before it is ever offered for reservations.

The reference materials that have been gathered over the years have come from multiple and varied sources. Still existent railroad companies, railroad historical societies, railroad museums, general interest museums and private collections have all played a major role in helping me bring our projects to fruition. Often times when I'm 'digging' for material on a chosen subject I may not have success, but there may be material for another potential project that presents itself. The collective results of this research over the years has lead to an accumulation of more than 100,000 data files (drawings, photos, articles, etc) covering more than seventy railroads, eight locomotive builders and more than fifty different builders of rolling stock. Simply maintaining an accessible archive now consumes an tremendous amount of time. Only once adequate reference is in hand and cataloged can the detailed development and production scheduling be considered along with opening the project up for customer reservations. The Kohs & Company reservation process is unique in that I am fully committed to a subject prototype long before the first reservation is counted and the only factor that will prevent the production is a lack of research material. The most recent status information for each project listed on the Site Index is available on the specific project update page linked to each project home page.

To understand how the accumulated research material is put to use in the development, it is very important to learn about the various technologies, techniques and skills that go into the actual model construction. This is also where you will begin to learn about the standards various importers have established for themselves and will give you a basis for making your own comparisons in selecting models.

On to the Model Construction Page