Welcome to this newsletter and firstly may we apologise for not being able to attend Model Rail Scotland. It was a great shame as it is such a well organised and well attended event.
We can assure you however that we will be at Alexandra Palace (stand 85) for the London Festival of Railway Modelling and are looking forward to seeing some of you there.
N Gauge Build Progress
With the help of Josh, our new assistant, we have been able to increase our production rate and have currently delivered 29 units, with a further six in the workshop ready to be delivered.
Where possible we are delivering in number order, but would be most grateful if you could drop us an e-mail to let us know your current layout status; particularly if you’re in a position to take delivery and start using the Nelevator immediately.
We understand that you may be waiting for a Nelevator to build your layouts around. If this is the case, there is no need to wait to get your Nelevator. Please follow the mounting dimension guidelines on our website for the cut-out required in your baseboard, then when the time is right we will come and help you install it.
So far we have delivered units from the New Forest on the South Coast in the UK up to Cheshire, but are holding back delivering overseas for the moment until we are confident that early teething challenges have been completely resolved.
We have had a few challenges with some of our first units, but are learning all the time; building up a knowledge-base of possible issues and correcting them before they happen. I have learnt from personal experience with my 6 foot version at home that the more time and care spent setting up the Nelevator, the better it performs.
To this end we have produced an installation and setup guide, which is available to view and download from our website, so please take a look.
Some of the technical challenges we have faced are:
- Variability in Drive Belt Geometry: This was difficult to diagnose as it was hard to see what was going wrong, but on the occasional Nelevator when going one way the vertical alignment would slip by 12mm, but correct itself in the opposite direction. After careful examination the drive belt appeared to slowly climb over one pulley tooth in one direction and then climb back in the opposite direction. Measuring the belt thickness we noticed that it was 0.6mm (30%) thinner than a good belt. We now check all belts before assembly and have highlighted the problem to our supplier.
- Worm Wheel Slippage: This has caused misalignment problems by allowing a slight motor movement before moving the drive shaft. Again this was caused by supplier manufacturing issues which have now been resolved.
- Electronic Issue: We have had one electronic problem with the main control board resetting its home position. We haven’t been able to replicate this fault in the lab, but suspect a mains electrical problem at the installation. We are working with the customer to resolve the issue by running the unit on a battery supply to isolate the mains. Once we find the cause we will know what to look for if this fault occurs again. We’ve changed power supplies and main circuit boards and the problem stays with the installation. Frustrating, but we’ll get there; thanks for being so patient Douglas!
We’ve also been working hard on some new developments which will be coming on line in the future:
- Traffic Light Controlled Track Isolation: This is a great development that dramatically reduces the risk of a train entering the Nelevator when the Nelevator is moving. The system works by isolating the approach tracks if the Nelevator is moving, but also prevents it from moving if an optical beam is broken by the presence of a train. The traffic lights give a useful visible indication of the status of the Nelevator and isolated section. We’re currently testing this on our demo layout and will be demonstrating it at the Alexandra Palace show.
- Bluetooth Control via an Android Tablet: This allows wireless control of the Nelevator from up to 30ft away and has all the functionality of the standard handset.
- DCC Control: We’re still working with MERG to produce a system that will allow digital control of the Nelevator from their CBUS system, while also working on parallel DCC developments ourselves. We’ll keep you updated of progress.
UK Delivery and Installation Costs
With our new van we are planning on delivering all Nelevators in the UK mainland ourselves at a delivery cost of £40.
As part of this delivery process we will also be offering an installation service at £50 per Nelevator (subject to the appropriate layout preparations being completed to accept the Nelevator).
Kit Build Nelevators
You may have noticed that that we have removed the option for kit build Nelevators from our website.
We have done this as we feel that we do not currently have time to support this option as we can foresee customers requiring a significant amount of assistance with the kit builds. We may bring this option back in the future, but for now all units will be delivered assembled. Any customers that need to assemble “on site” e.g. in a loft, then please let us know so that we can support your installation.
OO Production Units
We will be delivering the first four OO units in May and will of course be contacting customers in order number priority, but would like to get installations that are up and running so these first units get a good testing before opening up the remaining deliveries.
If you haven’t seen the Nelevator and want to see it first hand, or would just like to catch up with us face-to-face, then you can see us at the following forthcoming show:
- The London Festival of Railway Modelling: 25 – 26 March 2017, London: stand 85.
Thank you once again for your interest in the Nelevator and your continued patience if you’re waiting for delivery.
We look forward to bringing you further updates soon and perhaps meeting you at Alexandra Palace.