Rummaging through a stack of product shorts, delays, canceled orders, closures, and price increases, I realized its been more than a year since we thought the pandemic would be over in a few weeks, and two months since my last post. Clearly, I have no concept of time. I admit I have been lax at finding renewed direction for FineTrains, the hobby. Good art requires a span of creative settled time that’s at a premium. But, the work continues. All is well. Baking in the “Covid Factor,” for at least the next two years, took far too long.
A brief message from the Boss.
Yes! I’m still here.
Alive, and doing well.
I get that a lot, lately.
It’s a pandemic.
Compared to what many are going through right now, I have no complaints. There is new stuff coming. I still work on trains. Several new projects are almost complete. Including that 0-4-0 Yardlette loco that would have been finished, sold, and shipped 4 months ago, in normal times. I am not unaware.
These are not normal times. My day job morphed into streaming text, email, and Zoom calls, helping people cope with changes this pandemic caused. Not an excuse, but a fact. I give my FULL attention to anything I do.
Including On30 trains. Anyone who has my work in their collection, already knows this is true. I’m working on trains in short blocks of time. The pace is slow, but the work does not suffer. I’m sorry for the wait. But, I’ll get there. We all will.
I hope. Stay safe and be well.
The idea that became FineTrains LLC, or FineTrains the business entity, began in 2004. My brother-in-law and I were sitting in my train room discussing eCommerce businesses. I was looking for something new, like an online mail order business, but I couldn’t decide what to sell. He looked at all the custom built models surrounding us and said, “Why don’t you sell these?” I said that I didn’t think anyone would want to buy them. He said, “I would!” I hate it when he’s right. I started slowly under a few other names, but it wasn’t long before FineTrains LLC was off and running full steam.
As a business, FineTrains LLC was profitable from day one. At least enough to keep the lights on, and keep trying. But, 2016, brought in a new President and one of the biggest changes in the U.S. Federal Tax code. Under the guise of, “Building Better American Made Small Business,” and “Make America Great, again,” it did neither for almost all small businesses like mine, eventually. Because the massive changes were phased in over time, it seemed like it might work – at first. The death knell for FineTrains LLC, the business, came in 2019.
I held on as long as I could, while I watched nine other eCommerce model train businesses that started the same year I did, close. In February, 2019, my accountant told me that NONE of the business expenses for raw materials required to build FineTrains’ models would be deductible under the new tax code. That meant all the wood, plastics, metal, chemicals, paint, tools, parts, protective equipment, machinery, and workers in the shop would, for the first time in the history of the United States, be considered a taxable asset, taxed at RETAIL rates. Essentially, NO business deductions, not even for paper clips or ink pens, unless we incorporated.
The cheapest bid I could find for all the legal services and documents required to file for corporation status, with NO guarantee it would ever be approved, was $250,000.00. In my previous careers, long before FineTrains, I spent 6 years working with GM’s Executive Group on the top floor of the golden towers in Detroit, MI, and in the Owens Corning Fiberglass Tower World Headquarters in Toledo, OH (now closed). The big players literally had money to burn. Flame on. Twenty one million dollar project costs seemed reasonable and usual, over time. Especially, when it wasn’t your money. FineTrains LLC, wasn’t my first business, or my last. Facing the choice between a quarter million dollar plus incorporation fee surprise, or a 60% increase in non-deductible business expenses, it was clear FineTrains LLC could not continue in its current form. FineTrains LLC, as a business, officially closed in 2019.
After the accounting and legal dust settled, I was allowed to keep the FineTrains name and history. I can also build and sell a few models a year as a continuation of the model railroading hobby I enjoy that inspired the creation of FineTrains LLC, the business, which no longer exists. I decided to call my new scale model railroading hobby club, wait for it, FineTrains. In honor of the business I once owned by a similar name. Now, that’s what Makes America, Great! I should have gone to that real estate seminar and become a robber baron. It would have been so much easier.
As a courtesy: Here’s a republication of the last FineTrains LLC mission statement:
FineTrains is an authorized Train Control Systems (TCS) dealer for the BEST DCC control & SOUND system on the market today the TCS Wow Sound KA-2 sound & control system. Watch our YouTube channel videos of this product. It literally blows SoundTraxx Tsunami systems away. Yep, it’s that good. Take it from a company that has installed thousands of sound systems since DCC began.
We are dedicated to providing the best 1/4 scale (O, On30, On3, On2) fully built original design craftsman models for your hard earned money. Many of our models have been built for third parties and you may have already seen some of our finest work on display or in museums without even knowing it. No we’re not famous. We haven’t been published in any of the Train magazines, Digests or Fine Scale Gazettes. We’re not working on our own – How To – DVD. We’ve been quietly building some of the best original models for the money we can and putting a smile on the faces of those who took a chance on us.
Our builders use the smallest environmental footprint possible and our shop is now 100% solar power. We use resin & plastics sparingly, buy from locally sourced suppliers and scour the world for non-toxic low VOC green paints. All our glues, wood, dental stone and stains come from renewable sources.
We offer many unique original products with the same high quality fully detailed fine custom design previously only found in elite railway museums. These are NOT kits. They are every bit as detailed, weathered and completely assembled as our one-of-a-kind exclusive museum offerings. What you see in our professionally shot product photos are the actual finished model that you will receive – not a box of parts – not a similar unit – but the real thing as shown with all the extras.
If you have any questions or comments at any time please feel free to contact us using the form below. We build thousands of custom models every year. Send us an email for more information about our custom building services.from FineTrains LLC 2019 (since closed)