Q: Can I mix and match different sizes of trees and still get the discounted rate?
A: Yes, absolutely! You can mix any combination of sizes. As long as the total number of trees in a single order is 100 or more, you qualify for a 10% discount. If you order 500 or more trees in any combination, you get a 15% discount. Unfortunately the website engine I’m using can’t calculate this automatically, so send me an inquiry telling me exactly what you want. Alternatively, just create the order using single trees, entering 90% of the number you want of each size and I’ll add the extras for you. Don’t forget to add any other desired products as 100 trees will get you over the threshold for free shipping on your entire order.
Q: Can I order trees in different colors?
A: Yes. I create these trees in a variety of subtly different shades and include a random mix in each batch (mostly Scenic Express “conifer green” with smaller quantities of others colors mixed in). If you would like trees of a specific shade (or even a few brown “dead” trees), let me know and I’ll create some next time I assemble a batch.
Q: Your trees don’t look quite the same as those I see in my area. Can I special-order?
A: Yes. Many different species of conifer can be accurately represented using these same construction methods. Those you see in the pictures are fairly generic to cover the widest possible market. A different branch structure; trimming to a different shape; or using a different blend of foliage material can make a huge difference. If you want something more specific, send me some photos. I’ll be glad to take a look. If you plan on ordering a fair number of trees, I’ll be building them specifically for your order anyway. Most likely, the customization won’t affect the price.
Q: How many trees do you keep in stock? What if I want more than you have on hand?
A: I typically only keep a couple hundred trees in stock, so if you want a lot of trees, order them early. For the most part, I make everything to order.
Q: Do you really make all the trees yourself? Really?
A: Yes I do. I want you to be happy with your purchase and I don’t want to trust the quality of the products to an employee. If the volume of orders gets out of hand, I may have to train someone, but at the moment I do it all myself.
Q: So, what’s the deal with the free upgrade on small easy-plant trees? How many small trees can I upgrade for each larger tree ordered?
A: Even if you only order one medium easy-plant tree, you can upgrade as many small trees as you want to. Seriously though, you’ll probably want several larger trees. Even on an N-scale layout, a good mix would probably be about 30-40 medium trees out of every 100 planted.
Q: How long is the “limited time” offer with the easy-plant trees good for?
A: At least until I’ve sold those I have on hand but I haven’t really decided yet. If it proves popular, I might even make it permanent.
Q: Can I see an example of a layout featuring your trees?
A: Yes. Many of the photos on this website were taken on a large project layout I’ve been working on in conjunction with another professional builder. In addition, I’ve posted numerous videos of this layout on my you-tube channel mpeterll.
Q: Can I mix and match different but similar turnouts and still quality for the free one?
A: Sorry, but no. In order to speed the process, I have to mass-produce a lot of identical parts in advance. Straight, curved, and wye turnouts require most of the equivalent parts to be different sizes, even if the crossing angle is the same.
Q: If I want thirteen turnouts the same, but I want some complete and some as skeletons, can I still qualify for the free one?
A: Yes, but the free one will be a skeleton turnout if any of the other 12 are.
Q: What if I want a lot of turnouts? Can I qualify for multiple free ones, or is it only one per order?
A: There is no limit. For example, if you buy a dozen #6 and a dozen #7, you’ll qualify for one free one of each size. If you buy 60 the same, you’ll get 5 free. For a large and complex order, I’d suggest sending me a message detailing your requirements and I’ll process your order manually to avoid any confusion.
Q: How do I get my free turnout? I’ve entered 13 turnouts and the web-site wants to charge me for all of them.
A: Unfortunately, the web-site engine doesn’t handle bulk discounts properly. Just order 12 the same and I will include the extra one when I build them for you. Alternatively, you can send me a message detailing your requirements and I’ll process your order manually.
Q: Does the “buy twelve, get one free” also apply to slip switches?
A: When I first made the offer, I wasn’t expecting anyone to want that many slip switches for their layout, although I don’t see why the special offer shouldn’t apply. Thirteen slip switches is a major project however, so I’d suggest sending me a message first to check my schedule. Remember that they must all be the same crossing angle and rail size to quality, although I’m happy to do a mixed batch with some single and some double.
Q: Do you ship internationally?
A: Yes I will happily ship outside of the US. I have shipped to several other countries in the past. If you would like an international shipping quote, please tell me exactly what you want and where you live, and I’ll get you a price as soon as possible.
Q: I don’t see any shipping information. How much do you charge?
A: Orders of $150.00 or more ship free within the USA. For smaller domestic orders, I charge a flat rate of $10.00 towards shipping and handling.
Q: Why is the shipping charge so high when there was only $4.50 postage on my package?
A: In common with many other suppliers, I charge a flat rate for shipping and handling of small orders and offer free shipping on the large ones. This is easier than trying to calculate the cost of each package separately. Furthermore, the actual postage is only a small part of the shipping cost. For each order received, I have to purchase packaging materials, assemble the order, wrap it, print out a mailing label, drive into town, find parking, walk two blocks to the post office, stand in line, walk back to my vehicle, drive home, and then keep track of the package in case of delivery problems. In most cases, postage is much higher – sometimes $50 or more – yet I never charge more than $10 for shipping within the USA. All things considered, I don’t think my shipping charges are high.
Q: Sometimes you say “we”. Sometimes you say “I”. Which is it?
A: When talking about a business or service-provider of any kind, it is normal to use plural pronouns, so I have done this. For the most part, I work alone. Your project will not be subcontracted to a third party without your prior consent. You can be assured that you will get the same craftsmanship as you see on this website.
Q: It looks like all your pictures were taken on just a few layouts. Why should I hire you over a more established company with dozens of layouts behind them?
A: An excellent question! Even a small model railroad takes a lot of hours to build. If a layout-builder has constructed many layouts, he hasn’t done it alone. Instead, he must sub-contract much of the work to lesser talents, often minimum-wage employees who may care less about the results than they do about their own paychecks. As a lone wolf I do it all, so the quality of craftsmanship you see here is what you can expect to receive if you hire me.
Q: How can a solo builder offer so many services when they all require so much time?
A: I have a very small customer-base – often only one customer at a time. This permits a reasonable turn-around time for most projects. Projects are prioritized in the order they are accepted, so you will not find your project getting pushed to the back of an ever-growing queue.
Q: Some of the pictures on your web-site look a lot like those I’ve seen elsewhere. What gives?
A: I sometimes hire myself out as a subcontractor to another professional layout builder. If I build a scene on another builder’s project layout, I may put up a picture of it here while the primary layout builder has the same photo on his web-site. Both locations are legitimate. If you are in the market for some custom work, it is good that you are looking around at multiple providers. I hope you find the one that is the best fit for your ideals.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: I generally work on a base figure of $50 per hour for custom work. In most cases, this will be calculated using the actual time invested in your project. In others, a flat rate can be given in advance, based on my estimate of how long a project will take.
Q: Another builder quoted a lower price than you for the same project, and his work comes with a guarantee of “museum quality”. Will you price match?
A: Firstly, I’m glad that you are taking the trouble to compare multiple builders for your project, but in most cases I will have to decline a request to match a competitor’s price. Although some people may indeed undervalue their time while still doing good work, a significantly lower price is often a warning that something is not right. Some people will deliberately low-ball their initial estimate in an underhanded attempt to get a job when they have no expectation of being able to deliver the promised result for that price. When comparing prices, check out exactly what is being provided, ask to see photos of similar projects they have done, and don’t be sucked in by misleading phrases like “museum quality” – frankly, many museum models are sub-par in terms of quality.
Q: What if I don’t like the layout you’ve designed for me?
A: If you have been honest with yourself during the initial discussion about what is important to you, the layout I design should be pretty close. Even so, there will probably be areas that you would like to change. I will make minor changes at no additional charge, up to 10% of the hours you initially paid for. In most cases, this should be enough to give you the layout you want. After this, if you still want additional changes, these will be charged for. At any time, you may call a design “done”, and I will send you the 3pi file to use or modify as you see fit.
Q: You mentioned a full-sized track template for layout designs. Is this included?
A: No. I don’t have the hardware to produce it, but I know someone who provides this service. Not everyone will want it so I don’t add it into the base price. I can order it for you but there is an extra charge for it.
Q: Can I take a track plan you draw for me and show it to another professional builder?
A: Yes, you can take it to as many other builders as you like. You will be buying my time to create the plan for you and the finished plan is yours to use as you see fit. A professionally-built railroad is a major undertaking, so you need to be happy that you are hiring the right professional for you. There is certainly no implied or expressed obligation to have me build the layout for you, as much as I would like the opportunity to do so.
Q: You mentioned discounting your building services by the amount I paid for the design. How does this work?
A: When you hire me to build a layout that I have designed for you, I will take the full amount you paid me for the design, and deduct it from my final invoice. You don’t even have to hire me immediately; you can come back years later and I will still honor the discount (provided of course that I am still building layouts professionally). If you only hire me for a portion of the build process, I will deduct a portion of the design costs as follows:
Benchwork only – 30%
Benchwork and track – 60%
Benchwork, track and scenery – 100%