Sunday, July 31, 2005

Refinished 1910 on eBay

Oh Sweet Ghost of JLC, my bid finger is itchy!

This gorgeous refurb is hanging out on eBay right now for $599. I know it is from another TCA member that is a decent guy, no question about that.

Please dear readers, talk me out of angering my wife for another month. I don't have two nickles to rub together and I need another train like a hole in the head!

But damn, this is a gorgeous train and they just don't come along very often. I could see this pulling a couple of 10 series freights around my layout.

Any thoughts?


Friday, July 29, 2005

For Sale - CTT's and Trains Mags

Before I chucked these out on eBay for a friend of mine, I thought I would give someone here a shot at making an offer - there's 20 copies of trains magazine from different years (mostly 70's I think) and 46 Classic Toy Trains. Mostly miscellaneous from the 90's and 2000 and beyond. These are great reference materials and shipping is free. My buddy also has TCA Quarterlys from the 70's, 80's, 90's and 2k. Make him an offer, he's a good guy and he will ship it to you for free. Drop me an email if you are interested. Just grabbing the Chuck Brasher issue of CTT is a heck of an acquisition!


Beyond Rare 5 - Ives Paper

Check out the Ives laughing boy on the corner of the literature. Makes me wish someone had saved a couple more blank sheets of this stationery. It is gorgeous up close. It's like finding one of those rare stamps with an upside down airplane on it.

By the way, please let me know if the pics and fonts are not formatting properly on the blog (on your computer screen). This Blog template has been really a pain to use. Matt and I (more Matt than me) will be changing it when he gets back from the Midwest.


Beyond Rare 4 - Ives Paper

Here is a page from the Ives Factory Manifest. This is little page gives you an idea of what it took to make toys in the early part of the 20th Century.

A Power Press, squaring shear, surface grinder, rivet spinner. The list is page after page of stuff to make trains. Quite a few pages talk about the bill of materials for certain toys and trains. This thing is amazing.

The last 25 pages are about Ives' financial situation in 1927. Again, I have never seen documentation like this, I am not sure even Louis Hertz or any TCA Member had access to this level of detail.

Apparently the Ives Corporation was not run by the seat of anyone's pants because after you eyeball this, they had their act together even by today's standards. This says something else too. It means that their great products didn't just happen because the Ives family liked kids and toys. Or that Ives perished because of a few marketing mis-steps. Or that Josh and Crew made their lives miserable and drove them completely out of business(he did make them miserable and I think his company might be paying for it now (karma is a funny thing in business)).

This business was a machine. I just had a few minutes to check out the financial stuff. I do have a degree in Economics from a decent university, so I know my way around one or two fiancial statements (although I promised my Dean of Economics that I would never actually be an economist, which I am not).

Frankly, I have seen worse balance sheets. Their assets were substantial. Their liabilities were not as onerous as one would believe. Perhaps the key stakeholders just decided to cash out at the right time? It's hard to say from five minutes with the document however I guarantee that a good amount of time with a seriuos finance guy could yield a revelation or two.

Current toy train companies could definitely could learn something from the Ives Company's business story. Isn't it amazing how history keeps repeating itself? Competition, litigation, destruction, re-birth and so on.

I don't have any real revelations from the literature. And that isn't because there aren't any there. It's because I would need about two weeks to actually read everything and digest it adequately. The owner doesn't really want to loan it to me (I didn't ask). It's a priceless document, validating some things, probably opening up a raft of new questions on others. Hopefully some experts on Ives will come forward at some point and extract some revelations from this.

Let's just be clear: this document is an inventory and forensic financial analysis of the Ives Company in 1927 that was submitted to a bank in Bridgeport in 1928. You couldn't ask for a more detailed analysis of the company and its' contents. It's a priceless snapshot in time.

PS Won't be on eBay anytime soon.

Ask any questions you like and I will pose them to the owner.

Who'd of thought; our hobby has great toys and artifacts from the past that rear up and kick some mystery right at your front door.

I'll try to keep up with any revelations the document creates.


Beyond Rare 3 - Ives Paper

Here is another letter that was enclosed in the folder. There are probably 90 to 130 pages of items as cataloged in the Ives Factory. Inventory, parts, machines, everything needed to make toy trains in 1927.

Copy this to your HD and blow it up on your screen. The only analogy for collectors is like looking at the wreck of the Titanic.


Beyond Rare 2 - Ives Paper

Ok, there is an old bound folder with a light bond paper inside. This is where it gets really interesting.

This is to the First National Bank in Bridgeport from Ives. It is a complete manifest of everything in the Ives Factory as they went into Bankruptcy.

It was saved by a bank employee and stored for many years.

Now, I can't quite articulate how interesting this is or how important it is for our hobby. I only got a few minutes to look at it and take some pictures. I didn't know such things existed. I assumed that most of these kinds of things are destroyed at the end of seven years. I am glad this one wasn't though. Check out the next post.


Beyond Rare - Ives Paper

I can't stand the word "rare". It gets butchered in collecting, usually by people that aren't collectors that are looking to squeeze very dollar out of an item for sale.

But this is a bona fide rare item. The owner prefers to remain private for a little while.

This is collectible paper. Paper is a fickle thing. It can prove or disprove theories collectors have coveted for years or even decades. Catalogs, especially the one's that were given to dealers are always highly valued.

There are internal Lionel memos, stock certificates (I have one or two) but very little from the early years. Heck, even early TCA and Standard Gauge Association literature is interesting, it captures a spirit that is just plain not there today.

Ok, enough of yesteryear, what the heck is that thing!
It's a cover letter from CR Johnson, President of The Ives Manufacturing Corp.. You know, the guy that replaced Harry Ives and ran Ives. It looks brand new, like it was typed yesterday. Pretty amazing being that it was from July 6, 1928. It was locked down in a bank vault and was saved by an employee that recognized an important part of history. It says some gobbleygook about a deposit slip. It's what else is in the folder with it that gives the tipoff. Still a positively cool piece of letterhead.

Read the next post.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

JAD Hiawatha

A nice clear side shot of the Hiawatha. Do the lines on ANY loco get cleaner than that?


PS I am still anxious to see one of those giant McCoy collections. I know a few of you out there have 'em! Send some pics and I promise they will get posted (as well as any writing you send as well).

Bruce's Control Panel

Bruce Sent me this really cool picture of his control panel. No TMCC or DCS for him! One Lionel V driving the whole show.

I gotta tell ya, I think the old way is cooler, the new way (a remote) is only slightly more convenient. Maybe there's something inbetween? Bruce, you realize that this control panel is too cool to ever fool with! MPosted by Picasa

Interview - John A Daniel

Great men make great trains. That's the first thing that enters your mind when you spend some time speaking with John A Daniel. He's sincere, honest and an all around great guy. One of his Hiawatha's is pictured right. JAD made trains through much of the mid and early 70's. It's designs were unique and outstanding. One thing about JAD Trains; when you see them, you want to play with them and you wish you had more. They are toys that really capture the spirit of standard gauge.

I wanted to talk to the man that started and built some great toys.

I asked him a couple of questions today and I heard some suprising answers:

My questions are preceded by a dash -

- Why did you start making Standard Gauge (JAD)?

I started making standard gauge for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is because I wanted to see what standard gauge would have looked like had Lionel continued on the path of making it after the 30's. I took trains that I thought would be consistent with what Lionel would have chosen and made them. Thus the GG1, Hiawatha and a few 20th Century Limiteds and M10000's.

- Wow! That's one heck of a lineup. Did they sell well?

Yes, they sold well, I couldn't put them together fast enough. The GG1 and Hiawatha sold about 350 to 400 sets. The 20th Century Limited and M10000 sold about 15 sets.

- Did people not want the M10000 and 20th Century?

No, not at all, they were just hard to build. I guess you could call them rare.

- I have never seen the 20th Century Set. Actually, I did see one on eBay a few weeks ago. I think it went for around $1200.

That much!

- Yes but it didn't have an engine.

I actually made an engine with that set. It was a Hiawatha painted a nice light grey with a red stripe.

- That had to look amazing.

Yes, the set (with the red streamlined cars and the Grey Hiawatha) looked gorgeous. Like I said, I only made about 15.

- So there are some rare JAD sets?

Yes, I'd have to say the M10000 and Century sets are rare due to the low production. I also made some Hiawatha's in different color schemes. I made some all white one's and all black one's. They really were something to see.

- I would love to just see a complete 20th Century Limited Set!

Me too!

- So what are you up to now? Are you considering any further train manufacture?

Nah, I got out of the trains because it was so labor intensive. To put out a really top quality product is a tremendous amount of work. I had to bend much of the sheet metal in our shop (the old Casablanca Fan Co building). I also put 5 coats of paint on every train that left here. Multiply that times 300 sets. Well, you get the idea.

I am also a big collector of just about everything. I have been featured twice on The Incurable Collector. I wish they still had that show on the air.

- Me too, it was one of my favorites. I was really not happy when A&E took it off. I wrote in several times and they told me it didn't have any ratings and that they were trying to shorten it to a half hour show. All the information on the show could not be presented in that format. It was also on A&E, they show some really outlandish things on A&E (biographies of Marilyn Monroe, etc.) Somehow the Incurable Collector didn't have the same following.

I think it just needed to be in a venue that had more people. Almost like an ABC, CBS or even HGTV.

- What else do you collect?

I collect trains (obviously), Toys, Antique Antique Toy Automatons, African Tribal Art. I have about 11 to 13 running collections. I just built a new building to hold more of my collections.

- Holy Moly! That's tremendous! Come on, are you sure you don't want to put together anymore trains?

It just takes too much out of me. I love doing it and I loved the trains we produced but it is just too much in too little time.

- What's your favorite train ever produced?

My favorite trains are from Dorfan!

- Like the 1134?

No, I like Crocodiles. I have 5 T-Repro Croc's in the box. You ever see the original T-Repro and Dorfan advertising? That was my set (an original Dorfan Croc and cars). Norm Thomas used my original Dorfan set to advertise in the TCA Quarterly, he didn't have the demo or production units yet from his supplier.

The Croc set runs like a dream. It's fun to watch as well, the color and the quality of the originals is just outstanding.

- I miss Norm Thomas, I really enjoyed his catalogs and I have quite a few of his products.

Yes, I have almost all of Norm's stuff. T-Repro's stuff was top notch. I have tons of it, all boxed and waiting to see my layout.

- You were smart, I wish I had the cash to buy more of it when he was selling it.

Well, Buddy L, Lionel and everyone probably didn't help the guy out. Competing by litigating never works. The guy made great stuff. I knew that when I was looking at it. I even tend to like the terra cotta and green colors better than the late red and ivory.

- I have been working on some of your GG1's. They can get kind of finicky as they get older.

They were made to be taken apart and taken care of. The motor's need to be oiled and the sides can detoriorate given the right conditions. As with most trains, they need TLC. Remember they are all old enough to drink (over 26 years old).

- It seems like fewer and fewer standard gauge trains are getting made. Yet there are still many, many people that are interested in them. If auctions are any indication, I have never seen a standard gauge train left on a table at an auction. Even the unusual stuff at shows goes very quick. Do you think more manufacturers will enter the market.

- Well, that's kind of the way it has always been. It's unlikely more folks will start building. The issue is labor. Building standard gauge, specifically great product is an art form. And it is labor intensive. It is hard work for anyone. And if you aren't making bags of cash, it is hard to justify all the time. But the trains are great!

- Couldn't agree more John. You are everything I thought you would be. Great men, make great trains. Many thanks for your time!

PS John had also mentioned that JAD did a "Black Diamond" version of a GG1 with cars (black sides, red top). He indicated that this set was pretty rare as well, under 25 were made.

Disney Monorail

You all know that I really enjoy the Disney Monorail. If for no other reason, it is just very comfortable and it rolls around a very fun place. No, I am not a schill for Disney but I saw this and it caught my eye. It's an O Gauge replica of the Disney Monorail. IT IS VERY NICE. At $299, it ain't exactly cheap but I've paid more and received less (my last two visits to the dentist alone were 500 bucks).

Again, imagine how wild this would be in a standard gauge operating flavor. Actually, the O gauge version of this would actually be in scale for a standard gauge layout. I don't think this is operating though.

I'm just trying to figure out where I could fit this thing on my desk, I already have a Mickey Mouse Lamp, Mickey Mouse Clock and at least three standard gauge freight cars on top of several months of bills. Funny thing about bills, I seem to get the same bill 2 or 3 times from the same company in one month. I couldn't figure out why I was shredding so many of these things. They make good bedding for the standard gauge on my desk though.....


Kuehnle Collection

Here's a link to the Bertoia Auctions train auction coming up. Even with minimum trains, it looks like this will be one heck of great auction. Hopefully the prices won't leap into the stratosphere.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

C&F Mining Train Close Up

How amazing is this little train? This old geezer is 100 and still runs! I'll take 3 in standard gauge and 2 in O gauge please. I'd like to start pulling some coal and precious gems out of that Lionel Mountain over there (you know, the one with the little house on it). My mining train won'tdisturb the inhabitants. Everyone is nuts for Lionel 2 7/8 but I think this little guy has some serious character. Any thoughts?


C&F Mining Train

Since we are on the subject of the elusive mining train, Mark Tobias sent me some very nice pics of the C&F Train that should go on auction on September 10, 2005 (at NETTE). This layout is really nice for a whole bunch of reasons. I defy anyone to take any 10 year old boy to see that layout being run with some lightbulbs and not get 1001 questions as well as numerous requests to run it and watch it. I'm not 10 and I think I would react the same way.

This thing shows that old tech is amazing. The train wheezes around the track and as you can see, the C&F track and layout have enough variations to make this really interesting. This layout and the trains are just plain gorgeous.

I have seen some very nasty debate on O gauge railroading boards about subway trains (ala MTH). People were saying they are "unpopular, not important" and so on. They claimed people that have actually seen or been on subways are in the minority. Something to think about: more people ride the subway everyday (in NY, London, Paris, L.A.) than have been on steam trains in the last 25 years. Lots of folks ride the subways. "What's the point" you say?

I wonder how many kids have actutally seen a mining train? Unless you live in a coal mining town, people that have seen mining trains are probably the minority in the train world (unless you frequent Knotts Berry Farm or are an actual miner). Yet someone in 1905 (this is one of our country's oldest operating layouts) thought this would be a hit.

But who wouldn't love to have an amazing set like this? Just the track plan, forgetting for a minute about the trains, opens up a ton of great imaginary scenes and ideas.

100 years later, this thing isn't a hit, it's a blockbuster!


1979 TCA Quarterly - 25th Anniversary Cont.2

A C&F Mining train in standard gauge. Oh Sweet Mother of Abraham Lincoln! SOMEONE HAS GOT TO MAKE THIS THING! I wonder if this guy is still building things or if he has one on his mantle he'll sell me.

Check out that GG1 from Willard Forney! It pulls 16 cars! I think I saw one on eBay a couple of weeks ago going for a little over $1k. That's more than I would want to start for the bidding but wow! That thing is incredible.

Even the 1979 Christmas Trolley is something unusual.

Any thoughts on new standard gauge from 2005? It blows me away that 1979 was a better year for standard gauge than 2005!

By the way, there is also (yes, another standard gauge article) in this issue on the McCoy's. Let me know if you would like me to scan it in and post it.

The more I see this stuff the more I want a machine shop in my house. Unfortunately my little house is already overloaded with stuff. Who has a machine shop that wants to build things and have people buy them (that doesn't require a customs search after the stuff is built)?!?!?

M Posted by Picasa

PS The best way to view these pics is to click on them (that goes to the original), click on the original and drag it to your hard drive. Double click on the file that is now on your HD; you can explode it and it is much easier to read.

1979 TCA Quarterly - 25th Anniversary Cont.

More amazing stuff from a decade we tend to ridicule. These pictures are O gauge but the descriptions are still from the front page.

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1979 TCA Quarterly - 25th Anniversary

I was eyeballing an old TCA Quarterly. Bar none, these are probably some of the best reference materials and all around information on standard gauge. Period. When I was a newbie to collecting standard gauge, I saw my first CTT and thought I died and went to heaven. CTT is definitely not heaven any more. It's more like a nice field with a decent breeze.

1979 was a great year for standard gauge. Check out this article by none other than our retired editor, Bruce Manson. Up top is the rarely photographed Hudson 600E. Next is the JAD GG1 and below that is a nice boxcab by Charlie Wood.

I'll try to enlarge some of these pics using Photoshop. Check out the rest of the article above as well.

I haven't seen amazing standard gauge like this, at least in one year. Ok, there's Joe's Tube Train and Lionel's Hiawatha and Vandy (past tense for those). But nothing like this in one year.

I was suprised by the Charlie Wood item. I have seen that go on eBay and in auction for diddly. That's a nice piece! Here's the thing, it ocurred to me that these could be considered antiques! Yes, I remember 1979 quite well but all of these items are at least 26 years old.

So they may not be as valuable as Napoleon's end table or something like that, but these things are older than some people I work with (fortunately I don't have to work "for").

Check out the rest of the article....

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Monday, July 25, 2005

MTH Article in CTT This Month (July 2005)

Good article in this month's CTT on Mike Wolf. The link is posted above. He doesn't go into any detail on future standard gauge plans but this is definitely not a guy that's on the ropes.

I hope he does well. He is driving much of this hobby now, hopefully he will retain that spirit of fun and innovation. Actually, if he just sticks with quality I'll be happy.

Check it out, his take on some of the changes the TCA needs to make was kind of interesting.


The New Lionel Catalog

Just saw the new Lionel Catalog. It's funny, when I was a kid I really did think this was what the Lionel Factory looked like. Having seen the Gilbert factory up close, I think this really isn't far from what they really did look like (at least Gilbert).

Lionel's catalog is more for baby boomer collectors than anything else. Zero standard gauge. Not much up the way of accessories (that I liked at least). No more power stations or metal bridges (Hellgate). All really expensive toys that are made somewhere else. I do like the toys Lionel produced in the past. I sure do hope some of the company pictured at the right catches the innovation bug and invents something I would actually buy. Suffice to say, the catalog was depressing.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Another eBay Ass....

Ok, so I'm bidding on this Blue 390E and the guy says it's a Lionel Classic. He has the box and the condition looks nice. I figured I missed one of these in the last Ralston Auction and I'd love to have a 390E in Comet Colors....

Since I've about had my fill of being shafted on eBay, I decided to take a second look at the pics after I bid. There on the bottom of the tender and engine are refurb stickers. This thing has been painted after the fact. I spoke to a few buddy's of mine and they told me Lionel only cataloged the 390E in black but there were a few folks that repainted them. Whenever a description and the items don't match up, I've always had problems, so I retracted my bid. Here's the note I got from the guy:

"You have to many negatives and to many bid retractions. Please do not bid on my auctions again. You are a disgrace to eBay."

I have three negatives, they were on things that were hotly contested by me. I am a strong believer in the old adage of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". But the above message served absolutely zero purpose and frankly, ticked me off. Here's my response:

"Fascinating message. Don't worry, I won't bid on diddly. By the way, if you are a TCA member or ever think about joining, here is something to consider; your auction says nothing about the loco being repainted or containing repro parts, yet you have refurb stickers on the bottom of the engine.

Upon closer examination, a call to a few expert collectors and Lionel, your loco is a repaint, a fake and is not remotely original. The part # on the side of the box does not match the contents, the part # is a BLACK 390-E engine cataloged in 1990. There is a discrepancy between your engine and the original, which for any collector is a big deal because it takes the worth of your loco from $600 down to about $250. So now who is the disgrace? I cancelled my bid because your description and the reality don't jibe. Don't believe me? Go pick up the phone and call Lionel and ask them how many Blue Comet 390E's were cataloged and built by Mike's Train House. That would be zero. By the way, the buyer (especially another TCA member) will be getting a note from me outlining my findings as well. Thanks for the note."

I dropped a note to the other bidders, not something I would normally do but in this case, being a TCA member and spotting a clear forgery being represented as something else, I felt as though I had a responsibility to mention something, especially with someone that clearly understands very little about collectors and how we work....

Any thoughts? How many of you have had to deal with an eBay ass? I'm done, unless it's something spectacular, I just can't handle eBay any more. One of the things I like about Train Shows and auctions is that once it's done, it's done. No emails and a definite limit on how much nonsense can be transacted.

As a postscript, the seller sent me back a message stating that they were selling trains for someone else and had to take the "other people" that gave them the train to sell on eBay at their word. Funny, I missed that part of the description. You know, the part where you said you don't actually own the item and are just spewing garbage out to up the sale. There are reputable third party sellers on eBay. I have used them for purchases and sales. They always clearly define who they are and what they are doing beforehand.

By the way, the reason I use the above pic is that next time, I am going to look for those 32 points before I hit that bid button...


On Transformers....

My ZW is getting a little "cranky". I'm not sure whether it is the track (a possible short) or the juice that I am trying to pull from it. Running a standard and O gauge set simultaneously used to be a breeze for it and now I can definitely see the old ZW getting sluggish.

  • How many of you use classic prewar power?
  • How many use new power (and not necessarily command & control)?
  • Which is the most fun to operate (or are they both fun?
  • How safe is standard prewar power?

I have a KW around somewhere and I know I have a Rheostat as well.

Hey, speaking of interesting power: you've all seen that cool layout on the McComas Videos that Fritz Von Tagen has? You know, the Carlisle and Finch layout that is controlled with little light bulbs? I have it on good authority that it is going up for auction in the next few months at New England Toy Train Exchange. My chances of getting it are roughly equal to winning Powerball in New York and New Jersey simultaneously but even if there is a chance to see it, I am definitely going.

At any rate, maybe it's just the ZW and track's way of telling me they are both very tired of being on the floor (it will have been 7 years next month).


Charging for the site, transformers, etc.

Tom brought up a good point in one of the posts and I thought I should make a quick comment. I do this because I love toy trains, seriously enjoy seeing other people's accomplishments (layouts, scratch building, trains, etc.) and thought all of the internet sites that focused on toy trains were "lacking". In all probability, I will never charge anyone to get access to the site or content.

I will accept advertising. Hold on, don't go nuts. Just finish reading. I will accept advertising from anyone that has anything to do with standard gauge, prewar tinplate, 2 7/8, Buddy L, etc.. It must have something to do with the above because it will interest me and the people that read this BLOG. Here's how it will work: you can email me to get started. I will give you one free year (yes, year) of advertising. You'll get a little spot on the lower right hand side of the blog. You can't have the main area, it's for articles and standard gauge.

You have to get me fresh information (and it can't have anything to do with Postwar stuff or sales on the latest K-Line High Cube boxcars) every month. That's right, ya gotta keep it fresh. It can be sales in your hobby store or on your website, your train show, your trains for sale, your newest tinplate creations, cool tinplate books and video; as long as it has some bearing on the hobby and some interest to the readers of the blog. Like I said, if you think you are going to blitz my readers with the latest PS2 or TMCC Postwar remakes, it won't happen. No guarantees, I absolutely will not guarantee web traffic or any sales because of the advertising.

After July 2006, it's 30 bucks a month. Still extremely reasonable.

I do this because I want to see where and who is selling standard gauge as well as attract them to our site and get them to start addressing us. We are a segment of the market, albeit a small one. Even when you buy beat up engines and cars and refurb them, once you add up the track and all of the other stuff we have to buy (paint, books, lumber, etc.) it adds up really, really fast.

By the way, it is free to contribute to the blog, forever!! Send more pics and stories!

MPosted by Picasa

Friday, July 22, 2005

Last Brass Monster

Here's the last pic! Very cool toy. I wonder how many of these were made? This definitely does not look scratchbuilt....

More Brass Monster

A great pic of the Brass Monster. This thing is really a cool find, it is something different.

What's really interesting about standard gauge is how many people from the end of official Lionel standard gauge (the 30's) through now have brought out custom stuff. It's one of the things that attracts me to it. All trains lend themselves to being a sort of clay but I think standard gauge is one of the more interesting clay types.
It's large but not overbearing and it maintains a toy like quality. Although there is no way I'd let my kids run this toy around any track. I wonder what this thing looks like when it moves? Heck, this thing must make one racket when it moves around a track!


Brass Monster

Stephen sent me a pic of something unusual. This is a standard gauge, all brass, very detailed engine. Made in Japan.

Any ideas on who made it? Who done it (whodunnit)? More pics coming up. Stephen wants some cars for it. I'd be curious to see what they would look like.

Drop a note on the board if you know anything!


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Beer Train Movie

Pretty cool, huh? My buddy Matt finally figured out how to get Quicktime movies up on the blog! Thanks Matt!

The Blog has been around a year so, kind of like a layout, it's time to make some changes. The first change you will notice is that you are now viewing the log on my train room floor. Yep, that's my floor as a background. I thought it would be appropriate because that's were most trains started out in the first place. Getting played with on the floor.

The movie above is Quicktime. That means:

1) If you want to view it you have to go to and download and install Quicktime 7.

2) You will need a computer that is fairly recent (within the last 4 or 5 years) with a decent amount of ram.

3) You will need a reasonably fast connection.

My bud Matt is going to help me make some changes to the Blog. We were brainstorming today and I think we are going to change the coloring of the blog to match a Lionel catalog from the 30's a litte more closely. Same with the styling.

Now that we know how to put up the movies, quite a few more are on the way. I have to get some server space but that shouldn't be too hard.

Now if I could just get my hands on that Dehanes F3 set....


PS By the way, the trains in the movie are an MTH 384 with some beer boxcars. At the end is a a Harley Boxcar. The movies will get much clearer, espcially as I fiddle with some of the Apple Movie stuff. The little O Gauge pepper zipping around is a %100 original 259E with a couple of 600 series passenger cars. Who says O gauge is for high railers?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

3243 Plus Mike's Box's

Yes, I am a slob. It's largely due to the constantly changing nature of where I store my trains and stuff. I'm not a box-saver, at least of MTH. Those went right from there into the dumpster (the boxes, never the trains).

By the way, don't read too much into the MTH remote, I still like controlling trains with conventional means....

This 3243 runs very, very smooth. Like all engines with front and rear trucks though, it can be very picky about track and frogs on switches. Some engines and sets of cars just aren't as finicky as others. On a scale of 1 to 10 I'd have to say this set is about a 4 (10 being most finicky). I could never figure out why old timers in the TCA were always so irritated with irregular flange sizes on wheels. Now I know.

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3243 Waiting for clearance again....

It's past crowded in my train room. At what point do I need to go Amish on my house and build an addition? Posted by Picasa

Wallpaper or no?

Any thoughts on the wallpaper we put up on the site? It's a little homage to Jim Cohen - it's a pair of his steeple cabs and one of his 1764's. I know it's hard to tell but I do think they always look nice and add a little class.

I have quite a few pics I am getting ready to post (including one of my new standard gauge "beer" train). Anyone else have any new standard gauge they picked up this summer? Come on, send me some pictures!


Monday, July 11, 2005

3243 Face Off!

I'd love to think of what would have been like if Ives had survived... These 3243's are a really nice change from the old 402 and 408E.

Ok, so let me speculate for a few minutes:

Ives would have made a ton of prewar Trains (more than they did), probably in the ideal "Ives" styling that was uniquely Ives. Probably more locomotives.... A really nice New York City Interurban and Trolleys. Perhaps some Steeple Cabs?

Postwar Ives would have been different. Would they have merged with Flyer to create more glorious American Flyer/Ives Postwar Classics? My guess is that they would have focused on a few innovations, probably operating items like working O gauge accessories.

If they were around today, what would they be like? Still producing great toys like Marklin and LGB or reproducing stuff from the great days of Lionel yesteryear? There's a whole bunch of scenarios.

What if they had stuck to their precision clock making train roots? My experience with clock made trains is that they run smooth and the people that built them understood precision. I think it would have been interesting to see them live intact without ridiculous acquisitions (see the Lionel Roy Cohn acquisition or the current Wellspring debacle for futher info).

I always heard Edward Ives wasn't a terribly friendly fellow but the marketing and direction of the company was always focused on quality and fun toys. Toss in some serious precision and quality control and you basically don't have any company that exists today. Somehow I don't see Ives outsourcing their phone support to Bangalore.

Here's something to think about: Philip Morris (now called Altria) has been around since 1847 and Kraft Foods has been around since 1903. Animal Crackers (from National Biscuit) have essentially been the same since 1898. Coke isn't a whole heck of a lot different. The point is, even with some serious acquisitions, a couple of companies have still managed to maintain and grow their brand identities. Some of them substnatially.

Ok, there aint no stoppin progress, I get that. But some of the ideals Ives emobodied we need right now. Corporate greed seems to be the norm these days and a truly innovative product that has amazing quality can be elusive.

Here are some things I would like to see Ives 2006 produce:

1) Signals and lights (street and otherwise) from days long gone.
2) Ives Distant Control - a new Ives stylized Transformer. An integrated Ives system for powering trains, lights and accessories. Modular with prewar styling. Made in America.
3) Ives Locomotives. O Gauge and Wide Gauge. Lots of brass and steel (instead of Iron).
4) Toys from the past - Dorfan, Voltamp and Howard. Ives could make these, preferably in standard gauge or wide gauge. Stations, homes and little buildings. Amazing bridges and spans.

Just a few ideas. Ok, I'm nuts but it is something I think about. I know, tons of people that are out there saying I am insane, just spend $20k at an auction on original stuff. Still, the current attempts at Ives are a darn good start and I like 'em (MEW, MTH, etc.).

I just put together a Lego "Wolverine" for one of my kids. All plastic and two of the parts incorrectly formed. My kid's whole room is full of video games that my son has scratched and they barely work. I know at least a dozen parents that have spent over a thousand bucks on video games and the systems that go along with them. I have two video game systems and cartridges sitting in storage.

Am I really nuts? Posted by Picasa

Sepia and Ives

Just goofing around with Photoshop and a bottleneck on my pike! The trains are backed up to New Jersey (the Ives engines get really cranky, I think they only like New England). Some better pics are on the way! Posted by Picasa

Ives Wannamaker

Some cranky passengers on an Ives Wannamaker Set are waiting for clearance. They like the paint on their car but they are not happy that it's taking so long to get to the station! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Paint Color

Stephen sent me this great link to do paint matching. I'd have to say the my MEW 3245R is a closer match to Kadet Blue than the MTH version. Click on the link above to see the palette. It may not be spot on because not all computer screens render colors the same way but it should be pretty close (or at least give you a decent idea).

I am fried from the 4th of July! I got a serious sun burn!


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Blue 3245R from MTH

Ok, so I compared this to the green MTH 3245R and it definitely is not green. The green on the 3245R from MTH is almost spot on the original.

One thing MTH did that I really liked: they included Ives and Lionel Compatible couplers with this engine. It also runs really, really smooth, even on horrible track like mine.

So could this be Kadet Blue? I have to pour through my library to see if I can get a color match going for the 3245R. I was hoping someone that has one of these could let me know beforehand.

By the way, I apologize for the goofy spacing at the top of the site. I need to fix some of the HTML. Please tolerate the mess for just a little while. I have a ton of good stuff coming. I have found vast amounts of what I would lovingly call "lost standard gauge information" in old TCA Quarterlys. I have spent a couple of bucks and grabbed all of the quarterlys from the 50's, 70's and 80's with one year of the 70's still eluding me and most of the 60's still eluding me. They won't get away for long though. These things, have a ton of info that has been more or less lost to antiquity. I am trying to figure out how to get these all put into PDF format and stored in an online vault for us to use.

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Blue 3245R

This is blue but it isn't Kadet Blue. I wonder where that nomenclature came from? Kadet as in West Point Kadet?

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Ives 3245R

Ok, so I finally picked up an MTH Ives 3245R (Left). Being that my summer finances have been diddly, I was glad to get just one.

Here's the thing: the engine on the (Right) is from Model Engineering Works. It is light Blue. The engine on the left is MTH. It is supposed to be "Kadet Blue".

If you look at Kadet Blue in the MTH catalog, it is a pretty dark Blue. This thing is almost Torquoise. It isn't that I don't like the color, I just don't think that this is Kadet Blue.

Can anyone help me out?

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