Friday, August 26, 2005

Charlie Wood Steamer (Classic Model Trains)

Here's a neat little CMT loco. I can't figure out how to get it to run. It has a big Pittman motor in it that just seems to be growling.

I don't think that this engine likes the DCS Controller very much. I just have a feeling if I wire the ZW directly to the track. The cowcatcher hits the track and sparks a ton too. We'll see, I think I can whip this into shape. It's a nice engine and the cars are quite elegant (simplicity speaks volumes)...


Richart 256

While we are talking about Richart....

Here's a beautiful 256 and cars. All built by Richart and in different colors than the originals. Honestly, I don't like the color orange on trains that much (some are ok). I always liked the 256 and 700 series cars but not the orange colors.

This is the huge value independent manufacturers (that aren't busy suing each other) give to the market place. Look how gorgeous the colors are on this. Reminds me of a President's Special in O gauge.

It's kind of funny, I'd really like to see this in standard gauge. The engine is actually almost big enough to be standard gauge.

I have to wonder if Lionel ever considered colors like this prior to WWII. They are very rich and look good against the wood floor and the accessories. Prior to WWII, I know the colors were rich but applying them could be difficult (IE all of the drips on my 390E locos). That seems to be solved with modern enamels and spray booths.

This engine has more strength than many of the postwar MTH & Lionel beasts I have. I wonder how many people will be playing with these 40 or 50 years from now?


Toonerville on eBay

A couple of folks have already dropped me emails asking me how to get their hands on a Dick Mayer Toonerville. The answer is "I don't know.". Dick is officially retiring. He's fulfilling existing obligations and orders. Even the guys helping him out are tired and want to go fishing. They are a good bunch of folks but they want to relax.

Here is my suggestion. Right now on eBay there are 4 original Toonerville's. They are ridiculously expensive. If you want an original to display on your mantle, go for it.

Richart trolley's do come up every so often on eBay. Here's a cool eBay trick that quite a few folks don't know about:

Click on "advanced search" in the upper right hand corner. Pick out your search criteria on the left and type in your desired item. Pick your category and then click "Search". After the search results come up, on the right hand side in the middle of the page, click "Add to my favorites". You should be able to figure out the rest from there.

This is one of the very best parts of eBay. You can automate searches to go out 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and look for your stuff. Want to find a 400E? Set up an advanced search. This automates the search process: after you enter in your search information eBay will email you results every day and every time you get a hit on what you are looking for. You can be extremely broad and have the search engine search all of ebay. Or just search a few categories.

It's tremendously helpful. Yes, sometimes picking through the junk bin at a show is the best way to find great stuff, all this does is look through a whole bunch of junk bins for you and fast.

See you at York!


Thursday, August 25, 2005

More Toonerville

Again, Toonerville's getting ready for some lucky owners. I believe that this is it. What you see is the last of the Toonerville's.

I am going to roll some Quicktime movies of this thing running so you all get an idea of how really interesting this thing is to watch.

I have a pictuer of Lyle Cain holding one of these on Antique Toy World. I'll scan it in.

Ok, now for my mildly psychotic tangent - this is why I really like standard gauge. The protoype for this is linked on my previous article and the model looks almost nothing like it. Who cares! I love the color, the sound, the crankyness of the train. I'm not worried about DCS or TMCC compatibility because it just doesn't matter, this thing runs with almost any power available on the planet. Some of my friend's kids can play video games until their eyes bleed but they're still riveted when I put this thing on my dirty and slightly bent track. And it runs like a top.

More on simplicity in another article. For now, imagine how amazing a whole Toonerville trainset would look.


The Last of The Toonerville's

As the story goes, Ward Kimball and Dick Mayer were sitting around one night having a couple of drinks (and getting kind of sauced) when they thought it would be amusing, entertaining, downright exhilarating having a Toonerville Trolley running around a standard gauge and O gauge track.

I read an article about it in Antique Toy World (March, 1988, Volume 18, No 3) by Ward Kimball himself. It got me kind of intrigued so I actually waited a while and bought one off of eBay.

Dick Mayer actually designed this thing with Lyle Cain! The original Toonerville's were floor trolleys and there is a rare O gauge clockwork version as well. Dick is the only guy that can make these, the four color paint and seperations alone are too hard for most train manufacturers to handle. The Trolley was actually made from a Toonerville floor trolley that was taken apart and and used as a "prototype" of sorts. It also uses a worm gear to drive the unit as well as simulate some kinetic action. There's also a fold out depot and cut out characters. All very cool in their own right.

This is probably the last time we will see this ever. Dick wants to move on with his life and relax. Building these things is extremely hard work. I know I have lamented this before but it looks like we are at the onset of a lost art. I hope we get more artists to render their imaginations into trains....


Monday, August 22, 2005

Wildwood Choo Choo

I was in Wildwood, NJ this weekend. Cool place and some very cool train collections there. I wasn't allowed to take any pics, so you'll just have to guess what a 30 foot by 40 foot prewar layout looks like.... Really, the owner wouldn't let me publish any pics. I drooled heavily though and gurgled slightly. Think lots of 42's, 1912's, 54's and a Leland Monorail to cap it off.

If you live on the West Coast or somewhere in the Midwest and have never heard of Wildwood, it is absolutely worth visiting during the summer. The beaches are terrific, the food and people watching rivals that of the Catskills (in their heyday) or NYC. They also have a killer boardwalk with some of the wierdest and coolest stuff you have ever seen.

The city of Wildwood is fairly large and next to a beautiful Victorian town called Cape May. It's about a 20 minute drive from Wildwood and is another place where standard gauge folk can get some great layout ideas. It's a neat little city that is a little touristy but certainly worth a visit (I don't do it justice).

Wildwood looks like something right out of 1951. The styling of the city hasn't changed in at least 50 years and even the new construction fits in nicely. Check out this hotel (the Starlux):

Or this really neat little ice cream store. I'd love to see this ice cream store in tinplate (that means all metal and not plastic/scale).

If you haven't spent some time on a boardwalk, it should be the mandate of everyone that plays with prewar trains to put down the soldering iron for a couple of days and get that butt out from under the train table to a place like Wildwood. Coney Island used to have a decent boardwalk as did Asbury Park and Atlantic City. Those are (for the most part) gone. AC's is still there but it is definitely a sad, sad shadow of what once was. Just remember, what competed for boys attention when all of our beloved trains were born (prior to WWII) was not a video game but Luna Park in Brooklyn or the like. Wildwood's boardwalk really isn't that much different and has a really fun little tram train you can ride the entire length of the boardwalk for 2 bucks. And they have working models of the tram in the stores.

Wildwood's boardwalk is what a boardwalk is supposed to be. Freaks walk around till wee hours of the morning and stores, shops, restaraunts and Morey's Carnival rides stretch as far as the eye can see. It isn't the current corporate owned amusement park stuff we are all used to, it is done up the old way that is raunchy and fun at the same time. Check out this site for more pics:

At any rate, here is a restaraunt in Wildwood that is very amusing and the food is plain old good.

It's called Duffers. There's an arcade, mini golf, ice cream store and restaurant all in one shot. Too much fun? Nah, but there is one thing that caught my eye in the place!
Since taking pictures in a crowded restaurant is generally frowned upon, I grabbed this as fast as I could and ran. They have a nice G Gauge train running the entire length of the restaurant. Up and through the entrance, both dining rooms and so on. They also have a high wire act and an LGB cable car strung up in the ice cream store. I felt right at home!

The summer is coming to a close faster than I would have liked. This turned out to be a great summer and I am looking forward to at least a day in York.

I was thinking I'd like to do some Standard Gauge Blog T shirts to hand out at York. Any ideas for what should be or could be on them? Let me know your thoughts and make some reservations for Wildwood next summer!


NETTE Auction is UP!

Mark and Naomi have one heck of a nice auction coming up on Sept. 10. I liked the McCoy selection and the Cascade is something really nice! They also have a ton of Classic Lionel. If you have been anxious for an original 218 dump car or 219 Crane, this auction is worth watching.

Are you going to pick up a 200 series freight for $10? Um, no. For under $250 and in excellent condition? Very likely. Keep an eye on this auction, it should be interesting (the C&F operating layout is very interesting).


Friday, August 19, 2005

More 219 Operating Motor Crane Cont....

A nice boom. Quite different than it's cousin that's un-motorized.

I'll wrap up by saying I am looking forward to more operating standard gauge freight from MTH.

While the controls could use some styling, their functionality is sound. The rest of the car does a very good job of approximating what an operating car would look like if this had been built 80 years ago.

I am anxious to see what standard gauge operators stick this behind on their pike. I am also anxious to see what this will look like in further incarnations from MTH. This isn't for everyone, especially for people on a budget that want to approximate Lionel standard gauge (from the classic period) exactly. Purists probably won't like this. I like it though, just because it is something different and because MTH had the guts to try a project that is unique.

It does have some serious imagination though, I am looking forward to hoisting some naughty flatcars out of ravines. Maybe a #6 will find its' way to the magnet if it keeps coming off the track.

If this is the kind of operating car we have to look forward to from MTH, I am really looking forward to Mike's catalog coming up in the next two weeks. Nice job to the TCA and MTH!


219 Operating Motor Crane Cont....

The paint on this thing is top notch. Also, when you crack open the case and look inside at the gearing, this is a really cool product.

I know a whined a little about the control panel but innards are all tinplate. The red light is a nice touch as well (yep, there is a little red bulb that adds a little touch of prewar firebox glow).

Like I said before, I had to get used to the colors and lettering. Took about 3 minutes. I also really liked the door that covered the control panel on the back. Again, very prewar and well done. It's all in the details baby!

219 Operating Motor Crane VI

Here's the control panel. I know this may sound a little nitpicky but I do wish the styling was a little more prewar (in the control panel).

Make no mistake, the control panel is nice but it would have been a nice touch to have little levers with little bits of red paint at the ends.

The switches themselves are nothing to write home about. I am not sure they will look so good in 70 or 80 years. Yes, I expect a piece of tinplate to last at least that long. Long after I drop dead, this thing should still be hoisting imaginary loads over a layout.

Also, one more thing; MTH labeled the controls with hand applied decals. Decals that look like they were printed on an inkjet printer. A cheap inkjet printer.

It absolutely amazes me that a company that makes such an absolutely choice piece of tinplate skimps on something silly like labeling. Maybe some paint and a stencil in the next go around?

By the way, did I say that this isn't a review? It's a first impression. Don't let me fool ya, this is a damn nice item.

More in the next article.


219 Operating Motor Crane V

Thar she blows (all unpacked). I'm not used to these colors on the 219 (nor am I used to an operating crane). Same with the font, I don't recall ever seeing it on any other standard gauge rolling stock.

Took me about 5 minutes to get used to seeing all of the pieces together. It does look nice, even formidable. I like the bright colors vs. the dark colors of a scale Bucyrus crane. But then again, standard gauge is about the colors....


The Operating 219 Magnet

Here's the 219 magnet. They say in the instructions not to let it magnetize for more than 90 seconds (or it will get ridiculously hot).

I let this happen with a 165 Crane. My son walked away and left it magnetized. I let the magnet brush against my hand.

My wife actually could hear me scream from the attic. She said that men are such babies and they don't know diddly about pain (aka child birth). I invited her to put her lips on the magnet but she declined.

Don't let the magnet overheat.


219 Operating Motor Crane IV

Well, here's the beast still slumbering in its lair. It's the usual MTH packaging. The magnetic part of the crane is packed seperately from the boom and the hook part of it.

This thing weighs a bit more than a stock Lionel crane. It has some serious heft, I'll give it that. MTH recommends oiling a couple of different parts of this and not forcing any moving parts by hand.

Ok, here comes a few more pics!


219 Operating Motor Crane III

Ok, before I unpack this thing further, one thing I have noticed is that reading the instructions really isn't optional.

There are more features on this car than on any other standard gauge car I have ever seen. I'm not talking detail (although there is alot of that as well). I am talking about stuff you can do with it. Read the instructions before you put it on the track (I know, that's a first for me too).


219 Operating Motor Crane II

The TCA should be proud of a product like this. I may even keep this MTH box. I like how clean this looks, I would wager to say we will probably be seeing some rendition of this in MTH's commercial lineup.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

219 Operating Motor Crane

It's finally here and I believe it was worth the wait. What I noticed was a couple of things after the UPS guy chucked this at my porch:

1) The box is longer than a regular boxcar, a little longer than the usual 219 crane boxes.

2) There is a massive amount of tape on the ends of this box. More than the usual. I have to believe this is MTH quality control inspecting these things as they come over the pond. That's a good thing.

3) The packaging was very professional. Some more pics coming as I unwrap this thing.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Mild Sugar Shock!

I just received the Morphy Auctions Book for their upcoming Sept. 1, 2 and 3rd auction. I went into mild sugar shock.

Check out the link above. I know, this isn't going to be especially cheap. Not much that has to do with quality ever is.

There aren't as many toy trains as I would like but that's ok. The selection is just amazing.

There's toys, ephemera, just about anything that makes the standard gauge collector's heart go pitty pat when they see an auction like this.

I was especially impressed with the Buddy L collection (some of which is seen above).

Changing the topic to something more sinister:

As you can see from the prior post on my last message, our spamming friends from the Far East have found my BLOG and posted some messages. It's actually a piece of software that goes out and looks at Google Blogs and see where it can post messages. it originated in India (yes, I am quite familiar with the product and its' purveyors).

I am going to leave it up, just so we can see why print on paper isn't dead. Some bad writing definitely gets through newsprint and in books but it gets weeded out (we hope) by the editor. Here on the internet, it's hard to combat a piece of software that could care less about the integrity of the end product (my standard gauge blog).

I'm going to leave it there. Not to punish us but to help us remember what this junk looks like. If I see it again or if anyone sees it pop up in other areas on the Blog, let me know. I will contact Google regardless and take action (not kidding) against the authors. Their get rich quick garbage has no place in our world.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ok, I screwed up!

Ok, I screwed up. Some of the below items are NOT McCoy. The Trolleys and handcar (Mickey and Minnie) are from a guy named George Templin. I will do some diggin and find out more about George.

Many thanks, I am glad my readers are watching out and making sure the details are correct. We gotta keep our history straight!

Being that I have never seen anything like these, I immediately lumped them in with the vast and awesome McCoy collection. I made a mistake BUT I STILL WANT THE TRAINS!

They are awesome, regardless of who made them. And I wish they would make some more....


More McCoy that caught my eye...

Ok, I like the holidays and the holiday train that is pictured here will probably never be matched.

There, I said it. I normally hate Christmas tree trains, usually because they are sold in Toys R Us and are made out of plastic. The products some of my friends purvey under the tree exclaiming to me that "they have toy trains too!". Well, no they don't.

This is a toy train. It makes noise, is decidedly low tech and took a ton of sweat and talent to make right here in the USA.

Funny as this may seem, what really caught my eye was that Interurban in the top right hand corner. This was another McCoy item that I didn't know about. I'd love to get a better picture of it. That reminds me of some of the really unusual traction in the Pacific Northwest that was running in the last century. Most of the designs were outrageous (and quite nice).

I'd like to see the Christmas train chuggin around the tree (or with the length of that train, trees).

James, you have one heck of nice collection. You should definitely be proud of this!

Tempelin Disney Handcar

Whatever James paid was probably worth it. I think I have seen one of these maybe twice at auctions. Never on a train table at a show. I'll be looking for this at York this year.

I know this will sound like absolute heresy but this handcar looks much more robust than the Lionel flavor from the 30's. No, I am not an idiot, I know the Lionel version was O gauge and this is standard gauge.

This isn't cheap like that plastic junk Lionel tried to sell in G gauge. Quality lasts a lifetime (and in the case of this handcar, probably way longer than that), period.


Some McCoy Pacific Electrics

People on the Eastern Seaboard tend to think that the Trolley originated in New York City or Boston. While they were used for quite some time in both cities, plenty of great cities on the other side of our great country used them as well.

Here's a neat and rare representation of some streetcars from Bob McCoy. I would imagine they are rare as well. These are the only two I have seen.


More Amazing McCoy IV

Check out those nice freights! Did McCoy ever make an accessories?

I know there are other McCoy collectors out there! Anyone with a McCoy layout?


More McCoy...

Check out those engines! I like the "topshelf" Circus set!


More McCoy...

What can I say about this? Wish you were here? Wish I was there?


More Amazing McCoy III

I didn't know McCoy even made some of this stuff.

It may seem like I am a little fixated on toys, babbling on about how beautiful, gorgeous, etc they are.

I'm not.

I'm fixated on art, especially lost art. Art that moves, has history, color and sound. It sounds cheesy but these capture a place in time in history. These reflect a family's worth of work and years of dedication to making toy trains. Is it that Constitution or the Declaration of Independence? No. Is it something that brings excitement and joy to everyone that sees it (young and old, from anywhere in the world)? Yes. Enough said.

By the way, what's that little engine to the left of the Steeple Cab. Is that a diesel switcher?

Standard gauge (and O gauge manufacturers), click on the picture to blow it up. Not everything needs to be a 214R Reefer or a 400E....


More Amazing McCoy II

You all know the affinity I have for Steeple Cabs. I actually saw one about 15 years ago in Grand Central. It was for a movie (that of course I never saw).

This McCoy Steeple Cab makes me wish I had the presence of mind to buy it when I saw it in a catalog many years ago.

While not quite as detailed as Jim Cohen's, this models a different kind of Steeple Cab and the effect is outstanding, nothing less. We could use some Bob McCoy's in the hobby today. This guy was just great with metal, no doubt about it. I'll post a few more pics of this collection. But one thing that will catch your eye (like the above red engine) is the colors the McCoy's used. They didn't fall into the Lionel Prewar trap of trying to replicate someone else's work. Over time, this stuff really has aged beautifully and the colors haven't lost any of their vibrant tones. Color is something we take for granted in standard gauge and is more or less lost on scale modelers.

In the age where everything is computerized, the visceral color of standard gauge really does stand out in the artwork world of toys.

More Amazing McCoy

Here's the Wapid Wabbit which (I think) is a flavor of the Galloping Goose. Whatever it is, it is one really, really nice piece of standard gauge gear.

One for running and one for show maybe? I wonder what kinds of noise this thing makes as it chugs around the track?

Whatever it is, I will be watching the auctions and eBay for one of these!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Tootsie Toys on eBay

I know I have probably said this before but if you are looking for some vehicles for your standard gauge pike, eBay still has some great, great bargains if you look hard enough.

These things are really nice, the Tootsie Toys and Manoil Cars are really not expensive and are almost scale with any standard gauge pike.

There's also one more big plus - they are really fun to play with. Hot Wheels were cool when I was a kid but my friends and I set up those big orange tracks with the battery operated whirring, shooty things and they never worked. These little cars really push the imagination and they modeled ordinary vehaicles that really weren't ordinary at all. They had a class and style that symbolized an era. Streamlining, art deco, it's all there.


More McCoy Collection

I hope James isn't angry, I airbrushed his granddaughter out of the picture with Photoshop. I don't want my children to be seen on the internet nor would I put anyone else's on either.

But trains are another story. Just check out those trolleys on the top shelf. Those are trolleys are top shelf (hello, is this microphone on?)! Silliness aside, this is some really nice stuff. I wonder what kind of sound all that metal makes when even just half of the rolling stock is chugging around the track!


Best McCoy Collection Ever

Just uploaded some amazing pics of James' McCoy collection. It's funny, I never really went nuts for McCoy gear although I always liked it and thought it was nice, I never avidly collected it. Now I would never turn down any standard gauge....

There are a few pieces of McCoy that I would really like to get my hands on. The hand cars and galloping goose (or geese) or some of the nicest products I have seen ever, in any gauge.

Here's the thing; I look at this collection and think about all the McCoy I have turned down, I coiuld kick myself. This collection is amazing. The color and graphics on the cars is amazing. Just the sheer diversity of the collection and of the kinds of products produced really fascinates me. Goes to show not everything amazing was produced by Lionel....


Friday, August 05, 2005

2006 TCA Convention Car

Looks like the TCA Convention cars are out. It's tough with these cars; they are expensive but the graphics are really nice. I just took delivery of some MTH Freight cars and they are really, really nice. This is where train stores are important because it is difficult to see how nice these cars are in a catalog.

I am anxiously awaiting last year's MTH operating car!!! So far, nobody seems to have one. As soon as I get one, I'll do a quick write up.

By the way, MTH is coming out with the new Tinplate Catalog in the next two weeks. I'll publish out the highlites as soon as I see it!


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Another Model Builder

I was going through some Model Bulders for the Blog and I came across this one. I just thought it was kind of neat.

The thing that struck me is how out of scale Lionel was. That Hudson down in the lower right hand corner looks like a standard gauge Hudson!

The artist did a great job, those little people look almost animated. I wonder how many boys actually had a layout like this. All my son wants to do when he gets near my layout is squeeze the horn and bell button.

Arrgggh. I gotta get back to work!


Wicked nice streamliner

Jim Kelly mentioned this cover in a previous post and I just had to put it up. This is one wicked nice streamliner. That almost looks like a standard gauge streamliner, not O gauge. Streamliners are absolutely gorgeous in standard gauge, we can count four total:

The Lionel Vandy
The Lionel Hiawatha
JAD's Hiawatha
JAD's M10000

Jerry Brown also made some streamliners but I have never actually seen any sold. I guess that could be a rough 5th streamliner.

The bottom line is that not many of these have been tried and I think they would be excellent sellers. But that's true with most standard gauge and/or products that would appeal to our market. There's no denying it, the train on the front cover of this magazine is timeless, anyone and I mean anyone would be proud to own, display and operate it. Maybe if Lionel put some of the funds it invested in Pratt's Hollow Phantoms into an O gauge or standard gauge version of this they wouldn't have to bet on items like the Polar Express to sell out at Christmas?

The so called marketplace (IE companies that want to make trains for people) keep prattling on about how standard gauge is too small a market and that O gauge is saturated and that HO is really where the volume is. I think they are all full of crap. Bachmann sells plenty of G gauge during the summer when there are backyard train layouts as well as for under the tree and "Christmas Gardens". That would be inside and outside. HO is highly competitive and for those of you that have never played with HO, the Europeans, especially Marklin, have some flat out amazing stuff.

Here is a quote from Steve Jobs:

"A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets."

It's basically common sense - if you make a great product, people will buy it. Make a great train in any gauge and there will be people lining up to purchase it. Guess that's lost in the marketing gibberish we all have to wade through these days.


(End of Rant)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Aeolus Set on eBay

I hate eBay. Just when a couple of really nice things pop up and I debate spending more than I can afford, something I definitely, no way can afford comes up.

This set is going for around $2700 bucks. Actually, with a rare set like this in the condition it is in, that's not that bad.

This set is one gorgeous O gauge product. I actually think it is probably one of the nicest O gauge sets I have ever seen.

I said to a friend of mine once that I would have loved to see an engine and set like this in standard gauge. He said that he thought this was one of the ugliest sets he had ever seen. "Looks like you picked the wrong day to quit sniffin glue!" I said (a cheesy joke from the hysterical movie Airplane, I still laugh). But it is true. I think he's nuts.

In standard gauge, this set would probably rival the Blue Comet as one of the most gorgeous sets around. It's formidable in O gauge.

Ah well, I'll have to eek out my existence with the paltry collection of stuff I have.... Does anyone out there have one of these things? How do they run?


Monday, August 01, 2005

Daycoaches in 2005

Just over at Jim Cohen's house watching some Standard Gauge Day Coaches come to life.

These have yet to be paintedbut are on the way to being the first early model Daycoaches of 2005.

I'll tell ya, it's amazing when you see these parts coming together to make a train. It's like watching an artist in the process of creation. No, I'm not exaggerating either, this is as much an artform as it is toy creation. Makes the things this man creates worth every penny and then some.

The one in the front is actually part original daycoach that Jim is bringing back to life (by the way).

Wait until you see some of the stuff I found this weekend.... This is just the old tip of the iceberg!

Happy August...

Joy. Only 4 more months until Christmas. Hopefully none of my well meaning friends will procure another Fondue Maker or Capuccino Machine as a gift for me.

Here is something that I would really like to get under a tree. Another shot of one of the master builder's toys (A Jim Cohen Steeple Cab). Only 3 exist. He has two and one other is in Rhode Island.

By the way, this was not made with any dies. Straight metal bending got this work of art on the track, along with Pittman Motors. Runs smooth as glass. I wish Santa still had the ear of Lionel Corp., maybe they could come out with something as brilliant as this someday....