Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Step in The Right Direction....

So it looks like a little bit of tin made it into the new Lionel catalog.

Ok, so it's O gauge. Ok, so it's $630 for a starter set from a 1935 catalog.

But it's a start, Lionel is trying. That's all we can ask. Maybe some standard gauge will reappear?

There are some nice trains in this catalog. The Hiawatha O gauge engine is nice however I have to say that this engine has now been officially beaten to death. It's been produced so much we're into the overkill.

The BB-1 set is mighty nice. I like the BB-1 engine as well as a few others that defined the electric age. I also really like the S-2 and the N&W J. All good stuff but it has all been done before.

I guess if I were to yield an opinion I would have to say that it looks distinctly like the beginning of a "turn the corner" product line up. I am stressing the beginning as in "signs of intelligence" are in Mt. Clemens, Michigan or where ever the shots are now getting called.

Remember when Apple introduced the iMac and Steve Jobs was coming back 10 years ago? Yep, well Lionel is well before that. They have a great name and a catalog that doesn't completely suck.

Now for those of us that are accustomed to great ideas, great trains and standard gauge, 2 7/8, 1 Gauge and so on, this catalog is entertaining but not for us... Yet... O gauge is fine but plastic structures and cheesy accessories are still yawners.

We expect more from a great name and a great company. Come on guys, everyone would love to love Lionel. Stop selling yourselves short.


Friday, January 27, 2006

T-Repro Redux

I wish T-Repro hadn't gone South. They made some pretty cool items....


Those were the days....

Check out this flyer (click on it to expand it). Now look out on eBay and in recent auctions. Don't you wish you took advantage of these prices and items when they were getting produced?

Here's the point; before anyone poo poo's recent manufacture or any item in our hobby, remember that thing I said in a prior post about hindsight.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Frecker Auctions

I saw an advertisement in CTT for this auction house. I know exactly zero about them. The website is very simple and doesn't indicate much information about the items. Has anyone participated in a Frecker Auction? It looks like a pretty interesting auction house (they have farm stuff, trains, real estate). All kinds of stuff.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Jim Kellys New Trains!

Jim Kelly is neglecting his Yahoo Groups! How could that be?

It couldn't be because it isn't true!

What is true is Jim is spending some time running his new passenger sets. And I'd bet that his layout in PA has never seen so much beautiful standard gauge!

Mr. Kelly you are one lucky guy!

PS I'm not sure what I would do without my daily dose of Clem Clement via the Yahoo Groups. Keep that group rolling!

NETTE's Auction is up (For Feb. 11)

Use the link on the right to go to the Feb. 11, 2006 NETTE auction. They have a great selection of standard gauge this time out.

Who else is going to try and go?


Monday, January 23, 2006

Worcester Station Cont

Another shot of this amazing station.....

Thanks again Diane!


Worcester Station Cont

I wonder if anyone ever created a model of this station??


Worcester Station Cont

Stations are as important as the trains. Used to be I didn't think much about them. But just take a look at this pic (blow it up). The fact that this place exists and the public has access is amazing.

I friggin love these places...


Worcester Station (in MA)

Speaking of amazing stations, we tend to concentrate on Union Station and Grand Central and forget about these other super gorgeous stations.

My friend Diane snapped these high-res pics. Thanks Diane!


Friday, January 20, 2006

Frank's Roundhouse - Cont

In the interest of time, I posted the rest of Frank's Roundhouse Pics to one post. What a difference 17 years makes. The prices really haven't gone up that much but I would still love to have acquired some of the custom painted items.

Lately I have heard that the Classics stuff actually runs better than current MTH. I find that puzzling because I do know that the Classics were built by Mike for Lionel. If anything, I would have thought that refinements in manufacturing would have improved quality substantially. I just hope that the selection and the choice comes along again.

In 1989 I was still in college, my father had just past away and most of my meals were Ramen Noodles and water. Having exactly diddly to your name at any age is awfully humbling. I wonder what 2006 will look like?

Frank's Roundhouse Cont. - Nice sets

The 500 series freights. What would we do without them?


Frank's Roundhouse Cont.- Locos

I've blown about 3 chances to get the loco on the right. I've seen the Lionel set and I've also blown that several times as well.

Such is life, it will just have to wait!


Frank's Roundhouse Cont.

I see two sets (the top two) I would grab right away. I'd have to give the pink one some thought.

Although, I did see a pink 400E and cars at the TCA Museum in Strasburg and I liked it. Maybe it was just the bright colors or the fact that my daughter took a shine to it, for whatever reason I thought it was kind of nice.

I know, I am going to get a note from a purist telling me that "These are no good because they aren't original cars from the 30's and they are recent hacked up Lionel's."

I beg to differ. These are new looking trains that work great and are far less expensive than originals. As I have lamented several times on the blog and others have said (using better writing than my pablum), I am not sure there are many originals of anything anymore. 30 or 40 years ago some guy hacked this up, died, his estate sold it, the guy that bought it also sold it. An item changes hands 5 or 6 times. Before you know it, you seem to have acquired a one of a kind original.

I gave up. I'd just rather have a nice train that either I can fix/refinish or run (and look good). Frank falls into the category of looking great and very likely working great.


Frank's Roundhouse Cont.

Lionel Classics. I liked 'em. They run great, they look great and they don't typically (well, they didn't for a while) cost an arm and a leg.


Frank's Roundhouse

I don't know much about Frank's Roundhouse. I seem to recall him re-doing some of the Lionel Classics to reflect some of the rarer trains like the Green 390E. I think he also did the Blue Comet flavor of the 390E as well.

I post this for two reasons: Al sent me the scans and I find them interesting and I have seen these (or what looks like these) start to appear in auctions and on eBay.

I'd love to know what happened to Frank and his roundhouse. His catalog was pretty darn cool and the trains are some very nice standard gauge. If he did refinish trains or build new one's, he did an amazing job!


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Couple of Grand Central Pics from Today

Click on the picture to blow this up. It's one of the reasons our trains are so amazing. (Hint: it expresses the sentiment I think of when I see the accomplishments men have achieved since the start of the last century).

I love walking through here. 20 years of marching around this station and I still can't get enough. I know I haven't seen the entire place.

I am definitely getting to Grand Central the next time the trains go up (in November 06) with a camera!




I went to Grand Central today to grab some pics of the amazing trains on display.

They were disassembling the exhibit and all of the trains were gone.

I felt the kid in me getting ready to throw something at the security guy in the Transit Museum Store. The 40 year old thought better though. I did get a couple of nice Grand Central pics.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Amherst Train Show (Jan 28th and 29th)

Here it comes!

If you like trains and you have some time.... It isn't exclusive and you can get some incredible Eclairs and Cream Puffs from the Big E fairgrounds.

I'm going and bringing my camera!


Black Diamond Short Line

Yet again, the items with the least amount of high tech stuff are by far the neatest items to have on a pike! I'm sure these 1 truck items command huge dollars now but when they were introduced in 1987, I know they were a great deal. I saw some 1 truck items that Dick Mayer did for TTOS and they were really nice as well.

The straightforwardness in these truncated cars is part of their brilliance. I guarantee they can roll around any curve and they can be snuck past any train wife because "honey, they're so small and cute, they couldn't have cost much!"

Aesthetics aside, the short lines always had a work rhythm that was different than other freights. I know, a freight is a freight, right? Well, no. Some cars look fine sitting on a siding waiting to be picked up by a loco and some (like the famous Frank Petruzzo coal train) look silly sitting still.

These little cars look like they were cut out for some serious logging and work. What's kind of nice is that they are a serious departure from your standard sized 200 or 500 series freight. Fruther, because they are one truck, the noise they make is a bit different than a rambling consist of Lionel freights. I've seen them running on a pike and all I can say is.... I wish I had a set!

PS Thanks again Al for the scans!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

On a brighter note....

Ok, slipped into a mild depression in the last post. Here's two little engines that would pull anyone into getting happy.

I always think of the Lionel #5 and #6 engines when I see these engines.

I am blown away at the prices McCoy is bringing in. Any thoughts on why these prices and these items have suddenly exploded in popularity?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I have been watching McCoy for years and the acquisition of these items has always been reasonable and realistic (kind of like the manufacturer). So what makes a standard gauge item get hot?


McCoy 1987 Cascade

This engine is really something to see, especially
humming around a large layout.

I actually had a really bad episode with one of these engines and ended up in court as a result. There isn't a day that goes by that I regret that episode in my life. I lost a potential friend and was ripped off by someone I know. I don't have a single one of these in my collection and I miss the engine.

Hindsight is 20-20.


More McCoy 1987

I like these little engines! I've seen them in person. They are wonderful little work horses. I saw these used in a real standard gauge freight yard.

I normally don't like freight yards and railroad operations in model trains. You know what I'm talking about, the things the high-rail folks get excited about: moving around consists of cars, scheduling freights and passengers and so on.

But these little guys actually make that kind of stuff really fun. When I saw them running, they were very good pullers (for their size) and didn't make that much noise (mostly due to well done roadbed and excellent track laying. I also was suprised how well the trucks stayed on the track (unlike some other manufacturers!).


Friday, January 13, 2006

Caboose (Essex)....

The lettering on this caboose is so crisp, you can almost smell the wet paint!

This caboose is bright (even brighter and sharper than in the 5.1 Megapixel picture). Now I know I am stating the obvious!

The reason I state it is because I always hear some gibberish about how Lionel used exaggerated color for standard gauge because women bought all of the toys and the prototypes never had colors that matched the toys.

Go see this caboose and then tell me there aren't a few toys that come close. Really close.


Gorgeous Pullmans....

The Pullmans are gorgeous (at the Essex Steam Train). Really, even with a day of meetings and corporate silliness, these things can brighten up almost any day!

Ever seen the JAD pullmans? Man, they are darn good renditions!

PS This Pullman is shiny as the day it was new. I cannot think of another place to see a Pullman as shiny and in mint condition (ok, it's probably a refurb) than this.

Still, I don't like Friday the 13th....

Here's another engine in Essex. Sorry for the crummy picture, nature had it out for me.


Light at the end of the tunnel....

Well, it's Friday the 13th. Usually this isn't a good day to start a new building or venture but I have to say it is the end of one of the crappiest weeks I had in a long time.

I had a meeting in Northern, CT (near Rhode Island) last night AND this morning and another meeting in NYC in the late afternoon. Lots of driving, lots of Powerpoint slides and lack of sleep.

Inbetween I stopped at the Essex Steam train to check out the gorgeous cars and engines they have. This is the freight set that sits out in front of the place. I am not sure whether it runs but it looks nice. If you have never been to Essex, CT or the Essex Steam Train, I highly recommend it. It's worth every penny and second you spend in both the city and around the steam engines.


PS More coming!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

McCoy Carousel

The rare McCoy Carousel..... Arno sent me this pic. This makes the carousel's other manufacturers turn out look like... Well.... Not as nice.

This thing is the only carousel I have ever seen that I would actually want on my layout. I know they must have been really difficult to build. I like the circus and the circus theme around trains. However I haven't seen it done well by anybody with the exception of this particular product and one or two others.

I wonder what kind of motor Bob McCoy used in these things? What do they look like when they are working on a layout or even off a layout. If anyone has further info on these, please don't hesitate to send it in!


PS Thanks Arno for sending this. I know what I'll be looking for at the next York!

McCoy 1987

The year was 1987. Bob McCoy put out some of the most imaginative standard gauge yet. By anyone' s standards, this was probaby one of the best train catalogs ever.

It had something for everyone. It was for people on a budget, people that didn't have alot of room, people that liked logging, the circus or just plain old like bright enamels on big trains.

I am going to post as much of this catalog as webspace permits. I have already posted some of the pictures in the past but now that I have the whole catalog it begs to be posted.

As you can also tell, my writing skills in the morning are much better than after 10 hours worth of work. My vocabulary and grammar seems to be finite and gets depleted throughout the day. It could be all of the conference calls I have to sit on where I have to listen to business jargon/psycho babble for hours at a time. It could be the unrelenting, butt head customers I deal with that only know how to ask for a lower price but wouldn't know service or quality if it bit them straight in the rear (and drew blood).

Whatever it is, I am always glad to come back to the train room and to great toys such as the above. They are timeless, unique and standing monuments to the great men that built them as well as the railroad empires they went into. It is part of the reason I write the blog. If we don't remember these people nobody will.

More great McCoy coming later on!


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Toonerville Trolley and Depot

Al sent me another great scan. It showcases the entire Toonerville package from Rich Art. The people, the Depot and the Trolley. I have a feeling that 30 years from now the complete set up will be a little more desirable than just the trolley alone.

I took one of these apart and the motors and gearing are pretty darn nice. In half a decade of owning and running the trolley, the original oil is still on it and the motor has needed exactly zero maintenance.

I wonder when Lionel will wake up and see how amazing a little set like this is? Not every toy needs to be themed to a recent blockbuster or a cartoon character that is inexpensive to license...


Stout's Auction is Up!

Stout's Auction is up! I wish there was more standard gauge.... Here is the flyer I received via email (click the title to link to the auction):

The catalog for the January 14th Mainstream Toy Train Auction is nowavailable on the Stout Auctions website Thisauction has nearly 400 cataloged lots plus an additional 200 uncatalogedbox lots for the attending bidders. This auction offers an extremelylarge and diverse auction with prewar, postwar and modern trains for allbudgets. The trains will be offered from several manufactures such asLionel from all eras, prewar American Flyer, Hafner, Ives, Marx andothers. The cataloged items are also available on the eBay website underthe seller name Stoutauctions.The next scheduled auction is a very large cataloged two day sale Feb.24th and 25th with material mainly from the estate collections of BillSanchez and Lew Striebeck. The auction will also have outstandingadditions from other well known collections. This auction will be held inWilliamsport, IN.March 10th and 11th will be back in the West Middlesex, PA location (nearPittsburgh and Cleveland). This auction will be a very large cataloged two day auction that will premiere several collections including thesecond half of Bob Lakemacher's collection.

Both the February and Marchfull color auction printed auction catalogs will be in collectors handsapprox. 10 days before the auction. You can pre order a catalog with acredit card by calling 765-764-6901 or send $25.00 by Paypal You can also send a check for $25.00 to:Stout Auctions529 State Road 28 EastWilliamsport, IN 47993Stout Auctions has many of our previous catalogs available for purchase. These catalogs go back quite a few years and cover millions of dollarsworth of some of the finest trains ever sold. These are great referencetools as we have sold many items that are either not in books or neverseen available for sale. The previous catalogs also include a price keythat details what each lot sold for. Please order any previous catalogsby calling 765-764-6901. Stout Auctions Indiana Tel: 765-764-6901, Fax: 765-764-1516Stout Auctions Pennsylvania Tel: 724-528-1500, Fax: 724-528-1100.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Toonerville Label

Here's a terrific scan Al sent me of the Toonerville label. I wish all of the toys I have purchased over the years looked as good as this. If I had one of these it would probably be framed and sitting prominently in my train room.

Al said that this was from Dec. 1996. I wish I wasn't so damn busy looking for Lionel gear in 1996. I might have seen this trolley sooner!


Toonerville Redux

Speaking of amazing toys, Al sent me some Toonerville scans. This one is from Lyle Cain, Sr..

You all know how I feel about the Toonerville (there's no such thing as too many Toonerviles!). There are several standard gauge flavors of it.

Al said this flyer was postmarked October of 1987. I wonder what the total production run was of Toonerville's? I have an interview with Dick coming up (he's already given me some great material on how he got started).

I'll ask Dick about the story of the Toonerville's as well as variations (which should be kind of interesting). There were variations of the McKeen as well as some of the other items Dick made.


More Smith MetalWorks from Alan

Another great scan from Alan and a beautiful shot of how this all fits in with standard gauge trains.

I wonder how many of these were sold?

These also make me wonder what else is out there that we haven't seen yet? I know there are tons of kitbashed mini-projects (huge stations that look like Union Station or Grand Central).

But these structures would be terrific centerpieces of any layout. Something tells me that these items are built to last. I'll keep digging and let everyone know what I find out!


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Smith MetalWorks Flyer

Al is gold! He sent me this scan of the Smith MetalWorks flyer! In 1987 I barely could pay my rent besides buy an incredible set of buildings like this.

I am definitely going to get on the phone tomorrow and find out who still has these incredible kits and why they aren't still getting produced.

Relative to the prices of original Lionel roundhouses and structures, this is a very good deal. Even adjusted for today's dollars, these are really nice. Kirk, how did you acquire your samples of this?


Saturday, January 07, 2006

NETTE Auction Coming Up!

The next NETTE auction is coming up in February, 2006. I spoke with Mark Tobias and while I can't say specifically what will be in it, I can say that there is some very nice standard gauge in the auction.

Also, Stout's online catalog is going up on Monday afternoon. I'll be in yet another meeting but hopefully the blog readers will cull off the best stuff and let me know!


Where it came from...

Al also sent me this scan. This is from the 1927 Lionel catalog. If you look right behind all that standard gauge, there is an engine house that was never produced by Lionel.

Fortunately Smith MetalWorks did produce it and now I'm anxious to find one.

Thanks for the research Al, this is one of the details in standard gauge that people miss (like me) that turn into something special. A unique accessory like this can't be overlooked!


More on Smith MetalWorks

Al sent me this scan of some info from Smith Metal Works. I have to file this under "you learn something new every day." I have never seen one of these up close but from every angle, this is one nice accessory.

With that 1912 pulling out of it, I do have a much better idea of size.

I think I am going to give Bob Thon a call to find out more about this.

I know if I had one of these I would have to modify it a little. I like all of my structures lit. I'd also have to find some signals that match this to make sure inbound and outbound freights don't collide....


Thursday, January 05, 2006

A rose with graphics....

Graphics (these days) usually indicates something that has to do with a processor, keyboard and mouse.

But in the days before computers, people did some pretty nice things with just some basic tools, paint and their hands.

This is the graphic on the side of this caboose. It's one color and it looks MIGHTY DAMN SLICK! It's also one of my favorite roadnames.


Keep It Simple

Guess what a simple, tinplate caboose looks like? Great after a whole bunch of years!

Bending tin may seem simple but it isn't. Making an elegant caboose like this is hard work. I know I am stating the obvious.

I think I am going to keep an eye out for the other cars that go to this set. I wonder what the rest of the set looks like? When you tack it all together, I bet this is one nice looking bunch of trains.


Hartford, OH

This is on the bottom of the caboose. I wonder how many other great trains left Hartford, OH?

I think this sticker is at least 25 years old. That sticker is holding up pretty well for a quarter of a century plus.


A rose by any other name....

By far one of the best train purchases I have made in the last year. This is one really nice caboose. The trucks are excellent and the color is vivid.

Typically Classic Model Trains freights have trucks that require some preventive maintenance. This caboose has an amazing pair of trucks.

Probably the best 60 bucks I have spent in the last year.

Hold on, I have a few more pics on the way...


Dusting off trains...

I found this cool stuff at Radio Shack. It is excellent for dusting off trains that have been sitting on a shelf too damn long.

Don't turn it upside down though, it sprays out really, really cold air (I froze a truck on my 400e). Still, it works great and costs much less than the canned air from a camera store ($5).