Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
They were originally pulled by steam engines and were converted to electric. They were used at the World's Fair and refurbished in 1979. They were in service from 1904 through 1969.
Ok, some very basic history is out of the way. These cars are breathtaking. I'm not kidding. If you like old trains, these cars are the high mark in train manufacture. Maybe it's the New Hampshire wood or the decor that is nicer than most homes. I can only say these are the by far some of the nicest train cars I have ever been in.
First and foremost, they are made out of natural materials. The woodwork in these cars is just spectacular, outside and in. When you look at the cars from the front looking back, you get the spitting image of the Hudson Tube Train. Yes, I know this is an El and was in Brooklyn. The colors are so rich on this train, it's like rolling artwork. It's hard to believe people got to ride in these things. I would imagine the steam ride wasn't as smooth as the electric ride; I still have to believe these ride beautifully. I can see why old folks were so nostalgic when I was a kid. Subways today aren't even close to these cars. The wicker seats are vastly more comfortable than the plastic "ergonomic" seats today.
Yes, trolley's have similar amazing set ups as well but these things moved millions of people. Really, you have to go and see these things up close to appreciate them. I would really love to see tinplate of these trains. I wonder if there's anything even close?
I wish there was a fully blown NYC Trolley, fortunately there were plenty of models and a ton of interesting history.
Check 'em out (there's a ton more I just haven't posted, we'll get to the trains shortly).
Friday, December 29, 2006
I am glad to have folks like TTU around. I know it's a longshot but I'd love to see one of their layouts at the next York.
Has anyone out there purchased the fabled Lionel Bridge Dealer layout that has some time to discuss it or show some pics?
More on the way!
If you have never been to this museum, it is worth the time, especially if you are in New York City anyway.
It's well thought out and has some of the nicest trains YOU WILL EVER SEE, especially subways. So here comes a series on the transit museum! The above picture is of Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn (where the Transit Museum is located). The current exhibit highlites the actual building of the subway system (it is tremendously interesting). They also have an old toy exhibit (who'd a thunk it?) and some other stuff that's just amazing. I was there when it first opened many years ago and it doesn't disappoint to this day. There are quite a few tourists there as well as some very die hard subway people (I encountered one who COULD NOT stop talking).
Lots of pics and some video footage of a real 1910 Steeple Cab.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
On a different note, I have a question into Youtube. I am wondering how long the links and videos last before they are archived and/or discarded. I often look at old low tech bulletins and quarterlies (TCA, TTOS, etc.).
While low tech, they have preserved their messages for almost half a century. I need to work and make sure the blog isn't lost to antiquity as well. I got thinking about it when I tried to consider how I could read Jim Kelly's website offline in magazine form. It ocurred to me that I would love to have it as a reference for many years hence. I was looking at a CD last night and it had a picture from the mid-20th century of Louis Hertz and some folks from the Ives Train Society putting up the plaque on the Ives building. Low tech, yet seen by many....
I think of all of the computers I have in storage and how getting data off of them is difficult and time consuming. I've got to figure out a way to get the info off of the blog (and net in general) while retaining the formatting, etc.. I have thought about how many local TCA news columns and e-Trains I have seen online and the fact that I may not always be able to get to them.
It's easier to publish now; it's also easier to drop our work into the blowing winds of net-time and never see it again as well....
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
On another note. If you haven't checked out the Tinplate Times..... Well, you really should. We're lucky to have a guy like Jim Kelly architecting an online magazine like this. I just wish some of the bigger publications would take note and follow Jim's lead (you know, articles that are easy to read an interesting to anyone).
Bounce over to the Prewar Times. There's a neat bit of info up on Toy Trains Unlimited. I am waffling on whether to irritate my spouse and pick up one of those incredible Prewar bridges/layouts they build. Damn they're good. And they are made in America!!! Makes it that much easier to justify (at least in my pathetic train addled mind).
Here is the vid:
Here's a video that has been making its' way around the Tinplate Forums. Be sure to leave feedback for the authors on Youtube and let them know that the effort and time is appreciated. This is time consuming and getting it right is tough.
So here's some pics of his holiday layout.
And some YouTube video as well....
Many thanks Rob (and have a great 2007)!!!
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I was curious. How many people have experience with real steam? What happens if you mix it with a regular layout?
It looks to me like this stuff is pretty controlled. I've seen quite a few steam engines in my life and these look pretty cool. I saw an article some time back in CTT about faking steam power. This company (The Great Steam Company) also has some really cool steam driven people. Check them out (especially the machine shops they have). To coin a Monty Python phrase; And now for something completely different.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
This isn't reporting and I don't have to be fair or balanced (usually a phrase used by people that are neither).
It's my opinion. I'm sick of hearing about this lawsuit and I don't like it when corporations dodge responsibility by legal manuevering.
Check out the CTT article on it by using the link above. Lionel should have paid their bills and moved on. Make some great trains and let the customers decide with their wallets and loyalty.
Guess that rooster flew the coop today. More depositions! More attorneys fees! Less wonderful toy trains.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
If there is one place I'd love to see some innovation, it is in the bridges. I'd love a Brooklyn Bridge. How about a standard gauge Bascule Bridge (saw one the other day when I was driving by Newark Airport). I drove by the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges yesterday on the FDR (yes, I also saw the Hellgate). They would look great even in an abbreviated form (as standard gauge tends to do). Plus instead of running JUST to Ward's Island (like the Hellgate) they also run to a slightly more populated area.
I'll try and dig up some pictures of the old Dorfan and Ives Bridges. They were nice but they couldn't handle heavy motive power or anything going fast. They are generally missing most of their paint but they had a quaintness about them that was always kind of nice. Go easy on the old Hellgate. It's getting overdone.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The pens are available from the TCA Desert Division in quantities of one or more at $10.00 per unit including shipping. Send checks to Robert Herman, Desert Division Treasurer, 11429 N. 68Th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85254.
It's too bad that we have to take precautions., but better safe than sorry.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Does system mean ecosystem or was it just a clever way to sell trains 100 years ago? I like it, at least conceptually. Plus I think the advertising is neat. Better than the current dribble from toy companies and/or utter gibberish like drug/car/home improvement or whatever companies.
Should new trains and toys be made as part of a system? Seems like the concept has been lost (except by wildly successful companies like.... Lego).
Well, I'm off to Reading, Pennsylvania in a little while to attend the Great Train Expo there. My dad was born in Reading and he used to take me and my brothers there on day trips when we were kids. It's been a long time since I've be there, though. Dad died a few years ago but I'll be thinking of him as I drive to the show. My parents got me started with trains, so I'll be continuing the family tradition as I walk the aisles. I don't go to these shows looking for anything in particular, rather I just like to look at trains and talk to people about what's on their tables. You never know what you'll find, even at these dealer-oriented exhibitions. Books on tinplate, catalogs, and other paper and paraphernalia often show up, and once in a while some standard gauge tinplate treasure!
Friday, December 08, 2006
The Lionel article is a pretty good capsule history of the firm much like others that have appeared in print. There are some interesting photographs including one of Mr. Cowen showing off a 2-7/8" gauge piece to a youngster. One of the more interesting items in the article is a side bar listing "Lionel's 10 Greatest - A Roster Of The Company's Most Desirable Products" as selected by a collector named Michael Shames. Mr. Shames considers the 10 greatest Lionel products to be: The 20th Century Limited Set; The Blue Comet Set; The 400E loco; The Santa Fe four car set; The GG1; the 700E; The Hellgate; The 840; The 444; and finally, the 921 three piece terrace set.
I can't quibble with too many of Shames' picks, but in a few cases I think I'd make some substitutions. For example, I'd rather have a brass #7 than a 921 terrace set. And of course, I'd rather have ANYTHING in 2-7/8" gauge than a Santa Fe set or a GG1. However, It's fun to compare notes with this list, and the article is worth a read, as is the rest of the issue. Look for a great picture of Jackie Gleason having a drink with Toots Shor, and read the capsule review of the new movie documentary about the famous New York club owner. Yes, this magazine has a lot of appeal to an aging baby boomer like me!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I do miss the days when a dealer or even a manager in a department store was a trusted confidant; willing to make suggestions on the big and little stuff. Most train dealers carry the big money items; motive power.
I hope they take a page out of Lionel's old playbook. I know it sounds kind of silly but what does Apple sell more of off season? $200 iPods or $1800 computers? The accessory will always be strong!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Thank you Marc, for inviting me aboard the Standard Gauge Blog as a team member. I'm looking forward to adding a thought or two about our wonderful big tinplate standard gauge trains from time to time.
This is me c. 1954 or 1955 (age 5 or 6) probably at Gimbels department store in Philadelphia. I forget what I asked for that year, but by the expression on TV personality Sally Starr's face and Santa's glassy eyed stare I figure that it might have been something impossible like a 400E State set.
Speaking of department stores, the other day there was a report on one of the network TV news shows about their resurgence. I did a double take when this came on. Department stores? ...those retail dinosaurs that we city dweller baby boomers remember oh so well from our youth? Well, it seems as though shoppers have now decided that they like the big aisles and the warm and fuzzy feel of department store shopping once again. I've always enjoyed wandering through the big old department stores. I never warmed up to the specialty store or to the mega-mall shopping experience.
When I was a kid here in Philadelphia we had five major department stores downtown: three on one corner alone at 8th & Market (Lit Brothers, Strawbridge & Clothier, and Gimbels,) and two others: Snellenbergs at 11th & Market (which later became Philadelphia Community College's first campus,) and the great John Wanamaker Philadelphia flagship store at 13th & Filbert. They are all gone now. The last full line store was the Strawbridge store which closed earlier this year. The hulking building now sits cold and empty with its huge display windows empty and dark probably for the first time in decades. What a sad sight at the holidays. I used to love to go into that store at this time of the year with it's brass chandeliers on the main floor all decked out with bright red lamp shades for Christmas. But all that's left now department store-wise in downtown Philly is the scaled back Macy's store housed in the bottom three floors of the historic Wanamaker building.
Years ago the great old flagship department stores used to have wonderful train displays around the holidays. I can remember watching the trains on what seemed like a huge layout at Gimbels with my mom while waiting in line to see Santa. The Wanamaker store featured a great floor full of toys including electric trains, and they actually had a functioning monorail that ran around the ceiling of the toy floor that kids could actually ride in! Talk about fantasyland!
Wouldn't it be great to once again have a big store train display featuring standard and 0 gauge tinplate trains? Well, I guess it's too much to hope that the old time department stores return with their toy departments and train displays. But who knows? I saw an interesting post on another forum about the Lionel display at FAO Schwartz in New York City. Maybe there's hope yet! Standard gauge train displays in stores once again, now that's an item on my grownup Christmas wish list.