Monday, December 31, 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

JAD Hiawatha On Display At Grand Central

I had a fun day in the Big Apple last weekend. New York is always a blast around the holidays. One of my stops is always Grand Central Station to see the holiday laser light show and to visit the Transit Museum Store. I was surprised and delighted at the window display at the store this year, which features a JAD Standard gauge Hiawatha and an AF Standard gauge Pocahontas set. I don't own either of them, so it was a pleasure to see them so prominently displayed. Inside the store there was a reprise of the large 0 gauge layout that I saw last year. This drew a big crowd.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Lionel's Hogwart's Express On The Layout

Well, it's not Standard gauge, not even tinplate, but it could be...I've always admired British outline locomotives and Lionel did a good job with the Hogwart's.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I am penning some new articles now. I am putting a really nice one together on standard gauge flat cars (the unsung hero of the prewar pike). I'd love to blog more except it seems like every customer I have needed some urgent something or another right up until yesterday. I'm not kidding, my mobile phone has been ringing constantly since last week and just stopped this morning. I am still getting emails! So much for balance. I think I am just going to turn all of this junk off and leave my ZW plugged in for the next week....

PS The nice Christmas card above is from one of our contributors, VisitingAl. Happy Holidays Al!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nope, it isn't tinplate

My brother snapped this picture of Chicago last night. I just thought it was a cool photograph. Reminds me of times when all I did was play with my trains (I couldn't exactly go outside).


Friday, December 14, 2007

Dreyfuss in Standard Gauge

This wonderful picture has been hanging around my inbox for some time.

This is an original standard gauge engine made by Yoda in the Dagobah System.

Ok, I'm kidding, I promised I wouldn't say who made it but I did have to post it. Blow up it up. This thing is just glorious, especially in Standard Gauge. It's everything a great tinplate engine could be and should be.


Some Lego Youtube

Here is some Youtube of the Lego. Please remember that there are two other layouts in close proximity (hence a little bit of the background noise).


San Diego Train Museum Part 4

Here is a massive Lego Layout at the San Diego Train Museum.

I know what you are thinking. "This can't be any good!" All plastic, little locking parts and bits. How good could it be?

This layout is outstanding and believe me when I tell you it's worth the trip. The details on it are extraordinary. In a nutshell (and this is opinion, not by any means fact) the details make the layout. It isn't especially high rail, it can't be qualified as such. Details on a high rail layout are there to give it realism, some charm and to highlite or differentiate a place. The details on a Lego layout are for pure fun. And there are tons of them. They aren't hard to do and are very inexpensive. The technology of Lego really lends itself to doing amazing things on a train layout. And even further, the colors and textures are there. I'd have to say it reminds me of Tinplate in plastic. I don't think any of this is collectible in the sense of collecting old toys. However I do have to say that the trains ran quite well. I didn't see much opportunity to interact with them the same way we interact with a Lionel ZW and a huge standard gauge layout but the effect was similar. I did notice that even with four trains running simultaneously, there was almost no noise. The lack of sound was the only thing I found mildly disruptive, not because it was necessarily bad but because I am so used to a racket whenever any train is run (of any gauge). Some Youtube is coming as well!


San Diego Train Museum Part 3

Here's the tinplate at the museum. I didn't see any tinplate layouts. I found that to be a little depressing. I hate it when old toy trains get relegated to the shelves because they are "too old and delicate" or considered too expensive to run. Truth is that there's probably no club that wants to run them. The train museum works in conjunction with clubs to run the trains.


Friday, December 07, 2007

San Diego Model Train Museum 2.1

This is your typical monster layout from the West Coast. Long running and wide open spaces. This is the first layout I saw in the museum. Ya, it's O gauge but it is still huge and quite nice. That kind of room is just something to behold....


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

San Diego Model Train Museum

Out here in lovely San Diego; who says the West Coast doesn't have the same train vibe as the East Coast? Right in the middle of town there's a huge Santa Fe station and trolleys are running everywhere!

This town is full of cool trains, gorgeous buildings, boats and ships and the airport was where Charles Lindbergh worked on the Spirit of St. Louis.
I started out my brief train adventure in Balboa Park in San Diego. Balboa Park is gorgeous. And I think gorgeous is the understatement of the year when it comes to the park, the museums and the general area around San Diego. The buildings in Balboa Park are beautiful. I'll post a few pictures here, my prose can't do them justice.
This large public area also houses the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. It is a 27,000 square foot not for profit showplace. It has layouts maintained by clubs from N to 0 gauge as well as sizable exhibits and a wondeful Lego layout. Yes, I took a ton of pictures but the only way you'll see them is if you tune into my blog for the next week.....
PS Yes, they had some very nice tinplate on display. Spectacular museum. Youtube and pics on the way!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Westchester Train Show?

Ok, I am trying to sort this one out. In CTT it says that Westchester County Train show is 12/9. As I recall in CTT it said 12/8? And CTT doesn't have it listed in their website!!

This is a big weekend for collectors in the NY, NJ area. The Montvale Show is Dec. 8th and Dec. 9th (one year I made it to both but it was a stretch). So can I go to both this year?

Incidentally, I love the show in the County Center in Westchester. The building is wonderful, it's very Art Deco and it is way overbuilt. No building will ever be made like it again. It's a decent sized show with a good selection. Montvale is also a good show, there are just tons of dealers there and there are usually nooks and crannies where dealers go and you can pick up some really neat stuff. I also liked it because I saw Angela Trotta Thomas right in the front. Her stuff is much better in person than online or by looking in a magazine.

Anyway, any ideas on when the real dates are for these shows?

Morphy Auction on Dec. 8th 2007

So I am sitting here bored out of my skull in an airport. I decide to do the ultra-geek thing and see if I can connect up to a wireless network. It works and I am instantly wasting time and money on eBay.
So I am surfing around and this Morphy auction comes up on Dec. 8th. Now Morphy auctions usually aren't major train auctions so the presence of a decent amount of standard gauge actually caught me off guard. Than I saw this thing:

I'm just not sure why anyone would do this? They want to make a 402 go only on 90 inch curves? They want it to be less reliable through every switch frog on the planet? Any thoughts? It sure doesn't make it look more majestic. If I won the auction those would be coming off faster than the engine would ever go...
Baffled and Confused

Running Under The Tree?

I don't have our holiday tree up just yet, but here is the set that I'd like to run around it this year. The problem is that I need some 2" gauge track. I'll probably roll my own using some standard gauge tinplate track, but I haven't started the project yet.

What are you planning to run under your tree this year?


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Mighty Big Auction

One mighty big auction is coming up from NETTE. There are some bargains to be had, especially in the Friday portion of the auction. I will definitely be there for the standard gauge portion.

This Ives set on the left caught my eye. There is also that wonderful 10 Interurban.

MTH please make the 10 and 1010 Interurban set. This is low hanging fruit! It won't take much to build this and you can re-use the tooling for passenger cars. It's one of my favorite pieces of standard gauge and is literally impossible to find in good shape.

Anyway, I got my rant out for today. Check out this auction. I keep driving by my neighbors homes and they all have trees. It still feels really early for a tree but I guess it isn't. Anyone have a couple of decent under tree train shots yet?


Monday, November 26, 2007

Some Tinplate Accessories On Display In Philly

Philadelphia's great Reading Terminal Head House used to serve as the portal to the Reading Railroad's many lines. These days it has been converted to office space with retail shops on the ground floor. There is also a display area. Each year there is an operating toy train layout set up. Some years have been better than others. This year the layout is quite nice and even includes tinplate accessories. It will be a very popular attraction for Philadelphians and visitors during this years holiday season.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Department Store Toy Trains

This did my heart good on Black see the return of toy trains to what once was the great John Wanamaker Department Store in downtown Philadelphia. When I was a child, this store had an entire floor devoted to toys, and of course, they had a huge operating layout at the holidays. In recent years, the store was sold and downsized, and for the last several years, under the Lord And Taylor moniker it was basically a woman's apparel and accessories outlet. What was once a great nine or ten full floors of department store now is down to just three selling floors. Recently, Macy's took over the store portion of the great building, and they've broadened the lines as much as space will permit. It's just a pleasure to see trains for sale again in a downtown department store.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Lots of auctions coming up, 2 from Stout and 1 from our friends at NETTE.

Also some decent train meets are coming up here in the Northeast.

Give thanks for great friends, great trains and your family!


Monday, November 19, 2007

More Stout Goodies

Here are five of the six different Dorfan standard gauge freight cars here offered as a single lot in the Nov. 30-Dec. 1 Stout auction. The lithography used on these Dorfan cars is just beautiful. They are really spectacular. Another interesting lot consists of an IVES 1134 green "President Washington" loco and tender. That piece doesn't come up that often.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stout Auction is up!

Check out the new Stout Auction - it is out on their website. I noticed a couple of standout items.
The first item would be the #7. I strongly believe it could be a McCoy #7. That would make it rare by Postwar Standard Gauge standards. It's a nice loco too. I am partial to thin rim #7's myself. With these getting rarer and the casting aging, this may be a great loco. I'm pretty sure it isn't a Cohen and there weren't many other folks reproducing these.
The McCoy Circus set caught my eye as well. It says in the description no couplers are mounted on the cars. I know this is a McCoy Circus set and I know that McCoy shipped the set with couplers. So why no couplers on this set? McCoy collectors, maybe you can illuminate me!

Last but not least this little Marklin gem. It is standard gauge. It has some repro stuff on it as well as a new paintjob. Even still, does anyone know the history of this loco? What kind of set was it a part of? Is it standard gauge or #1 gauge?


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Check out this collection....

Check out this toy collection. I found this by chance, I was looking around on eBay and I saw that Bill Hanlon's whole company (American Dimestore) is for sale on eBay. It's basically a collection of really cool little plastic cars. My guess is that sooner or later these little cars will be collectible. They are still for sale out on his website. Go take a look -


Auction Poll

Here is the link for the auction poll. Please vote!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Auction Question...

I was speaking with a professional auction house last week and they posed a very valid question.

"Do we really need to still have paper catalogs for auctions?"

With the internet as prevalent as it is and with the speed of publishing coupled with the agility of putting up pictures; do we still need to kill trees to do auctions?

I think I will post the question on the tinplate forums as well. I don't really think we need paper as much as we used to. Any thoughts?

Paper takes huge amounts of time for auction houses to put together, is static and costs the firms huge sums of cash. It costs me $25 every time I need to buy one of these things. I'm not sure they are necessary anymore.

I'm thinking a poll may be in order.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Allentown, PA. Train Show Tomorrow

I'm headed to Allentown, PA bright and early tomorrow morning to attend the "First Frost" train meet. This show is held twice a year and attracts table holders and train collectors from several surrounding states. It's a pretty big show that has expanded over the years. There is always a good amount of standard gauge at the show. I wrote an article about it a few years ago. You can read it here.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Abandoned Subway Plow

This is a self propelled snow plow! Apparently it was found in a subway that was abandoned for about 40 years! I don't know much about it other than it caught my eye at the museum because of its' unusual shape. I guess there's a prototype for everything. I wonder what kind of sound it made? I have to guess it worked or it wouldn't have stuck around as long as it has!


More Shoreline Pics

There was a nice Toonerville Trolley exhibit at the Shoreline Museum in East Haven, CT last weekend. I took a few shots (as close as I could). I'd actually never seen some of these materials up close. Unfortunately I didn't get to take as much time as I would have liked with the exhibit. It was getting late in the day and I still wanted to ride the trolley a bit.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bringing It Back

I bought an old tinplate set last week...the kind of stuff that is still coming out of attics 90 years later. The set was poorly over-painted and looked pretty crappy. I started on the caboose. It had enough of its original paint left underneath so that I didn't have to repaint it. I carefully stripped off the over-paint and preserved as much of the original paint as I could. But the tender needed to be repainted. Here's the "before" and "after." I knocked this strip and repaint out today in about four hours. The loco will be much more difficult and will take a lot more time. So who knows what trains I'm working on?


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Shoreline Trolley Museum 2007

In a basic hunt for cool things to do on a Sunday besides toss away more cash on trains either at shows or via eBay, I decided to grab my kids and head out to the closest (and one of the greatest) trolley museums. I do feel lucky, there are two within an hour of my house that are both absolutely top notch. If I drive even further I could go to more museums as well as the Brooklyn Transit Museum. 2.5 hours gets me to Steamtown (which is also unbelievable).

What got me this time was that I saw so many prototypes for so many great standard gauge trains. I got an authentic look at a Steeple Cab restoration in progress. Steeple Cabs are really growing on me. I also got a look at the prototypes for 10 series cars (yep, they have them at the Shoreline Museum in CT). What actually really threw me for a loop was the freshly rennovated PCC Streetcar fully brought back in mint/original factory condition. The green paint on this thing was still fresh and it was absolutely gorgeous. Really, standard gauge trains were inspired by real one's and don't give me any of that stuff about how standard gauge colors were "out there to attract female buyers in the 20's". That might have been true however reality is just as interesting; the colors on this PCC car are just phenomenal. They were bright, crisp and something you just don't see ever. Go ahead and click on it, this thing is a absolutely amazing. Here's the front:

Blow it up and take a look at it. It's no suprise that the last one of these rolled off the line in Europe in 1997! I wish American cities had these today. The lines are graceful and they had every convenience plus. Makes our current plastic based buses look like turds.

And speaking of current manufacturing, I was glancing around while I was riding on the streetcar and noticed something. Metal and wood. Tons of it. No plastic. God I love that! Natural materials plus materials that were built to last. Check out this seat:

The bulk of the inside of the trolley was either wood, wicker or metal (probably some kind of iron). The museum stipulates that all internal items must be authentic, no "sort of" reproductions or "good enough". Has to be spot on or it isn't going in the car and the car will sit idle until the real item shows up or is made.
Speaking of real items, here is a Steeple Cab in restoration:

This Steeple was made in Canada. They have two of them at the Shoreline Museum. The other one was out in the yard. This one is undergoing a full restore. I was watching the guys do some work on the pickup. Restoring these old trains is hard work, it looks immensely gratifying though. It seems very expensive, most of the items require custom manufacture although it looks (to me at least) that when a restoration is done, it is as good or better than the original and will last many years longer. Hindsight is one of those funny things in real trains and in toys. I can see why Voltamp cranked out their Steeplecabs. I was about 6 inches from this train because there was no room in the machine shop and it cuts an imposing figure. It is fairly rusty up top and much of the wood still needs to be replaced however it will be something to see when it is complete. I was told that this Steeplecab was for the most part scrapped however one young man had dedicated many hundreds of hours to it and got it running over a period of years. Kind of makes our toy trains seem kind of simple and easy in comparison.

More tomorrow.