Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Where's my truck???

Some new standard gauge pics are coming.... In the meantime, I just need a truck!

PS This is a real bonafide Subway Truck!


Saturday, January 27, 2007

More Great Scratchbuilts From Joe....

There's much to be said for scratchbuilding. It's sort of the high watermark of the hobby. A "High Watermark" is defined as the highest level of achievement or the apex.

The thing is, Joe (the builder of these wonderful items) probably hasn't hit that point yet. Every time I speak with him he's learning something new or he aspires to learn something new OR I better be telling him something new.

All the info I have and anyone can give is grist for his ideas. What I genuinely respect about him is his open mind and ability to put ideas into tin. I can't do that. I would like to though. I watch the O Gauge Tinplate Boards and forums. I see newbies that desperately want items that take a long time to acquire or are just too expensive. One the many actions several generations took before us is that when they couldn't get something they wanted, they built it themselves. If you can't find a 400E or cars you like, fine. We'll make them ourselves. I guess that Joe is damn good inspiration. Maybe I can head out West and he can teach me more than I know now (diddly).


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Road Trip

One way to break up the winter doldrums is to take day trips, so recently my S.O. (Dan) and I drove out to Pennsylvania Dutch country for our first ever visit to the National Toy Train Museum. We had a great day weather-wise, and we were both amazed at how close the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum is to the TCA museum. Naturally, we combined a visit to the two museums and enjoyed the displays of tinplate at the museum and some of the prototypes on display at the RR museum.

Both museums are impressive. The caboose motel, located just next to the TCA museum, is a sight to see all by itself. It must be interesting to stay overnight in one of the cabooses.

Dan (R) liked the interactive displays at the TCA museum and we were both impressed with the size of the PA. RR museum.
The only downer came when we walked inside several of the vintage passenger cars at the RR museum, which are awaiting restoration. Their condition made us sad as we tried to imagine how nice they looked during their glory days.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Information Needed On Skelly Kits

Our good friend, Standard gauge list member and Standard Gauge Module Association member Jon Hinderer, is still looking hard for any information on Franklin Shelly, and his "Poor Man's Presidents' Specials." See the latest Tinplate Times for an article that Jon authored on these boxcab conversions. If anyone can help Jon with more information on the Skelly kits, please drop him an email at hinderejb@yahoo.com. Thanks,


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Something In The Oven

What do you do if you have a locomotive but no cars to pull with it, and the correct cars are next to impossible to get? One option is to make cars out of something close that's relatively cheap and available, and that's what I'm doing this week. Repainting tinplate is fun and rewarding, but it's time consuming and tedious work at times. Small tinplate jobs can be done relatively quickly and easily. But with big cars, where you have to remove trim, doors, windows, etc. and carefully mask everything, you just need a lot of time and patience. For best results, you have to "bake" freshly painted tinplate - not too hot - just warm, actually. For small one shot jobs you can use the family stove if the significant other is out of the house and you can open a couple of windows to get rid of the odor. But for a big multi-car tinplate repainting project, you really need your own "shop oven." I'm using a trunk with two 75 watt bulbs and reflectors. It gets nice and warm in there and it only takes about an hour to cure the fresh paint.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Toy Trains Unlimited

First, let me apologize the bizarre formatting the blog has been doing. The HTML is starting to show its' age. The blog code itself is almost 4 years old: that's like 20 dog years.

I am debating on if and how I should change the template or update the existing HTML. Enough computer stuff.

Kenny at TTU sent me some pics of the layouts they are creating. These are really outstanding.

He mentioned something about rolling the 177-B standard gauge layout. I'd love to consider one of these layouts as a permaent home for some of my standard gauge. Any thoughts? These guys just put together a beautiful and accurate product. I know it can be limiting. I have O gauge and 2 7/8 that I run often (by the way, if you like the sound of standard gauge you really out to try listening to 2 7/8, it is noisy and has a bit of a different tone to it).

So any thoughts on pre-fab layouts? We really haven't had the option in quite a few decades, at least in classic Lionel dealer form. So is it better to roll a toy train layout with your own two hands or is it better to have time to run the trains as they were meant to be run; on a terrific layout created by skilled craftsmen?


Sunday, January 14, 2007

NY Transit Museum - Toy Ideas for Layouts

Some cool toys. Not everything on a layout needs to have flanged wheels and a Bild-A-Loco motor in it...

This gave me some nice ideas for my budding layout.


Friday, January 12, 2007

More Interesting Tinplate

I've been looking around lately for some larger standard gauge passenger cars for a project. I want to repaint the cars to go with one of my locomotives for which I have no consist. Often I see shells or rusty cars in need of restoration, and that was one option. However, the amount of work necessary on such cars is much more than would be necessary on complete cars that have already been repainted once.

I found a set of Williams Reproduction Limited 418 series cars this week. The cars are complete and will not require much work to get them ready to be repainted. The cars are quite interesting. Take a look at the tables and chairs and the restroom in the 431 diner car. To me the table and chairs strips look like original Lionel tinplate that has been installed in the reproduction car. Other cars also appear to have original Lionel chairs in them. I read somewhere recently that Jerry Williams acquired Lionel tooling for standard gauge items back in the 70s, which he later sold to Mike Wolf. I suppose this explains how Williams, and later MTH are able to make so many of the ex-Lionel design standard gauge tinplate locos and cars.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

TCA & 100 Years of Standard Gauge

I just received the new TCA Quarterly in the mail. It's probably one of the best Quarterly's I have ever seen. It celebrates 100 years of standard gauge. Just the pictures alone make it worth the time and effort to join the Train Collectors Association.

I can't/won't post any of them here. Frankly I don't want to ruin it for the folks that haven't got their hands on the Quarterly yet. The calibre of the writing from John Desantis is outstanding. It's almost the kind of thing I would have hoped CTT did but that didn't happen. CTT's homage to 100 years of standard gauge was weak at best.

The TCA's is quite strong and the other articles and information in the Q are equally interesting. The only thing I would have really liked to have seen covered was what the next 100 years will hold. I like seeing what people want or think should be there, especially as the torch gets passed to another generation.


Monday, January 08, 2007

New to SG

Emit sent me some pics of this new trains (of the Ives variety).

He's new to standard gauge; we need to welcome him and tell him thank you for the wonderful pics. He's a recent covert also interested in Voltamp (interested in the Pridelines Trolley).

I am looking forward to many great pics and stories. Even in 2007 (the year everyone was supposed to have a hoverbike and a bungalow on the moon) standard gauge is still a very magnetic (pardon the pun) toy.

I also liked the gargantuan standard gauge cat (ok, it's a real cat that's just plain big). I have two cats but I have banned them from the train room. They're just too rambunctious around my antiques. I have enough trouble just keep the stuff I have straight and in some mild order....


That cat is exceptionally well behaved!

On the subject of charming old tinplate, I sort of hit the jackpot Sunday morning at the TCA Atlantic Division meet up in NE Philadelphia. The meet was well-attended and often there are some interesting surprises that either appear on the tables or come in through the front door. If you can get past the tendency of some of the old timers to clam up about what they have, guarding their treasures like they were made of solid gold, or that they are classified state secrets, you can sometimes learn a thing or two and get to see some interesting trains.

On one table I found this wonderful and seldom available Dorfan #426 three-story illuminated tinplate station from 1930. This is the second largest station that Dorfan offered. According to reference materials I have, tinplate stations like this with clock faces over the entrances may have been made for Dorfan in Germany. The station is missing its roof but it is otherwise complete except for the interior light socket. There is some flaking but the flaking on the yellow brickwork actually makes it look really authentic. Needless to say I grabbed it when I found out I could have it for a mere $75.00!

Once home I took to the shop and fashioned a Mansard roof for the station out of mat board, glue and some spray paint. I think you'll agree that it makes a stunning tinplate display! I love the platform posts and the corrugated covers and the little arched tunnel that runs from the front to the back of the station. These stations were, of course, intended to go with either 0 gauge or standard gauge even though their scale is a bit small for standard gauge, but we're all familiar with that from Lionel villas, etc. This acquisition was certainly a surprise and made my day, needless to say!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

NY Transit Museum Toys

Instead of fretting over the new Lionel set, take a look at these.

These toys are completely charming and there is no disputing it; when the kid or adult opened the box, their heart skipped a beat and they had to catch their breath.

There's a nice toy exhibit at the NYC Transit Museum in Brooklyn. Something kind of cool: the original design of the Empire State Building was supposed to have a dock for dirigibles at the top near the needle.

Check out the Erector version of the Empire State Building and the Erector Dirigible. It's just too cool. PS The Hudson and Erector truck is also just amazing.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Would Be One Pretty Standard Gauge Locomotive!

I was doing some reading yesterday about the famous PRR S-2 #6200 6-8-6 steam turbine locomotive that became so famous as a Lionel product in the Postwar period. You may know that there was only one prototype built, and that the single locomotive's service life was under five years. Diesel power had its foot firmly in the door by the time the turbine came on the scene, and it was doomed from the start. #6200 was scrapped in 1952, less than 10 years after it was built. It's one of toy-train-land's great ironies that Lionel made and sold thousands of models of turbines for a period of several years.

What you may not know is that the development of the PRR steam turbine was based upon an earlier British steam turbine locomotive, the London, Midlands, and Scottish (LMS) #6202 "Turbomotive," a Princess class (4-6-2) engine designed by the famous Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LMS, W. A. Stainer. Click on the link in the title to see a picture of the "Turbomotive." The Bassett-Lowke 0 gauge tinplate model pictured above is of a Stainer Pacific, the "Princess Helena Victoria." Unfortunately, the British experiment with steam turbine power was as problematic as was that of the Americans.

Another interesting fact about the turbines is that, unlike conventional steam locomotives, they were actually gear driven, just like so many of our standard gauge tinplate models. The turbines were actually geared to the drive wheels! There were massive side rods, but no pistons and valves.

I've really become quite enamored of the prototypes as well as the beautiful tinplate models of British steamers, because the design of the prototypes so lends itself to reproduction in tinplate, unlike American steamers. I'd love to see a standard gauge model of one of these British steamers, whether it be of the Stainer Pacific or the famous Gresley A3 standard or A4 streamlined Pacifics. Imagine the "Princess Helena Victoria" pictured above in standard gauge tinplate!


Monday, January 01, 2007

Four Trains Running!

Happy New Year to all! I've been having a good deal of fun playing with my new MTH Blue Comet set. Here's a video of it running with my other three loops in operation. It makes for quite a bit of standard gauge action and sound!