Sunday, April 29, 2007

Terrific New SG Switches Are On The Way!

Just before leaving for York I got an email from Steve at Ross Custom Switches asking me if I would test a prototype standard gauge switch that he is developing. He wants his design to allow any and all standard gauge locos and rolling stock to be able to negotiate the switches without problems.

This photograph shows why many of the vintage "large gear" locomotives such as the Lionel #42 have problems with turnouts. Note the way the large drive gear dips down below the railhead. If there is not sufficient clearance between movable rails and check rails and at the frog, these vintage locomotives with hit, hop and jump over switch components. Steve's new design has this covered. All of my big gear locos and rolling stock with large wheel treads cleared the prototype without problems. Hooray! Terrific!


Friday, April 27, 2007

More York Goodies

Blog reader and standard gauge enthusiast Bert Schuck sent in this photo with the following information: "I thought I'd send you a few pics of some of the stuff I picked up recently at York and eBay. Check out the little Distler garage I got at York and the larger version that came out of Canada via eBay. They make a nice little industrial setting.The Dorfan bridge will make a nice companion to the Burplaspa tunnel on a floor setup.It should be an easy restoration. I like the Newark addition to my NYC theme."

So do I, Bert!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Elektoy vs. Lionel

From 1910-1913 Elektoy made #1 gauge trains to compete in the middle of the market. The lower end comprised O gauge trains from Ives and the German imports, the upper end was Ives, Marklin and Bing #1 gauge and Lionel Standard gauge. Elektoy made only 0-4-0 locomotives in electric and steam outline. Passenger and freight cars were simply made, looking a bit like a cross between Lionel's smaller series standard gauge cars and Ives lithographed 1 gauge cars. The cars were painted with rubber stamped details. Their delux engine was made in brass like a smaller version of Lionel's #7. However, unlike the #7 or #6 special, the Elektoy brass engine is the most common one to find of the series.

Alot of collectors like Elektoy and pay big money for it, but no one defends its quality. In fact it tends to be derided as crudely designed and simply made. At least I thought so until I got one of their brass engines (still need a tender).

A quick comparison between an Elektoy switcher shown below and a Lionel #5 shows how much nicer the Elektoy is. Lionel #5s were selling for $8.25 in 1911 with track and the smaller Elektoy 0-4-0 was selling for $7.00. We don't know how much the Elektoy switcher sold for because it wasn't cataloged. There are about 6 known.

Notice that the Elektoy is all metal with a bell whereas the #5 has wooden domes boiler front, and cylinder ends and no bell. The Elektoy has rivet detail on the steamchest, boiler and bunker and a really nice octagonal headlight with pedestal, whereas the Lionel has no rivet detail except for the cab and a simple round headlight stuck on top of the boiler. The Elektoy is better proportioned than the #5, which sits too far forward on the wheels. The coolest thing is the Elektoy name engraved in the steam chest. For a middle of the road item, they really did a nice job.

Monday, April 23, 2007

G Gauge Colossus

While you guys were in York spending $$$, I was rolling up and down the Eastern Seaboard. I found some trains in Orlando!

Now if you haven't been to Orlando, it has become a Mecca for all that is dubbed "tourist".

There was this place in Orlando called "Trainland". As far as I can tell, the place was really started to offer aerial/helicopter rides to Orlando visitors and the owner just happens to be a train nut.

This layout is worth the $8 price of admission. It is absolutely gigantic. 10 trains actually run at once as well as several trolleys. It's all G gauge. The layout itself is enormous. I can't really tell what the dimensions are because it has several very, very large mountain ranges and seems to go on and on with details for quite a distance.

I was on a tight time budget so I didn't get to look as much as I would have liked but that shouldn't stop anyone from chugging on over to International Drive in Orlando and taking a look at this place. It isn't standard gauge but it is one impressive layout. My favorite part was the town and the trolleys that ran through the middle.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Return From York

Tinplate has largely been about color for me. I've been a great fan of English outline 0 gauge locomotives and I have a few nice examples that I operate with with passenger car consists, but up until now I've not had any compatible "goods wagons," (freights.) Here are are some beautiful and interesting Hornby wagons that I found at York. They are all pre-war 0 gauge tinplate, mostly dating from the 1930s. I was happy to pick these up because there is not all that much Hornby available stateside. It would probably take me many months to acquire this many fine cars.

The big buzz around the halls and hotels was about the Knapp 2" gauge engine and tender that was priced at $250.00 and sat unnoticed on a table in the Silver hall behind a Lionel #29 day coach for several hours, before being spotted by someone who realized its four-figure value. Why didn't I see it?

The bandit meets continue to decline in terms of attendance and their importance. I heard that some big outfits are planning on cutting back their presence at the unofficial meets in the future. With hotel prices high, it makes sense to cut your stay short if the business is not there. The weather was crappy early in the week, but by Wednesday it had improved enough so that people could set up at the outside venues.

I enjoyed the Toy Train Paper & Memorabilia Group meeting on Wednesday evening, so ably hosted by Joe Mania, the TTML breakfast on Friday, and the SGMA Altoona event planning meeting, also on Friday. Inside the halls there was plenty to see as always, and plenty of people to chat with. Mike Wolf was busy with quite a crowd at his MTH Trains display. Lionel was there as usual, as were just about all of the usual vendors. One notable exception was the absence of Pride Lines. I understand that John Davanzo is not feeling well. Get well soon, John!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

So what caught everyone's eye at York?

What did everyone see at York that was a "must have"?

Is everyone at home finishing up their own unique SGMA module?

Or is everyone just sitting at the Applebees in Lancaster wondering if they can stay at their table until October?

What did you see that caught your eye?


Why am I supposed to be excited again?

Just saw Lionel's Christmas catalog. Why am I supposed to be excited again? It's a retread of quite a few items Lionel has already produced repeatedly.

A G-Gauge Polar Express? Ok, the first one was nice but it's getting a little overdone. I'll be interested to see how Lionel reproduces the trains from Harry Potter.

I am a Harry Potter fan thus I am hoping/wishing Lionel does this right.

Why am I so hard on Lionel? Because I expect them to be better than everyone else, that's why. The catalog is weak. Apparently Lionel doesn't discern between short term profit taking and long term market building. I hope the catalogs get better and I hope their are no more repeats of the less than superb #45 Gateman.

Come on guys, this isn't rocket science.


PS Sorry Lionel, we can't all be like Certain Toy Train Magazines and kiss your ass.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Time For York

This is the parking lot at the "Holidome" in York, the site of probably the largest of the "bandit" meets that are held preceding the twice Yearly TCA Eastern Division train meets. This picture was taken on a chilly, cloudy day under threat of showers, and this week conditions are similar, or worse. Many people complain that the the "bandit" meets are shrinking and are now only a shadow of what they once were. I suppose the cause is the usual suspect: online auctions.

This is the ballroom area in side the Holidome. I usually just make a day trip to York in the Spring, but this year I'll be there Wednesday through Friday. I'm looking forward to looking at trains and talking with friends. On Friday the Standard Gauge Module Association will meet for lunch to discuss the upcoming display at Altoona in August. It'll be fun even if the weather is not so great.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Here in the Northeast this morning, the station master has piled all the freight inside the station, out of the rain, snow and wind.

I'm a great fan of tinplate lithography and this charming little IVES #200 Freight Station is another great example of prewar tinplate litho. My research indicates that IVES assigned the catalog #200 to two different accessories, this freight station, as well as the massive #200 power house, another heavily lithographed accessory. This would make a good tinplate trains trivia quiz question!


Friday, April 13, 2007

youtube experiment

due to popular demand (2 of you) I am working on putting vids of my Finch and early lionel on youtube. Try this out and let me know. Quality is going to both suck and blow because I have a cheap camera, but I want to at least see if I can get the internets to work for me

I'm Not Happy Bob. Not Happy.

This little guy is Gilbert Huph from the Incredibles. Brad Bird is one of my favorite directors and the Incredibles is one of my favorite movies.
Whoever drew this guy and/or came up with him is a genius. Tension and anxiety racks every part of his tense body. The movie is a work of art, if for no other reason: Gilbert Huph. The title of this post is a quote from the movie.
With that said, this guy looks like I feel. Before I completely trash anyone, I just want to say that I won't. I'm venting.
I paid for my new tinplate items over two weeks ago. I planned on writing a review this week. I have yet to see a a single item despite numerous calls and promises to the contrary. I paid for them on time yet they are SITTING in someone's shipping department waiting for someone to slap a shipping label on them.
Now, am I going to trash the company that is selling me these?
I'm Not Happy Bob. Not Happy.

More Pics and Labels

More imagery from the wonderful Indig auction at Maurer.

That bottom one is ridiculously nice. Seeing these pictures makes any criticism of this auction kind of moot. Just seeing the trains would be worth the trip!

I know a few are wondering what these little "labels" are under the articles in the Blog. This is one of those nice things that differentiates a computer generated magazine from the paper kind. These words are headers the authors give the articles they write. There are almost 900 articles in the Standard Gauge Blog. If you're like me, you see something you are interested in and if you're lucky, you remember it. More often than not we forget way too much of what we know or we think we have seen in the toy train world.

That's where the headers come in. They are tags for the Google database engine. Too technical? Let me whip out my techno weenie translator:

If you want to search for articles in the blog and have your results be accurate, these words help.

Now go get that tax return so you can buy some more trains!


Not Your Average Reproduction!

For those who haven't seen it, here's the Pride Lines steeple cab now available from John and Joyce Davanzo at Pride Lines. When I talked to John at Maurer he told me that the small cars to go with this great little reproduction will be available at York. This is really another fine model of one of the most popular locomotives from the great Voltamp line of toy trians. Look at that massive double field motor. This piece is hefty!


Detroit News Article (Rearview Mirror)

Just perusing the Detroit News Website and I found a neat article on Toy Trains. Not especially localized to Standard Gauge, I actually just liked the pictures. It had the usual pablum about Lionel, Dick Kughn and so on. Stuff we all know and have heard way too many times.

This article also has a pictures link that has some interesting toy pics as well as a distinguished old hobby store I know I passed by as a kid.

Check out some of the other pics of Detroit in its' heyday. The trolley pics are exceptionally interesting. Before the auto companies, Detroit was a major town for trolleys and traction. Unfortunately the auto companies obliterated that concept out of existence. Funny considering the circumstances they find themselves in today.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

April 2007 NETTE Auction is Up

Go out to NETTE and check out their new auction. It is very large and covers a wide range of different trains. There are some definite standard gauge pearls in the mix.

Yes, I know this isn't standard gauge but isn't it neat? The more I look at this Voltamp and Boucher stuff the more I wish they produced more of it. I wonder what designs never made it to the drawing board? The one's that did are classics. Toys just don't get better than these.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Indigs auction

Well, I wrote a long winded piece about the indig auction and for some reason when I went to put in pictures, it deleted it. I have no energy to write it all over again.. Lets just say that the prices realized pretty much reflected the condition of the stuff, I spent 3 hours at the preview looking at only the pre WWI stuff and still couldn't tell what was going on with a lot of it, and there were a few good deals, but no real bargains, to be had. I think I got one of them:

this is a 1911 Special that I have been wanting for about 25 years. A friend told me last year that there may only be about 10 of them out there. That sounds a little low to me, but basically, they are hard to get. And it runs just fine - I couldn't believe it. I am sure it had been sitting on George's shelf at least since it was photographed in Lou Hertz The Toy Collector book back in the 60's. The other thing I got wasn't such a deal. I thought it was the deal of the century until I did my research AFTER the sale (we can't know everything, can we) and found out I paid a bit of a premium for it.

Its an Althof-Bergman engine from ca. 1875. Being a floor toy, its not exactly standard gauge blog-worthy, but I dragged it all the way home, so I am gonna post it.


Layout Pic

Rob sent me this pic of his friend's train room. It's the kind of busy layout we'd all like to have...


Standard Gauge Module Group YORK Lunch

Here's an invitation from Jon Hinderer and the Standard Gauge Module Association (SGMA):

Join us for lunch at the York meet: 12 Noon in the cafeteria between the Red and Black Halls on Friday, April 20th.

Review the latest news on module construction and standards, and hear about the schedule of module displays for this year.

Bring your questions, suggestions, and Standard Gauge stories, and met the other members of the Association.

The SGMA will be presenting an operating standard gauge layout at the Toy Train Operating Society (TTOS) convention in Altoona later this year. There are some special features planned for the SGMA layout including a horseshoe curve! It should really be something to see.

If you are going to be at York next week, be sure to stop by and grab a bite to eat with the SGMA group on Friday at noon in the cafeteria on the fairgrounds.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Sharing the Pics!

In the spirit of sharing pics and info, Ron Blume sent me these pics from the Maurer Auction this past weekend. Wow! I hope these trains see some track time when they go to their new homes.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

The George Indig Auction At Maurer

I attended both sessions (Friday and Saturday) for a few hours each day. Funny how some commentators opinioned that many of the pieces were in poor condition. But as far as I'm concerned you would never know that from the prices realized, particularly on the rare stuff. From my perspective prices across the board were equal to or greater that what I'm used to on EBAY and elsewhere, and at least for me there were no "deals" to be had. I made no purchases either day, not because there were no items that I was interested in, but rather, the bidding was intense and items quickly exceeded my predetermined maximums. I'll let others who were there comment further and simply say that it was fun to watch the auction, examine some of the rare pieces, and chat with attendees.


Monday, April 02, 2007

making an elevated railway

Marc asked for tips and strategy for making elevated railways. He wants to run an elevated 2 7/8" line. Mazel Tov!

Making and elevated line is all about 2 things

1) What do you want it to look like?


2) How much time do you want to put into it?

We all need to answers those for ourselves. As for me, I had two simple requirements: I wanted it to look late victorian/ early Edwardian. This was before the whole Bauhaus movement that said form should follow function and ornamentation was frowned upon. I love Bauhaus, but my collection is Edwardian. So that meant my elevated posts had to be a bit frilly. The second requirement was that the track be supported by a substructure. Every toy train company that made elevated posts did just that, made posts to elevate the tracks. There was no substructure, the rails supported the trains between the posts, and the track just kind of hung in mid air. This goes for post war Lionel and Gilbert trestle sets as well.I really really do not like this look.

So as far as posts go, ideally I would like to have used Carlisle and Finch posts, but can't find any, even repros (see pics, and notice how ornate they are).

I thought about using cut down turned coffee table legs from Lowes (see picture, either end up), but decided against it because I thought it would look too fat. Thinking back, I don't think this would have been a bad idea, and would certainly try it for 2 7/8" gauge. However in the end passing on it was the right choice because some of my trains just barely clear the skinnier posts I used.

What I ended up doing was turning all 11 damn posts myself on a lathe. This took forever. The post design was pretty much the first thing I came up with on the first attempt. Nothing too fancy, some bumps and a bulge at the top. I really should have made some "arms" that stick out to support the sides of the track but got lazy. Actually the first post I made was quite a bit taller than this. I didn't want the trains too high in the air and played around with the height before committing to making more posts. My posts are 8 1/2" high and will clear everything except maybe a 200 series crane with the boom up. Someone with more interest than I can find out the real New York Elevated height and come up with a correct post height (standard is what - 1/26 scale? around 15.5/32" = 1'? So 8-1/2" is about 18.7').

Looking at the actual New York elevated RR trestles, I would probably do it differently now. Instead of round posts I probably would go with something more like Lionel 2-7/8" posts with lattice work. Lowes or Home Despot should have some kind of preperforated strip metal that can be used.

The other criteria was that the track be supported by a base. I used 3/8" square basswood, some more straight than others. One under each rail. I thought the rails would straighten them out but they didn't and parts of the elevated suffered for it. These were laid first lengthwise on a jig, the ties glued on top crosswise using voltamp, or repro voltamp ties in between for temporary spacers, and the standard gauge rails screwed down to the ties. The track was made in individual sections that can be taken apart like ordinary track when I move. If you are going to use 2-7/8" or 2" gauge strip rail, the ties need to be lined up so that the slot in the ties is in a straight line. The rail can be inserted after the elevated is set up. For the curves I cut the 3/8" wood into 3/8"x1/8" strips and bent three of them around a jig the same radius as the curved rails and laminated them together. Like the straights, ties glued on top, rail screwed to the ties. Again for strap rail-in-groove track it would be very important to lay the ties out such that the groove was lined up and even for the rail to slide in.

And that is about it.



OK, will someone please tell me what I'm missing here. This is a Lionel thick rim #6 and tender that just went for $1,625.00 on our "favorite" online auction site. I don't know that much about these locos, so when I saw this listed I went to Doyle's "O'Brien's" price guide to see about what it was worth. He has it at $500 in C5 and $1,200 in C8 condition. This one is C5 to C6. SO, of course, any train is worth what you're willing to pay for it. If it makes you happy then it doesn't matter what you paid for it. I'm just trying to understand what's going on here. Tell me something I don't know.