Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Tom Snyder

Someone on the Yahoo Groups mentioned that Tom Snyder had interviewed Ward Kimball. I went out and found the link and I had to post it. It's wonderful, it probably will be rare and is just great. I'll post the other links as soon as I can.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Tom Snyder RIP

Been a bad month for toy trains - first Lenny Dean and now Tom Snyder.

Tom passed away at 71 years young on July 29, 2007 at his home in San Francisco. He was fighting leukemia for some time.

It's no secret Tom was a huge booster for Lionel and toy trains, even when it wasn't fashionable.

Tom was an amazing standard gauge collector, I would urge anyone with the time and computer to go out and order his terrific DVD from TM Books and Video (www.tmbv.com). I am going to make T&M Books and Video a permanent bookmark on the blog.

Tom will be missed. You can also click on the link above and go to E-online article.

Vaya Con Dios Tom....


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Just hanging out...

Some new posts on standard gauge are on the way, I thought I would post the cars that every standard gauge owner would love to have....


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Summer Treat

"Little Guy," the animal companion of Jack and Nancy Windt, on Jack's layout.

Anybody got any other good pet and train shots?


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Good Summer Reading From The TCA!

I've been having a busy summer and so I have not been able to post regularly to this blog, but standard gauge trains have not been far from my mind. I follow the action on EBAY with interest, although it has slowed down like most of the rest of toy train world for the summer. I did manage to snag this fine old Boucher loco and its tender a few weeks back. So even in summertime there are some standard gauge items of interest to just about all of us.

The recently published July 2007 issue of the Train Collector's Quarterly (the TCA's flagship magazine) has a great article, one of a series, penned by John DeSantis on "The Other Big Three" standard gauge manufacturers: Dorfan; Boucher; and General Trains. The text is informative and the pictures of the trains from John's collection are magnificent. I particularly enjoyed reading about General Trains. I have seen some of these trains on EBAY from time to time, but I knew nothing about them. John's article sheds a lot of light on this little known manufacturer of standard gauge trains from the prewar era.

Another fine article contained in this issue of the Quarterly focuses on Dorfan: "The Overlooked Jersey Jewel." Once again, the article contains lots of good reading and great pictures are included.

So, even though summer is more or less off season for those big trains we all love, there are some interesting items to pursue and some good reading is available. And it won't be long now until we're back into the high season for our beloved standard gauge trains.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Stay Tuned...

I have to check if this is from Ward Kimball's collection or from one of the TCA's founding members (Ed Alexander). Pretty sure it's Ed Alexander....

The glass canopy station is what caught my eye. If my guess is correct, just about any gauge of toy train could actually fit under that roof.

These were glorious trains. Does anyone have a prewar Marklin, Fandor or Bing layout they can show off? I wonder why the prewar manufacturers in Europe had so much greater detail than Ives, Flyer and Lionel? Also, the people look scale (which is always kind of unusual in standard gauge.

I still like glass canopy stations like this. The natural ligh through glass pulling into a train station really just makes everything more alive (I took a train into the Budapest Station last year in Hungary and it was really, really exciting (although I think our conductor last bathed in the late 70's).


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Herb Morley TCA Cars

Sometime ago someone showed me a McCoy boxcar and said they couldn't find any reference to it in the standard literature.

Here's a nice pic from the McCoy 1969 catalog. The reason it isn't so easy to classify was because these were special cars made up just for Herb Morley. The production wasn't in the thousands or even in the hundreds.

Check out the price tag and prepare for sticker shock! 9 whole dollars in change!

Don't give me any baloney that 9 dollars was alot than. 9 dollars is a great deal for a boxcar like this, even before 1969. These are really neat, can anyone send in some pictures of them today on a pike?

Oh ya, I liked the below picture of the McCoy prototype. Just a neat little train. Quite a collectors item now.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I liked this picture....

I just saw this picture and it made me think of days long since past. At least there's something in the window that I want to buy. Kind of hard to imagine this picture with "online" shopping.

I miss the old analog world.


The New Quarterly from the TCA

If there was ever a reason to join the TCA, this is definitely it.

I just received the latest Quarterly and Mark C. Boyd (the current editor) just keeps whacking the ball right out of the park.

Fact is, this isn't a good train magazine, it's great. This month there are articles about Dorfan, a really great article by John DeSantis on "The Other Big Three" and quite a few other articles that are just plain outstanding. The cover makes it worth it alone.

So join a great club and get a great magazine. PS you can make a few friends in the process!


Lenny Dean RIP

I just saw (on Prewar Times) that Lenny Dean has passed away at 81 years young. I met and had dinner with Lenny Dean in 1996 (11 years ago) at Toy Fair in NYC.

He's one of those people that just never seemed "old". He was always smiling, thinking and excited about what was coming next. As I recall, we had dinner at a nice restaraunt just a block from Grand Central. The guy was a character, you could ask him anything about Lionel and he always had some experience or some kind of anecdote about the trains that shaped the industry.

The thing about Lenny was that he was the living embodiment or ideal ambassador of what Lionel had and toy trains in general have come to symbolize: invention, sharing, brotherhood and the ability to share and learn at the same time. No small task for any human being.

I don't say this about many people but I will say this about Lenny Dean: the world is a little less happy without a man like him in it.

Lionel has put up a little picture of Lenny through the years on their website. I'd highly recommend you take a minute and pay your respect and solemn admiration to Lionel's favorite son.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

2008 Boxcar

Here comes the new convention car for the TCA. The graphics are impressive. I've included the link above for ordering and perusal of the O gauge stuff (blah).

PS Rumor has it the TCA 2006 "Gramps" MTH Tank car is shipping in August. I'm looking forward to it (it will probably make my August!!)

Al's Fantastic Layout!!!!

Like all great living things, layouts tend to reflect the hands that created them. If you are lucky enough to be in the TCA, you can meet the great man that created this layout and also view his wonderful collection.

This is Al Merris' layout and part of his collection. He dedicates the bulk of his display space to McCoy gear. Al is the gentleman that put together the Steeple Cabs some years ago that many collectors still avidly look for today.

It's better if I let Al tell you about his wondeful layout and collection in his own words:

"I've included an overall shot of the layout that better explains the concept. I've got two standard gauge lines. The main line (the articulated is on it) climbs over itself and has 072 curves and the grade doesn't exceed 2%. It is point to point and the articulated can handle 8 cars uphill (an E-2 can pull 10).

The interurban line intertwines the main line and has steep grades and sharper curves, but the steeplecab can handle 5 cars with ease. I will also be running McCoy interurban and trailer sets on this line and hope to someday have operating catenary. Between the McCoy carousel and the lake on the upper level there is an interchange track between the two lines per prototype. The articulated was made from McCoy components (two little chief chassis) by my friend George Perry in Portland. George was a very good friend of the McCoys and is also responsible for the OWR&N artwork on the boxcars in the forground. This is my favorite McCoy car. The bottom steam engine was Bob Jr's rework of the venerable Chief Seattle. He felt that after 20 plus years it could use an upgrade. I think total production was 9 units. He also created a new look for the passenger cars to match the engine and they are stunning as well.

In the broadside shot you see an open space in the collection....the REA boxcar behind the steam engine normally lives there. In the first shot you'll notice a large rock behind the pilot of the articulated. That is a chunk of Mt St Helens which was delivered to me by USGS helicopter in the early 80's, still warm. In the overall shot you'll notice I have a "groove" around my layout with a loop of Lionel "O" so I can run those trains too. You'll also notice a loop of "G"gauge going around the edge of the ceiling soffit. I like all trains, manufacturers and gauges. I have restricted my shelving (600 ft of railrax) to McCoy exclusively and have about 30 items in storage that won't fit. "

Al is going to be showing off his layout and trains at an upcoming TCA Event. I will ask that you respect Al's privacy. If you have any questions feel free to post them and I will forward them on to him. He's a great guy and I am honored to have his contribution and interaction with the blog.


PS Click on the pictures to blow them up. This layout goes to show not everything needs to be toylike or prototypical to still be amazing (the ends of two extremes).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

More Lou Hertz

From the great Mr. Dave McEntarfer, a couple of nice pictures of Lou Hertz.

The first is The first is from 1959 when SGA was at Bridgeport. They placed a plaque at the old Ives Factory.

The second picture is of Lou Hertz signing his new book 'Messers Ives Of Bridgeport' for his secretary.

It isn't a bad book either, I'd recommend a look for all of you newbies that are interested in Ives. Just because MTH remakes it and you can buy it doesn't mean you know everything about the men, the company or products. Believe me, the whole story and the un-produced or undiscovered products you aren't seeing are just as interesting as the remakes of the great products you can buy. At the very least, save an eBay search for "Hertz" and try to pick up one of his books. They may not be 100% historically accurate but they are interesting nonentheless.


Monday, July 09, 2007

A sight I miss....

This is from an old TTOS Bulletin. It's a sight I wish I could see more often.

These little engines are fetching some serious dollars now in the 21st Century market. It really amazes me that such a small group of people (the McCoy Family) could crank out so many wonderful engines -


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Where are they now?

I saw this in an old TTOS Bulletin and I just had to ask "Where is it now??"

This thing is pretty amazing, I'm guessing it is nickle plated. It was part of an auction/door prize for a TTOS Meet.

There were some really unique items given away (or sold/donated) at these events in the 60's and 70's. This McCoy Cascade is one of many such items. Now the auction item is typically some custom Lionel O gauge boxcar or a hat. I'm not saying it was better in the 60's or 70's, I just wish I knew how good we all had it than.


Another Pic of Lou Hertz

Hard to believe this was over a quarter of a century ago (28 years) - but it is. I liked this cover. If I can, I'll try to get the text of the article on Louis Hertz in another post.


PS Join TTOS - it's inexpensive and it is a great club!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Old Louis Hertz

Hertz is still often quoted and recalled. Go to just about any train meet with people over 40 and stories are told, embellished and than retold with relish and mustard.

I saw this pic of Hertz from June, 1937 Model Railroader Magazine and I just had to let everyone take a look. Collecting tinplate in 1937 must have been like shootin fish in a barrel. Lionel was closing out standard gauge (or getting pretty darn near) and WWII was almost in full swing.

I'll try to dig up a few other pics I have of him...


Standard Gauge Is Dead?

If we are to believe the current owners of Lionel than yes, Standard Gauge is indeed dead. If we are to believe otherwise, than we should let it be known as brilliantly as it was in the brief article that accompanied this wonderful picture in the TCA Quarterly in 1966 (yes, 41 years ago):

"Those who are inclined to say so are in error, as proven by the photograph to the left. The Thorley Hoople Toy Company of Palo Alto, CA is now in production of the passenger train passenger train shown. We wish to quote a letter received with the picture:

"Enclosed is a photograh taken at the April 20th meet of the Northern California TCA. TCA Member Willard Saunders on the left and myself on the right are discussing future projects of the Hoople Toy Company. The "Major Belle" train is rumbling by in the foreground, with two cars in another color scheme standing on the siding.

Also of interest is the size comparison of the Blue Comet car and the 29 Day Coach. The track is also cataloged. Our catalogs will be available at $1 after June 8 (1966).

Probably the most historic feature of the photo, other than those items already mentioned is that Will Saunders was the purchaser of set number 0001! This was particularly gratifying because Will and the other early buyers of these sets are all senior members of the local division and purchase only premium items."

The letter was signed George L Cody, Jr. Previously Mr. Cody sent us a copy of an advance sheet, actually a full scale drawing of the three-car train set. The locomotive is a short coupled 4-4-0 or "American" type with baloon stack. To again quote from the accompanying letter:
"The locomotive is primarily of brass. The cars are the size of Blue Comet cars with cast details, sheet steel sides, wood bottom and roof. (Archbar trucks.Ed) The loco has a manual reverse and will operate on any standard gauge layout." We wish to thank Mr Cody for furnishing this very detailed info on the new line of trains."

Please remember the above article is not from 2007, it's 41 years old. Even 41 years ago people that played with trains knew that standard gauge is not only alive and well, it has vitality and always will have a passion that caused people to be heartfelt and spirited about the hobby. They built new products around a toy standard that has now endured for a century.


PS I used the Courier font because it is the same font the old Quarterly's were produced with (probably using a member's old Underwood).

PSS If anyone has one of these Thorley Hoople sets and can send us some pics, it would be greatly appreciated!


Friday, July 06, 2007

On the way....

Heard through the grapevine that these little gems are on the way. I'm bugging MTH to find out when the next tin catalog will appear and what will be in it.

More later -

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fantastic Garden Layout on TRC

I know summer gets everyone in the train duldrums. Ebay sucks during the summer months and even the auctions are kind of weak (the live one's). Well, check out this amazing G Gauge backyard layout on The Railway Channel.

I urge you to check out the DVD's the TRC has for sale and fill out their survey. It's a fantastic bit of train movie making and it's a wonderful service I think we should support.

Back to 1957

Check out my link to Tom Tommorow's website above. Go to his June 28th post. Indiana Jones 2007 is filming in New Haven and they dropped the campus back to 1957. Tom took some pics of the Yale Campus (I'm guessing). He's right, it's like eBay exploded. Still, I like the storefronts from 1957. I remember when I was a kid in 60's and some of the storefronts were left over in my town in Michigan.

Ya, ya, I know, this isn't standard gauge or having much to do with trains (except toy trains that we like were affordable than) but it's still pretty darn fun.