Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Ok, I know trains and halloween don't always mix. Train companies have been trying to mix it up with halloween for over a decade. It works a little bit (think the scary train part of Ghostbusters). Anyway, I was going through some of the McCoy collection and I found these orange (pumpkin colored) gems. Any of these would be ideal heading up a halloween special!


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pride Lines Voltamp 2130 Freight Set

If you have already purchased the Pride Lines reproduction Voltamp steeple cab, or even if you haven't, take a look at these great looking small reproduction Voltamp freights. You can order the complete set including the loco, or order just the cars if you already have the engine. The cars are Standard gauge, just like the loco, and are really done up to look like authentic Voltamp cars. There was a set on display at York. They look great!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

2" Gauge Duquesne Incline

Those of you who have visited Pittsburgh or have seen the Steelers play on Monday night know of the two preserved inclines that ply Mt Washington and overlook the city. The Duquesne Incline was the earliest, built in 1877. In 1962 it was going to be just another one of those Things That Aren't There Anymore, but some extraordinary people rallied to save it. This is what it looks like For a long time I wanted an incline to call my own. When I was in graduate school in Pittsburgh a crude wooden home-made incline showed up at local antique store but had a $325 price tag on it. For a graduate student in 1988 on a $650 monthly stipend this might have just as well been $32,500. A few years later it resurfaced in another antique store for $125, and at that time my stipend has increased to $900 a month. But that still represented about 1/3 my York money, and about 1/10 my yearly train budget. After looking at it long and hard, I decided I had to pass and stick to "real" trains. Also it wasn't anything I couldn't have made myself, and I vowed to make one someday. Of course I still regret that decision, especially since my wife spends that amount at Starbucks on a weekly basis. And it has taken me 20 years to get around to making one.

The beginning of the process was to determine what I wanted mine to look like. I really wanted something that looked like it was made by Voltamp or Carlisle and Finch. That meant it had to be simple and even somewhat crude, perfectly complimenting my modeling skills. I had some existing examples: Carlisle and Finch had made an incline toy around 1897. It had simple flat cars, and it only had a head house which looked like a garage with a smokestack. This actually was prototypical as Cincinnati had inclines which were flat cars with rails which carried the streetcars up the hills. Imagine if Carlisle and Finch had done that for their trolleys! Don't think I wasn't tempted, but I had no interest in seeing my Finch #42 trolley take a header off a mountain. The one I saw in Pittsburgh would have been easy to reproduce: the cars looked like smaller versions of the Lionel 2-7/8 gauge #100 but using perforated metal sides instead of solid tinplate. The headhouse was a simple arched roof on four posts. There was no foot(?) house or mechanism; it looked like it was meant to be hooked up to a steam or electric engine and hand reversed.

I was well on the way to doing something like this, when I realized that if I was going to all this bother, why not go all out and make an interpretation of the Duquesne Incline? I still wanted it to look like something that was made 80 years ago, but I put a lot more detail into the cars than Voltamp or Finch ever would have, including Joe Mania repro people. For the head and foot house, I decided to use paper labels like Finch used on their stations and early trains. Here it is < If you want to see a crappy video of it, use the youtube link below or click on the video:

The mechanism is simplicity itself: a DC gear motor turns a giant pulley and a relay is activated when the incline car wheels span a gap in the track, completing a circuit and reversing the cars. The headhouse has lights that alternate with direction showing which car is going up and which car is going down - a simple thing American Flyer used to do with their standard gauge engines.

To my amazement, all the work I did figuring out the desired linear travel speed and back calculating the pulley rotational speed, motor speed and pulley diameter actually worked out and on the first try the thing ran exactly as I had intended it. So maybe I wasn't able to afford the one in Pittsburgh because I was in graduate school, but that ednucation sure come in handy.

I made the stations out of sheet metal, and did the labels in Powerpoint. And here we have the problem. The paper I used was, well, paper thin and I had a hell of a time getting it on without wrinkling or bleeding the adhesive. Also after I was done and looked at it for awhile, I noticed that the entire station is completely wrong. It has all the styling cues of the real thing (good to have in a toy) but the proportions are all wrong (real bad to have in a toy). The real one is all cute and chubby, like a castle. Mine is lean and mean, like a fortress. It will have to be redone. Totally. The foot house was made as a quick mock up and I always intended to remake it.Also I need to do something about the mountain to make the station look like its built into the hill instead of hanging over it. That is way down the list of priorities.

I am not sure if I am going to stick with the paper label effect or go with painted metal, or even all-wood structures. I have been thinking about getting repro Ives lead windows and making the stations similar in construction to the the first series Ives stations. I could use some opinions on this.

Chief Jeremy

For those of you that are reading the TCA Quarterly or the McCoy Story, here is a good shot of Chief Jeremy. This is a highly unique locomotive for a whole bunch of reasons. It can be classified as rare and unusual and is truly a classic.

The Oct 2007 TCA Quarterly is OUT!

Let's just say I went into mild sugar shock when I eye-balled this Quarterly. This is the Q where Arno Baars goes over post-war standard gauge manufacturers and it is one of the best Q's ever! Of course I think there are about 100 or more Q's that are the best Q's ever but this one is pretty damn good. The photography of the standard gauge is top notch and the articles throughout are solid reads. Again, you must be a TCA Member to get this and this Quarterly makes joining the TCA worth every single minute and penny spent.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

McCoy Prototype Caboose?

I know I don't know diddly about what a prototype looks like. I'm guessing that this is pretty close? Anyone know the story on this McCoy caboose?

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McCoy Camden Trolley

A wonderful McCoy single truck trolley. Something to consider - much of the newer standard gauge gear needs wide curves. I guarantee that this little trolley will negotiate even the tightest curves! Nope, I don't have one. I've spent some time in Camden (New Jersey that is) and I've never seen one yet.

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Here's the other side of the diner. Blow it up and check out the little people. Somehow I think that not many of these will be finding their way to eBay!!

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McCoy Diner!

Betcha didn't know McCoy made a diner! Neither did I. But now you do. And it is a beaute!

This thing is brilliant. While it is a passenger car, it is also very slick looking restaraunt. Even if you can detail a car nicely, this thing looks like an authentic tinplate diner.

Not everything needs to be motive power to be innovative and exciting!


Youtube at the bottom...

I know, why is more Youtube at the bottom of the blog? I'm working on the HTML to integrate more video onto the blog. I like the video watcher on the right hand side and I'd like to integrate more video albeit a bit more cleanly. So if you'll pardon the clutter.....


Yes, this is a shot from my meager collection....

Campbells Soup

Just check out the paint and graphics on this McCoy boxcar. This is especially nice and they do appear from time to time on eBay.

Without a doubt I have seen many McCoy cars at shows and in the TCA and TTOS bulletins. If you want some standard gauge that is typically very reasonable and has a ton of charimsa, check these out.


A Model Train Enthusiast's Dream

Wow. All I can say is... Impressive.

I am guessing....

Lionel Trains, originally uploaded by Marilyn M.

I was wandering around on Flickr and I found this. My guess is that this is the California Train Museum (Tom Sefton). Whatever it is I love this display.

Click on the pic to get bigger!


Before you lose your mind.....

The catalog pics are not truncated. If you click on them you'll go to flickr and get a full picture. There's something wrong with bloggers picture management so I flipped back over to my Flickr account. Again, I apologize for the crummy scans. Hopefully you'll get the gist of what amounts to a good catalog. The green 390E is a definite Christmas wish. Go out to MTH on 10/22 and grab the whole PDF or go to your local hobby store and grab the paper version.


From the world of non-tinplate

SCAN0024, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

Premier item. Kind of threw me for a loop when I saw it (and the cars) in the catalog. We're picking up speed on a European offerings. I'm glad to see it but I am confused as to why? Is MTH going to compete head to head with Marklin? Are they getting requests for European gear? I love the prewar Marklin and Fandor stuff.

I hope we see more of this.


249 O gauge locos and cars

SCAN0023, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

Very nice MTH. Looking forward to picking one up.....

O gauge freights and a blue 256

SCAN0021, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

260E and O gauge cars

SCAN0020, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

Very nice. I do like the layout on this page a bit. I like not having to look on another page for the matching cars.

1694 and Cars

SCAN0022, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

I am thinking about picking up the blue 1694 and cars. Any thoughts?

Boxcars and flats with Loads

SCAN0018, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

More 200 Series

SCAN0017, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

Wonderful boxcars....

SCAN0016, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

I apologize for the scans...

Sets and Engines

SCAN0014, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

I'm trying to warm up to this format but it is just too cluttered. I am used to strong presentations in graphic arts and layouts. I wish MTH had broken this up a bit more cleanly.

Still, it's a ton of nice tinplate. I'm hoping that delivery will be sped up by fewer new product intros.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

200 Series Rolling Stock

SCAN0015, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

Some Sets and Cars...

SCAN0013, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

The 390E's

SCAN0012, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

Here's where the tires hit the road. I'm probably going to order both flavors of the new green 390E. Almost every original Lionel has something wrong with it. I've seen one or two $5k versions with everything perfect. Otherwise there's always some kind of scratch on the tender or steamchest warp....

Check it out!

318E and Comet

SCAN0011, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

More MTH Catalog...

B&O Set

SCAN0010, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

A wonderful set. I'm not sure why they put the race car set in their but they are both nice...


384E Christmas Set

SCAN0009, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

A downright nice set. Notice the Flyer switch tower in the lower right corner...

New MTH 2008 Catalog

SCAN0008, originally uploaded by mrkuffler.

Ok, here we go. I'm not going to add verbiage page for page. I liked the new catalog cover, it is quite nice.

Also, please forgive my scans. It's late, I'm tired but I knew that all of you wanted a look at the new catalog.



McCoy Trains

With all the chatter about McCoy trains, I thought I would post a couple of pics to remind everyone of how wonderful they are. A collector friend of mine just sent me about 500 of them thus I will post hundreds of pics in the next few weeks leading up to Christmas detailing these wonderful toys (and they are). Just look at this handcar in standard gauge. How can you possibly look at it and be sad or angry? It oozes happy.


PS Christmas is coming, be kind to one another (or you'll get a lump of coal in your stocking!)

MTH 2008 Vol 1

Ok, I just picked up the catalog. I'll post some pictures of it shortly. Some initial observations:

- It looks like the catalog was put together quickly or hastily.
Premier, Railking, Railking Scale, Tinplate and accessories are all in one catalog.
The page layout isn't bad but it isn't as nice at MTH's catalog page layout usually is.
- The Tinplate section is very crowded.
You'll see what I mean when you look at it. It's definitely been condensed.
I liked the separate tinplate catalog much better.
- MTH seemed to pick some thing out of past production to produce and not others.
Such as a Blue 256 (why not red or orange?)
The 384 Christmas set (why not do a 385E Christmas set?)

So this catalog was quite a bit different. There were substantially less accessories in this catalog than any other MTH catalog I have ever seen. The basic tinplate accessories were intermingled with the actual tinplate toy train offerings. Very strange.

Having said all that, the green 390E makes you forget the catalog layout. It was the one item that I would have and always have picked as an ideal tinplate reproduction. I recently traded away a green 390E. They are hard to come by and cost a small fortune in good/original condition. They are gorgeous engines to be sure. I do hope that MTH offers 300 series cars to match the 390E offering in the same colors (Green with Orange trim or Green with light Green trim). Regardless, this engine is an instant winner and I would highly recommend getting in preorders sooner than later.

All told, still a very decent tinplate offering. MTH essentially took items from the last 3 catalogs and put as many as they could into this one. Really, they've done so much new tooling and work for the last few catalogs, I'll cut them some slack and say I'm glad they are not loading up on yet another set of new tinplate offerings without first shipping the one's they have already promised.

Pictures inbound shortly.....


Monday, October 15, 2007

A quick walk in NYC

I was walking down the street in NYC (near West 4th and Bleecker. It was getting late and I was just hanging around walking around after dinner. We started walking down Bleecker and I saw....

Prewar Lionel trains in a store window! Could it be?!?! I'd seen postwar Lionel trains in the Bloomingdales window one year and I thought I was going to pass out. Real prewar Lionel in a shop in NYC?

The place was called "Second Childhood". The address is 28 Bleecker Street. I remembered it; my sister had told me about it when she lived not far from there. She said the gentleman that owned it was great to speak to and he had "my kind" of toys.

So I took a few shots with my camera phone. Before you think I don't know how to use a camera please remeber that camera phones are generally worthless and are epecially worthless at night. Thus I have to apologize for the lousy quality in advance. By the way, if you opt for one of these camera phones, ask how easy it is to get the damn pictures off before you buy it.
I'm going to go into the store (when there aren't bars on the windows) and I'll take a better camera.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Two Standard Gauge Blue Comets

This is the first time I've run the Boucher DeLuxe 2500 loco pulling these cars that I acquired last winter and custom painted to match the loco. The 418 series cars are shorter than the Boucher cars but they do have the six wheel trucks and look pretty good behind the big double motor locomotive. The 418m 419 and 490 are Williams reproductions. The 431 is a restored Lionel 431 diner.