Wednesday, January 30, 2008
How do I know?
Stout Auctions on February 8th and 9th, 2007. A ton of outstanding standard gauge popped up on eBay tonight. Boxed sets, some very nice variations and on and on.
New England Toy Train Exchange on Feb. 15 & 16th. An incredibly hot standard gauge auction. The April auction from NETTE should be even more outstanding.
Lionel and MTH are about to pop out new catalogs and MTH is on the cusp of shipping the first new 318E's (I think the first that have been shipped in the last 63 years).
Plus the Westchester Train Show in White Plains, NY is this weekend. It's always a good show. Honestly, I just like going into the County Center (built in 1924, it is a wonderful Art Deco building).
Still wondering if people play with trains? I was at a meeting tonight in Jersey City, NJ and I mentioned to one of my customer's that I like toy trains. He got a weird twitch in his eye and said he likes to take his kids to ride the #6 subway. He said that when it dead ends it actually turns around under the old New York City Hall and he's seen it a couple of times. He said there was nothing like it.
I feel like I just unleashed another train nut on the world....
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
There is only a difference of 1/8 of an inch between Standard gauge and two-inch gauge, but there is a world of difference conceptually. I’m a new convert to 2” gauge, but these great electric toy trains have a certain special antique nostalgia and they exude tons of charm with their relatively simple (some say primitive) construction and subdued colors. Two-inch gauge, two-rail electric trains, manufactured by Knapp, Howard, Voltamp, and Carlisle & Finch, dominated the electric trains market during the 15-year period preceding World War I. Only one manufacturer, Lionel, was making Standard gauge electric trains during those years. Two-inch gauge trains are scarce and can be expensive but they can be found from time to time at prices comparable to mid-priced Standard gauge locomotives and sets. You will need 2”, 2-rail track and a decent DC power source to run them, but they are a bucket of fun to learn about, collect, and operate.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The 10E set is from the Stout Auction. It's actually one of the best sets ever (this is the same set as my very first standard gauge Lionel set). It's unpretentious yet it runs forever and looks as good on a big layout as it does on a little circle of track.
The Stout auction has a ton of Flyer stuff. Must be one of the greatest S-Gauge auctions ever.
I'm blown away by those Rich Art Bi-Polars on eBay. Those things went for over $3.5k each to the same guy!
Auctions are funny things. I've seen great stuff go at auctions for diddly and than there's the $250k set everyone has been bombarded with since 2006. Watching the parade of toy trains go by almost never gets boring, it's almost as good as standing in the middle of Grand Central in NYC.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
What makes it so good is that it was very well written, well illustrated and a beautiful train found its' way into deserving hands at the end of the article.
Ok, so it isn't earth shattering; it is still worth taking a look. This magazine is a bit different from other Toy Train magazines in that it seems to cater to people that just like toy trains. I know it focuses on O gauge and there is a ton of high rail stuff. Still, it does a great job of catering to model railroaders in general. And besides, whenever someone invites me (and probably all of the readers of this blog) to see a great O gauge layout, we all go!!!
Check out the article and the wonderful balance this magazine seems to be hitting on with all cylinders!
The 390E Blue Comet engine has been coveted for years, predominantly because of its' unusual color scheme and because it came before the 400E to support one of the most recognized and popular passenger sets of all time.
The new MTH 390E is a solid reproduction of its' prewar counterpart. Really, the review for this engine isn't a whole lot different than the other 3 390E's I have already looked at. Here's a few observations:
1) This engine comes with Central Jersey plates. That does in fact make it easier to pair it up with the 300 series cars MTH shipped with the 384E set as well as the Blue Comet freights MTH shipped. When you see these together you'll immediately get it (I'll try and take some shots later on).
2) The flanging on the wheels is correct. I know this sounds insane but I've had a problem with some recent acquisitions. The flanging on the wheels is incorrect and the engine sways from side to side. These engines all seem to have the wheel flanging right. You'll know it when you see it. It makes a huge difference in how the trains run.
3) Since I do not have an original Lionel 390E Blue Comet the best I could do was compare the paint to the many pictures I have in my archive and with several flavors of Blue Comet I have (both MTH and original Lionel). The paint is almost spot on. I say almost because the prewar counterpart changes color with age. The newer Comets from Lionel and MTH are spot on. It's the same color. MTH did a great job with the paint for this. I have to say, one very positive thing I can say about all of the MTH engines I have looked at is that they seem to have put a process in place for continuous quality improvement. The soldering is solid in all of the right places and the paint application and application of exterior items like grab rails has been grown much better over time. When I pull this engine out of the box, everything is exactly as it should on the exterior of the engine.
4) The batteries are coming charged from the factory. This makes it much easier to get up and running immediately.
Enjoy the pics for now, more coming later!
Friday, January 18, 2008
The original version of this must have been a disappointment for many boys. You hauled downstairs on Christmas morning and expected to find a huge Ives set and you got a Lionel engine with Ives plates. And vice versa, if you were looking for a 390E on Christmas morning and you got slammed with the Ives version, how do you tell your Dad you wanted a Lionel?
Well, nobody will be disappointed with this engine in 2008. I'm glad MTH made it. I'll put up the Youtube video later. I don't have an original version of this engine to make a comparison however I can say that this engine is well put together and solid. One thing that does confuse me though, all of the 390E's except the Blue Comet version have freight sounds. I like the freight sounds but I tend to like to have a choice. I guess my next question to MTH will be to ask how to change over freight sounds to passenger sounds.
So what should we put behind these? What passenger cars would match an Ives 1770E?
They are very prevalent in the new tinplate products and they are necessary. Just be careful, I turned around for one minute and one of these had fallen on the floor and my dog was chewing on it.
These used to be lethally toxic, now they're just "harmless but not edible".
Stick 'em in a box and use them when you store your trains. They absorb humidity wonderfully and are good for your trains. Just don't let them find their ways to kids and pets...
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
It's almost a shame I can't go to Youtube and get a DVD cut of these. I'd love to be able to watch these without a broadband connection (say, on a plane!).
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Now this is one thing that frustrates me about the orange and/or green strip 390E. I know the frame on these is straight. Yet if you look at the stripe it looks a little crooked. I know, I know, it's the paint and not the engine.
Let's talk about the paint a little. I had a green 390E all original Lionel engine I sold a couple of months ago. This paint is almost spot on exact. The reason it isn't exact is because the Lionel paint was original and was aged. My guess is that it looked very similar to this when it was new.
Two things I noticed about the tender and this where MTH gets a minor slap on the hand:
1) The catalog shows this with Pennsy plates. The engine comes with Southern plates. Being that I am in the Northeastern part of the US, Southern plates really don't jibe with anything I have. Why MTH, why?
2) In designing more effective pickups, MTH put a wire underneath the tender that is strung underneath the tender from one truck to another. Now remember we also have a Protosound harness as well. I noticed a wire on the outside of my Flying Colonel engine as well. This is not a happy development MTH! Wires on the outside of trains is not a welcome development. Forgetting a minute about originals, wires (especially on the bottom of trains) are a huge potential maintenance hassle for operators. Is this something we can avoid in the future?
MTH did do a great job of making sure you oil the engine before it hits the pike. I'd highly recommend buzzing over to your local train store and getting some light oil. These trains do need to be oiled before they start running. MTH reminds you of it as soon as you crack open the box and I'd recommend you heed their recommendation.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Well, yes there are a few things that make this excellent. There are one or two things that you need to be aware of before you buy.
First, check out the pics -
In the enclosed picture the sides are silk screened different than any other I have seen-has anyone else out there have one of these, and is this an early production model proto type (not marked on the bottom as such)? I am 99.999% positive this is not a repaint and I have found a picture in a December 1968 TTOS Bulletin of this exact same car on display at a November 1968 TTOS meeting at the Arroyo Motor Hotel. Question 2-In the other picture of a plain cardboard box that the Performer Car came in which at first I was ready to throw away as a junk box. Just before I was going to give it a toss I noticed a very distinct rubber stamped 255 on the side and the end. Is this to a very early unmarked McCoy box?
McCoy experts, chime in!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
PS Bob is looking for ideas! Anyone have any? Think new tinplate ideas.
I did feel a quick blush of privilege by getting to open a new 390E. The last 390E made its' debut in the Lionel Classics line in the early 90's. It was painted and remarketed by several people in one off colors and we see both the black and one-off colors on eBay from time to time. The original is quite a bit different than the current offerings both in technology and build. I'll show you both the new product as well as the venerable Lionel original.
390E's are one of those strange engines that everyone seems to love but nobody seems to be able to pay alot for. Sure, there are the green one's that go for a huge amount of money but on the whole, if you wait and watch a decent black 390E can be had for under $1000 in very good condition. They pull and run just about anything from passenger sets to freight. They look good in front of just about anything; apparently Lionel thought so because it headed up the Blue Comet set before the 400E. And whoever painted it green a couple of times at the Lionel factory also seemed to latch onto a winner.
This box came extremely well packed. It looked like it had been opened since it came over the ocean and had been repacked.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Below: some snippets captured (and out on http://www.overheardinnewyork.com/) from trains running in and around New York City. If you want to see some really unbelievable quotes go to the above site, it's hysterical.
Wednesday One-Liners, the Shepherds of New York
Conductor: This is the last stop -- Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall. Y'all have a nice day and be good, now... But if you can't be good, be baaad.
Overheard by: Paul Schroeder
Conductor: Good morning, everybody. This is your 7:15 New Haven train, express to Greenwich. To infinity, and beyond!
--Connecticut-bound Metro-North train
MTA worker: This station is now closed. No train is coming here. You all have to get out of here!
--8th St N/Q/R/W station
Overheard by: bKSquared+AV
Conductor: Ladies and gentlemen, please remember that every car of this train has four doors, so 27 people in front of one door -- well, it is not scholarship material. Let's use our brains, people. Then you won't have to bump your guns and complain that the A is never on time.
--A train, 96th St
Overheard by: Emily B.
Conductor: Attention passengers, the last two cars will not platform at Bellerose, either. That means if the doors didn't open for you at the last station, they won't open at Bellerose, either, so stop standing looking confused, and walk forward!
Overheard by: Nathalie
Conductor: For those of you standing in the first five cars, the back three cars are almost empty. Come sit down! I'm lonely back here.
Conductor: And now... the mass exodus!
Overheard by: da sarkastik ninja.
via Overheard in New York, Jan 9, 2008
They actually want $5 for you to walk in the store and pick up the item! Why the heck don't they just push that cost into the net costing of the listing and item?
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Tunnels are one of those things that seem to be left out of everyone's production. Lionel and MTH seem to go for the complex stuff and leave the artsy stuff to the collectors.
This looks like a dynamite reproduction. I dropped a note to the company to see if I could get further info, supposedly standard gauge tunnels are coming.
If this is true, this could be exciting for us. I need some decent prewar style materials to model after and the colors are tremendously helpful for modeling landscapes for prewar trains.
The muted tones used in the tunnels and landscape plots look prewar and do serve a purpose. They provide color and still highlite the brilliant colors of the trains themselves. They help the trains get noticed and still add play value. They provide an important backdrop for the scenery however they don't plunge us into the world of highrail.
I can't tell you how cool this is if these folks proceed as planned. I'd love to see what they have in mind for the future. Please contact me if you know anything about these folks.