Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It Begins....

I just ordered the benchwork for a new layout from Mianne. I know, I know; it isn't that big of a layout. I have to start somewhere and I need to run my standard gauge trains and accessories. Mianne makes modular benchwork (not SGMA type but not far off) and I know that if it needs to get bigger, I can add more. Of course I'll chronicle the building of the benchwork as well as the nailing of the plywood and eventual choices for tabletop color, etc.. What I am really interested in is what radius of curve I can get onto this and if I'll be able to squeeze on a switch or two.

Also, one question I have for everyone out there: what do you use to support your transformers and command structure? I'm curious, I've seen different ways to build supports for ZW's and the like. Does anyone have a favorite? I've seen quite a few however I freely admit I don't know the first thing about building a heat resistant and strong support for layout power.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Carlisle and Finch Reproduction incline and Station

I made a Carlisle and Finch Reproduction Incline railway based on a picture out of the 1897 catalog:

The incline was designed based on the catalog picture. It was made per usual finch practices; wood, cloth covered wire and tin. However a modern DC can motor and solenoid were used for the hoisting mechanism for simplicity. If I had to guess, I would say that the original incline probably used a mechanical lever arm connected to finch's typical drum reverse unit to reverse the cars at the top of the incline instead of a contact operated solenoid as I have used here. The catalog illustration is pretty vague on this, which leads me to believe it may not be an entirely accurate illustration.

Since no Finch inclines have been found, I made up the artwork to what the catalog illustration shows but also following typical Finch train station practices. The windows and doors were copied from a Finch station. The Incline catalog illustration shows simpler windows than were used for the stations, however that may or may not be accurate. The catalog could be in error or the illustration is too poor to see the detail. Also the windows are much bigger on the incline than on the stations. Although no one knows what size the incline was, assuming that the cars were 2" gauge, they had to be about 6" long. Scaling the whole thing up based on that measurement resulted in a 11.5" long station. To match the catalog illustration, the windows had to be 1.5" wide instead of 1" wide as used on the stations. The back of the station is just pure conjecture on my part, but based on the fact that all finch stations had a name on them, I couldn't help but think they put one on the incline. It has been said it was modeled after the Price Hill incline in Cincinnati, so that it what I went with. Although the catalog illustration doesn't show any sign for the incline in the windows, the stations have a ticket window sign in one window and I couldn't resist adding an incline sign in one window.

Since I was on a roll, I made a railroad station using artwork copied directly from
Finch small stations, however I think I made my station a fair amount
bigger than the real ones:

My station body is 12.5" long, 7" wide and 7" high. The semaphores do not operate, but that wouldn't be too hard to do. I have had requests to go into production and am considering it - let me know if you are interested. Any name can be put on them; I chose "Vandergrift" for this one because that's a town near where a friend of mine lives. Don't bother telling me the windows on the ends are lower than on the
sides, I discovered that AFTER I made two stations

Monday, April 21, 2008

York: New Voltamp Repro Offering From Pride Lines

New At York: Pride Lines Voltamp Trolley and Trailer in Standard Gauge. This new offering from John Davanzo and Co. was on display in the Orange Hall at York last weekend. It’s really a beautiful set. Voltamp is considered by some to be the American Marklin of the era, since Voltamp’s hefty construction was superior to the other 2” gauge manufacturers. Get your orders in for this beautiful set now, since production quantities are limited as with the other P/L Voltamp reproduction items offered in the past.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

New MTH Yet?

So has anyone heard anything about the new MTH catalog yet?

Inquiring minds.....


PS Great restaraunt in Hollywood, CA to take the kids. It's plain hamburgers and fries, the food and the service is consistent and overall is pretty good. The car is a hoot as well....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More On The No. 6

Work is progressing - but now a break for York.


A Worthwhile Project

I've been looking to buy a Lionel No. 6 engine and tender for several years. The right pieces just haven't seemed to come my way until recently. I picked up a set that needs some work, but this particular loco and tender really appealed to me because they are so early - ca. 1908. Yesterday I did some work on the tender trucks, which are the very early Type I closed sided three rivet variety. It will take me some time to get this loco and tender back into shape, but it will be worth it.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Rarities At Noel Barrett

Lot number 1374 at yesterday's fantastic Noel Barrett auction included two rare Dorfan light fixtures. I talked with a very experienced, long time collector who told me that, while he knew about these lights from Dorfan catalogs, he had never seen examples of these lights before. This lot sold for $4K. There were plenty of other interesting items at the auction. It was a great opportunity to see some real rarities.

It's York week and this year the semi-annual TCA Spring trainfest is sandwiched in between two significant tinplate train auctions, the Noel Barrett auction yesterday, and the Bertoia auction next weekend. Hey guys, spread 'em out a bit, will ya?


Friday, April 11, 2008

More Station Goodness....

Here's a page out of the world of Ives, Flyer and Lionel. Yep, they all look familiar and they are variations on a theme.

PS I confess. I am a station nut. I probably have somewhere between 12 and 20 stations. More than could ever fit on my budding layout. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams. I'll still settle for a free dinner at Red Lobster....

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

NETTE April 25th/26th Auction is up!

The NETTE Auction is up in eBay live auctions. This has some rather eclectic standard gauge from Ives and a few others. It is absolutely worth a look or two (or more).....

Oh yes, I've heard the MTH Vol 2 catalog is on the way for York. Anyone care to guess if they will roll out any new standard gauge? My guess is not until next year but I could be wrong....


PS - Take a moment to appreciate the photography and time that goes into these catalogs. I was at one of the NETTE sessions where they were photographing and cataloging the auction. Believe me, it is hard work to give everyone a good picture that is representative of a toy but not over selling it. The nice thing about NETTE is what you see is always what you get (and that's a whole lot of work).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More Stations 2....

Joe sent more great pics of stations. He made a great point: someone could actually just collect stations and collect trains as a secondary distraction.... Like fine red wine (boisterous yet dry), stations are their own collectible (expensive yet large and colorful). Regardless, even collecting Lionel variations could be pretty damn interesting. -Marc

Monday, April 07, 2008

More Stations

Joe sent me a great set of stations. These are really nice and again show how unique these models really are. Check 'em out!


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Dunham Studios

I saw mention of this link in the Yahoo Groups and I have to say I am very intrigued.  A $35k showroom grade prewar standard gauge layout?

This sounds spectacular.  Can a T&M video be far behind?  Let's hope not!


Friday, April 04, 2008

The Train Stops Here!

I took a few shots out of the upcoming Stout Auction and some past NETTE auctions to make a point. I think the most common item in any layout is the station. Yet stations are completely uncommon.

The scales are different. Each manufacturer has a radically different take on how to create a stations (lithography vs. pressed metal, etc.). Lighting is different and so seems to be the accessories or accessory that comes along with the station. We all tend to dwell on the Lionel classic stations yet here are wonderful stations from many of the other manufacturers. I have quite a few other pics of stations I'll post at some point as well.

I think the station is probably the most produced toy train accessory there is short of the banjo signal. Yet only a few are produced now (Pridelines, Lionel and MTH all have made some variation of the Lionel flavor). Yet there are still many wonderful Ives, Dorfan and Marklin stations that create a jaw dropping spectacle on any layout. I seem to remember the Marklin stations going for a small fortune at the Ward Kimball auction.

So what stations would everyone like to see reproduced? I for one would like to see something a little more updated like the Union Terminal in Cincinnati. Send me pictures of your favorite stations and I'll post them asap.

mrkuffler (at)

The Original 390E....

With so many 390E's from MTH, I thought it might be kind of interesting to take a look at the original from Lionel. It's actually one of my favorite locos. It can negotiate any curve, isn't especially expensive and can pull almost any freight or passenger set. Not much downside really other than it isn't a Hudson or truly reflected by a protoype.

What's the rarest 390E? Is there such a thing? I'd guess it be either the green or Blue Comet 390E. Is there something rarer?


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Aprochek Redux

I found this yet again in an old TTOS Bulletin. Now I know why Alex is into this stuff. Is this a Beggs set?


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A little on the Wakeling Story....

I woke up Sunday morning and decided I was going to read some of 400 ro 500 TTOS Bulletins and Quarterlies that were in my dresser next to my bed (no, clothes in there, sorry).

I especially like the 70's. I guess it is because of the truly youthful exhuberance these organizations had. There really was no committee this or bylaws that. There's always a little bit of the admisitrivia but it definitely is nowhere near what it is now. Most of it is just musing about trains. I love Rich Hackers columns on tinplate and some of John Daniel's articles are just spectacular (kind of like his trains).

I think I was looking at March, 1977 and the below flyer fell out. Now I know this is going to get covered in an upcoming book (the story about Wakeling) and I know there were some great shots in a recent TCA Quarterly of a mint Wakeling Inspector so I won't go too much into the history. Suffice to say, I do like John Daniel's vision. By the way, for you newbies it is John Daniel, not Daniels. And JAD is not named exclusively after him, he had other business partners that helped him sell as well as produce.

At any rate this Wakeling advertisement is just plain tantalizing. I have a few of these and they are every bit as great as the says, maybe even better. This is what happens when train collectors and people that are "do'ers" think outside of that box. Not everything needs to be from Lionel or Flyer from the 1930's. I have waxed on about this before so I'll spare everyone the jabber.

The manufacture of these was top notch. Much of the work was done by Dick Mayer of Rich Art fame. These are just huge curve balls because they do have historical prototypes, they are made out of metal and look absolutely glorious.

Does anyone have any pics they can send in? A few variations are out there....

At any rate, I'm glad I woke up and decided to go through some Bulletins. This just fell out of one. I wonder what else will fall out!?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

177 Scenic Railway

This little video has floated around for a while and I just saw it tonight. I love these little layouts, I wonder how many people use these are their main layout?


Kimball's Train Room

Another shot of Ward Kimball's train room from a TTOS bulletin. Simple yet engaging. He didn't have every variation of anything but he had alot of everything! Happy April!


I'm no April Fool....

31 Years ago this was the cover of the TTOS Bulletin. It was Ward Kimball's imagination that graced many front covers of this wonderful magazine. The whole photo is one rare toy after another. It just goes to show that anyone can still be a kid in April. In 1977 everyone was anxious to go see Star Wars again. I'd rather play with the toys in this photo.

Maybe we should all try an April diorama?


PS Any thoughts on where that skyscraper is from? We don't have enough tinplate skyscrapers!