Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Resurrection - Part 1

During York week a very rusty Carlisle and Finch set showed up on eBay:

The engine was clearly a first series paper label #4, but the cars were unlike any Finch cars known. They look almost exactly like Finch’s first series coaches but they are made of tin or steel instead of brass, were painted (at least at one time), and have circle top style windows instead of arched windows.

I was in too much of a hurry to think much about what I was doing, or even read the description closely. I thought the cars might be a previously unknown first series, and put what I thought was a reasonable bid on it. I was pretty surprised to have won it, but it turns out part of the description that said “missing interior motor parts” meant missing the entire motor and all gears, something I could have figured out with a little closer inspection (asking the seller wouldn’t have helped as I was away from a computer that week and had to leave a bid then and there). And the cars, upon close inspection, appear significantly different from the first known series of coaches that it is impossible to confirm them as Finch production without some additional evidence. All of the sudden my reasonable bid looks like a self-hosing.

But that’s not the point, the point is now I have something to do. This post covers the restoration of the engine, a future will discuss the cars. I tried to save as much paint as possible but there really wasn’t any left after de-rusting, so I repainted it in a “sympathetic” style to look like it was in original, slightly beat, condition. The tender and car wheels were de-rusted and whatever original paint was left was kept.

New paper labels were made in Powerpoint, the most rudimentary graphics program available. Fortunately Finch’s graphics were also pretty rudimentary. This was a choice on their part to make their trains look realistic compared to the gaudy paper label trains from Reed and Bliss.

After applying the labels I didn’t have the heart to beat them up to look really old, so I just dulled them down to look a bit dirty and worn and left it at that. I admit that the paint could probably fool some experts, but not the labels. The wood parts (dome, boiler front, pilot beam and frame) are in original condition.

Friday, May 30, 2008

NETTE Auction - June 14, 2008

The NETTE Auction is up for June 13th and 14th. The prewar stuff is all on the 14th, the postwar stuff is on the 13th and 14th as well.

They have some very unusual and rare sets in this auction (check out the Ives Empress Set to the left).

As always, there's some compelling classic standard gauge....

Oh yes, the auction is out on eBay live auctions. I don't think it is posted yet on NETTE's website.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day 2008

The Memorial Day parades on the West Coast are just starting! Get out and see them!
Here's one from today here in Connecticut. Our Vets are great human beings, don't forget them.


Stout June 6th and 7th

The Stout Auction for June 6th and 7th is up. You have to poke around a bit to find the prewar stuff but it is there. I also saw quite a bit of Lionel Classics stuff. I know there is some interest in Lionel Classics; there's a whole state set out there which is probably going to go for a very reasonable price.

I have noticed genuine/original Green State Sets getting rarer and rarer (seeing them whole in an auction or at a train show). Lots of 402's and 408's. Go figure. I also like that 251 set down below. I know it isn't standard gauge. It's one of those sets that nice because it looks big and looks like a larger set yet it is O gauge. The NETTE auction is going up in the next week or so, I'll post when that goes up as well.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

SGMA Website

I think everyone should take a quick peak at the SGMA pics out on Kirk's website (click the title to go there). There are some nice shots of the SGMA team as well as some unusual toys and trains. I downloaded this shot just because I liked the Buddy L Scarab. I'm not sure but I think that's a Wyandotte Ambulance and the engine is Rich Art, not too sure about the cars, could be MTH or Rich Art (need to get closer to figure that out)...

I have a couple of Buddy L toys. They always intrigue me because they are just so well made and always look ahead of their time. I'm sure they'd sell in just about any toy store today (except they'd be made out of plastic - yuck).


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

MTH Ives 3236

Not an official review, just some excitement at cracking open a new Ives loco. I read with some interest some fairly harsh criticism of MTH's Chinese manufacturing on the O Gauge Tinplate forums the other day.

If you look at the gearing for this engine (I tried to take some shots of the inner workings) it is really, really clean. When I pulled off the plate I had a huge amount of train grease on my hand as well as my table. I was very impressed by the application and usage of the train grease alone.

Overall, this is a very nice little engine. The paint application is terrific and consistent with prewar Ives paint. The engine itself came with an additional (and different) coupler set, flags and some traction tires. I was missing one set of flags in the box (easily purchased at a train show) however the packing was typical MTH overpacking.

The current Tinplate Catalog has been delayed because MTH wants to catch up with production. I hope the next generation of tinplate they introduce is as interesting as the little engine below.


Olson Display Unboxing

Milage may vary. Not the favorite thing new car buyers like to read. Lionel may have wanted to put this on prewar tunnels as well. Not because any petrol was expended in making a new tunnel (none that I know of at least).

I've had a few of these tunnels in my time. I've sold all of them (4 in total) and I have one sitting where my new layout will be right now. The point is something I've always noticed but never actually verbalized until Brian Olson and I were speaking on the phone. He had said that he goes to great, great pains to get his tunnels exactly right. To get the colors exactly accurate with their prewar counterparts, to get the dimensions, the feel, the trees.... Everything right.

Except that Lionel had a substantial number of skilled and unskilled workers building these tunnels (915, 123 and so on) prior to World War II. And each tunnel is handcrafted. Some people took great care and pride and attempted to recreate landscapes and the tunnel using prewar tools and supplies. Others were just doing their job, making a tunnel was what they did; they came to work, threw together some paint, put on a house and trees and moved on to the next item. Some tunnels were works of art, others were just works.

Hence my initial statement "milage may vary". Milage varies widely among prewar tunnels, some look great and others don't.

I bought this Olson Display on eBay. I like the 123 and I am going to put it somewhere on the O gauge part of my new layout. I'll probably get something a bit more signficant for the standard gauge stuff and I will let everyone see it and check it out when it becomes available.

I wanted to get a feel for what Mr. Olson is producing. Right off the bat, the impression is good.
I like the Olson logo/boilerplate on the outside. The box is sturdy and professional and the design on the outside does generate a little excitement and is consistent with prewar marketing. It works....

The box is well packed. There is no tape amidst the bubblewrap, it is carefully wound around the display. The bubblewrap is secure and yet there is no tape (it may damage the item). I wish other manufacturers figured out how to do this!

The tunnel itself is impressive and matches the original fairly closely. The Olson tunnel has the benefit of newer materials and hindsight engineering. I really didn't want to launch this into an official "review". So here are the pictures of the actual tunnel; you decide how much you like it for yourself. I could be wrong but I think if all of Olson Displays product is consistent with this, they'll have some winners on their hands. The attention to prewar detail is outstanding and is probably better quality than most prewar tunnels. It will most likely last much longer as well, especially using newer paint technology.

I only have one wish for the future and that's to get my hands on some additional tunnels and mountains for standard gauge. I also would really like to see some metal tunnels using prewar paint.

Enough of my chatter, check out the tunnel below! Keep up the great work Brian, this is outstanding work.


PS I need to apologize for the insane spacing. It is either this template or blogger, plain and simple. When I load this many pictures into a post blogger seems to go nuts. It's frustrating because I have to sit here for an hour and try to get the layout right. How long have we been doing page layout with computers? Right....

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Madrid Transit

It's a pleasure to ride the beautiful and modern Madrid subway system. The extensive network make it possible to go by tube just about anywhere in this large European capitol. Sunday morning there is a toy train flea market at the Plaza Mayor which I hope to visit. Is there a Paya tinplate locomotive in my future?