Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dorfan "Floridian" Passenger Set

I've wanted these MTH cars for years!

Layout Transformer Location

My solution was to suspend a plywood shelf off of one end of the layout. It holds my 840 power station, two "Zs" and other assorted controls. There is a "K" and a "T" that I use to power lighting concealed in the 840.

Solution For Brittle AF Wiring Insulation

This is the same AF motor wiring as is shown in the March 18th photo. The quick fix for old brittle AF insulation is to simply break off all the old insulation and slide heat shrink tubing over the wires.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Standard Gauge Layout Day 2

Here were are, day 2 and my train room is thrashed. But the layout is coming along. Lemme know what ya think!


Brute Obsession?

Folks, I have seen what is amounting to hundreds of posts on the new offering of the Brute! It's getting obsessive and/or excessive. Yep, I know it is a free country.

But the product hasn't even hit the streets yet. It will either be outrageously successful or it will sit on dealer shelves until it is marked down and then resold on eBay with the claim by some idiot that it was a rare item only produced by MTH for one year. Either way, it will find a spot in many collections.

And it will provide many arguements once it is widely available. Is it consistent with the original? Does it pull well? Can it fit through a Hellgate Bridge or a 120L tunnel? Who the hell knows until they get out? Did the original Brute have Lionel Supermotors? What kind of sounds did MTH sample for the sound system? Does it need a 72 inch curve to run? Please, go easy on the posts. Isn't there something else we can talk about like what we'd like to see the new Lionel relationship produce next?


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Craziest Floor Layout I've Ever Seen!

Ok, so while I am posting my last Youtube video I saw this video. This has got to be one of the craziest floor layouts I have ever seen! I'd love to do something like this on my floor in my house however between animals, kids and a psychotic spouse I'd be dead in under 10 minutes. Just watch this wonderful MTH Comet go through its' paces....


Monday, March 23, 2009


Yet another amazing layout in Europe (Hamburg, Germany). This is off of the Yahoo Groups this weekend. Kudos to Steve Simon for finding this. I went to one of these outside of Amsterdam. Europeans generally take layout building to a whole new level. Check out the video:


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Starting the Layout

Well, I have started my standard gauge layout. This is a little bit of a psychological challenge for me. The last full blown layout I did (not inlcuding my floor) was from when I was 12 years old (I worked on it until I was about 16).

A new layout is a lot like a blank canvas. Eventhough I have all of the right toys to go on it and paint one heck of a nice picture, it still is daunting. How daunting? Well, it took me about 8 years to get here (my attic has been completely finished for about 9 years). I know, it sounds pathetic. But creating is much harder than buying. Buying toys is easy, building a great layout and having fun running them is another part of the hobby, the actual creative part.

And I am definitely looking forward to it! If anyone has any ideas....


Saturday, March 21, 2009

More pics from the auction....

Sorry for the mediocre quality. I had to take the pics with my phone. Was in a bit of a hurry and there was so much to see...

Friday, March 20, 2009

NETTE Auction

Just came from day 1 of the New England Toy Train Exchange Auction. Truly, the tinplate was spectacular. It's always funny, you can talk about Blue Comets all day but when you see an original in pristine condition with nearly like new boxes it really is like a work of art.

Ok, I'll get the pics rolling....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Workbench Days

I've been busy with a few repair jobs recently on some locos that I recently acquired. On this AF motor, the insulation on the original wiring is mostly missing. What's left is brittle. Luckily, the original drive wheels on this particular motor are still in good shape. Later on I'll post a picture to my solution to the wiring problem.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Z-Stuff for Trains

Just a quick note to recommend some cool train tech. These folks have some great automation for toy train layouts. They make some relays for American Flyer signals that are absolutely wonderful. Go check them out if you get a chance!


Nette Auction for March 2009

Some real diamonds in the rough in the upcoming NETTE Auction. I'd always recommend going to these, just to see the trains!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Re-Wheeled And Running

Compare the re-wheeled loco to the shot in the previous post. It's quite a difference! Here
s a photo of the entire beautiful 1927 AF President's Special set on the layout. This is one that is unlikely to ever be reproduced. The lithography is spectacular.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Case Of Blown Wheels

Great to get the loco...just out of storage somewhere since 1927...but the wheels are blown...frozen stiff against the frame. Job No. 1 is to get it running again. Which loco is it? Here are some clues: made one year only...pulled cars that are second in a series of famous sets...and it's dark blue. Name that loco.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The New Lionel Catalog is Excellent

The new Lionel catalog is excellent. I am referring to the catalog at (the new Signature catalog). Why is it so good?

It has probably one of the best interfaces for perusing or looking at the catalog on the web. Period. The Adobe Flash technology is not sophisticated from an interface perspective however it is extremely clean, easy to use and consistent. I have to say I loved it.

I also really liked the design of this catalog. It was by far the strongest design statement Lionel has made in decades. It gave me a feeling that the catalog or the items in the catalog were really "larger than life". Items that are steeped in legend and that haven't seen the light of day until Lionel reproduces them in their factories. I know, I sound a little gaudy. But the catalog works very well. It is simple yet makes a bold statement. I really liked looking at every page.

Product choice: I know, it is O gauge. It looks like Lionel is parceling up their customers quite a bit like MTH has. K-Line, Signature Series, Ready to Run, Vision Line, Classics Line, etc.. I have to say, the Vision Line products are really cutting edge. The LCD Billboard and Grand Central are devastating. I'd like to have a little better idea of what the finished Grand Central product looks like; it appeals to me greatly however a $1400 investment is sort of daunting in this financial environment.

The motive power is definitely impressive although the prices and curves may appeal to a smaller audience, I'm actually not sure. The Santa Fe 2-10-10-2 loco is just jaw dropping. I'm actually incredibly anxious to see one in action.

Since there isn't any tinplate in this catalog I don't want to wax on too long about how great this catalog is. I really like the fact that Lionel seems to have captured the spirit of their past and created a very unique O gauge vision for the future. I like the fact they aren't reproducing everything under the sun; they focused on a couple of O gauge post war classics and will do those well. Coupling this catalog with the Lionel/MTH announcements I have to say I think Lionel is really turning a corner. I wish the economy was better; unfortunately right now trains are a luxury item many, many, many folks can't afford. I think now is an ideal time for Lionel and MTH to examine the lower cost market segments and continue their spirit of cooperation. I also am really glad to see the whole Lionel team and Jerry Calabrese lining up this wonderful catalog. Welcome back!


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

DAP Tinplate

This is kind of an interesting wrinkle in the new Lionel/MTH partnership. A Dealer Appreciation Standard Gauge Tinplate Car. Just when you think you've seen it all....
By the way, in looking at the new Lionel catalog I do like the Lionel Tinplate Club car. I know this is going to come as shock but I never liked the MTH Purple Club cars. Something not right about purple metal trains. It's like watching grapes on a layout...


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Benchwork Fin! (for now)

This is some seriously nice benchwork. I could see why the SGMA wasn't keen on it though, this doesn't look like it would be very friendly to get built up and broken down again and again. The modularity of it is wonderful but it isn't very friendly on the breakdown. It IS very friendly on the build up and adding additions though. It's one of the reasons I said "for now" in my completion of benchwork. I think I can fit a whole additional section on for another 4 to 6 feet of space. My friend Ron and I were completely blown away by the engineering and design of this stuff. If you get a chance I highly recommend seeing Mianne at one of the train shows here in the Northeast. Really, you all know I like motive power, color graphics and the like. I have a very soft spot in my heart for metal trains and the like. This benchwork really exposed me to something new.
With some guidance from my friend Ron (he is really smart and generally brilliant with putting things together) we put this together most of the day yesterday. Why am I so impressed? Well, we only needed two Philips Head screw drivers to put this entire thing together. It is absolutely rock solid and it took about 5 hours to assemble correctly. When I mean solid, I mean very stable and steady. The benchwork comes with casters on the bottom; if you have an attic floor like mine that is 115 years old (no exaggeration), the floor isn't exactly what you'd call "level". This benchwork makes that problem (of being level) almost irrelevant. It's also all made out of a wonderful wood (kiln dried poplar). It's super hard wood yet really light to lift. My friend Ron and I could lift the whole set of works together with ease.
Next week (if I can get to Lowes or Home Depot), I'll tell you and show you how I mounted the Luan Plywood. I've had some guidance from other friends on paints to use on the plywood to simulate prewar landscape colors. Don't hesitate to call or write with any ideas!
PS Yet again, the best part of trains - hanging out with your friends and building stuff.