Monday, December 26, 2011

Tinplate Play

"Everything I Have Runs" is my motto. Luckily this treasure fresh out of an attic is in great operating condition. There's a video on my (skeptic49) YouTube channel.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Grand Central Chandeliers

I just love the lights in Grand Central. They don't make them like this anymore. Does it get better than this? Merry Christmas everyone!

PS Click on the pic to blow this up.  The ceiling isn't too shabby either!

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If you happen to be in Lower Manhattan this season...

You have to check out this shoe place.  Yes, I'm not insane.  Really.  I'm not.  Frye's Shoes is there flagship store at 113 Spring Street in NYC.  Don't go for the shoes unless you have a wife or girlfriend and your credit card has a high limit and is paid off.  They have nice shoes.  This is a blog about trains and tinplate.  And it's what they have in the window that is something special.  They have robots and tons of cool tin in the window.  And the window dressing moves.  Really, this is one hell of a cool set of windows.

See that big clockwork thingy?  Well it turns and does stuff and it is absolutely mesmerizing.  The window display is absolutely show stopping.  It is as good as anything I've ever seen in any Macys or Bloomingdales or Harrods or whatever.

Check out this little Youtube I captured....

Grand Central Trains 2011

Merry Christmas All!  Welcome to prime time for toy trains.  I was in Grand Central last week with my Panasonic Micro 4/3rds camera.  And well, go figure, there were a few toy trains there.  Grand Central at Christmas is always a spectacle.  There are quite a few special stations in the United States and Grand Central is the king to rule them all.  I really don't even think the models of it do the grandeur and boldness of the structure justice.  It is one of those places that has to be taken in by being there.  And the wonder of the place doesn't get old or pass with age.  It gets better.

I snapped a few shots in the Grand Central Transit Museum.  The MTH layout is there every year along with some key parts and pieces of standard gauge collections.  The layout is excellent O gauge, especially for the really small amount of space they have.  The kids in Grand Central were absolutely going nuts over the trains and there were plenty of outstanding quality sets that could be purchased right on the spot and reasonable prices.  It really is a warm and great atmosphere to see these toys.  Maybe the SGMA can cut a deal with Grand Central to really show them so serious toy trains!

 Without further delay....

Monday, December 19, 2011

This is not mine...but reflects a lot of effort on the part of the hobbyist.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cute Little Tinplate You Tubes

Ok, stop watching that stupid Orange on Youtube and watch a neat tinplate slideshow instead:

If you have Apple TV on your television these are really neat to watch on a larger screen.  Somehow laptop screens and tinplate just don't work. 

I am in the early stages of a layout rework.  I am bored to tears of a straight oval.  I'm afraid I'm one of those people that needs switches (turn outs).  I have plenty of MTH switches, I just need to mate them to the new MTH track.  I do love this track, it is a bit more robust than tubular track.  Some new tinplate as well.  I'll post some pics later on this week.

Any holiday layout specials?  I just bought some new McComas videos and they are stellar!  Anyone have any favorites?


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Cleaning Dirty Tinplate

A friend suggested "Mothers" metal polish to use on dirty painted tinplate. I have to say it really does a nice job as you may be able to see in the photo of this Voltamp piece I just bought. It just came out of an attic in upstate PA and it is REALLY dirty! Note how shiny it made the roof.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Awesome SGMA Event (Pittsburgh)

You must spend some time checking out the SGMA's amazing Pittsburgh event.  It doesn't get better than this. And with the visit to John DiSantis, it just puts it over the edge.

With huge thanks to Kirk and team, this event just has to be seen!


Friday, December 02, 2011

Full of Hot Air

Live steam doesn't always have to be steam. Hot air engines work on simple principles of expansion and contraction of air, and have been used for over a century for yeoman service. Check out this link to see Jay Leno's hot air engine pumping water around a bucket:
Despite several science degrees and a few thermodynamics classes, I still really don't understand how these things work in practice; but work they do. The advantages of a hot air engine is durability, simplicity and longevity: they will run until the fire runs out. The disadvantage is that they are very weak, which is why you never see them powering a locomotive. Except here:
Ernst Plank was the only company that I know of eccentric enough to sell hot air trains. They only made two types; this locomotive and a tram based on the same chassis.Because of the weakness of hot air propulsion, they needed large engines.

Therefore these trains are Gauge 3 (67 mm, or 2.5", or Gauge 2.5 in some catalogs which reserve "Gauge 3" for 75 mm gauge). Although the locomotive pulls a gauge 3 train, due to the poor pulling power Plank actually used a gauge 1 tender and gauge 1 cars made out of the thinnest tinplate imaginable. The tender and cars look horribly disproportionate with the loco in pictures, and in fact the engine doesn't look like much in pictures either, but in person it has presence. Unfortunately, my engine is frozen up. It looks like the copper pistons have welded themselves to the tinplate sleeves through galvanic corrosion, so I can't really confirm or deny that these have decent pulling power. A word of warning: the tram has been faked; so much so that there probably are more fake trams out there than real ones. Allen Levy wrote about a pair of them way back in the mid seventies in "Century of Model Trains". Its one of the highest items on my want list to get, but I am very nervous about buying one. The locomotive's value is probably as much for pilfering the chassis to fake a tram than in the loco itself.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

RMT Statue Of Liberty

Hi Everyone - in the past I've put up several posts of my visit to the Statue Of Liberty.  Perhaps Lady Liberty is one of the greatest artistic representations of America's values for all time.  It also happens to be largely made out of metal and tinplate.  Go figure.  

RMT/Aristocraft has created a wonderful model of Lady Liberty for toy train layouts.  Typically if you go to Liberty Island there are more models of the Statue then you can shake a stick at.  There are quite a few that are spot on for Standard Gauge and Tinplate layouts, however getting them off the island can represent some challenges and shipping them can be costly (and they are delicate). 

Hence this RMT Model:

It is lit, it is accurate and it is the right price.  The model above is not an accurate representation of the RMT product, go out to their link (above) and check it out.  It is as solid a Christmas gift as you can get for any train nut.


Sunday, November 06, 2011

More Iron Monarch Youtube

A little bit more of the Monarch with a new streamliner on the pike as well.  Ya, I know the train room is a mess.  I'll clean it up later!  


Youtube of the Iron Monarch Set

Here is my first shot at a Youtube for the Iron Monarch set from MTH/American Flyer.  Let me know what you think!


Iron Monarch from American Flyer

As many people know, I am not a box saver.  However this new Iron Monarch set from MTH may make me use some of my meager closet space to save these wonderful little holders.  The graphics and quality of these boxes is really outstanding, they were a major surprise when opening up the set.

Now I am just shooting a few shots of the set because it I have some Youtube videos I would rather post.  This set is really nice.  I have an original Hamiltonian set and the cars are almost spot on.  The red color is bright and vibrant and the engine cranks out more smoke than my train room can handle.  This isn't an official review, I just like the set.  It's by far one of the nicest sets I own.

I know, I just haven't had much time this year to  really do much posting.  The recent weather here in the Northeast hasn't exactly helped either.  I am still posting this off of a mobile broadband access point (no fast internet here).  Been a hectic and tough year.  I am really looking forward to 2012.

I am uploading the Youtube videos now.  Looks for me to post them sometime this Sunday.  I wills start posting more as we head into prime time toy train season.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Art In Tinplate

This is No. 1 gauge, not Standard gauge. I posted it because to my eye this is really beautiful tinplate. It's a professionally restored Karl Bub 2260 cataloged between 1927 and 1935. It's a pretty good representation of the Bavarian S 3/6, even though the 4-4-2 (Atlantic) wheel arrangement does not match the S 3/6 (Pacific 4-6-2.) Bub didn't make a triple coupled loco in No. 1 gauge.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tom Sefton's Collection

Some of the shots from the amazing Tom Sefton Collection at the CSRM. This is just a "wow" when you see it. Take a look at the pics and layout, you'll get it.


Monday, August 08, 2011

PHOTOS: Howard/Voltamp Repro Set

Here are photos of the set showing detail and the quality of these hand made trains. The loco, in the style of the early 2 inch gauge Howard mining loco, has hand embossed riveting, is beautifully built on a wooden undercarriage like many early American electric toy trains, it's beautifully painted and decaled, has an authentic looking reverse lever and wooden encased headlamp, and overall it is authentic looking, as you can see by comparing it to the photo of an original Howard loco included in the current Ebay listing for a similar set (110724417466.) The cars are patterned after the rare Voltamp/Boucher dump cars. The well made hoppers are mounted on a strong wooden car base just like originals, the paint job and decaling is superb, and the cars and loco have Voltamp/Boucher style couplers.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Gotta love this...

I know, not a huge layout by any means, it just caught my eye as a unique little opportunity... Race cars and trains do fit together oh so nicely!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011


New acquisition: in the style of Howard and Voltamp/Boucher, this is a scratch built set in Standard gauge.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And more CSRM

Tell me if you are getting tired of these pics.... I'm still on the first floor. I'm not even near the Sefton collection. The Cab forward (coming up next) is really amazing in person.


Monday, June 20, 2011

CSRM - Details...

Some details just cannot be missed. Steps like this say "class, style, comfort and attention to detail". This is the Virginia and Truckee car at CSRM.

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CSRM Virginia & Truckee Car

How nice is this car? It's even better on the inside! Somehow I don't feel like we've taken too many steps forward in transportation! Sure, I can get to the coast in 6 hours (not including the TSA, time to the airports, parking and so on). This just looks so much more civilized.

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CSRM Cont.

Ever see this on a Lionel 300 series car? Standard Gauge is great however I've almost never seen this kind of artwork on any toy train!

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Sunday, June 19, 2011


Another shot of the amazing engine you see when you walk into the main area of the museum. Just amazing.

They have these wonderful models all over the place. Check this one out. By the way, they also have quite a few folks walking around the museum in period railroad outfits that are extremely well tuned with knowledge and info on the exhibits.

A cool little mock up of a station and a wonderful shot of the inside of the stations. They have well articulated mannequins throughout the museum in almost every exhibit. They are well done in period dress appropriate for the subject matter.

Gorgeous. The colors in person are even better.