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.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

You are just blown away....

When you walk into the museum, you walk into a massive display of planning and executing the railroads across California and the West transformed America. Again, this picture DOES NOT do this justice. If you want to learn something, read through as much as you can at the exhibit and try not to gawk at the amazing engine that is part of it.

As an aside, I've been wanting to go this museum for the last several years. It's multiple levels of real trains is mind boggling and the Sefton Collection just caps it.


CSRM Walking in...

Don't even start to think these pictures can do this museum justice. This is the train you get to see when you walk in the door. This museum is the DEAL of the century (by the way), at $9 a person for admission, it just doesn't get better than this.

They have a little bit of Tom Sefton's collection down near the entrance. You know, the cheap stuff like the original Buddy L stuff in a sandbox, the 2 7/8 Converse Trolley and an original Lionel Station and some O gauge. This is in the foyer of the museum, not the museum itself.

So as far as I'm concerned, I got at least half of my nine bucks worth right in the foyer. By the way, the gift shop isn't bad. That have a decent selection of railroad books. A little pricey but they need to support one of the best museums in the world so I tend to want to cut them some slack. More soon.


There are museums and then there are "museums"

If you are an art aficionado or devotee, there are museums in every state and in every country you can go to. Almost every one of them will be good and some will be excellent. Others are beyond excellent, you almost have to pinch yourself to believe what you are seeing. The Louvre in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art in New York are a few of those kinds of places.

I liken this experience to art because when you see the trains in the California State Railroad Museum, you'll get it like I did. These things are art. It's tempting to think toy trains are art. They are. But they are art imitating life which is (in fact) art. The paint, the color, the metals and smells are just heavenly. I've been to the Vatican, I've been in the Sistine Chapel more than once and this is pretty close to that experience.

The California State Railway Museum is one of those museums where you need to pinch yourself to make sure that either:

A. You aren't sleeping or dreaming.
B. That you haven't left the planet and are now at the Pearly Gates of Railroad Heaven.
C. You want to make sure blood and oxygen flow to all parts of your body is still normal.

I had to walk through this museum twice to absorb it. There is a two hour parking limit down the Streets of Old Sacramento. Just don't do it. You aren't leaving that place in two hours. And even if you do, there are more trains and a Steamboat behind the museum. Just don't. Park in the lot across the street and figure you'll be there at least 4 hours. And bring a camera with a ton of space on your memory card. I took 600 shots without blinking an eye. I brought a really nice Oympus 13.5 megapixel camera and now I kind of wish I brought the Nikon. The town of Old Sacramento wonderful as well. Not quite a religious experience, it still is a place where you can spend (easily) a day walking around, looking at the shops and making friends with some wonderful people. Loved it and I want to go back and ride the riverboat and the trains.

By the way, the museum only offers train rides on the weekend. If I didn't have locked and loaded airline tickets....

So I'll post the pics outside of this little blurb I've written. Blogger (the Google Software) has a tendency to jumble up the text when I insert the pictures, so I'll try to keep my prose short and sweet.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

California State Railroad Museum Coming At Ya!

I visited the wonderful Tom Sefton collection and museum in Sacramento this week. All I can say is that I was struck dumb. I have so many pics and thoughts to post, it will basically refresh the entire blog page. Let me settle down a bit first, I have some bad jetlag and need to figure out which timezone I am in...


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Some pics for the forum

Some of you requested I post some pics of Mr Cohen doing his thing. I dug back in the archive and found a few. I know I have more, they are just part of about 10,000 pictures I have stored so far on my server..

I'll keep digging. In the meantime, I'd respectfully ask that these not be re-used at all for any reason. I didn't put a watermark on these as I felt that it was inappropriate, I've uploaded the full pictures as they came from my camera.

Remember, just one guy used all of those machines to turn out standard gauge and 2 7/8 gauge trains. The car he is holding up is his prototype knobby roof day coach.


Friday, June 10, 2011

The Artist Has Left Us....

I had said I would post a few pictures with the passing of Mr. James Cohen of Trumbull, CT.. He was a very good friend (and not just of me) but of Joe Mania, Bob and Magaret McCoy, George Sirus and many of the other folks that built rare and unsual toys after World War II. He spent much of his time and youth in Bridgeport, CT. He built some pretty amazing layouts when he was younger, specifically in O Gauge. As you can see below though, he really enjoyed larger trains.

The maroon 1912 was specially weathered by Jim. He had varying techniques and degrees of aging and weathering. The TCA had asked him to limit the weathering process because at one point, his weathered trains (that he had built and weathered) were impossible to tell from the original. Yep, they were that good. And even with his initials on the bottom, it still shook some folks up enough to ask him not to age the trains or to mark them heavily so as not to be passed off as the real thing.

If you spent any time around Jim, his garage and basement always smelled like train paint and lacquer. It didn't bother me too much and it was very distinctive. I think he stopped noticing it after years of exposure. The paint booth in his garage was really cool and worked beautifully. This guy was one of those rare American artists that just honed his craft to perfection. As kind of an interesting footnote, I went with Jim to the shop in New Haven (it's just off the Yale Campus) where he got the rubber stamping for the New York, New Haven and Hartford stamps for these. He didn't use decals like many other manufacturers do. It really does make a difference in the quality of the train. The place was kind of interesting too, very old building in a very busy part of town. The guy was constantly picking up new stamps, or some kind of new die to make a window or truck. I wish there was a way to give him 20 more years...

When I see the brass 1912, I always think of Inca Treasure. Imagine what someone will think 1000 years from now when they find this thing. I'm pretty sure it will capture someone's imagination even then.

More later, I'll publish out some trolley pics and some unusual pieces.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Another Train Leaving The Station...

Everyone that knew him and met him knew they were dealing with an expert toy train guy. This wasn't just some run of the mill blowhard who spouted off about all of the stuff he'd done or seen at a train show or on some layout somewhere. This guy had been to the Ives Factory and knew the brothers from Madison Hardware well. He was best man at Louis Hertz's wedding!

Jim Cohen (JJC were his initials) passed away today around 1 PM. He was frail and 83 years old. Jim was not a "run of the mill" train guy. He was a charter TCA Life member. He knew pretty much anyone that was a serious collector or enthusiast in the world of toy trains. And most importantly, he built them with a no compromise attitude. In his prime, he could crank out as many as 30 stellar reproductions of 2 7/8 and standard gauge a month! If he didn't build the trains, there is a good chance he at least refurbished at least one of every item Lionel, Ives and Flyer ever made. He was particularly fond of (and I didn't know this until I knew him a few years) of Brass Pipers. He thought it was one of the best looking models he had ever seen. The guy traded and sold more trains than I have in my collection and his memories of tearing through the Ives Factory in Bridgeport are almost legendary. He was a heck of a story teller and definitely a man that was dedicated to these wonderful toys up until he couldn't handle them anymore.

If you are a newbie to the toy train hobby, it is with sadness that I have to say; you missed one the greats. I first met him at the Shoreline Trolley Museum in Connecticut. I'd heard of him but didn't know him. After eating countless lunches with the guy and buying a kings ransom in trains, I have to say I will miss him for the rest of my own life. I'll post some pictures later on to give you some ideas on what a wonderful train maker this guy was. I think anyone that knew him will agree, he was a "once in a lifetime" kind of friend and collector. And I'm glad I had my shot at time with him, I wouldn't trade it for any train in the world.