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.