Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Christmas Ale

From a great brewer.  I think you can see why I find this particular ale attractive....

Great Lakes Ale

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Live Steam in Germany....

From my friend Michel in Switzerland:

"Dear Mark Last sunday in Biberach Germany. A layout from my friend Holger. running live steam Lokos from Carette build around 1900."

This is just too cool...


Monday, September 23, 2013

Pacific in Action

Michel sent me this cool link to a Pacific in action.  I'd love to see a Pacific in Standard Gauge (yet another one of those un-built toy trains), somewhat akin to the Hudson that should get produced as well.  I have a G gauge Hudson and a Pacific in G and they are both spectacular.  Check out his video, it is really cool...


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gaylord Texan in Dallas

I was walking away from one of the best business meetings I've ever had last week in a very large resort hotel in Texas.  It's called the Gaylord Texan and it is a really cool place.  The hotel is gigantic.  And I know what you are thinking, most gigantic hotels are less than stellar.  Not this place.  Yes, I know hotels can be subjective and there are thousands of moving parts so mileage may vary.  My stay was beyond excellent.  How is this relevant for toy trains?  Well, because as I was walking out the door through the main part of the hotel, I saw this:

How much better can a business meeting get?  Well, I have to tell you, this is one I'll tell my grandkids about.  No, it is not the most spectacular layout I've seen.  But walking away from a great meeting and then seeing this really capped a great day for me.  It just doesn't get much better....


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I see them....

Yep, I've seen the little cheesy banner ads sneaking onto my page!  Dating Sites, Singles, blah blah blah.  Has nothing to do with trains.  If you see them anymore, please let me know.  I can't always post about the trains we love but I will ALWAYS delete garbage that has nothing to do with our hobby!!


More Swiss Model Railroading

My friend and fellow train enthusiast Michel went to yet another very cool exhibition.  This one was of some very rare and highly unusual specialty trains that can be seen all over the world.  These particular trains are unique though as the Swiss have refined and used them since their inception.  I'd recommending jumping onto the website via Google and doing some translation (Chrome will do so automatically).

PS I have been fiddling with the idea of a train vacation in Europe... I did one between Prague, Vienna and Paris and it was really great.  This just means I have yet another stop over in Switzerland!

The below is just a small sample of the pics on the site.  This exhibition looks fantastic!!!


PS I love the first picture!  I am pretty sure if I was that kid my parents would have needed a crowbar to get me out of that backyard!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Michel's Swiss Trains

Michel sent me some additional train pics from a birthday train meet!  From the mountains in Switzerland no less!  Wow.  Check out these cool pics....

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Australian Interurban

I think we have another candidate for an amazing Standard Gauge set!  MTH other manufacturers, check this video out from Australia.  This interurban is just gorgeous!  No doubt about it, this has got to be one of the nicest interurbans I've seen still running on rails.  Check out this Youtube.  If you have the bandwidth, push the quality up to high.


PS Some advice - my webpage (blogger) cuts off some of this.  If you double click on the Youtube you will go directly to the Youtube site.  Go to the site and view full screen or use full screen instead of viewing on the blog.  You'll get it when  you see this thing in action.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Great Train Camera

Hi All,

Periodically I get asked which camera is best for taking pictures of trains.  I tend to really like small cameras that offer huge amounts of flexibility.  I have DSLR's (Digital Single Lens Reflex) and the like, however I really like what are called Micro 4/3rds cameras for train photography.

Micro 4/3rds is mirrorless photography.  That means that the cameras themselves differ a bit from an SLR as it has no mirror.  However the body is significantly smaller and I still get the benefit of many options for interchangeable lens's.  If you've never heard of Micro 4/3rds (and many folks haven't), there are tons of web articles on it.

Carrying around a giant camera to capture HD video or high quality colors (like in standard gauge) is a pain in the neck.  What got me thinking about this is a price I saw on one of the best cameras out there.  The body (I bought it for $550) came down to about $230.  You'd need to buy a lens but the quality of the pics for low light layouts and the like is worth it.  I also like the fact that this looks like a camera or at least like cameras used to.  It isn't the high tech type of gadgety feel we all pretty much can't stand.

Check out the Panasonic GX1 here: great toy train camera.

No, I don't get paid or make any money from Panasonic or the like.  But I do make great pictures with this camera and frankly it is way less expensive than when it was introduced.  I also don't buy cameras to sell on eBay next week.  I keep them for years (so you know how I think when I do have to make a purchase). Now go out and capture that standard gauge in action!!


Monday, June 03, 2013

Check this one out too!

More amazing German tinplate here: Completely Amazing German Tin

Here is a sample.  Ya gotta love this stuff!  Click on it to expand.  I think I've found life after standard gauge!  It's called "Marklin Tin!"


Check out this amazing German Tinplate Layout

You gotta see this....Amazing Layout in German Tin

Click on the link to be mightily impressed.  Also, the above pic is from Michel and it is original Marklin running in Switzerland.  Thank you Michel for both the shots of the amazing layout and of this Marklin beauty.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Euro Standard Gauge

Here's a neat little pic of some standard gauge running in Germany from Michel.  You know, the funny thing is, whenever I see Marklin, Fleischmann, Bing or whatever rolling it just blows me away.  The style, the sound, the color.  Kind of like when I see a really rocking and rolling standard gauge layout.... Guess I just like trains!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

NSFW Grand Central "Parade of Trains"

Ok, if you are averse to strong language, then stop right now.  Don't go any further.  Close the page, and wait for the next post or posts that I make.

The above picture from the event website was about as close as I got to a train yesterday in Grand Central (outside of taking the subway there).  I figure between subway fare, car parking and gas (excluding food), I probably paid $115 to go to this event.  Excluding the weekend time.

I got there and a whole bunch of FAT Grand Central employees told me to come back tomorrow morning at 10 am!  On Mothers Day?  Are they kidding?  They said the response had been "overwhelming", waits were too long and that they couldn't handle the volume.  Oh yes and backpacks weren't allowed in the event as well even though backpacks, luggage and pretty much every form of storage was flying through Grand Central outside of this event.

Two words for the people that put together this event: Fuck you.  From the overweight GC employee telling me "It is what it is." to the other 4 fat guys I asked and got no response from, fuck you.  For the no reimbursement for my time and effort in getting to NYC to see a couple of train cars with my son: fuck you.  To deal with walking through about 2000 screaming kids and there parents trying to dial them down in Grand Central: fuck you.  For the cops standing around on my tax dollars like morons: I know you were on orders, so I'll cut you some slack.  Although I have a feeling you were standing there because guys like me were pretty pissed off.  For the legions of senior citizens that were there that went to considerable effort to get see some trains from their youth: Fuck YOU Grand Central screw ups!

Here's the thing: it's an event, it's in Grand Central and it has been done many times before.  You aren't inventing anything new: not a new technology, not a new process.  Nothing.  People wait in line at Disney all the time and they still get in, no matter how many people are in the park.  It's been done before.  A lot.

So Parade of Trains seems to equal Parade of Tools and Fools.  Not a politically correct bit of writing but it accurately reflects my feelings.  No more events at Grand Central for me.  The place has become an oversized mall that seems to be uniquely tuned to cater to the hedge fund managers that ride back and forth to Greenwich and Westport.  Enjoy.  I'll go to Pennsylvania and ride live steam there and see plenty of trains with no lines.


Saturday, May 04, 2013

The best of the best....

James Hall's collection has been out on this blog before.  He is just a great train collector and has one of the biggest and most important collections of Postwar Standard Gauge.  He posted a Youtube of his wonderful layout.  Be prepared to see some unique items.  He has the largest and probably the most well rounded collection of McCoy in the known world.  The one thing on this layout that I'd actually love to see reproduced and intrigues me more than anything is his Smith Metalworks engine house (it is red and white towards the middle).  It's just highly unique and (dare I say) rare....  I would recommend clicking on the You Tube and blowing this up full screen (don't view it on the blog).  Check it out.  It is pretty wonderful.  Thank you again for sharing this James!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Earth Shattering or Ho Hum?

Link to new MTH Tinplate Catalog

So I was kind of excited to see the 2013 MTH Tinplate catalog that was prepared for the York, PA.  Typically this is when MTH does their intros.  And at the moment, they are really the only major (or even minor) producer of toy trains in this category.

While really all of the trains in the catalog are existing product that MTH is building upon, I wasn't disappointed.  Most of the old favorites are there: 400e's, Flying Yankees and so on.  But I really liked MTH's use of paint schemes combined with a few of their newer offerings.  Such as this:

Smart.  Very smart.  An original brown state set is still pretty expensive and I can guarantee this will be a head turner.  The colors have been timeless, I know of no person that will turn away a brown state set, new or old.  And a Brute pulling state cars is just really fun to watch.

I also liked this kind of treatment as well:

Again, not terribly cutting edge but a really catchy paint scheme that will probably drive me to buying this set.  I have no attachment to Great Northern at all but I am intrigued by the color combination and I have seen boxcab electrics that are fairly close to this in prototype form.

As an aside, one encouraging development that MTH has snuck into this catalog (and I've seen before) are the 700 series passenger cars.

These could be modified quite easily to be a Hudson Tube Train or even a 10 Interurban.  Both of which would be almost instant purchases for me.  New 700 series cars are compelling as well just because there are many, many out there however the original Lionel articles were almost always played with and have seen aggressive paint wear.

So is this new catalog earth shattering?  No, not really.  The Brutes and Super 381's were a pretty big deal in my mind.  And the Brute is ushering in  some interesting new ideas like the LCCA Goliath and cars:

The Goliath and Prospector are both reasons alone to join the LCCA (forgetting for a minute that it is a great organization to be a member of as well).

Here's a picture of the Prospector:

It's a very nice Flying Yankee type of set if you don't have one already.  I'd still very much like to see a Zephyr/Yankee in Standard Gauge.  I'd also like to see quite a few other products in standard gauge as well (Challengers, a true Hudson, the aforementioned Hudson Tube Train and 10 Interurban/1010 trailer, subways, 20th Century Limited and so on).

So is this a solid catalog?  Well, yes.  And don't let it fool you, Protosound 3.0 is a pretty cool technology that will be sneaking onto your layout one way or another.   Yes, I know most of you vomit at the thought of NOT using a departure motor or at least something that smells like ozone and has an E-Unit.  Just consider this though (it's an idea, not a final thought!): Protosound tech has been out in the marketplace for some time and is getting a bit more ripe.

It can no longer be considered an "early adopter" type of product.  I have been using it since day 1 and it has come a long way from its' beginnings.  There is so much it can do that still hasn't really been tapped.  I love 100 year old (plus) technology but the new stuff isn't bad either, especially Protosound and the like.

So it is worth a look and I am anxious to see the products once they start to leave the pages and find their way into the marketplace.  I hope MTH can cut the time to market a bit so I can start to make one or two procurement decisions for my Eastbound passenger service!


German Standard Gauge

A little standard gauge from a collection in Greiz, Germany.  Thank you Michel for the pics!  If you have any from Switzerland, please forward as well.  PS Lots of folks in the US like Marklin and all of the other major European manufacturers as well!  Please send if you have them (especially if they are old!!!). 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Grandest Train Show Ever!

Guess where I'll be with a camera!  Ok, now everyone knows about it!  Who is going?


The Real Burlington Zephyr

As you can probably tell, I spent some time in Chicago this week.  I stopped by the real Zephyr to go inside and check out the train set itself.  I see why this has been reproduced so many times.  It is just gorgeous in person.  This really is a spectacular train by any measure.  If you have not been to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, just this alone makes it worth the visit.  By the way, they also have a pretty nice train display there (with trolleys and some great reproductions of classic trains) as well as a huge O gauge layout.  
Oh yes... And who can forget the "L".

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

MTH Tinplate Catalog online 4/18/13!

MTH is putting their tinplate catalog up online just before York.  April 18, 2013.  I do hope MTH can break out a little bit and do some "re-inventing".

Here is the link:

Goes live tomorrow!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Some Pics of the LCCA Set

What a well done set. And the funny thing is that I like the buzz of the e-Unit. I am not really missing the modern electronics and smoke units. It "just" works. Marc

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New LCCA Tinplate Set

A little Youtube of the awesome of new LCCA set. I friggin love this thing. I really enjoy being a member of the LCCA as well. I hope they do more great work like this. This has to be one of the best club sets ever! Marc