Monday, May 15, 2023

USA Track and Multi-Gauge RaX


This was at the recent SGMA layout (which was amazing by the way) at York in April, 2023.  These two items are produced by members of the SGMA and are absolutely invaluable if you collect or even try to play with old toy trains.

USA Tracks is probably the best standard gauge track I've ever seen.  I've seen tons of this stuff over the years and I've paid for way too much of it.  With that said, the USA Track I saw at York is just head and shoulders above anything that has ever been produced by anyone, anywhere.  I'm going to be ordering some sections to kick around with some of my standard gauge.  If you get a chance to check out the SGMA layout at any event or function, there is a good chance you'll be seeing this track.  If there is interest, I'll be glad to ping the owner and SGMA Member, Kirk Lindvig. 

Multi-Gauge RaX is also a "best of the best" type of product.  The thickness and build of this for displaying trains is just better than anything I've seen.  I have a ton of tinplate display track sections and they just are nothing close to MGR.  Again, one of the key members of the SGMA is doing this (Wayne Strobel) and he is super-knowledgeable about these.  If you are building a train room or just want to display a few trains, this is really a must-have.  I would very much like to replace MANY of my sections (which are shoddy in comparison) with MGR's.

The two above items are really important to running trains and being successful collecting them.  They are both absolutely world class design and quality.  PS The prices, for this kind of quality, are beyond reasonable.  Worth every penny!

Monday, April 24, 2023

TCA York April 2023

 So I decided to celebrate my 30th year in the TCA by heading out to the York meet.  I've been in the TCA for 30 years and I've never gone. 

It is an impressive show.  I really went to see my good friends in the SGMA and run some trains on their magnificent layout.  I brought my Jerry Brown M-10000 and a little Wakeling car.  The Wakeling car had some problems, they M-10000 ate the layout (it ran really well).

One of the hidden gems of the show was Dave Carse and his new Glenn Tank Cars.  Now I will freely confess, I passed on many Glenn items over the years.  I was too snooty and very na├»ve.  I lacked experience with Modern Era Standard Gauge and tended to gravitate to the untouchable State Set.

No more.  Dave (with some help from some SGMA friends) put together some new Glenn Tank cars.  In a nutshell, they are amazing.  These are not toys that would have been sold to a kid in the 30's.  Let's settle the description right now, these are tiny works of engineering art.

Seriously, I saw these on Dave's table and I couldn't think of much else on the ride home (which was about 5 hours).  Dave has relaunched Classic Model Trains with these cars.  And they are stunning.

Whenever I see this kind of train now, I think to myself: if I had a chance to own a Van Gogh bought directly from the master, would I?  There's your answer.  

Dave's cars were absolutely the highlight of York for me.  

I was also overwhelmed by the amount of Postwar O Gauge stuff there was.  What a time to be a Postwar collector!  I think I'll need some help finding the standard gauge in the next show (yes, I plan on going!)

Again, I really appreciate the SGMA (Jim, Kirk, everyone) for letting me run a few trains and look over their shoulder.  It was a great moment and one I'll never forget!

Monday, September 26, 2022

Brad Kaplan - Early Standard Gauge Enthusiast

There is a downside to this hobby.  It isn't money, it isn't trades that go bad, it isn't toys that can't be had.  None of that.  It's when I see a note like this on Facebook before I go to sleep (and then fail to sleep at all):

When someone leaves us; whether expected or not.

When you have someone that is an important person.  To his family, his friends, to his co-workers and employees and is also a prolific collector and expert in his area.  Brad was tough as nails and incredibly diligent getting answers to questions about the rarest of rare toy trains.  And unlike Arno, he didn't have a great tome of work that we can look at and remember him by.  It is up to us to remember him as the important participant he was, both in our hobby and as a gentleman scholar of train history.

He will be missed by many, myself included.  We were scheduling and rescheduling lunch and time together.  Now I could just kick myself for not chucking my schedule and getting out to see him.  He was taken from us far too early.  Enough said.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Newt & Arno's Collections

 I've seen two great collections at Stout Auctions this week.  I am glad that they are going through Stout as they are incredibly reputable, honest and family owned.  As a buyer (in the past), I've been incredibly happy with their packing and shipping and was even glad to pay their auction house costs as their service was (in fact) that good.  They also accurately describe what they are auctioning and it was my experience that the in-person auctions are every bit as fun (maybe more) than online.  With Covid starting to slow down and go away, going to an auction house for a great auction should definitely be on the menu.

The Stout Team is 100% spot on showing the Jerry Brown Green Diamond as the highlight of Arno's auction.  I highly recommend checking out both auctions.  My guess is you'll see many of the items running around the SGMA layout @ York or in one of the shows coming up.  Most of these trains are better on a big layout (like any of the SGMA layouts) and not on a shelf.

Yes, Arno's collection does make me a little sad.  Although I am glad his family will benefit from the sale.  And if you do not have the book from Arno and Dave Carse, please buy it.  It will give you much better insight into this auction.

Newt Derby's prewar trains are also extremely well documented and there are some unique items such as the prewar layout, tunnels and scenic lots.  Makes me wish I didn't live in such a small house!

Interested to hear what everyone and/or anyone picks up at these auctions.  They're both for great people from a very solid auction house.


Arno's Book and More

 Hello Fellow Hobbyists!  It has been a very long time since I posted last.  It seems we are entering a new era for standard gauge and I have to tell ya, it is pretty exciting.  

First Arno Baar's and Dave Carse's Book -

I have pretty much every book on standard gauge there is (including the Louis Hertz stuff).  I've been trying to think of the best way to encapsulate how I feel about this book.  This book is so good, it in fact IS a collectible.  Yes, I've seen the books that debate what Mario Caruso was thinking in the Lionel Factory or what the Ives management team was thinking in 1922.  I read the McComas and Tuohy books as well as the David Doyle books for years (and they are pretty great)  They are all really cool and make no mistake, absolutely worth the read.  

But this book is different.  It does so much more than capture the story of a company.  It depicts artists and their work, mostly in their own words or in the words of family and close friends.

This is one of the first books that I can pick up at any time, flip to a random page and really be blown away at what I learn and see.  

I've owned quite a few of the items in this book at what time or another.  Not knowing what they were, I thought they were cool for a short period of time and then let them go, usually to someone like Arno that I thought was nuts for buying a "no name brand Japanese Trolley" which turned out to be something a bit more specific and valuable.

And I have vastly more appreciation for the work that I thought I understood and knew about even as it was happening right before my very eyes.

I opened this book for the first time and I got pretty emotional.  I miss my discussions with Arno about the state of the hobby, CMT and CMC and all of the crazy rumors that couldn't be put in the book (because they are rumors).  I consider it pure luck that I am getting to know some of the great people he surrounded himself with that build standard gauge now (you know who you are).  But that still doesn't take away some of the sadness I feel about not seeing Arno role out this wonderful book.

I also am grateful that David Carse took on this book almost like a religious quest.  His commitment resonates through every page.  The writing is brilliant and thorough and demonstrates the same dedication Arno had to shining a light on great builders and their works of art.  

Get this book.  Hopefully there will never be an electronic or softcover version.  It's too special to be in anything other than a hardcover version with thick, heavy bond paper.  Every builders story is well told, every picture is worth a thousand more words.  And one can only wonder what they built that we aren't going to get to see.

Standard gauge is alive and well and is flourishing with Arno and David Carse's book. The book itself is a long awaited collectible that will reward the reader over and over again with new facts, new ideas and great people that are part of the history of this great hobby.


PS: there are a couple of pictures from my collection that seem to have snuck in.  Anyone care to guess which one's? 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Mythical Creswell 600E

I know, I haven't been posting.  Been loving the trains I have and missing the friend's I've lost the last few years.

I did watch an online auction today that rekindled some of my interest.  I saw quite a few standard gauge lots go on Ebay Live auctions (Craig Miller Collection) offered by Turner Auctions.  Very solid auction that was well done.  The prices were completely reasonable and what caught my eye was this:

The mythical Creswell 600e.  Went for over $5000 bucks with a buyers premium tacked on.  It was clearly the main event of the auction.  I bid once or twice however once it jet past $1500 I had to bow out.  It absolutely doesn't disappoint.  The Hudson in Standard Gauge has always been a "must have" and this is a really cool engine.  The last one I knew of was with my friend Arno.  The story of Harlen Creswell still sits in Arno's un-finished bible of Modern Era Standard Gauge (MESG).   I hope the buyer gets a ton of pleasure out of such a unique and wonderful piece.  The DD1's were also kind of cool.  Most of the auction was fun items at absolutely reasonable prices.

Here's a Creswell 600E one of the guys at the O Gauge forum was good enough to post here.

I hope some other folks take note - thinking outside the box and producing items that are NOT necessarily classic Lionel reproductions are in fact desirable.  I saw the Rich Art monster engines move as well.  For anyone wanting one, they don't disappoint. 

I also heard recently my friend Butch Alvarado passed away.  I was stunned by this as he seemed like a guy that was never healthy and yet was bound and determined to live forever.  He was Dick Mayer's right hand and a hold over from the 60's I always enjoyed talking to.  He's the only way I knew anything about Cal-Stewart and all of the cool train stuff there is in California.  I'll really miss him as he was also my dinner bud when I was in San Diego.  I'll miss Butch!!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Prices and People in 2017

I watch the toy train world largely from the sidelines these days.  With many of my friends in the hobby gone and the hobby changing, much of the luster is gone for me.  I still love toy trains and I still have quite a few, however I haven't purchased a new toy train since 2015.  MTH's offerings are a bit on the high side for costing and most of them are re-treads of what was already there.  I really wanted a standard gauge subway set however that was not meant to be.

I watch may of the newbies struggling to find some of the stories online.  I periodically look at the forums.  I'm a little sad for them as they didn't get to meet some of the people I did like Lenny Dean or get to go to Madison Hardware (I did go and got to shake hands with Carl and Lou!).

It's time I hear some stories from some of my readers.  Send them to!


Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Reminder of What Was

A few shots of Arno's collection from the TCA tour.  Definitely a collection compiled by a great man.