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Introducing Families and Electric Trains

Posted 11 days ago by Roger Carp
  {Note: click on any image to enlarge.} The excitement I always feel when a brand-new issue of Classic Toy Trains arrives from the printer never diminishes. There is a sense of joy and satisfaction when looking at the pages filled with wonderful photographs of new and vintage O and S gauge trains as well as the different articles and departments so beautifully designed by our art department. Well, the excitement only rises to a higher and more intense level for me when one of ...
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MTH's RailKing RS-3

Posted 11 days ago by Bob Keller
Alco’s RS-3 diesel is an icon of the transition era. It was a popular model and, perhaps more importantly, it was readily available in the mass rush to dieselize. It was also surprisingly resilient and even today there are a few puttering around museums and short line railroads.  I reviewed MTH’s RailKing RS-3 in( Rock Island colors) for the December issue of Classic Toy Trains. In many ways it is an ideal first or second locomotive for gift giving or running around the Chr...
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Kansas City Star: KCS SD70ACe by Lionel

Posted one month ago by Bob Keller
A sad element of railroad mergers in North America means there are fewer and fewer unique liveries to spot on the point of a freight train. If there is an up side, it is that railroads seem to be more willing than ever to commemorate people or events with special one off custom liveries. Union Pacific did their camouflage SD-40-2, Norfolk Southern produced their Heritage series, the Canadian National did a locomotive with D-Day invasion stripes, and the Kansas City Southern has created a liver...
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The Cripple Creek Water Tower & Patriot Lighting buildings from Menards

Posted 2 months ago by Bob Keller
Today we’re checking out two new structures from Menards, the Cripple Creek Water Tower (279-5924 $39.99) and the Patriot Lighting low-relief background building (no. 279-5925, $59.95). The Cripple Creek water tower. The is a large tank that can “fill” the water requirements of your largest steamers, but which would look right at home on a backwoods railroad with slight steamers and Shays. The structure has a nice, compact 6x6-inch footprint and measures a foot tall. The b...
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Beautiful structure: The no. 279-5926 Cripple Creek Engine Works by Menards ($89.99)

Posted 2 months ago by Bob Keller
I never made room on my layout for an engine service facility (steam or diesel). Oh, I suppose part was available space, but mostly it was finding the right look – a building that captured my imagination. The Cripple Creek Engine Works by Menards may be the closest to my ideal maintenance shop. The first thing that leapt out to me was all the window space. Locomotive maintenance requires light and there were serious, tall windows on front and rear of the building. There were also skylig...
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Neil Besougloff: Good guy, great Editor

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
I started at Classic Toy Trains magazine in 1996. Roger Carp had been moved over to the Books Division to guide the production of toy train reference books on the schedule. Founding Editor Dick Christianson was in charge of books and Roger Carp had been moved over there to shepherd a virtual tidal wave of toy train books on the horizon. So we were short an Editor. Day to day operations were supervised by Mark Thompson, who was Kalmbach’s pinch hitter for gaps in editorial staff, and D...
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When things get too hot: The No. 279-5927 Fire Station No. 9 from Menards

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
Of all the interesting buildings offered by Menards, Fire Station no. 9 might have the best light show! The brick structure itself could have been erected anywhere from the 1950s to today. It has three bays and a helipad on the roof.  Two of the bays are open with fire engines poised at the entries. One door os closed. All three have three LEDs above the door.  Up top the helipad has a safety ring with LEDs in the circle. Down by the entry you’ll find an American flag and...
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Memories and thoughts of Neil Besougloff

Posted 4 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
I’ve worked at Kalmbach a long time (nearly 25 years). During that time I’ve attended funerals/memorials for both retired and former co-workers, and in some cases, their spouses. Sadly, in some cases the funeral is expected, either from cancer, a longterm illness, or old age. Neil Besougloff’s death took me (and most of his former Kalmbach co-workers) by surprise. It had long been a dream of his to retire to Mexico, in the place where he and his wife had vacationed many times....
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A dangerous curve on the Chicago & North Western

Posted 4 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Four years ago, I shared some photos of an abandoned coupler I found on the former CNW line (now a pedestrian trail called The Glacial Drumlin Trail). See that post here for background information. I bike regularly on this trail, and about six miles from our house there used to be a small "wayside" with picnic tables. Last year, the picnic tables disappeared and the spot stayed vacant until just a few weeks ago. Then I noticed a new sign with some debris next to it. It was railroad related! ...
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All the lumber you need! The Cripple Creek Lumber Yard by Menards

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
Even if you aren’t thinking about building a train layout, what train fan can’t walk through the lumber section of a local home improvement store, gaze upon the 2x4s and handy panels and wonder “What if?” Well, the Cripple Creek Lumber Yard has a dual purpose: It serves as a freight delivery and distribution point ­– and it gives your 1:48 scale modelers a chance buy supplies to make their layouts! This is a fully assembled and decorated lumberyard with a fam...
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Caboose salute

Posted 5 months ago by Bob Keller
Bringing up the rear  I write two blog posts a month. I had hoped to have a totally different post this time, but it wasn’t meant to be. I have photos for two great product releases ready. I had thought at least one would have been released this month. Yikes, it hasn’t happened. Oh, I know they are being released soon, because I shot them in my basement! That slow boat from China is living up to its name. Up, instead, is a bit of a commentary I had planned for a little later...
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Our O gauge "Fallen Flags"

Posted 5 months ago by Bob Keller
    Gone but not forgotten  Was rattled when the news came out that MTH will probably ride into the sunset next year. I started to write a eulogy, but decided I'll wait and see what happens. But this event got me remembering some of the names that have come along - and departed - in the last 25 years. And the list below isn't all of them by a any means. I can’t motivate myself to write an obituary of MTH Electric Trains quite yet. Check back in 2021. But the potential de...
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More ideas for O gauge figures

Posted 5 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
In January, Bob wrote a blog post about adding figures to your layout. You can read that here. My husband Jim is always on the lookout for figures that are approximately O gauge sized. I thought I’d share some “alternative” sources for interesting figures. A big thank you to Jim Riccioli for letting me borrow and photograph his figures for this post. Homies: These street-wise figures were introduced in 1998 and we first saw them in gumball dispensers outside of retail stores....
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Storage? How boring is that?!?

Posted 6 months ago by Bob Keller
So last month I did a bit of a purge of the collection. It was several box loads of equipment. All modern era, most not taken out of the box, and which I had no notion of when or if I would ever use them. I didn’t worry about value because I simply gave the equipment to someone I hoped could use it. And I hoped he didn’t think I was making my storage problem, his storage problem. This in turn got me thinking about re-organizing what remained in the basement.  When I came to...
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Rising Tide: The Tide Factory by Menards

Posted 6 months ago by Bob Keller
  Clean up your town: The no. 279-5518 Tide soap factory by Menards ($99.99) One thing the arrival of the Menards building line has done is greatly expand our ideas of what a train town will look like. Skyscrapers, parking garages, strip shopping centers and major industrial buildings such as Pepsi and Morton’s Salt structures. Even nuclear power and sauerkraut plants have a place on the train table! The Tide factory is a structure with a mission I didn’t anticipate: Laundry ...
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The right way to handle social distancing

Posted 6 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
It's been a tough time for many of us. Many hobby shops are closed, some manufacturers (like Lionel) have pushed the "pause" button, and model-train clubs are not gathering. I think Editor Hal Miller said in his upcoming July issue editorial: You're stuck at home, now what? The answer, of course, is "hobbies." I thought I'd share some enlightening things we've received from magazine readers of things they're doing now. Reader Mark Affer mounted his CTT boxcar posters on foam board and displa...
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Think about it before you purge!

Posted 7 months ago by Bob Keller
I don’t want to say I am downsizing my collection - because I’m still buying stuff. But sometime back I realized I had too many boxes that were still unopened, and too many trains would likely never be run. After thinking about it, I figured I needed to come up with a methodology for eliminating items from the collection. The only other time I did this was about 20 years ago and I made some mistakes in what I chose to get rid of and I don’t want to repeat that. I don’...
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How my routine has changed since COVID-19

Posted 7 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
1. I work from home. Since I have no commute and no lunch to pack, I start work earlier than I do when in the office. Coworkers (see photos) may vary day to day, but they are welcome. As our work-from-home routine gets longer, I realize that I LIKE going into to the office. I miss those little conversations, or walking down the hall to ask someone a quick question. Sure, I can still send an email but it's not quite the same as a face-to-face conversation. 2. HOBBIES have become more importa...
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Cranking up the wayback machine

Posted 7 months ago by Bob Keller
So, for the last year and a half I have been trying to makes order out if the chaos that is my basement. What a quagmire. What to I have to show for it? Not a lot. I have made some headway in segregating freight car boxes by railroad. I have most of the locomotives, sorted by railroad, on shelving units. I’ve also got a couple of boxes of rolling stock ready to move elsewhere in the Milwaukee toy train ecosystem. I’ve recycled lots of magazines (non-train, of course) shredded som...
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A sneak peek of CTT's new special issue: Lionel from the 1960s

Posted 7 months ago by Roger Carp
Note: Click on any image to enlarge it. You're stuck inside, desperate for something great to read to get your mind off the challenging moment we are all living through. How fortunate that the latest special-interest publication from Classic Toy Trains is now available and easily ordered by going to www.KalmbachHobbyStore.com (Due to COVID-19, we've just learned that newsstand on-sale dates for special issues have been pushed back. We suggest you call or order online to make sure you get...
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Where we are at CTT right now

Posted 8 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
It's impossible to ignore the effects from COVID-19 around the globe. Our routines have changed, and many of us are staying at home. You might be wondering how this affects Classic Toy Trains or other magazines at Kalmbach Media. I'm here to put your mind at ease and answer a few questions. Is Kalmbach Media still open? Yes, though most of us are working remotely from home. A few employees may be in the building (for example, to ship out orders from our website). Will my magazine arrive on ti...
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Repainting Tucker's Farm: Part 2

Posted 8 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
About a month ago, I wrote about a partial repaint for a Lemax O gauge structure that's in my kitchen. I'd needed to buy some silver paint for the roof. I stopped by our local Meijer store and found some acrylic silver craft paint and decided to give it a try. I decided to add in another small fix. We have an O gauge cat figure from Arttista, but he was black and white. Our Tucker was brown tabby with white. I wonder how difficult it would be to repaint the cat figure? I set up my supplies...
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Catch the 8:15 to Melrose Park

Posted 8 months ago by Bob Keller
The no. 279-5551 Melrose Park station is a neat little gem that work as a small town depot, a flag stop station, or even a spot for your trolley car to stop. This is fully assembled and decorated and it is wire for use with the Menards Plug & Play lighting system (not included). It has the key points we’ve come to expect from Menards structures: Shingle texture on the roof, board deck, windows with frames, and detail pieces. Melrose Park has a modest footprint of roughly 8x4 inches,...
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Kent's Dad's Steamer!

Posted 8 months ago by Bob Keller
Readers often ask where we get the locomotives for testing.  Most are loaners from the various manufacturers, and there have been a few purchased for testing by the magazine. Another source are staff members. A considerable number of test subjects, I would guess 40 or more, have been bought by staff members for personal use. If you saw a New York Central or New Haven, there is a good chance it was mine. Most certainly, if you saw Canadian Pacific, it was Kent Johnsons power. One item th...
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Some favorite detail pieces

Posted 9 months ago by Bob Keller
We've discussed people and vehicles for a layout, but one of the most effective elements of building your layout's character are little detail items. You can find plenty of detail packs from Woodland Scenics, Scenery Express, Arttista, and of course Lionel and MTH. But many of my favorite bits are pieces that came with something else. You know, forklifts from factory kits, luggage carts from station kits, and things that might be left over from other items. Baggage carts from a damaged access...
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Tucker's Farm gets a partial re-paint

Posted 9 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
I have an O-gauge size structure in my kitchen, right above the sink. It's an old Lemax building (I think from Michaels craft store) called Tucker's Farm, and it's an old-time red barn. Does this structure look a bit familiar? A similar one ran in an article in the October 2002 issue (p. 52), in a story about a Halloween layout. This small layout was a CTT project layout back in the day, and it now resides in my basement because my husband took it home after the project was finished. At the ti...
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Don't forget to take photos

Posted 9 months ago by Bob Keller
One of the things I most enjoyed about going to the TCA’s semi-annual event at York, Pennsylvania was interacting with readers. A highlight was always when somebody brought up photos of their layout. Some folks were proposing stories, but an awful lot were just there to share their pictures with someone else who “got it.” One fellow was showing me a binder of photos. A friend who had accompanied him was standing close and he was demonstrating some interesting body language. ...
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Who populates your train town?

Posted 10 months ago by Bob Keller
One of the best elements for helping to make any layout more “like real,” are people. This is another one of those bits of showmanship that work so long as it fits what YOU want to do. I’ve seen layouts that had buildings, people, and vehicles plopped anywhere there was open space. I’ve also seen layouts with just a few figures posted at stations, maybe a switch tower, or factory siding. No matter which approach you take, there has never been a better range of O gauge ...
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A look inside our in-house photo studio

Posted 10 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
I'm continuing my series of "sneak peeks" of the Kalmbach offices. If you've missed my other ones, please see: The Milwaukee Racine & Troy layout The David P. Morgan Memorial Library The Kalmbach modeling workshop Note: Click on any photo to enlarge. Kalmbach has one in-house photographer, Bill Zuback. Bill is a longtime Kalmbach employee who has tons of experience. All of CTT's product review shots, and many of the covers are shot in this studio. Bill will sometimes travel off site...
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Yes, I would do it again (Notes on a Lego train set)

Posted 10 months ago by Bob Keller
I recently reviewed a Lego passenger train set for CTT. Aside from a few structure kits, it was the most challenging thing I have done because, let's face it, I'm not 10 years old anymore. Kids are naturals for the, I was a bit rusty.  All I needed to do was take a few deep breaths, gulp a cup of coffee and jump right in. During the process, I took quite a few images of the process mostly so I could keep track of where the heck I was. A secondary notion was to show some of the steps invo...

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