3

My favorite train books ... when I was a kid

Posted yesterday by Bob Keller
Like most of us in the hobby, I have pretty much been a life-long train goober. While an uncle gave me a train set for my first Christmas, I had the usual assortment of real toy trains (Auburn rubber locomotives, little die-cast push metal steamers), and I even used my brass Casey Jones steam engine bank (with a happy face cast into the firebox) to pull imaginary trains. When I started reading, my first elementary school had no library. But the second school I attended did. It was a bit shy o...
1

Loco Lookback 7: Lionel's Westside Lumber Shay (CTT Feb 2001)

Posted 20 days ago by Bob Keller
It is very possible that the greatest show on tinplate rails isn’t a circus train, but an industrial locomotive. It has motion, sound, and just might be the slowest engine on anybody’s layout: The Shay. Shay’s are geared locomotives designed for high traction, slow speeds, and with small wheels that didn’t damage track that just might not meet Class 1 railroad standards.  The locomotive used vertical cylinders that drove a longitudinal shaft that drove axles thro...
4

On the Test Track: MTH RailKing RDC set

Posted 26 days ago by Bob Keller
I used to say that I wasn’t a passenger train guy. Oh, I had the no. 2400 series cars from when I was a kid, but I rarely ran passenger trains.   Then I noticed that I had quite a New York Central fleet: Williams streamlined and heavyweight sets, a Lionel traditional heavyweight set, an AMT streamlined set, a RailKing Aerotrain set, the jet-powered RDC, and a bunch of Williams Amtrak gear including Amfleet and Superliner cars, and, oh yeah, that Metroliner set. Is there a supp...
2

New stake trucks from Menards

Posted one month ago by Bob Keller
Just rolling into Classic Toy Trains are the new staked delivery trucks from Menards. The latest addition to the Plug & Play line are nicely detailed trucks in a 1950s design that fits in with any railroad modeling the late 1940s to the early 1960s. Where most previous Menards trucks have been a mix of plastic and die-cast metal, these are crafted with plastic. This allows greater detailing such as wood texture in the stakes, side grills, hand grabs, and simulated rooftop running lights. ...
2

On the Test Track: Vintage style with the MTH Q-type subway set

Posted 2 months ago by Bob Keller
The no. 30-20427-1 Q-type subway set from MTH Electric Trains was the first equipment I tested as a Contributing Editor and it was a fun run. The original cars were originally assembled between 1903 and 1907 for Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT), and were re-built in 1938 to accommodate the surge for the 1939 World’s Fair. They were primarily wooden and were erected by a wide several companies. They appeared similar to passenger cars operated by steam railroads of the day, and travelers ent...
2

A pre-Christmas visit to Sommerfeld's Trains

Posted 2 months ago by Bob Keller
Sure it was a cold Wisconsin day, but it didn’t take much effort to get me out of the house last week in order to run up to Sommerfeld’s Trains in Butler, Wisc. Ages ago I’d asked Jack to track some stuff down for me and I hadn’t followed up on the search. Hey, I could have picked up the phone and asked, but what fun would that have been? I arrived a few minutes before he opened and there were already a couple of cars moving in to park behind me. Before I left, it w...
5

Loco Lookback 6: O gauge P&LE 2-8-4 by MTH (CTT January 2005)

Posted 2 months ago by Bob Keller
Now where was I?  Oh yes, welcome to Loco Lookback no. 6  The A2a-class Berkshires of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad is a pretty sad one. In the waning days of steam operation, the company decided that it needed to replace its World War I-vintage H7-class 2-8-2 Mikados with newer power.  The railroad didn't believe there was a viable diesel on the market that could meet its requirements. So in 1945, the P&LE convinced parent New York Central to begin replacing th...
1

A "sweet" Halloween gift

Posted 3 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
What does a box of Dots candy have to do with toy trains? Plenty, if you are the Railroad Museum of Long Island! But, I'm getting ahead of myself. . . My favorite movie candy is Dots. My husband chooses Sno Caps, but I always pick Dots (the traditional flavors). Imagine my surprise when he tells me I have a "Halloween gift" to open. It's a custom-run Lionel boxcar. . .with Dots and Crows graphics! The car was produced by the Railroad Museum of Long Island, who has a history of having these cu...
6

Christmas (special issue) is coming soon!

Posted 5 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Most regular readers know that most years CTT publishes a stand-along special issue. Topics have varied from track plans, Lionel showroom layouts, Electric Trains from A to Z, and more. This year's special issue is one near-and-dear to most of your hearts, Christmas and Electric Trains. I've come to realize in working for CTT that many of you strongly associate toy trains with the holidays. During the past months, Roger Carp has been hard at work to find the best and most amazing Christmas-re...
5

Holy cow! Another new structure!

Posted 6 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Farmers, hold onto your cows, because the Greater East Martian Cow Abduction Co. has landed! If you attended the International Toy Train Expo, you will have seen this structure already. Menards has released something different--a UFO scene!  This scene comes with the UFO, a shed, trees, figures of a farmer, cows, and aliens, and of course Jack the German Shepherd. The UFO has colorful LED lights on the top and around the perimeter of the ship. There is also a "tractor beam" light unde...
4

Loco Lookback 5: Williams New Haven Rectifier electric (Nov 1999 CTT)

Posted 7 months ago by Bob Keller
I bought my first Williams diesels some time before coming to Classic Toy Trains. They were a pair of GP9s and a New York Central Alco PA A-B set. It was awesome when I got them and they are still pretty impressive, though they shy more than a few of the bells and whistles even the most basic engines have today.   What impressed me about Williams in the mid-1990s, was the firm’s drive to make new, well-running basic models at decent price points. You also could find...
0

ON THE TEST TRACK: The new Williams by Bachmann Amtrak F59PHI

Posted 7 months ago by Bob Keller
These days it is really unusual to receive two new locomotives within a day or so of each other. Last week it was the Atlas O Trainman line Dash 8-40C. This week it is the Amtrak F59PHI passenger locomotive from Williams by Bachmann (WBB). Our quick lubricate and run showed a good performer. A conventional locomotive, it operated well above 6 volts and was smooth running.The steady engines sounds were nice and the horn was superb. The F59PHI has become something of a design icon for both Amt...
0

ON THE TEST TRACK: The new Atlas O Trainman Dash 8-40C

Posted 7 months ago by Bob Keller
Behold the no. 20032007 (TMCC)  Union Pacific Atlas O Trainman line Dash 8-40C. The model is offered in conventional ($269.95) and TrainMaster-equipped ($429.95) version. The model requires O-36 diameter curves. The Command-version includes TrainMaster, Improved RailSounds, Cruise Commander speed control, remote couplers, and a smoke unit. The conventional version has operating horn and bell sounds and ditch lights that oscillate the the horn is blown. First, the model looks g...
3

More train-themed music from The Railbenders

Posted 7 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
I listen to Amazon music, and it will recommend music to you based on what you've listened to in the past. When it suggested an album by a group called The Railbenders, I'll admit the name caught my eye. I pressed play and found myself liking the album. I found their website and discovered that not only did they have a train-themed name, several of their album covers have trains on them, AND they have recorded a number of train-themed songs! And their band logo has a steam locomotive running on...
4

Five-O in O gauge: A modern Police station from Menards

Posted 8 months ago by Bob Keller
I could be wrong, but believe that in the world of O gauge trains that only Plasticville and MTH have made police stations. This that being noted, Menards had released another rock your world structure with the no. 279-4435 Police Plaza building. This is a modern structure that will look right at home with the World Headquarters, York Hotel, and Starbucks. The building is a brick structure with columns in the front and tinted windows in the modern style. Strip off the police signage and the s...
1

Its Friday and the weekend is almost here

Posted 8 months ago by Bob Keller
Just a couple of shots of the Western Maryland VO-1000 rolling around the test layout this morning. I hope you all have a great weekend! ...
4

Loco Look Back 4: K-Line's USRA 2-8-2 (October 2003)

Posted 8 months ago by Bob Keller
  Loco Look back 4: K-Line’s USRA 2-8-2 Mikado October 2003 CTT First, a prototype note: The US Railway Administration (USRA) was for formed in December, 1917. It was an attempt to streamline control of railroads and their operation for the First World War. One project was to create a group of standardized locomotive designs from switchers to mallet locomotives. This was to steer railroads toward proven designs and avoid wasting wartime resources on experimental types. There wer...
6

Loco Look back 3: PRR S1 6-4-4-6s by Sunset Models (1999) and MTH (2004)

Posted 9 months ago by Bob Keller
If you had to pick a single locomotive that I would have bet never would have been made in 3-rail, it would be the Pennsylvania RR S1-class 6-4-4-6. Size wise, it was pretty impractical and during its brief operational life, it was exiled to the flatter and straighter lines of the Pennsy in the Midwest. But that was okay, the locomotive was designed to be a test bed for some advanced steam locomotive concepts and designs. The S1’s first notable accomplishment was wowing the crowds at th...
3

Loco Lookback 2: The K-Line B&A 2-8-4 (October 2004 CTT)

Posted 9 months ago by Bob Keller
K-Line B and Albany A-1 Berkshire (K3670-1407CC)  When I write a review for Classic Toy Trains, I don’t write the reviews to a word count. I write the review to write the review. The whole shebang. Every prototype factoid I think important, musing on the paint job or the rivet heads, and whether or not the backhead gauges and valves are painted.   Unfortunately, gut-check time comes when we reach the copy fitting part of the production cycle and I have to cut ...
7

Loco Lookback 1: Lionel New Haven 4-8-2 (Oct 2001 CTT)

Posted 9 months ago by Bob Keller
Loco Look back 1 To keep adding posts for the Classic Toy Trains Blog, I kick around a lot of ideas, some good, some bad, some not really workable. One notion I played with went something like: Which locomotives had I reviewed that, in retrospect, I wish I had bought. So I began to flip through back issues to explore. Price point is the most immediate discriminator. If it is close to $1,000 my eyes skip right past to the next engine. Roadname is the next consideration. New York Centra...
4

York photo Batch 3 (odds and ends)

Posted 10 months ago by Bob Keller
...
3

Photos from York – 2

Posted 10 months ago by Bob Keller
TW Trainworx is an amazing business building custom layups, repairing trains, or offering unique kits to help you make your layout YOUR layout. They had some terrific new products on display at York. ...
0

Photos from York - 1

Posted 10 months ago by Bob Keller
This is the first batch of some photos I took with my phone roaming around the Orange Hall at last week's meet held by the Eastern Division of the Train Collectors Association. These are in no particular order and there were more that I show, but were too poor I composition (or were too jiggly) to post. ...
1

York on the horizon

Posted 10 months ago by Bob Keller
The semi-annual meet held by the Eastern Division of the Train Collectors Association at York, PA is next week.Once more the toy train world will orbit around the county fairgrounds where there will be deals, steals, rarities, and all the major players in this crazy hobby. Stop by our booth in the Orange Hall!...
2

HAD YOUR VO TODAY? Baldwin VO-1000 from MTH Electric Trains

Posted 10 months ago by Bob Keller
I think the most interesting diesels in railroading were the so-called First Generation models – locomotives that came out before the appearance of switchers, road engines, and passenger diesels were more or less settled upon. Diesels could be square like shoe boxes, slab-sided, or even have a cab in the center. The VO-1000 is a 1,000 horsepower diesel produced between 1939 and 1946 at a key point in US railroad history. Many railroads had a positive experience with the cost savings of ...
1

A refreshing pause: The stand-alone Starbucks from Menards

Posted 11 months ago by Bob Keller
Menards is improving the quality of life in your Traintown with the release of the no. 279-4325 Starbucks coffee shop. Few brick and mortar businesses have changed people's beverage habits than has Starbucks. If you wanted a frilly double mocha caffeine bomb or just a cup of plain old Joe, you can get it in place with a convivial atmosphere. If you model post-1990s railroading, this is a natural fit for your layout.   The O gauge building has a see-through roof, six tables, 12 chairs, sa...
0

A major industry: The Vetter Sash & Door Co. from Menards

Posted 11 months ago by Bob Keller
Menards will help your Traintown prosper with a new industrial structure: The no. 279-4324 Vetter Sash & Door Co.  Vetter Sash & Door Co. The four-story O gauge structure has two rotating exhaust fans, 25 windows, a backlit sign, workers, Jack the German shepherd, detail pieces, and a weathered exterior. More than 11 inches tall, 6 ¼ inches wide the building has a run-through for trains as well as a small drive through for dump trucks to pose below the sawdust catcher and ...
4

Wow, a new train show!

Posted 11 months ago by Bob Keller
We just received our advanced copies of the May issue from the printer (It ships to subscribers on March 17th, and the official on sale date is April 3rd) and what a surprise on the back cover!  A brand new, first-time-ever train show!  What a cool idea!...
0

On the Test Track: MTH Premier Line SP Daylight Alco PA

Posted 11 months ago by Bob Keller
MTH sent us two locomotives in bright spring colors: The nos. 20-20843-1 Alco PA and the 20-20843-3 Alco PB in the famed colors of the Southern Pacific Daylight passenger train. The Coast Daylight provided daily service between San Francisco and Los Angeles from 1922 to 1974. When the six-axle PA's entered Southern Pacific service and they may have been the most distinctive appearing diesels appearing on the point of the streamliner. The MTH PA-1 features two can-style motors, smoke uni...
0

Tampa Towers high-rise under construction from Menards

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
Businesses are booming, new industries have revitalized Traintown, new folks are moving in and the housing market is tight. What is a town to do?  Build a high-rise apartment building.  The latest addition to the Menards line of O gauge structures is the no. 279-4432 Tampa Towers.  The pre-assembled structure simulates the incomplete concrete shell of a modern apartment building. Construction, however, is hot and heavy with no less than 19 O scale worker figures glued throu...

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the Classic Toy Trains newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month