1

Repainting Tucker's Farm: Part 2

Posted 11 days 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...
1

Catch the 8:15 to Melrose Park

Posted 12 days 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,...
1

Kent's Dad's Steamer!

Posted 18 days 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...
2

Some favorite detail pieces

Posted one month 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...
2

Tucker's Farm gets a partial re-paint

Posted one month 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...
3

Don't forget to take photos

Posted one month 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. ...
1

Who populates your train town?

Posted 2 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 ...
1

A look inside our in-house photo studio

Posted 2 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...
6

Yes, I would do it again (Notes on a Lego train set)

Posted 2 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...
2

Eastbound and down: The no. 279-5098 O gauge Schneider Trucking Terminal by Menards

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
I thought the wave of buildings was over for the year when the Schneider Trucking building show up on my doorstep. This is a nifty surprise. The building is another salute to a Wisconsin-based company, Schneider Transportation. Founded in 1935, the Green Bay-based firm was granted the first interstate transportation authority by the Interstate Commerce Commission. That has evolved into a company with global reach and expertise in all forms of surface transport from full trailer, less-than-car...
7

Where the shoppers are: The strip shopping center from Menards

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
The 279-4846 O gauge Strip Shopping center, $79.99  Remember the days when to shop, you went to the mall? The mall was the main destination of most Americans. But times (and habits) have changed, perhaps due to consumer whims, or simply the battle to find a parking spot and hike into the mall. The antidote for this has become the strip shopping center. Probably within a few miles of you, there may be one or more groups of newly built retail spots with anywhere from one to five or six st...
3

A look inside Kalmbach's in-house layout: The Milwaukee, Racine & Troy (MR&T)

Posted 3 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Let me preface this post by saying that Kalmbach's in-house layout is HO scale. However, when I asked forum users if they still would be interested in seeing photos of it, I received a resounding "yes!" So if HO scale isn't your thing, I won't be offended if you skip this post. Click on any of the photos to enlarge! Kalmbach's layout is called the Milwaukee, Racine & Troy (MR&T). It dates back decades and if you'd like a more detailed history, I'm sure you can find more at Model Rail...
1

Making signage for your railroad

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
In my last blog post I wrote about decaling to create “modern” equipment for the long-gone New York Central. This time I wanted to show some other methods of decorating your layout with signage, along with a few some do’s and some don’ts. I tried printing signs with photo paper, but in the long run, that hasn't paid off. My tip: Use decals. If you are making text signs, your only design concerns are for font and size if you want a clear decal. If you are making sign...
1

Power up: The National Power & Light plant from Menards

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
The Menards building line has produced some amazing structures. The mega-buildings they have made (the American Power & Light, Morton Salt plant, Pepsi bottling plant) have set a new standard for large O gauge industrial structures. It is hard to believe that the American Power & Light power plant arrived in March of 2016. The building was a fast sell-out at Menards and it has commanded some pretty high prices in the secondary market. If you missed it and balk at paying more than doub...
6

Three cheers for stations!

Posted 5 months ago by Bob Keller
My Salute to stations: Every layout needs one (or more) It might not be a given that everybody who has a layout has a station, it is probably true that anyone who has a layout wants a station. They have just not found the right one. When I got back into toy trains (circa 1993) and built my first layout since childhood, one of the first things I wanted to buy was a station. The few years in the late 60s I had N scale did not yield station – oh, I saw them in the magazines, but never i...
0

Halloween decor you can use on your layout: Hobby Lobby

Posted 5 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Next up in my blog series is Hobby Lobby. I have to admit that I expected a bust when I stopped here. I knew that Hobby Lobby doesn't stock holiday buildings like Menards and Michaels does. However, I found a number of inexpensive items you can use as decor or accent pieces on your layout! Make sure you either print out a weekly coupon or show a coupon on your smartphone to save even more money. Right now, their Halloween items are 40% off, so you can get more bang for your buck. I found sever...
1

Four for the road: Recent freight cars from Menards

Posted 5 months ago by Bob Keller
I recently had a chance to see some recent releases from Menards – two boxcars and two gondolas. Up front are the nos. 279-5341 Erie Lackawanna boxcar and the 279-5243 Soo Line Gondola. In back are the nos. 279-5241 Chicago & North Western gondola and the 279-5343 J. Shepherd & Sons boxcar. The traditionally–sized rolling stock have metal wheels and operating couplers. The boxcars have opening doors. All have good-looking graphics. The Erie-Lackawanna car has a white...
1

Halloween decor you can use on your layout: Michaels

Posted 5 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
I'm back with another Halloween report! If you're new here, you might want to check out the other two parts to this series: Menards Target This time I visited Michaels craft store. They used to have a big Halloween display of buildings near the back of the store. I was pleased to see that it's moved to the FRONT of the store now and has a special display. Like Menards, Michaels has a selection of Lemax-branded structures, but most appear different. There's one called the Garden of Eaten at Mi...
9

Your favorite RR long gone? “Roll your own” modern diesels

Posted 6 months ago by Bob Keller
Have it your way What is a guy to do when his favorite railroad has been gone for more than half a century? I know I’m not the only one with this dilemma. And what does that train person do if they want to run modern locomotion? First, you can hope that manufacturers take a chance, and run a vintage road name on a current locomotive or freight car design. Not impossible, but it does happen every now and then. Second, you can hope that a railroad gets heritage fever. They might paint o...
0

Halloween decor you can use on your layout: Target

Posted 6 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
If you missed part one of this series (Menards), check it out here. Target has a decent seasonal Halloween section, but I can't remember them ever stocking any village type decor. They also tend to be trendy, so if something is popular one year but not the next, you can't count on Target stocking it. When Jim and I stopped by during the weekend, I honestly thought it would be a toy-train bust. While they don't have a lot for you, there are still a few things you might find useful. They had sev...
4

More vintage train books ... that may still excite kids

Posted 6 months ago by Bob Keller
I had previously written about a few favorite railroad books from my boyhood. I was rummaging in the basement and found a few more from my pre-junior high days as an enthusiast. If you missed any of these you can find most of them at train shows, specialty railroad book sellers (often in the bargain bin), and of course eBay and Amazon.  Clear the Tracks: True Stories of Railroading by Julius Wolfe (1952, J.B. Lippincott): Clear the track: True stories written for youngsters (not f...
3

Halloween decor you can use on your layout: Menards

Posted 6 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Fall is on the way, and the Halloween decor is starting to appear on store shelves. I'm going to visit a number of stores and scour their shelves for Halloween items you can use on your layouts! No matter what your budget or if it's a permanent or temporary display, I'll likely find something you can use. First, some background. My husband Jim loves Halloween. In fact, our 3-rail layout in the basement is Halloween themed (it was featured in the pages of CTT back in 2002). We put out a lot of H...
3

A look inside Kalmbach's modeling workshop

Posted 7 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Note: Click on any photo to enlarge. I'm back with another "behind the scenes" look at something inside the Kalmbach Media building--the workshop! I took a panoramic photograph of the workshop but have no idea how it will replicate here on the blog. Please let me know if you can see it in the comments. It's the first photo here. The workshop is part of the original wing of the building, which opened in 1989. It's shared by Model Railroader, Model Railroader Video Plus, Classic Toy Train...
1

Jack's Favorite: The G. Shepherd & Sons dog food plant from Menards

Posted 7 months ago by Bob Keller
The no. 279-4494 O scale G Shepherd & Sons dog food pant from Menards The secret is out: Jack the German shepherd is everywhere these days because he is part of the family business: G. Shepherd & Sons, makers of fine dog foods since 1926. And what is their top product? Jack’s dog food! The 279-4494 building adds another unique structure to the O gauge line of Menards buildings. This is a multi-story building with simulated stone construction that appears to be ready to pass the...
0

Resources at Kalmbach and beyond

Posted 7 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
A couple of months ago, I blogged about Kalmbach’s in-house David P. Morgan Memorial Library. This got me thinking about other resources I have access to at Kalmbach. While there are many, it’s the people who make the difference. Here are some examples of staff and contributors who have helped me recently. For instance, Kevin Keefe (now retired) was a big help when I was looking for some dates related to the library. Kevin was once Trains magazine’s editor, and he still writes...
1

Air Power: The O gauge Windmill from Woodland Scenics

Posted 7 months ago by Bob Keller
I have never tried modeling farming on my layout. I do, however have two ceramic barns (bought cheap) as filler for odd spaces left over from mainline curves. I always thought a farm would require too much real estate on an O gauge railroad. Until now, that was the end of my interest in three-rail agriculture. But not so much these days. The bolt out of the blue is that you don’t need a farm to use this. A green patch and a few cows or horses will work, or even a run-down, abandoned log...
4

My Best Christmas Train Memory

Posted 8 months ago by Bob Keller
I was fortunate to have an amazing uncle when I was growing up. The year I was born he got me a Lionel starter set. He ran a store that seasonally sold trains (Lionel, American Flyer, and Marx) and he added to my fleet every year until about 1967 when the store stopped carrying Lionel. I still have all my postwar trains and they all still run. In fact, in about 1992, I took my gear out of the box. When I fired up my no. 1033 and hit the juice, and my Seaboard NW2 lurched to action, it change ...
2

Christmas in July? Why not!?!

Posted 8 months ago by Bob Keller
It was pretty well-known around Classic Toy Trains that I had 600 or 700 Christmas songs on my computer, and that anytime of the year one might pass my office and hear Jingle Bell Rock, I’ll be Home for Christmas, Don’t Forget to Feed the Reindeer, or Christmas at NORAD.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykzpUmKNw_Q Christmas music can be a palate cleanser year-round and can get you thinking about cool snow in the midst of a heat wave. The late Dean ...
3

A true "Christmas in July" memory

Posted 8 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Note: Click on any photo to enlarge. We at CTT are celebrating "Christmas in July" this month! Some of you might remember the Kalmbach magazine Collecting Toys.  It was a start up magazine that was a spin-off of Classic Toy Trains that featured toys of all kinds, from die cast, play sets, action figures, new toys, and more. When I started working at Kalmbach, I split my time between CTT and Collecting Toys.  It was a fun magazine to work for. The editor, Tom Hammel, would atten...
1

Attending the TCA National Convention

Posted 8 months ago by Roger Carp
My wife and I just returned from a fantastic week spent in New Mexico, with the highlight for me being the opportunity to attend and speak at the annual national convention of the Train Collectors Association. If you have never taken the time to attend a national convention sponsored by TCA or another of the toy train collecting or operating organization, I strongly recommend doing so. The convention, held in the magnificent city of Albuquerque, featured a number of tours to see local collectio...

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