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The O gauge no. 279-4493 Sprecher Brewery from Menards

Posted 4 days ago by Bob Keller
The hobby demanded it! Menards supplied it. One of the most often requested additions to the Menards building line has been a brewery. The Wisconsin-based home improvement chains delivered with a hometown hero of sorts: The Sprecher Brewery. Based in the Milwaukee area, it was the city's first craft brewery, arriving on the scene in the 1980s. The company started in an old industrial building and later built a new brewery and visitor's center. The company is actively involved in community eve...
1

O gauge County Suites Hotel from Menards

Posted 12 days ago by Bob Keller
This isn't your grandfather's roadside motel! The new no. 279-4427 County Suites is the perfect stop for your O gauge tourists or businessmen.  The structures looks as modern as any chain hotel you'd find out on the interstate, and better yet, it has a modest footprint (roughly 12x12-inches) that might find a home any any layout. The structure is fully decorated and assembled and features four stories plus a rooftop patio for entertainment. Rooms are a mix of occupied and unoccupied, s...
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A Facebook live event is coming soon!

Posted 12 days ago by Rene Schweitzer
Mark your calendars--CTT's first Facebook live event will be happening on April 16 at 1 p.m. CDT! Roger Carp will be answering YOUR questions about our upcoming special issue, Lionel Trains of the 1950s. You may have some questions. First, what is "Facebook Live?" This will be a live event on Facebook. You may join the video and submit your question for Roger to answer. If you are unable to "attend" the event, a video will be made and saved to the CTT Facebook page. You may watch the video aft...
7

Have any uncommon road names you run in your trains?

Posted 24 days ago by Bob Keller
It has been said there has been more than enough New York Central, Pennsylvania, Union Pacific, Santa Fe equipment made for toy trains and I tend to agree with that to a point. Most CTT readers would recall the days when being stopped by a freight train was almost an adventure. As the train rolled past you scanned the cars for the most exotic and remote road name you could find. Also high on the list was reading any advertising copy like “Route of the Chief,” or “Southern Se...
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New CTT posters!

Posted one month ago by Roger Carp
UPDATE: Learn more about the 6464 series of boxcars in my new Professor Carp video! Too often when I’m visiting the homes of toy train operators and collectors, the walls of their basement or attic where they display their treasures seem especially bare. Maybe a dusty old lantern hangs from a hook, or there are faded photos of vintage cars and planes. Fortunately,Classic Toy Trainshas the answer to your decorating woes. We are proud to offer an exclusive set of three full-color posters d...
6

My 2020 (the engine, not the year)

Posted one month ago by Bob Keller
Getting back into the hobby in the early 90s was pretty thrilling. Most of the places I had lived since my trains went into the box in the late 60s simply didn’t have anyone that sold Lionel trains except during the holidays. There was one hobby shop that sole largely rusty track, but no rolling stock. At Christmas, the Melbourne, Florida Sears store was the only spot I could find new trains. But Sears was selling just sets, not any of the other gear you need like track, transformers, or...
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Wild Blue Yonder: MTH USAF 44 tonner

Posted one month ago by Bob Keller
Being somewhat under-employed these days, you’d think I’d have an unlimited amount of time to run trains. Not so. In fact, prior to last week, I hadn’t run a train in the basement in about a year. A few months back I asked Jack Sommerfeld to track down an MTH US Air Force 44-tonner, and he did. But it has been sitting in its box for about two months and enough was enough. The first thing was to clean off the junk that had accumulated on the right-of-way. Next I dug out my ...
7

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

Posted 2 months ago 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...
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Loco Lookback 7: Lionel's Westside Lumber Shay (CTT Feb 2001)

Posted 2 months 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 2 months 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 3 months 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 5 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 7 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 8 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 9 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...
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ON THE TEST TRACK: The new Williams by Bachmann Amtrak F59PHI

Posted 9 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 9 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 9 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 one year ago by Bob Keller
...
3

Photos from York – 2

Posted one year 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 one year 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. ...

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