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Tampa Towers high-rise under construction from Menards

Posted 2 days 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...
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Get the mail: A small town post office from Woodland Scenics

Posted 10 days ago by Bob Keller
Forever stamps rock and the place to get them in Traintown is the no. BR5864 Letters, Parcels & Post post office from Woodland Scenics. This latest entry in the firm's Landmark Structure line is a wonderful rendition of a rural or small town post office. Woodland has styled it as a wood structure with a shingle roof and stone base. The design will fit in from New England to Portland. There is a great covered porch (I can see someone setting up a gaggle of town folk sitting outside, readin...
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Got nukes?

Posted 20 days ago by Bob Keller
Behold the no. 279-4433 Oak Point Nuclear Power Facility. While I suppose that nothing should surprise me when I open a large box from Menards, I can assure you the “Wow” factor is still in play. I would not have thought of a new structure to harness the power of the atom for your layout. A nuclear power plant is a great idea. It is a natural fit, though. I have a handful of Lionel Atomic Energy pieces, including radioactive waste cars, an AEC switcher, and even a clear AEC tank...
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Navigating the trains.com events database

Posted 24 days ago by Rene Schweitzer
Did you know that you have access to a free database that list model-train events of all scales? And, if you or your club are hosting an event, you can list it for FREE? Note: Click on any image to enlarge. At the upper right-hand side of the CTT website is a tab called "Resources." Mouse over it to see a list of options. The second item says "Coming Events." Click on that to be brought to the trains.com event database. You'll see a bunch of options here. Click on a category if you want a s...
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Introducing a new column in CTT

Posted one month ago by Carl Swanson
It's not often Classic Toy Trains adds a column, but the February 2018 issue marks the debut of Kent's Johnson's Video Plus column. Kent, of course, was Senior Editor of Classic Toy Trains before he moved down the hall to the Model Railroader Video Plus initiative. There he has been very busy adding O and S gauge video content to the hundreds of hours of informative and entertaining railroading videos already on the site. Here's the text of Kent's first column, with a link to a free preview p...
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Comin' 'round the mountain: The RailKing C&O 2-6-6-6 Allegheny from MTH

Posted one month ago by Bob Keller
I received some new gear from MTH for review, and the first box opened revealed one sweet steamer: The no. 30-1728-1 RailKing Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-6 Allegheny  When the history for O gauge in the modern era is written, the RailKing line will be recognized for giving tighter-diameter operators a variety of different and well-detailed locomotives that their pre- and postwar kin could have never envisioned. One such model is the Lima-Hamilton 2-6-6-6 Allegheny built for the Chesapea...
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Wrapping up my 2017 buying year with a boom!

Posted one month ago by Bob Keller
Wrapping up the 2017 buying year, I scored my fifth AMT passenger car and a trio of locomotives. On the rolling stock front, the final car of the year was an AMT New York Central baggage car. It is in great shape (better than the second rear observation car I bought). While I don’t intend to build two complete train sets, well, I will have a few extras for two small trains. Cough, cough. But you know how this stuff can spiral out of control. In the everything realm of “everythi...
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Gas up at Wally’s station (from Menards)

Posted one month ago by Bob Keller
While engaging in some idle office chatter, speculating about what building Menards might come up with next, someone said “They need a gas station.”  I discounted that, since there was a run of Menards gas station made for the home improvement chain by Woodland Scenics few years back. Well, I was wrong. Behold the no. 279-4431 Wally’s gas station! The model represents a mid-century service station with some Art Deco curves on the Shell signage on the left and right corn...
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It's that time of year: Toy-train Christmas videos!

Posted 2 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
Toy trains and Christmas--they go together! Here are some neat Christmas videos our readers have shared with us lately. First, Becky Chestney loves Disneyland and has submitted videos over the past several years. This year's video features her 2017 Christmas display and has "stop action" techniques for movement.  Who doesn't like a trolley, especially a Christmas trolley? This trolley from Neal Mayer's layout serves both downtown and the countryside. The Pioneer Valley Model Railro...
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So what am I making room for?

Posted 2 months ago by Bob Keller
I’ve received a few notes about “why” am I getting rid of stuff via the Bob’s Making Some Room giveaway on Facebook. I suspect that there is a suspicion of some sort of insider “the end is near” angle going on. Hardly. In my re-working my layout, I’ve cut out one of three mainlines, which means there is at least one 30-car freight train that can’t be parked on the track. I have also bought more rolling stock in 2017 than anytime in the last 10 ye...
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Bob's making some space giveaway #3: The Lionel no. 26070 Nestle Nesquik flatcar with trailer

Posted 2 months ago by Bob Keller
When I got back into the hobby, some of the more affordable (and interesting) car types that I found were intermodal cars – trailer-on-flatcar (TOFC) pieces. Some of my favorites were the nos. 16307 Nickel Plate, 16314 Wabash, and 16323 Lionel Lines. These three have twin “pup” single axle trailers as their load. Beginning with the 16308 (Burlington Northern) the cars changed to carry a single, longer dual axle van. The trailer was, of course, closer to S than O scale,...
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Classic Toy Trains & FineScale Modeler share anniversaries

Posted 2 months ago by Bob Keller
Today the company he'd a reception of coffee and donuts to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Classic Toy Trains magazine and the 35th anniversary of FineScale Modeler. ...
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The guard changes: Old test track gone, meet the new test track

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
When I arrived at CTT nearly 22 years ago, the way locomotives were tested was to connect a ring of O-72 track on the Model Railroader workshop floor and test away. This was far from perfect, but the guys at MR didn't want to surrender the space to us for a fixed layout. When our previous editor arrived, I made the case for a fixed test track and I got my wish. I brought in my original "adult" layout from home (roughly 5x9), we carpeted it, and installed O-54, O-31, and S gauge loops on it. O...
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Bob's making some space giveaway #2: Lionel no. 16718 USMC Missile Launching Car

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
  Bob’s making some space giveaway #2 The Lionel no. 16718 US Marine Corps Missile Launching Car. So this one is an inter-service rivalry giveaway. As an ex-Air Force missileer, I’ve always been highly skeptical of giving Marines the means to fire explosives further than, say, that pillbox over there. So I figure that this car would be happier in a collection where it would actually be fired! This time the no. 16718 Marine Corps missile launching car is up for grab...
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Cow palace

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
Meet the new barn, not the same as the old barn! The dairy barn has been tweaked and improved to ensure to cows on your layout have the perfect home. The no. 279-4430 barn has the same footprint as the Menard's barn of 2014, and costs $89.99 plus shipping. Back in 2014 Menards offered up its first dairy barn – a solid-looking agricultural building, complete with advertising on the sides and roof. The firm has re-vsited the concept and, except for the general outline, as as...
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Hail, hail the trailers are all here!

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
I received a jumbo box from Woodland Scenics last week. It contained the three latest Built-&-Ready structures in O gauge – their mobile homes. Normally, they send the buildings in as they are released but the shock and awe of how neat these are would have been lost one-at-a-time. These are not cookie-cutter models, each one is unique, though they all follow the basic layout of a mobile home. As you can see, you cn place them side by side and not come away with the notion that they a...
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Bob's making some space giveaway!

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
EXCESS TO REQUIREMENTS: First in a series  A few weeks back, I was trying to find out whether or not I’d ever purchased a particular freight car I had seen on eBay. I had (which was fine), but I also had to take apart the basement to learn that fact. In my mind I had the New York Central rolling stock with the New York Central, Pennsy with the Pennsy, Railway Express with Railway Express, beer cars with beer cars, and the rest roughly grouped East or West of the Mississippi. ...
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New illuminated vehicles (and a plug and play wiring system) by Menards

Posted 3 months ago by Bob Keller
Menards has cranked out some very interesting die-cast vehicles recently. But what could be better than a die-cast vehicle? A die-cast vehicle with lighting.And what about a new wiring accessory system to make illuminating your vehicles AND Menards structures easier? Well today is your day! Let prewired vehicles from Menards light up your streets. There are six trucks and six Mustangs available. Shown are the nos. 279-4237 yellow, 279-4238 classic style black, 279-4207 Menards stake truck wit...
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Johnny Cash and trains

Posted 4 months ago by Rene Schweitzer
The other day, a package arrived for my husband from eBay. It was a DVD of something called "Ridin' the Rails," a documentary hosted by Johnny Cash from 1974. It's the history of railroading in about an hour. cs_setInnerHtml('video_542d7582-360b-4ec0-9047-92681524429f',''); This got me thinking about the other train-related things that Johnny Cash did, especially in the 1970s. Lionel released a Johnny Cash boxcar (no. 9870) with the "Ridin' the Rails" logo on it. (This was featured in...
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Is time our hobby’s real enemy?

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
What is the greatest foe to the hobby of model railroading?  High prices?  Video games?  Young people who don’t know what’s good for them?  Nope. To me, the biggest enemy to model railroading is time.  But it isn’t just model railroading. Traditional hobbies, traditional print publishing, and even traditional television are reeling from systematic change that nobody really understands or knows how to counter (if it is preventable). Everyone...
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CTT issue no. 1 now available as a digital download

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
The hobby and Classic Toy Trains magazine have experienced quite a few changes in the last three decades. Our very first issue is now available as a digital download!  Hey, I'm the product guy and nobody told me! Yikes.  You can see where it all began and take a trip down memory lane with vintage trains and vintage ads from long-gone shops.  You'll also note changes in graphics and how we present stories now, versus in days passed. Heck, I'm, starting to get a little sniffly!...
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Hail to the chief: RR Headquarters building from Menards

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
    Hail to the Chief, baby  Is it wrong to feel, well, giddy when you open a product box?  If it is, then, I plead guilty. At a time when you wonder what could Menards do that would top the York Hotel Royale, well, they top it. Other than a cryptic “O World Headquarters” on the shipping notification I received, I had no idea what the building might be. But the size of the box and the photo on the side got the heart racing. “Holy cow,” was my ...
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Wrap up of the week

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
A few odds and ends to finish the week! And you may yet see one more HUMONGOUS blog post before the day is out! ...
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Ride in a Sally's ride! Sally's Restorations from Menards

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
If you have watched reality shows like Pawn Stars, American Restorations, or especially Counting Cars, you know that vintage wheels can be pretty hot candidates for restoration (and being re-sold for considerably more than their original new-from-the-factory price). Menards taps into this movement with the no. 279-4032 Sally’s Restoration Shop where new life is breathed into old Ford Mustangs. The structure features an illuminated showroom with three cars and an additional two cars par...
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Menards update 09/27

Posted 4 months ago by Bob Keller
Received a box of goodies from Menards last week ... I still have two items that have not been announced yet, but here are some nifty products that are available now! Six railroad herald and two new 1:48 die-cast box trucks. The trucks are for Jack Links and Penske Rentals. Go to www.Menards.com/trains for more information. And since we all know Jack Links for their beef jerky and their Messin' with Sasquatch commercials, here is a link to their 10 best "Messin'" commercials. cs_set...
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The York Hotel Royale mega-structure from Menards!

Posted 5 months ago by Bob Keller
A few issues back I wrote a review called “Rise of the Mega Structures.” Little did I know that the product designers at Menards were just getting warmed up! I have got to say that it is thrilling to be surprised, seemingly every few weeks, by receiving a box from Menards with something in it that falls into the “Nobody will ever do that in O,” category. This is another one of those times. Not just a hotel, but a giant structure. The no. 279-3973 York Hotel Royale has...
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All-Star Electric Trains ships to the printer!

Posted 5 months ago by Bob Keller
This year’s annual special interest publication from Classic Toy Trains is on the way to the printer! All-Star Electric Trains salutes 30 years of toy train history with Classic Toy Trains magazine. Shown here are some photos I took at the SIP’s “pin up” several weeks ago. A pin up is where the Art Department meets with the editorial staff and shows them the provisional story layouts. These are literally pinned up on a wall.  The stories are posted in the order...
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Something is up in the workshop (Updated Wednesday 10:30 a.m.)

Posted 5 months ago by Bob Keller
Those guys from Model Railroader Video Plus are up to something down in the workshop! Hey, I wondered who hijacked the Menards buildings! Why that's the MTH police station from our closet, too! No wonder the workshop "Stay out" sign is posted! There is probably somewhere on-line that they can be observed live streamed ... ...
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Get thee to a bus barn! The O gauge Bus Garage from Menards

Posted 5 months ago by Bob Keller
As any veteran of riding one of those slow, yellow greyhounds to and from school – and who might have left their textbooks on it, the only place you can retrieve it is (Dum-Dah) the school bus barn! Thanks to Menards, the kiddies can now see where their bus is maintained, cleaned, and just maybe where they can find that O scale text or homework assignment they forgot! The no 279-4033 O Gauge Bus Garage is a nifty structure that appears to utilize some of the design elements of the no. 2...
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Ending a high-intensity week

Posted 6 months ago by Bob Keller
It has been a wild couple of weeks. We’ve had deadlines for the November issue (on the way to the printer), our annual special issue (finalizing the story layouts), and a half dozen other things getting ready for the December issue.   Sometimes you just have to wander down the hall and run trains in a circle for a bit to clear the mind! Oh, and a trip to Sommerfeld's Trains up in Butler to pick something up doesn't hurt either! ...

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