2

Looking back at our covers

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
One neat thing about doing quality control checks on the upcoming Classic Toy Trains archive DVD is getting to take a second look at long-forgotten material. Our production schedule can have us working on three issues at the same time, so there is little day-to-day time for reflection on long-published features or photos. I was struck by that fact when I took another look at the cover of the October, 2007 CTT. This cover hit the spot for me in showing imagery of what the toy train hobby is all ...
6

My (sort’a) Iron Journey (Apologies to Otto Kuhler)

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
Most toy train folks have probably ridden a train or two in their lives, and I’m no exception. The recreational train rides have far exceeded the “real” train rides, but all have had a positive influence on how I view the hobby. I divide my train trips into three eras, the “Hazy Memory” Era (rides up through elementary school); The Junior Railfan Era (rides up through high school); and the All Grown Up era (contemporary times). The hazy memory years Baltimore &am...
3

Train "stuff"

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
Train “stuff” My interests in toy and real trains both evolved simultaneously, and went hand-in-hand. While I could spend hours watching the Baltimore & Ohio switchers shunt cars around the Hamilton, Ohio yard, I was always wary of them. Reportedly when I was three or four a switcher crew offered to ride me around a bit. I was later told that every time I got out of view of my father, my eyes filled with water and they sensed panic was near. I don’t believe it of course. R...
4

Adieu Weaver Models

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
The last 15 years have been mighty rough on the hobby. In many ways it is the old “best of times, worst of times” situation. Never have O and S gaugers had as much variety in, well, everything from locomotives to cabooses. More than we would have ever dreamed of. Unfortunately, there has been a downside to the experience. Change happens. The retail hobby locations seem to be fading fast, and the realm of manufacturing has been fluid at best. Marx left the field of battle after the s...
2

Non-traditional sources for figures

Posted one year ago by Rene Schweitzer
For years, my husband has carried an Artista O gauge engineer figure in his pocket. When we go into a big-box store, he’ll peruse the toy aisle and use it instead of a scale rule. If you’re looking for non-traditional or unusual figures, here are some suggestions. (In some of the photos, I've included an unpainted figure as a size reference.) Heroclix These figures are meant for gaming and are mostly superhero themed. Each one is mounted on a round, black base. (You can usually...
3

After my first train set – what?

Posted one year ago by Roger Carp
I spent several paragraphs in my previous blog post reminiscing about something nearly all of you can relate to: my very first electric train set. As you will recall, I was thinking back a few weeks ago to the cool yet not cold evening in December of 1956 when I unwrapped a Lionel no. 1561WS/710 O-27 gauge freight outfit. I was only five years old, barely a few months into kindergarten in Los Angeles. Yet I was the proud owner of a magical little steam engine and tender. My no. 2065 had a power...
3

Stuff I Like: Modern Era – 2: the Lionel Nuclear Reactor

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
No, your eyes don’t deceive you, this is a modern era product. The Lionel no. 14065 463 nuclear reactor hails from 2000, not 1952.  Oh, the concept may date from the time when giants strode the product development department at Lionel, but this baby only came to be through the efforts of Lionel’s management in the late 1990s.  There is not even the remotest connection to what a nuclear reactor would look like. Nope, this is pure “Future seen from the Past” in ...
5

Whimsy

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
Whimsy. Not that British aristocrat with the monocle who detects crime in his free time. Light hearted humor. You see it all the time on our home layouts. This reader squeezes in dinosaurs. King Kong is astride many an O gauge skyscraper. Sight gags are found aplenty and one of the most watched reader video’s we’ve posted features a cat and rat frolicking through a fairly detailed downtown scene (I sure hope he planned on it being destroyed).  Me? I have Space Marines, Sisters...
4

Saluting Gustav Taus of ETS

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
We recently learned of the passing of Gustav Taus, owner of train maker ETS of Prague, in the Czech Republic.  My dealings with Gustav were always professional and he was a gentleman in the classic sense. For many years the ETS booth was next to Classic Toy Trains at the Eastern Division (TCA) train meet in York, Penn. Whether the show was good or bad, he always had the same positive spirit and he was always took time with customers to explain his product line and put the trains through th...
4

Live from York: Just before the doors open

Posted one year ago by Rene Schweitzer
Bob Keller shares some photos of the York show floor, just before the doors open! Enjoy, and if you're going to the show, stop by and say hello to Bob! ...
2

Bob has arrived at York!

Posted one year ago by Rene Schweitzer
This just in from the road--Bob Keller has arrived at the TCA York show. If you are attending, please visit the CTT booth in the orange hall! ...
3

York: Center of the toy train world twice a year

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
I had my pre-York haircut yesterday which signals that soon I’ll be packing the bags. I’ll be flying off to Pennsylvania to wave the banner of Classic Toy Trains at the Spring 2015 York Meet. Nineteen years ago the Spring 1996 show was my first “York,” and I’ve usually attended one a year for the magazine ever since. It is an amazing event.  What is York? It is a semi-annual train meet hosted by the Eastern Division of the Train Collector’s Association (...
8

Seeking input: What topics would you like to see on this blog?

Posted one year ago by Rene Schweitzer
The CTT editors' blog has been live about four months. As a staff, we've tried a number of different topics you, the reader wouldn't find in the print magazine, but that are hobby related. Some ideas we are tossing around include: 1. A series called "What happens when?" This could include topics like what happens when a new product comes into Bob's office, or what happens when a manuscript arrives in the mail. 2. More "mini how tos," such as the example of using Flarp to clean locomotives. 3....
14

Treason to O gauge? My foreign trains in OO

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
I’ve often voiced a theory that most American model railroaders would only look twice at a European train if said train was loaded with tanks and anti-aircraft guns. That might be an exaggeration, but probably not by much.  So I’ll confess that I have a soft spot for British trains with or without heavy artillery.  This interest is thanks primarily to the Sherlock Holmes stories and old British movies (Terror by Night, The Thirty-Nine Steps, and The Great Train Robbery ...
6

Thinking about Dad's Berkshire

Posted one year ago by Rene Schweitzer
When you see a photo of this locomotive, what do you think of? Some might say, "that's a Lionel 726RR Berkshire." To me, it's the first toy train I ever laid eyes on as a child. I wrote about this Berkshire in the January 1999 issue of CTT. I sneaked it out of my parents' basement and restored it as a surprise to my dad. He was excited at first to see it restored, and it ran under the Christmas tree for a few years afterward. However, the beloved Berk has returned to its crate in the basemen...
8

I opened a box – and my life changed!!

Posted one year ago by Roger Carp
It sounds more than a little melodramatic and yet it is true. The day I opened the box containing my first Lionel train set was the day my life changed – and all for the best!  Let’s go back almost six decades to Chanukah of 1956. I might have been just a few months into kindergarten, but my education was pretty advanced when it came to trains. I loved watching full-size Southern Pacific freight trains amble down the long-gone line paralleling Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los...
1

Stuff I like – Postwar no. 1 (Lionel no. 6250 Seaboard Air Line NW2 switcher)

Posted one year ago by Bob Keller
  I had a terrific uncle. He was the manager of a store that originated as a tire shop, but eventually turned into a regional chain called Moore’s. It was branded as an automotive store, but by the time the chain folded in the 1970s, you could go in, buy a tire, a shotgun, a refrigerator, basic household electrical appliances, lawn furniture, and of course, at Christmastime, electric trains.  He gave me my first train set in 1955 and added to it every year. Around 1967 (about t...
4

A new way to remove dirt from your locomotives

Posted one year ago by Rene Schweitzer
Several years ago, I discovered a putty called "Flarp." It's a goofy product made to make flatulent noises. However, I discovered that it has an interesting property: It can easily remove dust and dirt from locomotives. You can buy Flarp online, or at Walgreens or Walmart. It costs between $1.50-$2 per can, and one can does quite a bit of work. Bob Keller generously donated a locomotive that was dusty for this project. (Come back to our blog soon to read more about this locomotive!) Flarp ...
8

A layout “must”

Posted 2 years ago by Carl Swanson
Here’s a sad fact. I’ve built and torn down three O gauge layouts in the past 15 years. All have been fun but none have been entirely satisfactory. Now I’m planning my next O gauge layout – version 4.0, you might say – and I’m determined to get it right this time. Or at least more right than last time! It’s early in the process, but I’m leaning toward a fairly toy-like layout but one with slightly more developed scenery than, say, a carpeted platf...
5

Stuff I like – Modern Era no. 1 (MTH no. 1101 4-8-2 Mohawk)

Posted 2 years ago by Bob Keller
Someone recently asked me a question about product reviews that I didn’t know the answer to. It was quite simple, really,  “How many reviews have you done?” The first number that went through my head was “A couple of hundred.” Then I decided to find out for sure and the number even surprised me: 591 locomotives, pieces of rolling stock, accessories, and the occasional kit. So far. Wow. But that got me thinking to the very first review I did – and it was...
0

Blogging with Roger Carp at Classic Toy Trains

Posted 2 years ago by Roger Carp
In my previous blog posting, I talked about the important role postwar collector and expert Joe Algozzini has played at Classic Toy Trains virtually from the day the first issue was planned and published – way back in the autumn of 1987. I joined the staff in time to assist Founding Editor Dick Christianson with the second issue, which came out the following spring. Very soon after starting, I met Joe and began working with him. If you think about it, having at the disposal of the magazin...
3

It's cleaning day in our offices!

Posted 2 years ago by Rene Schweitzer
Each spring (and I use that term lightly, since it's barely above zero outside), we schedule a cleaning day in our offices. We usually bring in food, and spend the day sorting through the items that have accumulated during the past 12 months. ...
2

I did it for the cat

Posted 2 years ago by Rene Schweitzer
One weekend in late November, I went out of town for a family birthday party. I came home on Sunday night to find a large circle of Lionel FasTrack track in our dining room. Seeing trains and equipment around our house is nothing new. My husband is an O-gauge collector and operator, and there’s something O gauge in nearly every room. I must have had a puzzled look on my face, because he looked at me honestly and said, “It’s for the cat. He likes it.” We’ve had cat...
12

What is the right size for O?

Posted 2 years ago by Bob Keller
Generally speaking, the phone queries we receive in the wake of Christmastime fall into two broad categories: Track types and train sizes. With the former, the callers usually have tried to expand the train layout they have had running around the tree, and discover an assortment of similar – but not directly compatible track brands to select from. Their question? “Why?” With the latter question, the callers have gone out to add a few cars to their railroad and suddenly di...
1

Summer in January

Posted 2 years ago by Roger Carp
Even though the weather outside in Wisconsin – cold and snowy with gray skies – reminds me we are in the middle of winter, my magazine schedule tells me it is summer. That’s right, we at Classic Toy Trains always work about six months ahead of the calendar. Right now, I am finishing my assignments for the July issue, including some fantastic layouts and outstanding articles on postwar collectibles. Essential to making the articles I write about vintage Lionel outfits, locomoti...
7

Collector or operator?

Posted 2 years ago by Bob Keller
Take a look at this photo. Is this an image from a collector’s Marx shelf, or is it a photo from an operator who runs New York Central? There seems to be a bit of an artificial divide between “Collectors” and “Operators,” but there really shouldn’t be any gap at all! The late John Grams (aka Ray L. Plummer) was one of Classic Toy Trains magazine’s most prolific contributors. Many years ago we had a discussion about operators versus collectors. He said ...
3

Welcome to the new ClassicToyTrains.com!

Posted 2 years ago by Carl Swanson
Welcome to our redesigned website! Long-time visitors will already have noticed the clean new look and improved navigation. There are welcome little touches as well, like a much improved video player. That's important because our videos have a significant following. Many videos are open to all visitors including new product overviews, previews of upcoming issues, Senior Editor Roger Carp’s “Toy Train Emporium” collector-oriented videos, and a series of videos aimed at beginner...
2

Looking forward to York

Posted 2 years ago by Roger Carp
The happy feeling starts to hit me around August. This is the time when I remember that it is my turn among members of the editorial staff of Classic Toy Trains to attend the “York Show.” I’m referring to the legendary show for toy train collectors and operators around, the one the Eastern Division of the Train Collectors Association organizes in April and October of each year in York, Pa. I’ve had the good fortune to go to the show at least once annually on behalf of CT...
3

Not the same hobby - but better!

Posted 2 years ago by Bob Keller
I received my first trains as an infant in 1955. After about 1959 I had usually free access to setting my trains up, but my mother usually put them up the next time she vacuumed. They went into boxes in 1967 and remained there (other than being re-packed by military movers) until 1991. Yes, the locomotives all operated the first time power was applied. Applause for that good old postwar Lionel lube! When I went to my first train show, postwar-style or traditional trains (whether vintage or curr...

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