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Live from York: Just before the doors open

Posted 3 years 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! ...
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Bob has arrived at York!

Posted 3 years 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! ...
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York: Center of the toy train world twice a year

Posted 3 years 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 (...
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Seeking input: What topics would you like to see on this blog?

Posted 3 years 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....
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Treason to O gauge? My foreign trains in OO

Posted 3 years 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 ...
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Thinking about Dad's Berkshire

Posted 3 years 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...
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I opened a box – and my life changed!!

Posted 3 years 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...
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Stuff I like – Postwar no. 1 (Lionel no. 6250 Seaboard Air Line NW2 switcher)

Posted 3 years 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...
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A new way to remove dirt from your locomotives

Posted 3 years 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 ...
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A layout “must”

Posted 3 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...
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Stuff I like – Modern Era no. 1 (MTH no. 1101 4-8-2 Mohawk)

Posted 3 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...
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Blogging with Roger Carp at Classic Toy Trains

Posted 3 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...
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It's cleaning day in our offices!

Posted 3 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. ...
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I did it for the cat

Posted 3 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...
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What is the right size for O?

Posted 3 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...
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Summer in January

Posted 3 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...
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Collector or operator?

Posted 3 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 ...
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Welcome to the new ClassicToyTrains.com!

Posted 3 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...
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Looking forward to York

Posted 3 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...
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Not the same hobby - but better!

Posted 3 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...