Kalamazoo Toy Train models

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Kalamazoo Toy Train models
Posted by statistician on Thursday, January 25, 2007 7:05 PM

When I was a kid, my parents took me to a toy train factory in Bangor, MI called the Kalamazoo Train works.  I seem to remember it being located in a train station, and that they primarily manufactured an American General 4-4-0.  I've seen a few on eBay and have wanted to pick one up. 

Does anyone know if they are any good?

Did this company go out of business?

Thanks!  

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, January 25, 2007 8:40 PM

When Kalamazoo went out of business, I acquired a caboose and a gondola.  Not too detailed but they work fine, weren't costly although not as heavy as LGB cars, and were robust enough that I didn't worry about the kids.  The girls have finished college and moved away but the cars are still in first class shape.  Hartland had a close out on their gondolas, same molds and everything, so I added three more to the fleet.  All have the same car number (different from Kalamazoo) and some day I'll do something about that. 

Art

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Posted by tangerine-jack on Friday, January 26, 2007 7:51 PM
I have one Kalamazoo combine car and I can't say anything bad about it.  Acceptable detail, tough as nails and not too expensive and MADE IN USA.  I wouldn't hesitate to buy more in the future if one comes my way.

The Dixie D Short Line "Lux Lucet In Tenebris Nihil Igitur Mors Est Ad Nos 2001"

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 29, 2007 4:16 PM

Forgot to mention a neat thing about the Kalamazoo/Hartland gondolas.  The sides, a one piece molding, are removable; they have prongs on them that fit into the stake pockets.  Once the sides are off, it is a flat car with stake pockets and NO NAME or Number.  So it's easy to add whatever markings are wanted.

They are very light weight, though, but even the full scale guys put empty flats at the rear of a train to prevent 'straight-lining', so the light weight is not a show-stopper.

Art

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Posted by RR Redneck on Monday, January 29, 2007 4:35 PM
I have never heard of Kalamazoo. Learn something new everyday.

Lionel collector, stuck in an N scaler's modelling space.

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Posted by statistician on Monday, January 29, 2007 7:08 PM

Thanks for all of the updates. I always did like the colorful red/green MCRR 4-4-0.

I recently came across an old Kalamazoo catalog I had when I was a kid, so I thought I'd inquire... Kalamazoo TT used to leave Mini-Catalogs at Holiday Inn's scattered around Michigan, so whenever my family was on a trip I'd pick one up. I still remember the factory tour, small staff, all hand built/painted trains.  They basically made two engines, which they painted many different ways to give the impression of a "full locomotive line." But this was before LGB made American prototypes, and Delton was just getting started.

I'm glad to hear that Hartland is renewing the old Kalamazoo line and that they are still made in the USA... 

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Posted by S&G Rute of the Silver River on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:17 PM
The best way to fix "streight lining" on anything is to but a five gal tub of leadputty (you WILL develop a few henias tring to lift the stuff) and add a half inch layer to the bottom.
"I'm as alive and awake as the dead without it" Patrick, Snoqualmie WA. Member of North West Railway Museum Caffinallics Anomus (Me)
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Posted by Texas Zepher on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:27 PM

 statistician wrote:
the Kalamazoo Train works.  ... they primarily manufactured an American General 4-4-0. Does anyone know if they are any good?
I have three that have been running around the Christmas Trees for hours on end every Christmas season since 1984.   The only problems I've had are not related to the locomotives themselves but accidents or modifications.  They only pick up power on the 4 driving wheels.  This is not usually a problem but I used one wheel as a cam for PFM sound.  That left only one power pick up on the one side so it began to stall on turnouts with an insulated frogs.  I fixed it by adding metal wheels with pickups to the leading pilot truck.  I also added a fairly strong piano (spring) wire to the truck so it actually turns the front of the locomotive into the turn.

I can highly recommend them for their running quality and durability.  They are obviously narrow gauge and not a model of a prototypical locomotive, if those are important to you.  I have not run them outside, but as I recall they were designed for it.

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Posted by Sahuarita on Monday, January 28, 2019 10:14 AM

Java an old 440 Kalamazoo set I would like to DCC/sound To adapt it to my existing garden RR.  Did you ever try to access the weather-proof motor enclosure?  Can’t figure it out.  Great design though.  No wonder it runs like new after 30 years!

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Posted by chocho willy on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 4:34 PM

Yes they went out of business but got picked up by Hartland Locomotive Works and are going strong, the engines have under gone alot of change and seem to be of excellent quality. Read the post I did on the Phil Jensen story which gives you an idea on the history of the company and Phil still works at Hartland on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have one of the original motor blocks that I can't tell the defference in between it and a LGB  block. 

Tags: HLW
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Posted by chocho willy on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 4:35 PM

Do you have any pictures of the mmotor block, I have an old one but it looks the same as an LGB, Bill

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