In spite of what a certain O gauge magazine tells you, vintage toy train transformers aren’t inherently unsafe to use. Age can take their toll on them, so you want to give them a good safety inspection, but as long as they pass the safety inspection, they can give you a long, productive service life. […]
I wrote a few weeks ago about finding a scarce Marx windup train at an estate sale, but I actually went a good couple of years without finding a train worth buying until recently. The train that broke my slump was at a sale close to home, and I actually didn’t even set out to […]
If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years, you know I kind of like trains. But my favorite way to buy them isn’t to buy them at a train store. I like to buy them from estates. One week, I spotted a few late-production Marx 6-inch cars and a plastic locomotive in an […]
One of the best steam locomotives Marx ever made was its unfortunately-named 666. I have heard, but have no way of verifying, that Marx named it that because the locomotive “smoked like the devil.” And, compared to its contemporary offerings from Lionel and American Flyer, it definitely smoked better than anything Lionel had, and at […]
Hafner was a Chicago-based maker of clockwork-powered O gauge trains during most of the first half of the 20th century. The trains were inexpensive but durable. William Hafner developed the clockwork motor as a hobby around the turn of the previous century and put the motor in toys. Eventually he decided to make a train–perhaps […]
I finally got around to reading Playing With Trains (here’s a Nook link), sportscaster Sam Posey’s 2004 memoir of 50 years as a model railroader. Of course I was mostly interested in the first couple of chapters, where he talks about growing up with Lionel trains. It’s more a personal recollection than a complete history, […]
Model electric trains from the 1950s and 1960s (and perhaps 1970s, but no later than 1975) branded “Allstate” are somewhat common, which leads to some further questions. Yes, it’s Allstate, as in the insurance company. What did they have to do with electric trains?
The subject of the best way to clean train track sure does ruffle some feathers. Everyone, it seems, has their favorite elixir to swab down their tracks and some favorite material to wipe it back up with. When it comes to Lionel, Marx, and American Flyer track, all of which is tin plated, it’s best […]
I’ve advocated voltmeters on train layouts before, but I realized something, after checking out a new-to-me Lionel KW transformer: It’s very easy for a vintage transformer to deliver more voltage than you intend, and through no fault of its own. The “problem” is that transformers step the voltage down on a percentage basis. In the […]
Ives-branded track clips for Lionel O27 track are relatively common, and although they are often mistaken for pre-1933 items, they were actually manufactured for several decades after the Ives brand name disappeared from the marketplace, and by Lionel, not its erstwhile rival Ives. The reason was for trademark protection.