All posts tagged american flyer

Another creative source for S gauge figures: Liberty Falls Americana

In the 1990s, there was a brand of collectible village called Liberty Falls Americana, made by a company called International Resource Services and sold in department stores. The product line consisted of porcelain buildings that are close to HO scale, but the figures are pretty close to 1:64 S scale.  Made-to-be-collectibles tend not to hold […]

Creative sourcing for O and S scale train layout figures

Hobby shops frequently carry a decent selection of figures for O and S gauge layouts, but if you look at the magazines long enough, you start to see almost all of them have the same figures–and they’re probably the same figures the shop near you sells as well. There are ways to get a better variety […]

Tips for using Dept. 56 and Lemax-type buildings with Lionel trains

A frequent question I see regards the proper scale of snow village-type buildings, like Department 56 and Lemax, and whether they’re suitable for use with Lionel trains. The answer is that their scale varies, but the buildings work very effectively with traditional Lionel trains, or, for that matter, 1:64 S scale American Flyer trains. Many hobbyists have […]

How to check a train transformer for safety

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. […]

The estate find that broke my slump

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 […]

My greatest estate find

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 […]

The Greenberg Marx saga continues: The case of the side-smoking Marx 666 locomotive

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 […]

The Marx connection to Hafner

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 […]

Looking back at Sam Posey’s Playing With Trains

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, […]

What’s an Allstate electric train?

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?