Marx 994 locomotive

Marx 994 locomotive

The Marx 994 was Marx’s largest tin-bodied locomotive. It dates to 1952. It wasn’t made for very long, but thanks to its size, collectors still like the Marx 994 locomotive.

Marx released the 994 in 1950 to compete with Unique Art, a rival maker of tin toys who had entered the market in 1949. Unique’s trains were priced like Marx’s and ran on the same O gauge track but were slightly larger, which made them appear to be a better value. Marx countered by introducing its own line of trains in a similar size.

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New Marx/Ameritrains trains

New Marx/Ameritrains trains

Marx Trains, also variously known as New Marx, Modern Marx, and Ameritrains, was originally the brainchild of Jim and Debby Flynn, a husband and wife who collected Marx trains, especially the tin variants. They produced a line of tinplate trains in the same style of vintage Louis Marx tin trains. Marx stopped making trains out of tinplate in 1972.

Marx Trains had a run of about 15 years, from 1992 to around 2007, with a brief resumption in 2012. The trains had a small, dedicated following but did not achieve the market penetration of larger rivals like MTH.

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Maximum grade for Lionel trains

What’s the maximum grade for Lionel trains? What’s the recommended grade for Lionel trains? The two are very different, and the first really depends on what compromises you are willing to make.

Generally speaking it’s best to go with a 2-2.5 percent grade on elevations with Lionel trains. But you can push it, if you’re feeling lucky. The shorter the trains you are willing to run and the more actively you are willing to adjust the throttle, the higher the grade you can get away with.

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Silver frame Marx cars

Silver frame Marx cars

In 1938 and possibly 1939, Marx produced its 6-inch cars with plain tin-plated frames, rather than lithographing or painting them. But these silver frame Marx cars were short lived. As such they provide a challenge for collectors today.

Silver frame Marx cars are a bit difficult to find because of their short production time but are also easy to fake. Don’t pay a heavy premium for a frame that looks too good.

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Lionel TW transformer

Lionel TW transformer

The Lionel TW transformer is an easy to overlook, easily misunderstood transformer from the postwar era. It was designed for single-train layouts with lots of accessories. It contains two transformers in the case, one for the train and one for the accessories.

The Lionel TW provides 175 watts of power and variable voltage of up to 20 volts on its A-U posts, but its main source of appeal is its large number of fixed voltage circuits at varying levels.

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Marx 897 locomotive

Marx 897 locomotive

The Marx 897 was a tin lithographed steam locomotive produced prior to World War II. It depicts a much more common steam locomotive than the Commodore Vanderbilt or Canadian Pacific and came in both clockwork and electric variations.

The Marx 897 looks like what a classic Marx locomotive ought to look like, made of pressed tin with lithographed detail. But it only stayed on the market a few years because of World War II, and the emergence of newer technologies. But if you like tin lithography and you like Marx, you probably like the 897.

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Buying trains at estate sales

Buying trains at estate sales

I think estate sales are an underrated place to buy trains. While some things have changed from 15 years ago when I started, there are still good finds out there. Here are my tips for buying trains at estate sales.

There are lots of places to find trains, including train stores, antique shops, train shows, and placing want ads. But buying trains straight out of people’s estates is surprisingly effective, and can be economical too.

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