Nomura tin cars

Nomura tin cars

I like to use Nomura tin cars, and other similar postwar Japanese toys, on my train layout. The cars are simple and have attractive tin lithography on them. I think they fit in well with tin lithographed trains, and my tin downtown that my trains run around and through in circles.

People who like Japanese tin like it a lot. But there’s not a ton of information about it out there, although this all-Japanese layout does have a nice mix of information (in English) and pictures. And he talks about different Japanese trains than I do.

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Are Lionel trains worth anything?

When people hear what my hobby is, sometimes they ask me, “Are Lionel trains worth anything?”

That’s a fair question. After all, television says they are. But there’s something else you ought to know. Back in 2003, if someone asked me that question, I could tell them to go to the library to find out what those trains are worth. Today, my public library doesn’t have a current Lionel price guide. There’s a reason for that. Lionel trains aren’t worth as much as they were in 2003, and people aren’t checking those books out anymore.

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Where to buy Lionel trains in St. Louis

Where to buy Lionel trains in St. Louis

If you want to know where to buy Lionel trains in St. Louis, you have a lot of choices. It’s more than possible to make a day of train shopping in St. Louis.

I’ve never seen a comprehensive list of shops, so I made my own. If you know of any place I missed, I apologize. Please leave a comment and I will add it.

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The Lionel KW transformer

The Lionel KW transformer

The Lionel KW transformer was the second largest transformer Lionel made in the postwar era. It delivered 190 watts of power and provided two handles to control two trains. Internally, the design is very similar to the ZW. If the ZW was Lionel’s Cadillac transformer, the KW was the Buick. I always thought Lionels were overrated until I ran a 675 locomotive with a KW.

There was a time when nobody made modern transformers the size of a KW or ZW. Now that they do, the ZW and especially the KW cost a lot less. I remember when a reconditioned KW cost $200. Today you can get one for under $100. An as-is KW with minor issues will cost half that. These days, the KW is a bargain.

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Scale vs gauge: Not quite interchangeable

Scale vs gauge: Not quite interchangeable

Wondering about scale vs gauge? You’re not alone. It’s a common question, and I’ll try to provide a simple answer. The two terms may appear interchangeable, but they aren’t quite.

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Why do Lionel trains have three rails?

Why do Lionel trains have three rails?

Why do Lionel trains have three rails? After all, real trains usually have two. This unrealistic feature is a legitimate drawback for Lionel and other makes of O gauge trains, but the decision made sense at the time.

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A Lionel e-unit wiring diagram

Lionel’s e-unit is the most common cause of trouble in vintage Lionel trains. Sometimes people bypass them or remove them entirely to avoid dealing with the problem. Or maybe someone attempted a repair in the past and you just bought the remnants. If someone did that and now you want to replace or rewire it, you need a Lionel e-unit wiring diagram.

You found one.

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