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Marx William Crooks locomotive

In 1959, Marx attempted to cash in on the popularity of TV westerns by creating an 1860s style locomotive. Today, the Marx William Crooks locomotive is one of the rarer and more desirable Marx locomotives. You don’t often hear the words “rare” and “Marx” together.

The Marx locomotive was a recognizable model of the real William Crooks locomotive, a St. Paul and Pacific 1861-era engine that still exists today.

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The Marx factory fire in Girard PA

The birthplace of scores of classic toy trains fell victim to the Marx factory fire in Girard, Pennslyvania.

The old Marx factory stood at 227 E Hathaway in Girard, Pennsylvania. For a time in the 1950s, Marx was the largest toy manufacturer in the world. Marx made toy trains at the site, which caught fire on July 12, 2016. There were no immediate reports of injuries, fortunately. There was very little news coverage of the fire.

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The safest way yet to clean your train track

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 to avoid anything abrasive if at all possible. Steel wool is absolutely out, sandpaper is bad news, and even a Scotch Brite-type pad is best to avoid. Scratches attract more dirt, which causes the track to get dirty faster, and eventually the abrasiveness rubs through the tin plating, taking your rust prevention with it.

If the track has already rusted a little, a Scotch Brite pad is about the best bet. But if not, the January 2014 Classic Toy Trains has the best answer I’ve seen yet: microfiber cloth.Read More »The safest way yet to clean your train track

My Zinio adventures

My Classic Toy Trains subscription lapsed. I decided I wanted to subscribe to the digital edition and see if I liked the paper reduction enough to live with the DRM restrictions. I can always switch back to paper next year, right?

So I went to and tried to subscribe, and had nothing but problems getting them to take my money.

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The greatest European tinplate train collection in the United States is on display

Two years ago, Jerry Greene made a splash when he attempted to put his huge, one-of-a-kind train collection up for auction. He had quietly amassed 35,000 train items, and only a handful of people knew about it.

Transporting the collection to Sotheby’s let that cat out of the bag. It became the subject of a short feature in the October 2012 issue of Classic Toy Trains, and relentless speculation on all of the major online toy train forums.

The collection, now known as the “Jerni collection,” didn’t sell–it was a one-buyer-take-all affair–so now portions of it are on display at the New York Historical Society.Read More »The greatest European tinplate train collection in the United States is on display

Marx trains and Lionel 1121 switches

There is some unfortunate misinformation circulating on various train forums. I first read this misinformation in the outstanding book by Peter Riddle, Trains from Grandfather’s Attic, published in 1991. As Classic Toy Trains editor Bob Keller noted while we were finishing up my article late last year, incorrect information in print lasts a long time. A very long time, sometimes. Lionel 1121 switches and Marx trains are rumored to get along famously. I am sad to report they do not.
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Smart wiring for the gateman, from the January 2012 Classic Toy Trains

This week I received an advance copy of the January 2012 Classic Toy Trains. There, on page 42, is my first magazine article in more than a decade: Smart wiring for the gateman.

I’d like to make a couple of clarifications on the article, as space constraints kept me from elaborating quite as much as I did in the original manuscript–a problem I never have online, but almost always seem to have in print. The issue isn’t due on newsstands for another couple of weeks, but I’ll go ahead and post this now.
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Greenberg’s Marx Trains Pocket Price Guide, 9th edition: A review

I received my copy of the new 9th edition of the Greenberg Pocket Price Guide for Marx trains this past weekend. Marx used to print on its packages, “One of the many Marx toys. Have you all of them?” This book won’t completely answer that question, but at the very least, it gives you a start, and helps you avoid paying too much for the ones you don’t have yet.

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