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Need a load for your Marx plastic flatcar? Look to Tonka.

In the late 1950s, Marx sold a flatcar, labeled #5545 and lettered for the CB&Q (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy), with a large black clip in the middle. Marx shipped it with a pair of miniature trailers. These frequently got separated from the flatcar, so frequently you’ll find the car, sans vehicles, in the cheapie boxes at train stores and under the tables at train shows. The trailers are worth considerably more than the flatcar alone.

But there are some common, relatively inexpensive toys that work well on these common plastic freight cars.

Read More »Need a load for your Marx plastic flatcar? Look to Tonka.

How to use price guides

Pricing collectibles is more art than science, and most guides have some errors in them, so large (or at least very vocal) numbers of people mistrust them.

I still use them, however. Knowing how they’re produced–or would be produced, in a perfect world with perfect data–helps someone to use them to maximum effect. The principles are the same for any guide, whether you’re talking trains or video games or baseball cards or any other collectible.Read More »How to use price guides

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

An easy DIY Lionel-compatible high-side gondola

My preschool-aged boys and I made train cars this weekend. Yes, I introduced my boys to the idea of making train cars from scratch–scratchbuilding.

They aren’t finescale models by any stretch. But the project was cheap–no more than $30 for the pair of cars, total–and it was fun.

Here’s how we made these simple train cars, so you can too.Read More »An easy DIY Lionel-compatible high-side gondola

How I remembered how to negotiate

My wife found a dining room table she really liked on Craigslist. But the logistics of me picking it up just weren’t good because I’m going to be really busy the next few weeks. If I couldn’t get it done on Sunday the 29th, it wasn’t going to happen.

The deal ended up falling through because I couldn’t get enough cash on a Sunday, and they wouldn’t take $400 in cash and a check for the rest because everyone knows everyone on Craigslist is a scammer (I’m paraphrasing, but he pretty much told me that only scammers use checks). I won’t have time any other day this week, and next weekend I’m taking my boys to a train show (you gotta keep your priorities straight, you know). But as it turned out, it’s probably for the best anyway.
Read More »How I remembered how to negotiate

Review: The Definitive Guide to Marx Trains, by Walt Hiteshew

A week go I wrote about the newest Greenberg Pocket Guide, which I recommended as a useful, if flawed, resource. Today I’ll talk about one of the best ways to fill in the gaps.

Several years ago, Walt Hiteshew released his Definitive Guide to Marx 6″  and Joy Line Trains on CD-ROM, priced at $29.95. The Definitive Guide covers every known 6″ car Marx produced and includes photos, pricing, and production history. Basically, everything known or that can be reasonably inferred about Marx’s most prolific line. When Mr. Hiteshew says Definitive Guide, he means it.
Read More »Review: The Definitive Guide to Marx Trains, by Walt Hiteshew

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.

Read More »Greenberg’s Marx Trains Pocket Price Guide, 9th edition: A review

How to disassemble a Lionel 2026 or 2037 locomotive

Years ago, I tried to take apart my dad’s Lionel 2026 to fix it, and I gave up trying to figure it out. Today I scored a similar 2037 locomotive at an estate sale in fixer-upper condition. To my knowledge, no book has ever gone into detail on how to disassemble this model, so I’ll explain it here. This time I was able to drop the motor out to get at what I needed to repair it.

There are also five additional Lionel postwar-era locomotives, the 637, 2016, 2029, and 2036, that come apart the same way.

Read More »How to disassemble a Lionel 2026 or 2037 locomotive