Thank you and farewell, Dr. Grams

About 8 years ago, I set my mind to repair two Lionel trains that had belonged to my dad. I took to the Internet, and about the only repair advice I could find was to track down The Beginner’s Guide to Repairing Lionel Trains by Ray L. Plummer.

Ray L. Plummer was a pen name for Dr. John A. Grams, a journalism professor at Marquette University and a prolific author. Using either name, he wrote a total of 9 books and 129 magazine articles about Lionel and similar vintage trains.

Dr. Grams died this week, aged 77.

I didn’t have enough mechanical ability to handle the repairs myself, so I ended up having a professional do it. One of them proved a bit of a challenge even for the pro–whether it was Dad or his kid brother, someone had done a job on one of those locos.

But I did learn enough from the book to undertake some other repairs. A Lionel 2026 or 2037 isn’t the ideal first project, though I would stand a chance with a similar locomotive today.

For the next eight years, more often than not, when I picked up an issue of Classic Toy Trains, whether old or new, there was an article or two in there by Dr. Grams. I learned a great deal from his articles, not to mention the enjoyment they brought me.

CTT won’t be the same without him. I’m sure he has some work that they still haven’t published, but at some point now, that well is going to run dry.

Thank you for the help and the memories, Dr. Grams. We’ll miss you.

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