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January 31, 2006

Forum Roundup #3

Another installment of my periodic roundup of forum posts from around the web that I found interesting and helpful.

Ready to Roll, Great Dealer Service by rahway valley on CTT forum.  Another story of a hobby shop giving good customer service.

Some Good Reputable Online Train Ordering Sites by TheTrainMaster on CTT forum.  CTT forum members comment on what they think are the best O Gauge hobby dealers online.

O27 Switch Track Options by pgtr on CTT forum.  Anyone interested (like me) in using O27 track because it is inexpensive and/or is better for small layouts will want to check out this thread on O27 switches.

Shelves for Trains Display  by Norm on OGR forum.  Some good advice about shelves to display your trains.

What is the best glue for foam board?  by 3rdrail4me on OGR forum.  If you are thinking about using foam board for the first time, check out this thread.

Inside Fastrack Switch.... by BradK on OGR forum.  Every wonder what the inside of a Lionel Fastrack switched looked like?  BradK posted a picture of it in this thread.

Sunday Photo Fun 1-29-06 by scott.smith on OGR forum.  Great photos in this thread, especially CSX  Fan's photos of the catenary lines he just installed on his layout (about halfway down on second page).

Cutting Atlas O Track by amalie on the Atlas forum.  Some advice on what tools to use to cut Atlas O or any other track.


January 29, 2006

Acela Pics

One picture of the new Acela posted by Prewardude on the Classic Toy Trains forum.

See the Acela picture on CTT.

See more pics on OGR.

January 28, 2006

Railroad Radio Transmissions on the Net

Passenger train or freight train radio chatter included as part of Lionel's Railsounds and MTH's Protosounds adds a lot to the modern day O Gauge experience.  Found a link to a web site on the OGR "Real Trains" forum that enables you to listen to real railroad radio transmissions.  I've listened to the NS (Norfolk Southern) Harrisburg Line, Harrisburg, PA link and it has a lot of chatter plus transmissions from automated "defect detectors". 

Visit www.railroadradio.net

Lionel's Acela Set Showing Up in Hobby Shops

The buzz around the O Gauge forums indicates that some hobby shops have taken delivery of Lionel's new Acela sets.  No pictures or videos posted on the web yet but stayed tuned.

Criticism of UP Lawsuit Against MTH

A reader of the Coshocton Tribune, a small town paper in Ohio, had some poignant criticism of Union Pacific's lawsuit against MTH Electric trains.  UP is suing MTH for unauthorized use of it's company logo.  The reader writes:

As I have been a railroad fan for many years, this action by Monstro (the UP whale) to gobble the few minnows of profit earned by small model makers sickens me to the point of nausea. The modest profits of companies like Lionel, MTH and others probably total a miniscule percent of UP's income. And yet, UP can't muster an atom of goodwill toward an industry which has kept UP's name and logo in the forefront for decades (not to mention all the free advertising).

Read the entire article at the Conshocton Tribune

January 27, 2006

Train Talk Radio

Believe it or not there is  an Internet talk radio show dedicated to the world of trains.  The show, Let's Talk Trains, concentrates on the 1:1 scale and seems to be well produced.  I haven't listened to an entire broadcast yet, but if your into the 1:1 scale it's probably worth a listen.  The show airs live at 10 am Pacific time on Saturdays, but all shows are recorded and available 24/7 on the Let's Talk Trains web site.

Visit the Let's Talk Trains site. 

January 26, 2006

Former K-Line Employees Start a Blog

During my endless searching for O-Gauge news on the internet, I found a blog site entitiled "For Former MDK Employees".  An excerpt from a post reads:

This site really is meant for us to keep up with each other and what is going on at MDK. It only works if we make sure others see it and share what we want to share. Pass this on to anyone who hasn't seen it.

Visit the "For Former MDK Employees" blog.

Send Your "Beep" and "Buddy" Pictures to RMT

Walter Matuch of RMT posted on OGR that RMT is accepting photos of customer's RMT "Beep" and "Buddy" trains through a new section on the RMT web site entitled CUSTOMER COMMENTS and PHOTOS

Ready Walter's post on OGR Forum.

January 25, 2006

Ex Lionel Executive Lands at Rokenbok Toys

Members of OGR and CTT forums are reporting that James W. Brady, former head of marketing at Lionel, has been appointed CEO of Rokenbok Toys.  This seems to be old news from 1/16/06 (I missed it when it came out) according to an article on Playthings.com. 

More details on Playthings.com

"Tracks Ahead" back for 6th Season

Trains.com is reporting that Tracks Ahead, a public television TV show about trains big and small will be airing shows for a 6th season.

Tracks Ahead, the Milwaukee Public Television production that tells stories about trains and the people who love them across the world, will begin its sixth season Saturday, Jan. 14, at 5:30 p.m. on MPTV-10 in Milwaukee. It is scheduled to uplink to other Public TV stations nationwide on February 15th (check your local listings).

Read the entire article on Trains.com

January 24, 2006

New Post on Hi-Rail Times

The day after Clyde Coil (AKA the legendary rocker and minority owner of Lionel?) posted some not so kind remarks about Lionel's choice of motors in their new Post War Celebration offerings, a new post by "D.Railer" sings the praises of the Lionel catalog. 

Read the post on Hi-Rail Times

History of TCA's Eastern Division and York

A post by Jim Mortensen on his blog jimmortensen.com gives a brief history of the Train Collectors Association (TCA) and their infamous York train meets.  The TCA holds 2 huge meets per year in York, PA but the meets are only open to TCA members.  I never new why the TCA was a "closed" event.  Here is Jim's explanation:

As long as it was a swap meet and what commerce was done, was done between members of the same organization, the state tax department kept their noses out of it, even when the amounts of money would become large.  In order to preserve this tax-free environment, the Eastern Division and TCA declared the meet a closed club event, open to members only.   While TCA members, regardless of what division they belonged to, were eligible to attend, nonTCAmembers could attend only once in their lifetime if, during that once, they were sponsored by a member.  This made the meet very exclusive, desirable, and a big incentive for joining TCA.

Read the entire post on jimmortensen.com

January 23, 2006

Model Train Layout Stolen in Columbus, Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday that a trailer containing modules for a rural layout was stolen....

The meticulously detailed model was the backdrop for an N-scale model railroad track and was stolen from the 25-member Central Ohio N-trak Club sometime Wednesday or Thursday, said club secretary Craig Sonnen.

Stored outside 3840 N. High St., the trailer had been broken into twice before, but nothing was taken, he said.

Stronger locks were installed, but they couldn’t stop thieves from making off with the entire single-axle utility trailer, said Sonnen. The trailer has Ohio license plate SPD 7907. The trailer and its contents — 12 modules, each from 2 feet to 8 feet long — have an estimated value of $5,000, according to the club.

Read the entire story at the Columbus Dispatch web site.

Read the thread by Buckeye Riveter on CTT forum.

Clyde Coil Sounds Off

In his latest post, Clyde Coil at Hi Rail Times rants about one of Lionel's new Post War Celebration sets.  The issue is with the motor Lionel choose to install in the locomotive.  Clyde is "Dang mad" about this one.

Read the entire Clyde Coil post at Hi Rail Times.

January 22, 2006

Classic Toy Trains - March '06 Issue

The Classic Toy Trains March '06 issue hit my mailbox yesterday.  There's a nice story entitled "Fun on a 4 by 8-foot layout" that was interesting, but a track plan was not included with the story.  There is a guide to Lionel's postwar boxes and a story on Lionel's prewar gift sets that were also interesting.

See the table of contents for Classic Toy Trains March '06 issue

Be sure to check out the video links of products that were reviewed in the 3/06 issue.  The links are at the bottom of the contents page.

January 21, 2006

What Foam to Use for Layout Construction

Many enthusiasts use foam board to construct a layout because it's lightweight and easily cut and shaped.  It can be used as the base of a layout and stacked, cut, shaped and scraped to form hills, mountains, stream beds, etc.  Folks new to layout building may not know what foam to use.  Heather47960's question "What type of foam board is OK to use?" on the Google model railroad group received some good responses that are worth reading if you are a considering the use of foam board to construct your layout.  A link in one of the replies concerning Foam board Safety was interesting.

Read the entire thread on Google groups.

January 20, 2006

Lionel's Acela Set will Ship on 1/23/06

Charlienassau on OGR posted a list of items Lionel will be shipping on 1/23. The long awaited Acela set is on the list.

Read the entire post on OGR

Forum Roundup #2

Here's another installment of my periodic roundup of forum posts I found to be interesting.

O Scale or O Gauge??  Posted by George Gast on OGR forum.  Explains the difference between O Scale and O Gauge.

Yer Fragmented Market  Posted by Trigtrak on OGR forum.  Many opinions on the current and future state of the O Gauge hobby.

Nascar + Lionel = Bye Bye Bankruptcy!!!  Posted by tsgtbob on OGR forum.  This one touched off some heated debate resulting in 136 replies and counting. Many different opinions on NASCAR, it's fans, and their willingness to support Lionel's new NASCAR items.  The following post by LionelPWCOperator really struck a nerve:

I don't think NASCAR will do anything for Lionel. In marketing terms NASCAR has a low-income demographic composed of uneducated individuals who drink, smoke, and watch a lot of sports on TV. This demographic lacks the purchasing power to buy Lionel products, and Lionel wasted its money on the NASCAR license. This type of demographic is better suited to the alcohol and tobacco industry which does very well with NASCAR.

The Village of Greenbrook  Posted by Charbonneau on MTJ forum.  In this thread, which started in September of '05, Norm Charbonneau keeps everyone updated on the progress of his layout.  Norm appears to be considered a legendary modeler by O-Gauge enthusiasts and one look at pictures of his layouts explains why.  It's a long thread so just skim through it to find the pictures.

January 18, 2006

K-Line Update

Charlie, the owner of Nassau Hobbies has been an invaluable source of information concerning the sale of K-Line assets.  Charlie has obtained information directly from the bankruptcy attorney, Terri Gardner, handling the K-Line case and has been keeping everyone updated through his post on the OGR forum.  Charlie's received his latest K-Line update through what appears to be his lawyer.  The post reads as follows:

Charlie-I just got off the phone with K-Line’s bankruptcy attorney Terri Gardner. She stated there was a conference this morning with the bankruptcy judge and with Sanda Kan’s attorney participating. Sanda Kan was approved to pay K-Line’s expenses for the period between December 23, 2005 and January 13, 2006. Additional funding by Sanda Kan and Merrill Lynch, the primary secured creditor, to underwrite K-Line’s operating expenses to January 31, 2006 has also been put into place. As you will recall, Ms. Gardner previously told me she that hoped the sale of assets would be completed by the end of January. She still expects that to happen. K-Line is currently operating with a small number of employees, although most were recently laid off.

When I asked Ms. Gardner about Mr. Allen Harper’s current status in purchasing the company, she stated he has not taken any action since just after Christmas ( a period of three weeks). It would appear he is now out of the picture. In other words, if a sale of assets goes through in the next two weeks, at least at this point in time, Sanda Kan will be purchasing K-Lines assets.

Erol B. Gurcan
Senior Trial Attorney

Read Charlie's entire post on OGR Forum.

2006 Lionel Catalog Highlights

Here are some of the highlights I found interesting in the new 2006 Lionel catalog. 


  • New Thomas theme items.  Lionel is expanding the wildly popular (at least in my household) Thomas the tank engine line with a new James engine and a Sodor Freight expansion pack that contains 4 cars including a caboose and a flat car with Harold the helicopter.  These new additions join Percy the tank engine, who was introduced in the 2005 Catalog, Volume 2.


  • A new Christmas themed set, the North Pole Central Christmas Train, is released.  The components of the set, locomotive, musical boxcar, animated gondola and caboose are the same as 2005's Holiday Tradition set but have a North Pole central paint scheme.  Lionel also added 2 new North Pole Central themed holiday expansion packs, a passenger and a freight pack.

Continue reading "2006 Lionel Catalog Highlights" »

2006 Lionel Catalog Revealed Early

The Lionel Catalog, set for release at midnight on 1/18, was discovered to be available well prior to the midnight launch by an astute O Gauge RR forum participant.  Mark of Mojomark.com discovered the link as a result of some information he gleaned from Lionel's website when Lionel inadvertently posted a catalog link prematurely on 1/17.

Read the entire entry on Mojomark.com

January 17, 2006

New Lionel Catalog - Access Denied

UPDATE:  Lionel has fixed their site and the countdown is back.  Release is set for midnight tonight.  Thanks for the update Mark M.

The Lionel website, which has been counting down the days, hours, minutes to the release of the new catalog,  proclaims that the new catalog is now available for viewing.  Clicking on the link returns "You are not authorized to view this page".  Nice job Lionel.

View the Lionel website.

January 12, 2006

Neil Young and Lionel

For those of you that are somewhat new to the O Gauge hobby, like myself, you may not know that Neil Young is a minority owner of Lionel Trains.  Neil, an avid train hobbyist, is known to take train layouts on tour with him.  Neil also designed what eventually became Lionel's Train Master Command Control system, a wireless control system, so his handicapped son, Ben, could operate the trains on Neil's layouts.    In 1995, Neil and Wellspring Associates purchased Lionel.

According to this blog post on the Neil Young News blog site, Clyde Coil at Hi Rail Times is actually Neil Young.  There are some interesting videos on the Clyde Coil site that were made this year and seem to be announcing the coming of a new "system" which is most likely TMCC 2.  Folks on the OGR forum have come to the consensus that the layout in the videos is indeed Neil's.

Interesting web posts about Neil Young's involvement in the O Gauge hobby:
Neil Young and Lionel Trains
Take a ride on Neil Young's Trains

View the Clyde Coil videos here.

2006 Lionel Catalog

The home page of www.lionel.com has a clock counting down the minutes to the release of the 2006 catalog.  The catalog will be released on 1/17.

K-Line Rumors Flying Around the Web

Seems like everyone has sources that are revealing who is going to happen to K-Line.  Rumors and speculation I've read to date include the following buyers:

MTH - possible
Lionel - in bankruptcy so probably not true
An Italian HO firm - huh?

January 10, 2006

K-Line Cancels "February Fair Days"

According to K-Line's web site, their "February Fair Days", a show to be held in Raleigh, NC,  has been cancelled.  The website reads:

Due to the uncertainty concerning our future direction, February Fair Days 2006 has regrettably been cancelled.

January 06, 2006

Atlas Trains to Increase Prices by 10%

Received an email today from Atlas stating that prices of their products will increase by 10% on February 1st.  Get you orders in now before the increase.  The email reads:

Dear Atlas O Consumer,

Atlas O will increase prices in 2006. The approximate 10% increase will affect all track, structures, layouts and accessories.

Now for some good news! Atlas O will not be raising prices until February 1, 2006. You have a great opportunity from now till the end of January to contact your favorite Atlas O hobby shop stock up on all track, structures, layouts and accessories at the old prices. Some items are limited so don’t delay.

We appreciate your continued support of the fine products available through Atlas O and Atlas Model Railroad Company and we look forward to providing for future railroad needs.

Union Pacific Sues MTH

From the Sun Sentinel's Business Section today:

Union Pacific Corp., the biggest U.S. railroad by sales, sued to stop the nation's second-largest model-train maker from using logos for the Union Pacific and other rail lines it owns. The lawsuit seeks damages from closely held Mike's Train House Inc., based in Columbia, Md. Mike's Train House, owned by MTH Electric Trains, pushed larger rival Lionel LLC into bankruptcy in 2004 by winning a suit over theft of trade secrets.

Read the entire article in the Sun Sentinel.

Read the thread on OGR Forum.

January 05, 2006

Classic Toy Trains Survey

Yesterday, I received an email from Classic Toy Trains magazine containing a survey referencing their February issue.  Upon opening it I thought to myself "not a bad idea".  Apparently folks over at the Model Train Journal disagree.  A thread posted by PennCentral8885 touched off a firestorm that is interesting reading.

Read the entire thread on MTJ.
Read a copy of the CTT Survey.

Lionel BB1 Review

There is a nice review of Lionel's new BB1 switch engines by Bob Bubeck on the OGR forum.  Bob includes a link to pictures of the BB1 at the end of his post.

Read the entire review on the OGR forum.

January 04, 2006

Forum Roundup #1

From time to time I will put together a list of the threads I enjoyed over the past week or so from various O Gauge forums around the web.  Here is the inaugural list:

What do you do when the buying bug bites????  From 92hatchattack on OGR.  Everyone in the O Gauge hobby has the urge to spend more than they should.  In this thread everyone explains how they fight the "bug".
An Open Letter to MTH re the No. 999  From smd4 on OGR.  A classic example of the those in the O Gauge hobby with a passion for the details and a great example of how a company like MTH reads the forums and responds to customer complaints directly.    Andy Edleman, VP of Marketing for MTH, addresses smd4's complaint (can be found about half way down the 1st page of the post).
O Gauge Confessional - Holiday 2005 Edition  From Yojimbo on MTJ.  Yojimbo sets up shop and let's everyone confess their O Gauge "sins".  A similar thread must have caused some controversy (from the PC (politically correct) police) on the OGR forum last year based on this post on OGR from Yojimbo.
What surprises will 2006 Bring to Our Hobby  From Multi-Gauge Art on OGR.  Some interesting discussion on the current and future state of the O Gauge hobby.
Kirstin at MTH -- There She Goes...There She Goes, Again  From GarySeven on OGR.  I enjoyed discovering in this thread that there are some good customer support stories out there.
Feb. CTT Article a "DUD"  From BigJim on CTT.  Readers complain about the February issue of Classic Toy Trains magazine.  UPDATE:  There is another thread covering this topic where the exchanges get a bit heated.  I love the entry from Bob Keller of Classic Toy Trains magazine in response to BigJim's complaint.  Here's Bob's response:

If our magazine Really, Really, Really bugs you that much, I just suggest not reading it at all.

I'd hate to think you'd have a stroke over some cover blurbs. We're not curing war or world hunger here, we're writing about toy trains.

Have a low-blood pressure 2006!   

Read the entire thread on OGR.

January 03, 2006

Pioneering Hobby Shop Closing It's Doors

The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that Chicago based Trost Modelcraft and Hobbies is closing it's doors today.  The founder, Mike Trost, is considered by some to be the founder of the American hobby industry.  Mr Trost passed away in 2002, leaving his son Roy to run the shop.  The shop, once very popular for it's Lionel trains and slot cars, has roots that date back to 1928. 

Read the entire Chicago Sun Times article.

O Gauge a "Blood Sport"

This paragraph from an article in the Edmonton Journal sums up the current state of affairs in the O Gauge industry:

Railroad companies are doing remarkably well everywhere but in miniature, Fortune Small Business (December) reports. "After years of placid tinkering in the basement, the model-train industry has become entangled in lawsuits alleging industrial espionage," the small-business magazine says. Suits and countersuits have flown back and forth among industry legend Lionel, MTH Electric Trains and industry marketer K-LINE Electric Trains.

"This used to be a gentleman's business," Lionel CEO Jerry Calabrese told FSB. "But in the last decade it's become very ugly." Author Neil Besougloff says an aging customer base, a supply glut and a technology arms race "have turned Uncle Fred's hobby into a blood sport."

Read the entire Edmonton Journal article.

January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy New Year of O Guage railroading!

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