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April 04, 2007

Lionel's Super O Track

To model railroad purists the presence of the unrealistic third rail running down the center of O Gauge track is a major drawback to O Gauge model railroading.  Even with today's realistic looking modern offerings from Atlas, Lionel, MTH, Gargraves and Ross Custom Switches, that third rail is hard to hide.  Back in the heyday of O Gauge railroading, modelers were basically stuck with using the unrealistic looking three rail tinplate track Lionel was manufacturing at the time.  Modelers came up with ways to enhance the look of tinplate track by adding extra home made railroad ties and weathering the rails but the third rail still stuck out like a sore thumb.  O Gauge enthusiasts didn't seem to mind but those looking to create a more realistic model railroad layout opted for 2 rail O Scale, S Gauge or HO scale.  Despite its unrealistic appearance, running electricity through a third rail did simplify the control of automatic accessories and eliminated the need for special wiring on layouts with reversing loops. 

Click on the link below to read on

Continue reading "Lionel's Super O Track" »

March 01, 2007

Electric Sky Rides

Electric_sky_ride One of the many blogs I like to check out from time to time is called Modern Mechanix.  The theme of the blog is "Yesterday's tomorrow, today".   A recent Modern Mechanix post featured an advertisement for "Beautiful Electric Sky Rides" from the December 1933 issue of Popular Science.  The sky rides were electrically powered enamel painted tinplate creations which ran on a rail suspended from a series of towers.  They looked very cool and the manufacturer boasted that they had the "finest toy power motor on earth." The Sky Ride would definitely be a nice complement to either an O Gauge or Standard Gauge tinplate layout.  Electric Sky Rides remind me of the toy monorail manufactured by Leland Detroit that  eventually was reproduced by MTH.  Check out an image of the Sky Ride advertisement here.

December 08, 2006

A Good Article About Lionel posted a very nice article about Lionel.  Check it out here.

November 28, 2006

Old Lionel Videos

I saw a post on Model Train Journal concerning old Lionel Train videos that I thought was worth repeating here.  Click on the link below to view a number of old Lionel train videos from Google Video and

Continue reading "Old Lionel Videos" »

June 24, 2006

Interesting Use of Lionel Trains

Back in the day, Lionel trains were apparently viewed as more than just toys by the scientific community.  An article In the June 1949 issue of Popular Science explains how Lionel trains were used to move capsules of radon gas around a laboratory.  The Modern Mechanix blog has scanned and posted the original Popular Science article.  Check it out here.

Related Posts
Unusual Use For Lionel Trains

February 24, 2006

A Little Lionel History

On the OGR forum, ed h posted a question asking for photos of Lionel's New Jersey factory.  There is a link in the thread with some photos of the abandoned NJ factory but nothing from when it was operating.  So I decided to do search the web for photos of the NJ factory.  I came up empty but did find a bunch of pictures of the Michigan facility from 1988.  Take a look.

February 12, 2006

Unusual Use for Lionel Trains

Here's an unusual use for a Lionel train.  The photo below is from a picture gallery accompanying a Detroit News article about toy trains.  It's a photo of a scientist using a Lionel toy train to move radioactive material around a lab.  Notice that he is at a ZW controlling the trains.  Click on the photo for a larger view.  The article itself has nice photo of the Lionel assembly line in 1976.


January 24, 2006

History of TCA's Eastern Division and York

A post by Jim Mortensen on his blog 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

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