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rec.models.railroad FAQ-TINPLATE, Part 1 of 4

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 )
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Archive-name: model-railroad-faq/tinplate/part1
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Last-modified: 01-05-02

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Part 1 of 4, Information


This is a listing of frequently asked questions and general information
concerning the collection, operation and repair of collectable model
railroad equipment. I make every attempt to keep this information current
and accurate, but I accept no liability from the use of this information. I
do not endorse any of the products or companies listed here, although I
often state what I have chosen to use myself. Any comments critical of a
product or company is only an opinion from the experience of the author or
a contributor to the FAQ, and is to be taken in that context. Many
corporate names and products mentioned here are trademarks, so don't use
them for profit! Your input is necessary to keep the FAQ accurate and
comprehensive. Additions and corrections are always welcome. E-mail the
author at:
(Christopher D. Coleman)
TCA #88-26999
LRRC #0032070

Note: This FAQ concentrates on 'traditional' tinplate trains with AC/DC
motors and mechanical sequencers. Modern electronics and DC 'can' motors
receive little coverage.

The official World Wide Web archive for this FAQ is at

This FAQ is hereby Copyrighted  1994-2002 Christopher D Coleman. It may be
copied and distributed anywhere in either electronic or hardcopy format,
providing it is not altered, changed or edited in any way other than format
(DOS, UNIX, MAC, html, WP, etc) and no payment is extracted solely for its
use. All other rights are reserved by the author. All other types of
reproduction in part or in whole, or use in a for-profit manner are not
permitted without express permission of the author. Those who choose to
archive this FAQ are required to notify the author as to its archive
location and to keep the most current copy on file. This is solely to keep
the FAQ as current and accessible as possible. The author accepts no
liability for the usage of this FAQ.

This FAQ contains the following topics:

Part 1, Information


Part 2, Equipment

   * CARS
   * TRACK

Part 3, Equipment

   * TOOLS

Part 4, The Hobby

   * MEETS


     After a long absence, the FAQ is back and updated. I'm hoping it is
     still useful to folks out there despite the small trickle of feedback
     I've received about the FAQ recently. I am adding more MTH info but
     need source material in the form of MTH catalogs from 2000 and
     earlier. K-line and Atlas-O catalogs would help too.
     - Updated makers listing with URLs and other data.
     - Updated Thomas the Tank Engine with more current production info.
     - Updated Lionel TrainMaster section with latest products.
     - Added section for MTH Digital Command System.
     - Added MTH track systems.
     - Rewrote the Motor Design section.
     - Updated prices on club dues and magazind subscriptions.


What constitutes a collectable model train?

     A collectable model train is any model train with intrinsic historical
     or sentimental value rather than just scale accuracy. This can include
     any vintage or antique trains as well as many current production items
     manufactured in a similar way. For example modern issue trains using
     three rail operation often appeal to those who collect older three
     rail equipment. Scale model trains, on the other hand, are made and
     used with scale accuracy as the paramount factor. Scale and
     collectable often overlap in that models initially made for realism
     become uncommon and are sought by collectors, such as 1930's OO Scale.
     They may occur in any scale or gauge but are common to Standard, Wide,
     O, S and other large gauges.

     Tinplate is the word most often used to describe these trains but I
     find it is often misunderstood as referring to only the stamped steel
     "tinny" trains made early in this century. It also includes plastic
     models made from the 1940's and later. The word collector is also
     misunderstood. A collector is not just someone who amasses old trains
     on shelves or in closets. Most collectors operate and most operators
     collect. It is very difficult to draw a line between the two, but most
     choose their own location in this spectrum. The pure collector is
     concerned only with appearance and the pure operator mostly with
     operation. Here I will use "Collectable" and "Tinplate"
     interchangeably. Whatever these people are called, they like trains
     for their "neatness" and entertainment value rather than their

     Each collector (or operator) must establish his or her own unique
     collecting strategy. Most basic to this is the selection of what types
     of trains you wish to collect. A collection of all known types and
     scales of model trains is not a realistic goal. The area of specialty
     can vary from a period of a particular make (e.g. Flyer 1907-1942) to
     all of a particular scale (e.g. O scale) to a particular style of
     trains (e.g. cast iron). This choice is completely up to the
     collector's preference.

     There are, however, many in the hobby whose sole interest is to buy
     and hoard trains until they appreciate and sell them at profit. These
     persons have little interest in the hobby, but rather in monetary gain
     from them. They are generally considered a liability to the hobby and
     are disliked for their practices.


What are Grading Standards and what do they mean?

     These standards were set forth by the Train Collectors Association and
     have been accepted as the means for identifying a piece's appearance.
     They give no information on its operational condition. The exact
     interpretation of these levels is somewhat subjective.

   * Mint: Brand new, absolutely unmarred, unused in original box
   * Excellent: Minute scratches or nicks, no dents or rust
   * Very Good: Few scratches, no dents or rust, exceptionally clean
   * Good: Scratched, dirty, with small dents
   * Fair: Well-scratched, chipped, dented, rusted or warped
   * Poor: Badly damaged, use for parts

     Other collectors jargon you may see:

   * OB: original Box
   * LN: like new - used but otherwise in Mint condition.
   * MIB: mint in box, may have been unpacked but in mint condition.
   * NOB: new with original box, may or may not have been used.
   * Prewar: Manufactured 1943 or before.
   * Postwar: Manufactured 1944 or after - for Lionel this period lasted
     until 1969, 1966 for Flyer, and 1975 for Marx.
   * MPC (Model Plastics Corp.) or FUNDIMENSIONS (later name) or
     KENNER-PARKER TOYS (even later name): The division of General Mills
     which produced Lionel and Flyer Trains under license from the old
     Lionel Corp. from 1970 to 1986.
   * LTI (Lionel Trains Incorporated): The maker of Lionel and Flyer from
     1986 to 1995.
   * TMCC: Train Master Command Control - Product of Lionel that allows
     remote control of many model railroading operations.
   * Lionel LLC (Limited Liability Corporation): The maker of Lionel and
     Flyer since 1995. LLC comes from Wellspring LLC, the investment firm
     which purchased Lionel.
   * die: the mold used to form plastic or metal parts.
   * clockwork: a wind-up train using a coiled spring as power.
   * live steamer: a train operating on a real boiler/piston arrangement
     using real steam, usually heated by an alcohol burner.
   * railhead: the top circular or rectangular part of the rail.
   * prototype: the real object you are modeling.
   * spur gear: two normal gears meshing straight teeth.
   * worm gear: corkscrew gear meshing with a gear with slanted teeth.
   * tender: the car that carries fuel and water for a locomotive.
   * sequencer (E-Unit): a device that automatically changes the direction
     of a universal motor when the power is interrupted.
   * York: very large train meet in York, PA put on by the TCA.


Which manufacturers are commonly collected?

     Those with address are currently in production:


     The Edmonds-Metzel Manufacturing Company was founded by William O.
     Coleman in partnership with William Hafner (Hafner left to found
     Hafner Mfg. Co.) in 1907. It's train line included clockwork O gauge
     trains. The company first identified itself as the American Flyer
     Manufacturing Company in 1919. At about that same time Flyer
     introduced electric trains. Both cast iron and stamped steel were used
     in the trains.

     American Flyer introduced 2 1/8" Wide gauge trains in 1925 to compete
     with Lionel's Standard Gauge. Wide gauge was the fad gauge of the
     1920's, with Flyer and Lionel the big makers, and Ives, Boucher and
     Dorfan with significant shares of the market. The Great Depression
     killed all the Wide gauge lines and O became the mainstay of all
     makers that survived. Flyer Wide gauge production ended in 1932.
     Having weathered the depression, Flyer, like Lionel, concentrated on
     more scale accurate trains that the public was demanding.

     W. O. Coleman Jr. sold Flyer to A. C. Gilbert of New Haven, CT in
     1938, who moved production and senior staff to Gilbert's factory.
     Gilbert also made the highly collectable Erector Sets. Gilbert's
     momentum, however, was interrupted by the onset of World War II and
     the collateral shift of American factories from private production to
     war-time production.

     After the war, production resumed but in the S Gauge line, which
     featured realistic two rail "T" track. Later, appearance was improved
     by the introduction of the knuckle coupler. Gilbert and Flyer
     prospered in the early 1950's as second in sales to Lionel. Their
     primary selling point over Lionel was realistic length trains and two
     rail track. By the 1960's Gilbert was in the same trap as Lionel with
     rapidly decreasing demand for their "old fashioned" toys. A. C.
     Gilbert Jr., then president, was unable to curb the slide and in 1962
     the company was taken over by an east coast holding company. With
     their own staff they were equally unsuccessful and ended Flyer
     production in 1966 only to declare bankruptcy in 1967. Flyer rights
     were bought by Lionel. Not until 1979 did Fundimensions reintroduce
     the Flyer line and there have been limited offerings in most years
     since then, using mostly old Flyer dies.

     Address mail to Lionel LLC below
     concerning their American Flyer Line


     Founded in 1948 in Fort Wayne, IN by Jack Ferris Jr. They produced a
     large line of the most realistic passenger cars made during the
     immediate postwar era until being displaced by Lionel's extruded
     aluminum cars. AMT also beat Lionel to the boxcar market with a line
     of highly detailed cars, only to be displaced again, by Lionel's 6464
     line. As American Model Toys the firm brought out starter sets in
     1953. The firm continued with production of F-3 Diesels and Budd cars,
     but by that time the market had shrunk and the company was in
     financial straits. In 1954 after an unsuccessful reorganization as
     Auburn Model Trains, the line was sold to Kusan who continued


     Maker of S gauge models

     American Models
     10087 Colonial Industries Drive
     South Lyon, MI 48178
     Phone: 810-437-6800
     Fax: 810-437-9454 URL:


     American Standard Car Company
     PO Box 394
     Crystal Lake, IL 60014


     (Polk's Model Craft Hobbies Inc./Aristo-Craft Trains): Scale like
     G-Gauge equipment in 1:29 and 1:24 scales.

     Polk's Model Craft Hobbies Inc./Aristo-Craft Trains
     346 Bergen Avenue
     Jersey City, NJ 07304
     Phone: 201-332-8100
     Fax: 201-332-0521

     ATLAS O

     Recent entry into O from a background in HO and N, Atlas now offers
     locos, cars, structures and track.

     Phone: 908-687-9590
     Fax: 908-687-6282


     Originally "Bachman Brothers" was started in 1833, but did not become
     important to tinplaters until the 1950's when they mass produced a
     large line of injection molded plastic buildings called
     "Plasticville". The buildings are roughly O Scale but also look good
     with S. The molds were also half-sized in the 1960's to produce HO
     scale versions. Most of the kits in both sizes are still produced.
     More recently Bachman has entered the G Gauge market starting with
     battery operated trains and moved up to track current. Currently they
     hold the low price range of the G market with some higher end items in
     their Spectrum series. They also continue to make Plasticville

     Bachman Industries, Incorporated
     1400 East Erie Avenue
     Philadelphia, PA 19124


     Pre WWII German train maker, who imported in clockwork or electric O
     and 1 gauge trains to the US. Also introduced HO/OO gauge trains to
     the US. Was forced out of the US market by World War I.


     The Boucher Manufacturing Company made model ships previous to their
     1922 purchase of Voltamp's line of trains. They were modified from 2"
     to 2 1/8" to be compatible with Lionel's Standard Gauge line. Boucher
     marketed their trains as highly accurate and occupied the high end of
     the market. As with other larger gauge lines the Great Depression
     killed Boucher's, and having no smaller gauge line to fall back on it
     finally folded in 1943.

     BUDDY "L"

     Made a line of large unpowered trains for outdoor use from about 1926
     to 1931. They still produce a line of rugged toy cars. Powered
     reproductions of the trains were made in the last decade.


     The Carlisle and Finch Company was founded in Cincinnati, OH in 1894.
     They began production of an electric train line in 1896 using three
     rail track, then shortly converting to two rail track. Initial
     products included only trollies but expanded to include an entire
     line. C&F trains were heavy and detailed catering to the high end
     market. C&F was the earliest leader in US train production until being
     overtaken by Ives.


     Makers of standard gauge locomotives

     PO Box 179
     Phone: 216-772-5177


     Founded by James Cohen, it produced standard gauge stamped steel

     PO Box 174
     Trumbull, CT 06611


     Founders Antony Collett and William Burke initially started in the
     appliance business in New York, NY, and later began repairing trains
     as a Lionel service station. In 1946 Trains became their primary
     business as they became the Train Center of America, and grew to be
     the largest Lionel distributor in the East. Unable to stock trains
     fast enough to meet demand, they began making low price versions of
     Lionel accessories in 1948 as Colber Manufacturing Company. Their
     versions included beacon and floodlight towers, watchman's shanty,
     street lights, and wig-wag signal.

     Colber received a stern warning from Lionel concerning their packaging
     in 1950, concerning that it was a near copy of Lionel's, which led to
     its modification. During 1951-54 Colber supplied Flyer with several
     accessories in addition to its own line by using different nameplates
     and plastic colors. By 1954 Flyer no longer needed Colber's help and
     the toy train market was shrinking so Colber decided to leave the
     market. They sold their dies to Marx, who primarily wanted them out of
     the market, and switched to electronic components, which it still
     makes today.


     Milton and Byron Dunkelberger created this line of 4" gauge trains
     from 1922-25. Their principle feature was remote control of coupling,
     uncoupling and dumping several years before Lionel and Flyer trains.
     Their track was steel ribbon placed into slotted wood ties, similar to
     Lionel's early track.


     Maker of G Gauge equipment. The exact disposition of Delton is
     unknown, but they seem to be out of existance and their dies are now
     used by Aristo-Craft.


     Dorfan was founded in 1924 by Milton & Julius Forchheimer. Their
     trains were promoted as being educational in that they were easy to
     disassemble. Their trains were made primarily of a copper-zinc alloy
     termed Dorfan Alloy, which was strong and light weight, but impurities
     in the alloy oxidized over time causing the metal to expand and crack.
     Since most Dorfan castings are now deteriorated, many collectors
     replace defective castings with reproductions.

     Along with its idea of being a more thought provoking toy train, it
     placed well detailed and painted passenger busts in the passenger
     cars. Less expensive lines were lithographed stamped steel, but also
     had flat lithographed figures.

     Dorfan was unable to weather the depression with its higher detail and
     hence more expensive trains, and ended production in 1934.


     The J. K. Osborne Manufacturing Company produced a line of 1 Gauge
     trains from about 1910-17 which were known for small production runs
     and excellent detail work. They were made of stamped steel and were
     meant as competition for Bing and Marklin 1 gauge trains. Electoy
     trains were not produced after WWI rationing ended.


     Founded by Harry Stearns in Chicago, IL, it produced a model of the
     Union Pacific M-1000 and a two rail standard gauge track system from


     Founded by William Hafner in 1901 producing Clockwork toys. He
     produced trains from 1905-07 when he joined William Coleman to start
     American Flyer. In 1914 he reformed his company and produced
     lithographed trains. His son John took over in 1944 and ran the
     company until 1951 when he sold it to All Metal product which shortly
     went bankrupt in 1956. The tooling ended up with Marx who reused some


     (pronounced Hoagy) Founded in 1909 in Manhattan, NY, by Hampden Hoge,
     who had left the company by 1919. They produced only office supplies
     until 1931, when Henry Katz dissolved his company and came to manage
     Hoge's new toy division. The firm contracted construction of their toy
     designs to Mattatuck Manufacturing Company. Products included stamped
     steel passenger and animated circus cars as well as electric and
     clockwork locomotives. The line ceased in 1939 and Hoge was bought and
     dissolved by Mattatuck in 1958. The name is currently the property of
     Robert Hoge (no direct relation to the founder), a Hoge collector.


     Hornby was a large train producer in Britain and Europe, and attempted
     to establish an American plant in 1913 to market its lithographed
     trains. By 1925 it was producing US prototype equipment. Fierce
     competition, their higher prices and limited selection contributed to
     their limited success. Hornby was ill prepared to handle the 1929
     depression and ended its US production. They are also known for their
     Meccano construction set which they later sold to American Flyer.
     Hornby is still a manufacturer of HO and OO toy trains in Europe.


     The Howard Miniature Lamp Company produced a line of 2" gauge trains
     from 1904-07. The line included steam and electric locomotives, cars,
     and trollies. In 1907 the recession prompted Howard to concentrate on
     its manufacture of electrical components.


     Founded by Harry Ives in 1868, they produced various toys including
     floor clockwork trains, until 1900 when a fire destroyed the plant.
     Afterwards Ives was able to design an entirely new toy line including
     both cast iron and stamped steel O gauge trains and 1 gauge clockwork
     trains. They were also the first US maker to use preassembled
     sectional track, as pioneered by European makers such as Bing. Ives
     became the initial American market leader in electric trains in 1910,
     when it introduced electric O gauge versions, following from clockwork
     trains. 1 gauge electrics followed in 1912. Ives was in for stiff
     competition when Lionel entered O gauge in 1916 and it was exceeded in
     size by Lionel in 1924. Ives changed from 1 gauge to 2-1/8" Standard
     Gauge introduced by Lionel, calling it Wide Gauge. Lionel fiercely
     targeted Ives quality in their ad which is at least partially due to
     the personal rivalry between J. L. Cowen and Harry Ives. By 1926 Ives
     was in financial straights and filed bankruptcy in 1928. Lionel and
     Flyer jointly bought Ives and in 1930 Lionel purchased Flyer's
     portion. Lionel continued to build Ives trains until 1931 when train
     sales plummeted. Lionel mostly wanted Ives for their superior and
     patented three position reversing unit.

     Ives is not produced except occasional reproductions
     Name owned by Lionel LLC


     A small maker of tin trains which became Marx's entry into the market
     when they purchased it.


     A more recent addition to the three rail fray, it was founded in the
     1970's by Maury D. Klein (hence MDK Inc.). K-Line acquired many of the
     old Marx dies and tooling, changing only the name on the products.
     More recently they have greatly diversified into more accurate models.
     They currently offer a full range of O-Gauge products. Their quality
     is usually good but can sag dramatically in some cases.

     MDK, Inc.
     K-Line Electric Trains, Inc.
     PO Box 2831
     Chapel Hill, NC 27515
     Phone: 718-648-5399
     Toll Free: 800-34-HOBBY (800-344-6229)


     Maker of G-Gauge equipment

     Kalamazoo Trains
     655 44th Street
     Allegan, MI 49010


     Henry Katz and Company was founded by Henry Katz and was famed as the
     creator of the one dollar train and one dollar transformer in 1929.
     The firm produced a few low priced yet attractive lithographed trains.
     It was dissolved in 1931 when Henry Katz moved to Hoge.


     Founded by Norm Kasiner and Bill Kachler in 1947 in Rochester, NY.
     They produced a small line of O gauge passenger car kits.


     No information available.


     The Knapp Electric and Novelty Company was founded in 1890 and
     introduced its full line of 2" gauge trains in 1904. Train production
     ended in 1913, but Knapp later marketed HO scale trains from 1931-46.


     No information available.


     An established plastics maker who, under the guidance of president
     Bill McLain, purchased AMT's tooling in 1954 and used it as a base for
     their own line of trains. They were unique in being able to run on
     either two or three rail track. Kusan created many "space train" items
     in the late 1960's prompting Lionel to do the same. Nevertheless as
     the train market declined, Kusan was financially forced to phase the
     line out beginning in 1958. In 1961 the line ended production and the
     tooling was sold to Kris Model Trains.


     (Lehmann Gross Bahn) A German maker who defined G Gauge (G for (Gross)
     or Big) in the 1970's and has imported increasingly to the US for the
     past fifteen years. Known for their high quality and price as well as
     being weatherproofed for outdoor operation.

     Lehmann (Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk)
     Nuremberg, Germany

     LGB of America
     6444 Nancy Ridge Road
     San Diego, CA 92121


     It was founded as the Lionel Manufacturing Company in 1900 by Joshua
     Lionel Cowen (spelled Cohen at the time), a young inventor. It
     initially produced electric fans during the summer of 1900, but in the
     fall demand waned and during the Christmas season he had the "vision"
     of an electrically propelled train. In 1901 he began production of
     2-7/8 gauge two rail equipment. In 1906 he changed to three rail
     2-1/8" gauge "Standard Gauge", a trademarked name. 2-1/8" gauge was an
     improper interpretation of the old Marklin defined gauge which was 2-
     1/8" between rail CENTERS not their inside faces as Cowen interpreted

     Lionel changed its name to the Lionel Corporation in 1918 and exceeded
     Ives in sales in 1924. This marked the start of the Classical Period
     of flamboyant, bright trains. The depression took its toll on train
     sales and killed the extravagant Standard Gauge by 1940 in favor of O,
     which Lionel began in 1916. Lionel bought the bankrupt Ives in 1930
     and then itself entered receivership. It recovered by 1939 largely
     with the help of its hugely successful Mickey Mouse hand cars. From
     1938 to 1942 Lionel produced several O and OO scale models as part of
     the birth of the scale model movement. During WWII, as it had in WWI,
     Lionel made naval navigation equipment.

     The peak postwar year was 1952. By 1955 the market had soured and
     Lionel headed into the red. In 1959 Cowen and his son sold their stock
     to Roy Cohn, an corporate raider, who tried cutting costs and massive
     diversification only to wreck the company by 1964. Lionel produced or
     distributed fishing reels, race sets, chemistry sets, record players
     and other odd products. Quality was often negated to the quick buck.
     Lionel managed to buy the rights to Flyer in 1967 and keep a toy line
     going until 1969 when they sold the train making rights to General
     Mills Model Plastics Division (MPC), which later changed its name to
     Fundimensions. Lionel floundered financially as a holding company
     until bankruptcy around 1990.

     Fundimensions had the advantage of great experience in the plastics
     industry which they incorporated into the train line. The size of the
     line ebbed and flowed, peaking in 1978 and 1983. Quality was good on
     the whole, with top of the line items being far superior to old Lionel
     and bottom of the line being worse. Fundimensions became a part of
     Kenner-Parker Toys in 1985 and produced Lionel until 1986 when the
     name, rights and facilities were sold to Richard Kughn, a collector
     and real estate man.

     Kughn created Lionel Trains Incorporated, an autonomous train maker.
     Initially there were numerous excursions into semi-scale models and
     Standard Gauge reissues, but their production was reduced greatly by
     1991. The line has been significantly re-vamped providing more and
     higher quality beginner level equipment and an overall more balanced
     line up to $600 diesels. Quality and selection have also been greatly
     increased. LTI introduced new and innovative items with a vigor
     matched only by the Lionel Corp. of the 1950's. They have made
     substantial use of the latest electronics in such items as Railscope,
     RailSounds, RailSounds II, electronic e-units, and now TrainMaster
     control system.

     In September 1995 Wellspring Associates LLC acquired LTI and the
     trademarks of the original Lionel Corporation, previously leased by
     MPC and LTI. Their intentions include increased marketing toward the
     general population rather than just the toy train market.

     Lionel LLC
     50625 Richard W Blvd
     Chesterfield, MI 48051-2493
     Phone: 313-949-4100
     Toll Free: 800-4-LIONEL to locate the nearest authorized dealer
     Toll Free: 800-727-7297 for info on the TrainMaster control system
     Fax: 313-949-3273


     Leading European maker of a wide range of gauges and scales.

     PO Box 319
     16988 W Victor Road
     New Berlin, WI 53151


     A popular manufacturer of toys and trains founded in 1919 by Louis and
     David Marx, which usually supplied the price niche below Lionel and
     Flyer, making it popular with those who couldn't afford those brands.
     Marx train production started in 1938 when they purchased Joy Line
     trains. Marx was likely the last train maker to convert from stamped
     steel to plastic, in the 1960's, whereas Lionel and Flyer did so in
     the 1940's and 50's. Marx's principle concern was maximum production
     and quality at the lowest price. As a result there were endless
     variations of products. Additionally Marx often did not place catalog
     numbers on many trains. In 1972 Marx sold the company to Quaker Oats
     Company who continued production until 1975. Many of the Marx dies
     were purchased by MDK, who changed only the name imprint. The Marx
     trademark is currently the property of American Plastics, and has
     recently been licensed to James and Debby Flynn, who are making
     reproduction stamped steel Marx trains.

     Marx Trains
     209 E. Butterfield Road #228
     Elmhurst, IL 60126
     Phone: 708-941-3843
     Fax: 708-941-3829


     This Kent, WA company is a producer of larger scale stamped steel
     trains. It produced reproductions of Lionel's 2 7/8 gauge line from
     1957-61. In 1966 it introduced its own Standard Gauge line eventually
     including steam and diesel locomotives and freight and passenger cars.


     No information available.


     Maker of G-Gauge cars

     Model Die Casting
     3811 W Roscrans Blvd
     PO Box 926
     Hawthorne, CA 90251


     (Mikes Train House) A modern distributor of well detailed locomotives
     which they design and have manufactured by Samhongsa in Korea. MTH
     previously made several Lionel authorized Standard gauge reissues. MTH
     is currently posing a major challenge to Lionel for market share. They
     produce a full range of O gauge including starter sets and

     MTH Electric Trains
     9693 Gerwig Lane
     Columbia, MD 21046
     Phone: 410-381-2580
     Fax: 410-381-6122


     Maker of Disney and similar motif stamped steel trains and trollies.
     Meant as toylike collectibles, though they do operate.

     Pride Lines Limited
     651 Hoffman Avenue
     Lindedhurst, NY 11757
     Phone: 516-225-0033
     Fax: 516-225-0099


     Maker of scale like tinplate locomotives.

     Red Caboose
     PO Box 2490
     Longmont, CO 80502
     Phone/Fax: 303-772-8813


     (ROW) Maker of scale-like O gauge equipment. Reported to be out of

     Right-of-Way Industries
     1145 Highbrook Street
     Akron, OH 44301


     Maker of S scale rolling stock.

     S Helper Service
     2 Roberts Road
     New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1621
     Phone: 908-545-0303
     Fax: 908-545-8303

     SUNSET MODELS (3rd Rail division)

     Maker of scale like O 3 rail locos.

     Sunset Models
     3rd Rail Division
     138 W Campbell Ave
     Campbell, CA 95008
     Phone: 408-866-1727


     Makers of reproductions of prewar tin and Buddy L trains.

     227 West Main Street
     Johnson City, TN 37603
     Phone: 615-926-4287
     Order: 800-825-4287


     Founded by Jim Thomas in Wenonah, NJ to create a line of 0 gauge
     trains. They succeeded in producing a General steam locomotive and set
     before Lionel. They acquired Scale-Craft and Company's line of 0 gauge
     cars and moved to a new facility in Shawnee, MI. Thomas continued to
     produce trains until 1959 when Jim Thomas died suddenly of a heart
     attack. Other firms continued production until the dies were destroyed
     in a fire in 1964.


     Founded by Ulmer and Robbins in 1949 in Chenango Bridge, NY. They
     produced a small line of passenger cars until 1952.


     Unique made a line of tin lithographed trains produced 1949- 51 by
     Unique Art Manufacturing Company, an established toy maker. The line
     included both electric and clockwork trains and four wheel cars, some
     using old Dorfan dies. As a lower end of the market line, it could not
     compete with Marx, and was ended when Unique decided to stay with
     other toys and office supplies.


     Maker of a variety of G gauge equipment, including cars and

     USA Trains
     662 Cross St.
     PO Box 100
     Malden, MA 02148


     No information available.


     The Voltamp Electric Manufacturing Company was founded in the 1890's
     by Manes E. Fuld. It began producing electric trains and accessories
     for 2" two rail track. The line included mostly B&O steamers,
     electrics and passenger cars. The line was sold in 1922 to Boucher.


     Another modern maker of scale-like O collectors pieces.

     Weaver Models "Quality Craft"
     PO Box 231
     177 Wheatley Ave
     Northumberland, PA 17857
     Phone: 717-473-9434
     Fax: 717-473-3293


     Founded in 1971 by Jerry Williams as a maker of reproduction Lionel
     and Ives Standard Gauge. The company slowly shifted its interest to
     modern O gauge beginning with the purchase of some old Kusan dies.
     They are now a distributor for scale-like three rail locomotives and
     cars. Their quality was excellent in the 1980's but seems to have
     sagged lately in the early 1990's.

     Williams Electric Trains
     8835 Columbia 100 Parkway
     Columbia, MD 21045
     Phone: 410-997-7766
     Fax: 410-997-6196


Thomas, Thomas, I must have Thomas!

     Please do not ask me where to get Thomas. I don't know who has the
     sets in stock, but I can tell you when they were produced.

     Thomas was offered by Lionel in G gauge 1993 thru 1995. Lionel offered
     Thomas in O gauge from 1997 through 2000. The G gauge set was
     reintroduced in 2001, minus a few components in the earlier set.


     All are Large Scale and have loop and hook couplers.

   * Thomas the Tank Engine Deluxe Electric Train Set, included 0-6-0
     Thomas model with moving eyes and changeable face, Annie and Clarabel
     coaches with removable roofs, DC power pack, 12 curved track sections
     with yellow ties (brown ties in the newer release), Thomas sound
     system with six buttons to produce Thomas sounds on internal speaker
     (not in the newer release), Playmat 4" X 7" big enough for 2 straight
     oval (not in the newer release), Thomas Faces, surprised, tired, angry
     in addition to normal face, Figures of Sir Topam Hat, conductor and
     driver (not in the newer release).
   * James & Troublesome Trucks Set, includes 2-6-0 James the Red Engine
     models with moving eyes and three additional faces, DC power pack, 12
     curved sections with yellow ties, Troublesome Trucks with a total of
     three interchangeable faces.
   * James the Red Engine with moving eyes and three additional faces.
   * Troublesome Trucks with total of three interchangeable faces.
   * Thomas Play Pack includes Thomas sound system with six buttons to
     produce Thomas sounds in internal speaker, Playmat 4" X 7" big enough
     for 2 straight oval (no straights or switches included), Thomas Faces,
     surprised, tired, angry in addition to normal face, Figures of Sir
     Topam Hat, conductor and driver.
   * Thomas Building Set includes Wellsworth Station, Windmill, Water
   * Thomas Sound System with six buttons to produce Thomas sounds on
     internal speaker.
   * Track with yellow ties is available in Curved, Straight, Left Manual
     Switch, Right Manual Switch and Pack of the four above.


   * Thomas the Tank Engine, with three faces
   * Annie the Coach
   * Clarabel the Coach
   * Harold the Helicopter and flatcar

     Items were available for separate sale in 1998 and as a set in 1999
     and 2000 along with a play mat, station (1999) or circus tent (2000)
     and oval of track.
   * Percy the Small Engine
   * Troublesome Truck 1
   * Troublesome Truck 2

     Items were available for separate sale in 1999.


What the heck is Railscope?

     Railscope is an invention of LTI which involves a miniature B&W camera
     mounted in a locomotive sending a signal to a remote TV. The signal is
     sent through the rails. The Railscope system includes the locomotive,
     receiver enclosed in a simulated lumber pile, coax cable, coax
     adapter, two inductors and a capacitor. A Lionel 4-1/2" TV was offered
     separately. On larger layouts use of chokes and resistors on all track
     connections is necessary to filter out noise that will distort the
     picture received. The earlier engine cameras were powered by a 9 V
     which lasted only about 30 minutes of run time. Later units contain
     adapters for 6 AA batteries which will last longer. The receiver also
     uses a 9 V which lasts much longer.

     First introduced in 1988 with O gauge GP-9 and HO FA-2 with "Lionel
     Lines" markings, all units ran on one 9-Volt battery in the locomotive
     and one in the receiver. They suffered from the exhausted locomotive
     battery problem. In 1989 the line was the same except for the addition
     of a large scale (G) 0-4-4 and S gauge PA-2, also in Lionel Lines
     markings. In 1990 Two additional O GP-9's were added, one in Union
     Pacific and one in New York Central, and both cameras were to run
     track power with a 9-V in the receiver. Neither unit was produced,
     though. The S gauge was replaced with a PA-2 in Nickel Plate Road
     markings, but it is reported that neither S unit reached production.
     The previous HO, G and O were still offered, but with adapters to
     substitute 6 AA batteries. There have been no units cataloged since

     At the HORDE rock concert a few years ago, Lionel (a la Neil Young)
     had a layout showcasing coming Lionel innovations. Among them was
     LionVision, and improved version of Railscope. LionVision does not
     transmit the signal on the track, thus eliminating many sources of
     noise. Also the image was color and the demo at HORDE included sound.
     It is unclear when or if LionVision will hit shelves.


I'm confused what all the locomotive types are.

     This is a ROUGH listing of prototype locomotives types.

     STEAMERS - (# front/pilot - middle/drivers - back/trailing
     Principal Makers: Alco, Baldwin, Lima, N&W RR.
     Burns Coal, Wood or Oil in firebox, fumes pass through water-
     filled boiler in flue tubes, and exit into smokebox and up
     through stack. Heated water passes from the rear tender tank
     to boiler to the cylinders. Reciprocating rods connect pistons
     to wheels.

     O-anything-O Switcher
     4-4-0 American
     4-4-2 Atlantic
     2-6-2 Prairie
     2-6-0 Mogul
     4-6-2 Pacific
     4-6-4 Hudson
     2-8-0 Consolidation
     2-8-2 Mikado
     2-8-4 Berkshire
     4-8-0 Mastodon
     4-8-2 Mountain
     4-8-4 Northern
     2-10-0 Deacpod
     4-6-6-4 Challenger
     4-8-8-4 Big Boy
     2-8-8-8-2, 2-8-8-8-4 Triplex
     4-6-0  Tenwheeler
     4-10-0 Twelvewheeler
     2-10-2 Santa Fe
     2-10-4 Texas
     2-4-2 Columbia
     2-6-6-6 Allegheny
     4-4-4 A Baltimore
     4-6-4-4 Pennsylvania
     4-10-0 Mastodon
     4-10-2 Southern Pacific
     4-12-2 Union Pacific

     A steamer with two pair of cylinders is Duplex.
     A duplex with the front and/or rear drivers hinged is Articulated.
     A duplex which uses the steam in the cylinder pairs sequentially is a 
     A duplex which divides the steam between cylinder pairs is a Simple.
     An articulated compound is a Mallet.

     Diesel engine or gas turbine is connected to a generator: or
     power from overhead lines passes through internal step-down
     transformer. Electric power is regulated and transmitted to
     axle motors in the trucks, hence diesel-electric, (AC or DC).
             A=one powered axle       1=one unpowered axle
             B=two powered axles      2=two unpowered axles
             C=three powered axles    3=three unpowered axles
             D=four powered axles     4=four unpowered axles
             +=separation between different wheel sets
             Ao, Co,... is sometimes used for an axle with an independent 
traction motor
     General Motors Electro-Motive Division.
     GP-7,9,12,18,20,30,35    B+B       GP=General Purpose
     SD-9,7,40,40-2,50,60,70  C+C       SD=Special Duty
     F-3,7,9                  B+B       F=Fifteen-hundred HP (later
     E-2,3,8                  A1A+A1A   E=Eighteen-hundred HP

     General Electric Transportation Division
     U-18B,22B,36B            B+B       U=Universal
     U-22C,36C                C+C
     Dash 8-40C,              C+C
     EL-C (electric)          C+C
     EP-5 (electric)          B+B

     Alco (American Locomotive Company)


     Baldwin/Lima/Lima-Hamilton/Lima-Hamilton-Baldwin (mergers)

     Pennsylvania RR

     Other oddities such as Steam turbines and Hydro-Motive
     existed, but did not catch on.

End of the Tinplate Train FAQ, Part 1 of 4
On to part 2 of 4

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM