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Houston Tinplate Operators Society - Lionel, Trains, Layouts: Newsletter

Newsletter: April 1997

In this issue:


By Walt Sklenar

Those members attending the HTOS informal meeting on February 18 were treated to an Australian live steam show on the outer loop of the permanent layout! Yes, you read correctly. Peter Watson, who works for BHP Petroleum and lives in Melbourne, Australia brought an early '50s vintage locomotive to run. This loco, and other engines and rolling stock in his collection, were built over 40 years ago by an Australian company named Scorpion. No transformer compatibility issues here! Peter also brought several pictures of his collection. The only problems were finding a match to light the burner and getting the proper balance of rolling stock weight behind the steamer. There were a few derailments (fortunately not off the table) which in one instance ignited several plastic ties near the triple track bridge. Peter found out about HTOS from down under through our WEB Page (way to go, Karl). Hope to see him again soon!

It's for you, dear!

By Karl Benard

After investigating several options, Mark Whetzel brought forth a proposal at the March 11 business meeting to have a phone installed at our mall location. Membership will vote on this issue at the April 1 business meeting. Plan to attend so you can judge the pros, cons and any alternative proposals, voice your opinion, then cast your vote. No voter ID required!

Mikes Train House New Catalog

By Walt Sklenar

Mike's Train House (MTH) 1997 Volume 1 Catalog hit the streets in late February. This 52-page catalog contains a variety of motive power and rolling stock in both the Premier and Rail King Lines. Diesel power in the Premier Line includes the G.E. Dash-9, EMD GP-38 and the EMD SD-70 MAC (all in at least 2 paint schemes). A 4-truck Shay steamer, lettered for the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co is also in the Premier Line. Rolling stock in the Premier Line is highlighted by log cars (i.e. Shay load) and a 5-car spline set with a variety of loads. In the RailKing Line, 3 steam engines and 2 diesels are offered. Steam power includes the Southern Pacific GS-4 Daylight, Pennsy Torpedo and the W. & A.R.R. 4-4-0 General. Diesels include the Dash-8 and SD60M, each in 2 paint schemes. 21 RailKing freight cars are offered. The most talked about item may be the Sinclair Operating Service Station, featuring a '57 Chevy that moves between the station's garage bay and 3-pump island. Perhaps the big surprise of the catalog is the introduction of RiteTrax in 3 ready-to-run sets. Each O-31 RiteTrax piece has a plastic base, scale looking ties, and is designed to snap together quickly. Currently, these tracks come only in straight and O-31 curve sections. It will be interesting to see if this new track catches on.

Layout Updates

By Walt Sklenar and Mike Schneider

The permanent layout committee, headed by Mike Schneider, has prioritized several projects. These include laying the final outer (to the outer to the outer) loop with 96" radius curves, constructing crossovers and turnouts for the outer loops near the transformer location, modifying the wooden bridge and kitbashing other bridges (thanks a lot, Tom). The portable layout committee was scheduled to meet March 27. Details to follow in the next newsletter. "If only I had brought more film..."

Flash!! Big Boy destroys bridge rounding curve!!

HTOS Business Meetings

By Karl Benard

Upcoming dates for business meetings:

  • Tuesday, April 1 : 7:30 PM
  • Tuesday, May 6 : 7:30 PM

The REAL Thing

By Walt Sklenar

Model railroaders often spend time photographing model train big brethren. I was lucky enough to attend the 3rd Texas State Railroad (TSRR) Railfan Weekend March 1-2. The weekend activities included round-trip excursions between Palestine and Rusk with photo run-bys on both days, a Saturday night photo session at the Palestine depot and a Sunday tour of the shops at Rusk. On Saturday, the excursion was led by TSRR No. 300, an 83-ton Baldwin 2-8-0 built in 1917. The steamer was relettered for the AT & SF and numbered 2570. This is the next number above the highest number applied to SF locos acquired from the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad. The Sunday excursion was handled by ALCO RS-2 No. 7, built in 1947 for the Point Comfort & Northern Railroad (a Texas industrial shortline). The mixed consist behind these engines included vintage freight cars, a combine, coach and observation cars. The Saturday night photo session featured 2570 with the consist, and shots of the RS-2 and the TSRR (formerly Texas and Pacific) No. 610, a 2-10-2 housed in Palestine.

I plan on having a 20 minute slide presentation of this event following our April 1 HTOS business meeting.

Bring your popcorn!

April Calendar of Events

By Karl Benard
  • April 5: Humble-San Jacinto Model RR Club Jamboree, Humble Civic Center
  • April 26-27: San Angelo-Railfair '97, San Angelo Convention Center
  • May 3-4: Amarillo-Great American Train Show, Amarillo Tri-State Fair Grounds
  • June 14-15: Houston-Memorial City Train Show, Memorial City Mall
  • June 28-29: Austin-Great American Train Show, Austin Convention Center
  • August 9-10: Houston-Great American Train Show, Astrodome

On the "CIRCUIT"

With Jim Herron

Jim recently attended 2 out of town Great American Train Shows (GATS), in Kansas City, Missouri February 15-16 and in Dallas March 15-16. Over the past year, Jim has attended at least a half dozen shows, both local and out of town, and notes that you see a lot of the same vendors on the "circuit", prices are going up for Lionel equipment everywhere, and many vendors are starting to carry the Mike's Train House product line due to quality and reliability. He reports that at Kansas City the facilities were poor -small quarters, low ceilings (at least for Jim), relatively small vendor gathering, not many operating layouts (less than 10), and parts tables were scarce. On the plus side, there was a varied group of local shops and TCA groups. There was more representation of mid-Continent train names - SF, UP, KCS, BN, Wabash, IC, RI, CNW among others. Also perfect weather for a show - cold and snowy. The Dallas show was held at the Fair Grounds in the Amusement Park, "hard to find and hard to get to". The facility, he thought, was smaller than the Astro Hall. Overall comments: "A fair number of vendors, including locals, not too many bargains, 2 part facilities - an O.K. show." One interesting thing seen in Dallas was a Noma Station circuit board directly wired to the tracks through a lockon. The vendor was asking $200, "worked great but steep price."

Jim hopes make the York, PA TCA meet in April.


By Walt Sklenar

Recent acquisitions by HTOS members include:

  • MTH Union Pacific Big Boy (watch that front end swing!).
  • MTH RailKing PCC Electric Street Car (SEPTA paint scheme).
  • K-Line Collectors Club members received their 1997 membership gift an MP-15 diesel lettered for the Kennecott Copper Corporation.
  • Lionel items include the Norfolk Southern intermodal crane, industrial water tower, Sunoco "O" unibody tanker and the Linex oil tanks.

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