Newsletter: May 1997
In this issue:
Of Trains, Economics, Mental Health and Albert Einstein
By Aimee Atkinson
When my husband and I first started exploring this hobby, at a Great
American Train Show not TOO many years ago, the price tags led to fainting
spells and periodic heart failure. We looked at each other in disbelief.
"They want $50 for this boxcar??? It's just a plastic toy, for Pete's
sake!!!" were the kinds of things you could overhear us exclaiming
to each other. We couldn't picture ourselves spending this kind of money,
not on toys!
Over the next few years a funny thing happened. The shock wore off.
"Look! This boxcar was only $65! Greenburg lists it for $80 in this
condition because of the color variation. What a steal!" We became
quite blase. $50 now seemed like $5, $200 like $20! The 'Albert Einstein
Effect' was at work it's all relative! Our spending habits were
changed, rearranged, re-prioritized. A new savings account was opened dedicated
to our new obsession, trains became our decorating item of choice around
the house, I ordered checks with pictures of trains on them. We were happy,
carefree, deep under the spell of those beautiful little machines. It didn't
feel nuts it felt good!!
Soon, All Other Purchases (AOL is a catch-all phrase for All non-train
related monetary exchanges) were viewed by my husband in terms of their
train related value. "Look at the price of that
(water heater, paint job, winter coat, steak dinner)! Why, that's a new
(engine, piece of rolling stock, Gargraves switch,
MTH order)", he'd say.
It seems his brain is now permanently wired with this economic philosophy.
it hasn't kept us from buying the "AOLs" we really need. It's
like being in a foreign country (you know Trainland!) and having
to do currency exchanges in your head.
Speaking of Trainland (ahhh! Trainland!), my husband goes there quite
often. Usually while reading Classic Toy Trains or the latest buy sheet
from TCA or LCCA. He drifts away, gets this dreamy look on his face and
I know he's thinking about his next purchase or a change to his layout.
I am now used to repeating myself. I can't blame him, you know. I go to
Trainland myself, now and then. Like, take this issue of CTT (Classic
Toy Trains) wow, look
at that layout. Hey! he's got that building I've been looking for at
price... I oh, I'm sorry did you say something?
Constructing a Kid-proof Train Layout
by Jim Herron
The layout is 4' x 6', constructed of ¾" particle board
for soundproofing. The particle board was attached to three 2 x 4's as
cross beams for strength. A 4' x 6' piece of ¼" cork and an
indoor/outdoor carpet were attached to the particle board, and wheels attached
to the 2 x 4's for easy disposition under the bed when not in use. We went
to J.R.'s Hobby Shop for the track, deciding on "O" gauge because
of the clearance of engines and passenger cars on the 022 switches. New
track was purchased, including 3 4' straight sections (less clickety clack),
2 straight half sections, 10 curves, three switches and a #260 red bumper.
The resulting layout design was an outer oval, an inside loop/passing track,
and a spur off the inside loop. Fiber pins were installed for non-derailing
at the switches, and all the tracks were screwed down. Power for the layout
is supplied by a 125 watt Lionel LW transformer. The track was wired with
an illuminated green lockon, with a separate switch for power to the spur,
switch wired…and we were ready to go to the next step.
For the "modest landscaping", Moondog roadbed was ordered.
On the inner loop are a Noma station, Plasticville post office, fire house
and church, an ice cream stand and #394 red beacon. On the other side of
the street are located a Plasticville gas station, bank and police station.
3 crossing gates and Lionel #410 Bill Boards fill the area. Now ready to
roll, running trains led by an MTH Railking Amtrak Dash8.
All this took about 12 hours to complete at a cost of $600, including
the rolling stock and engine. It looks nice and "runs hands off forever,
to me the sign of a good toy train layout".
By Walt Sklenar
Those (few?) of us who haven't blown their 1997 train budgets on Lionel
and Mike's Train House items may be interested in K-Line's 1997 offerings.
Their 1997 Toy Fair Catalog is out, in a format different from previous
catalogs (both their own and competitors). New engines featured are: F7
A-B-A, each powered with 2 motors, lettered for the Rio Grande or Pennsylvania
RR (O scale); ALCo FA-2 Twin "A" units (both powered) and dummy
"B" unit with horn, in NY Central lightning stripe paint. Passenger
cars include: THE HEAVYWEIGHTS Pennsy Broadway Limited 6-Car set and six
THE STREAMLINERS cars for the NY Central. New CLASSIC ROLLING STOCK includes
all metal die cast scale hoppers (B & O and UP) and die cast Gunderson
Husky Stack DTTX cars in 4 roadnames. Complete train sets features are:
Rock Island "Route of the Rockets", with an MP-15 diesel; Lehigh
Valley Freight set, also with an MP-15; and a B & O Classic
Freight Set, powered by an F-7 A-B combination (4 motors). This last set
should be tempting to serious collectors.
Upcoming Show News
By Walt Sklenar
The Father's Day Train Show at Memorial City Mall, scheduled for June
15-16, has been postponed to July 12-13. HTOS has received confirmation
for display of the portable layout at The Great American Train Show (GATS)
August 8-9 at the Astroarena. HTOS will also hold at least 4 workshops
during the 2 days. If you have ideas regarding workshop topics, contact
Mark Whetzel or Tom Lyttle. Also of note regarding the GATS show, 5 local
HO clubs - Northwest Crossing, HO Fellowship, Katy Model RR Club, All Points
North and Bay Area Fellowship - will pool their layouts into a single 190'
X 80' layout. Word is that it will take 30 minutes for a train to complete
the entire loop.
On the Tube
By Walt Sklenar
Houston Public Television Channel 8 (KUHT) will air a series titled
America's Scenic Railway Journeys on Saturdays at 7 P.M., beginning May
10. Dates and locations featured in these 1 hour broadcasts are:
- May 10 - The Adirondack, NYC to Montreal
- May 17 - Alaska RR, Anchorage to Fairbanks
- May 24 - Alaska RR, Anchorage to Seward
- May 31, The Copper Canyon (Mexico).