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

Newsletter: February 1998

In this issue:


by Aimee Atkinson

After making history by becoming the first woman president of HTOS, I received both congratulations and warnings: "Good luck! You'll need it! Well, I'll approach this like the great Alfred E. Newmann who said, "What, me worry?" But seriously, the election took place so late in the meeting that I hardly had time to let you know my goals for the year. So here goes.

First and foremost, we must protect our position at the Mall. Until we have a fallback location that will take us on two weeks notice (any ideas? any garages big enough?) we must do everything we can to ingratiate ourselves to Mall management. This means one thing for sure: KEEP IT CLEAN!! NO EXCUSES!! This may also mean that we spring for a coat or two of paint.

Are you all aware that when the Mall moved the G Gaugers they required them to start paying RENT!! The gravy days may soon be over for us, too. We need to prepare for this in our budget talks. I would like to propose that Mike Schneider remain as Head Schmoozer to assist me interacting with management. What do you say, Mike?

Our members are our best asset. I don't want you guys to feel overwhelmed or burned out. With that in mind, we need to come up with ideas to make moving the portable layout easier. Wayne suggested a poster of photos showing where everything goes. I'd like to see color coding of items and their corresponding boxes. We also need more modular scenery (one of my projects from last year). The sections need their numbers and color coding repainted in a more obvious way. And we need some banners and some sort of club polo shirt or t-shirt to wear at shows. And do we need to talk about alternative transportation for the layout? While we are talking about layouts, I'd like to see the resurrection of the layout committee meetings. We seem to start out great guns and loose steam.

The Saturday runs need to be looked forward to and not dreaded. We need to keep up the advance scheduling as much as possible and have everyone do their share. Any ideas on how to make this work better?

I want to see a repair station built to fit at the front desk, and the hospital idea used as a way to actually organize repairs-not as a storage area. Anyone want to take this on as a design and/or building project? I would like to see something with the quality of the permanent layout control panel. And the front desk... shall we talk about cleaning again?

A suggestion was made that we have a display (cork board) with info on other clubs and collector groups (TCA, LCCA, etc.) Who can help gather and display this information?

Quite a few months ago, I uncovered the fact that we have a lot of brackets and additional shelving squirreled away in the back that needs to be added to what is already set up, perhaps enough to get everything off the floor. We need a work night devoted to adding shelves and, even though there has been improvement, cleaning the bathroom. A mother sent her son back there the other day with the stern warning, "Don't touch anything!" It was rather embarrassing.

I think we can do all of this and more. Thank you in advance for your support, and keep those suggestions coming. See you in "Trainland".

Fallen Flags

by Jim Herron

At the end of the World War II there were about 125 American railroads that were Class I carriers. These railroads had a wonderful array of insignias and logos, including diamonds, flags, circles, rectangles, ovals, cats and keystones. These standards were draped across tenders, diesels and engines as durable corporate identifiers, readily identified by most people.

My first association with railroad emblems were metal ones enclosed in specially marked boxes of Wheaties, "the Breakfast of Champions." Seeing them evoked thoughts of the locomotives and routes of the 20th Century Limited, Broadway Limited and the Wabash Cannonball. Then, all too quickly, the flags fell. I thought it would be interesting to remember these "fallen flags" and remember when.

  • The flag on the Wabash, a 2,400 mile road, fell in October, 1964.
  • The Minneapolis & St. Louis, a 1400 mile road went the way of the fallen flag with a C & NW acquisition in November, 1960.
  • Central of Georgia with 1800 miles of track was acquired by Southern Railway in the 1960's.
  • Virginian Railway, a small coal hauling line, was acquired by N. & W.RR in December, 1959.
  • Pennsylvania Railroad, the standard railroad of the world, sought refuge in a merger with the rival New York Central in February of 1968. Hence, the Penn-Central. The merger didn't work and was later broken up into Conrail for freight and Amtrak for passenger service, along with six other railroads in the northeast.
  • Burlington Route - Chicago Burlington & Quincy, a 1,000 mile structure made famous by the Zephyr, was acquired by Burlington Northern in March, 1970.
  • Great Northern merged with N. P. and Burlington to form B. N.
  • Northern Pacific was acquired by G.N. in the 1960's.
  • C & O, "the Cat," a 5,000 mile survivor, took control of the B & O in 1963.
  • B & O with 5500 miles of track was absorbed by the C & O in 1963. Gone are the purple diesels and coaches.
  • Atlantic Coast Line merged with the Seaboard in 1967.
  • Lackawanna RR merged with the Erie RR in October, 1960. The fortunes of the Phoebe Snow became the Erie Lackawanna.
  • Nickel Plate Road with 2100 miles of track merged into the N & W in October of 1964.
  • Monon Route (Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville) merged with the Louisville & Nashville in July of 1971.
  • Lehigh & New England, with 178 miles of track, bridged with N. H. RR and ceased operations in October, 1961.
  • Moffat Tunnel Route - Denver and Salt Lake - was absorbed by the Denver & Rio Grande in 1947.
  • C. & St. L (Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis - the Dixie Route) was taken over by L. & N. In August, 1957.
  • The South Shore - Duluth, Sand Shore & Atlantic, a 550 miles route, became the Soo Line in January of 1961, through a merger with the Soo (Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie), Wisconsin Central and DSS&A.
  • The Alton RR Co. Was absorbed by the Gulf Mobile & Ohio in May of 1947.

Product News

by Walt Sklenar

Lionel LLC has released their 1998 Classic and Heritage catalogs. The format of these catalogs will take a little getting used to. What are some of the changes seen in this catalog? Change #1 - the most touted seems to be the incorporation of the new "Odyssey" motor in some of their engines, including the EMD FT diesels (powered A, dummy B) in ATSF and NYC paint, and a Western Maryland 4-6-2 Pacific. Most of their engines, however, will still be powered by either the AC Pullmor or DC can motors. Change #2 - the ability for the consumer to select between Command controlled (most if not all the bells and whistles) and Command ready (Command control can be installed at a later date) versions of several of their locomotives. These include the FTs and Pacific, as well as a BNSF DASH-9. Change #3 - the use of TrainMaster control for more accessories and animated rolling stock. Two new accessories are the Steam Service Siding (a "fully functional refueling station") and Lionel Locomotive Backshop (this is a big accessory). The #342 Culvert Loader is being reissued in both Command control and traditional versions. An Animated Giraffe Car is being offered, outfitted with a new mechanical trip mechanism plus "full Command control and CarSounds". We'll leave it to your imagination as to what sounds this car makes! And then there is the Animated Aquarium Car, featuring whales and whale sounds. Change #4 - MainLine Accessories. These die-cast accessories are more true to scale, and "incorporate more metal, more detail". Included are Mast and Walkout Cantilever Signals, Semaphore, Block Target and Dwarf Signals. Other rolling stock highlights: Series VII of the 6464 Box Cars, in Boston and Maine, Timken and Great Northern paint; a pair of Gulf Oil Tankers (silver 3-dome and orange single dome); Galveston Wharves Box Car; SP/UP Merger Box Car with Auto Frames (can sit on your siding for days); NYC Ice Docks Ice Car; and T.T.U.X. Intermodal Flat Cars with Apple Computer trailers. There's lots of other accessories, building kits and engines to tickle your wallet. Check out these catalogs at your always friendly Lionel retailer.

Atlas O has announced their first diesel locomotive - the EMD SW8 and SW9. These locomotives will be highly detailed scale units with prototypical paint schemes, and available in both 3-rail and 2-rail versions. The 3-rail version includes a dual flywheel equipped can motor, 8 wheel drive, and a sound and operating system from Dallee Electronics (Lionel TrainMaster fully compatible; horn, bell and prime mover sounds; volume control, selector switch for either forward-first or neutral first operation). There are six roadnames for each model, many of which are Fallen Flags from the northeast. To view the paint schemes and get more info about this product, dial up their web site at:

GATS Review

by Walt Sklenar

The Great American Train Show (GATS) at the George R. Brown Convention Center looked to be a successful event for HTOS. The layout ran essentially trouble free during the 2 days, and the club had marvelous support from members in getting the layout to and from the show location and manning the controls during the weekend. The show had great attendance, especially on Saturday. Two of our new members - Tommy Rome and Jim Gottardi - got their indoctrination into all that goes into transporting and setting up the layout at a show, and spent time behind the controls. Great job! Kudos also go to Walt Sklenar and Mark Whetzel for their roles in heightening the interest around the oil derrick. Walt created an oil loading facility (Miracle Petroleum Company - 'if you use our oil, it's a miracle!!), using a building kit as the focus. Mark spent a number of hours modifying track to create a siding where tank cars can be shuttled in and out. Perhaps the hero of the show was Don Trial, who spent most of Saturday seated by the plexiglass viewing cube. Don passed out HTOS flyers and made sure the kids got in and out of the cube without problem. From his expression, it was hard to tell who in that corner was having the most fun. Thanks also goes to Russell Sullivan, who arranged transportation to get the modules to and from the show.

New Members

Please welcome the following new members who joined HTOS during December and January: Tommy Rome from Pasadena; Jim Gottardi, Carl Olsen, and John Grisham from Houston.

Product Review

by Walt Sklenar

MTH RailKing Pennsy K-4 steam engine continues in the tradition of quality for this line of steam locomotives. Priced at around $400 equipped with ProtoSounds (with Passenger Station Sounds, squeaking brakes, great bell), ProtoCoupler and ProtoSmoke, this engine has already become hard to find. One of the nice touches is the spoked drivers. Paint is nicely applied. Pick one up, and you'll soon be hearing: "Now arriving on Track 1...the Broadway Limited."

| Privacy | Legal | Contact |