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

Newsletter: December 1998

In this issue:


by Jim Herron

Now that Christmas is upon us again, I get nostalgic thinking about Christmas trees, the smell of cookies baking, trains around the tree, Christmas dinner and the new train piece (just one, Jim?) I'll be getting for Christmas. I think about waking up on Christmas morning, hoping to see under the tree one of the long, narrow boxes that held an "O" gauge Santa Fe F3 A-B-A Warbonnet, regarded by many as the most beautiful train that Lionel ever produced.

The Warbonnet paint scheme was inspired by the feathered headdresses of Indian warriors. The Warbonnet was the signature livery for the Santa Fe's freight and passenger trains, such as the Super Chief, which was known for its superior passenger service and gourmet dining cars. The popularity of the Warbonnet was maintained by toy train enthusiast Joshua Lionel Cowen.

Lionel offered the F3 Warbonnet with its red, gray and yellow livery in "O" scale in its 1948 catalogue under the number 2333. The diesel has remained in the Lionel catalogue to this day and still remains a strong seller. The Warbonnet appeared in advertising, press releases and on the screen, including an episode of the I Love Lucy show. It became an integral part of the lore of the West.

The real name of the railroad was the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, often abbreviated A.T. & S. F., but more often simply called the Santa Fe. The company was famous for putting very luxurious trains into service. Its restaurants and dining car services were considered among the best of all the American railways.

Construction on the line began in Topeka, Kansas in 1868. In 1887, the railroad reached Los Angeles and, shortly thereafter, San Francisco. The Santa Fe's eastern terminus was Chicago. In 1926, the Santa Fe put into service one of the most famous trains in the world -- the Chief -- linking Chicago and Los Angeles. The Chief was hauled by steam locomotives until 1935 when diesel engines took over the route. They were cleaner, quieter, faster, required less maintenance and had fewer stops. Renamed the Super Chief in 1937 because it was even faster than its steam brother and more luxurious than the Chief, the train linked Chicago to Los Angeles in 39 1/2 hours. Its diesel engines with their famous G.M. "bulldog noses" became a familiar symbol of rail travel.

Built by the Electro-Motive Division (E.M.D.) the Super Chief engines usually consisted of three to five units of the A- B. Type with a single engineer's cab. The best known series were the E1's, E3's and especially the F3's and F7's, with which the Super Chief ended its career. These engines produced 1,500 HP per unit with up to 7500 HP in a five unit set. Each unit weighed about 1378 tons. The "A" unit was 50 feet long and had a maximum speed of 102 m.p.h.

Whenever someone sees or thinks of a toy train diesel engine, the Santa Fe Super Chief Warbonnet comes to mind. May each of you have a wonderful holiday season with many boxes of trains under your tree!


By Walt Sklenar

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Not a transformer was humming, not even a Power House;
The layout was set up by the chimney with care,
In hopes that new accessories soon would be there;

The Tinplaters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of F3s danced in their heads;
And mamma and I in our engineer caps,
Just wanted to run our trains a few laps,

When out on the lawn there arose a clickety-clack,
I sprang from my bed to see on which track;
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Almost stepped on my Big Boy - talk about some cash;

The moon on the breast of the new fallen dew, (remember, this is Houston)
Gave a Tinplate sheen to the tracks in view;
When, what to my wondering eyes was revealed,
But a miniature steamer that was eight-wheeled;

With little old drivers, our local retailers,
Ed, J.R. and John, the Toy Train For Salers;
More rapid than new catalogs their products they came,
And they whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, RailKing, now, Heritage, now, Tinplate Traditions!
Train sets, accessories, even postwar collections!
To the top of the porch, let's go through the door!
Now, Dash 8s, Dash 9s, we can't carry any more!"

And then, in a twinkling, I heard by the layout,
Each starting to take their toy trains out;
With trains in their hands, they turned rather pensive,
And thought, "Should we give them something so expensive?"

Ed was dressed in blue and orange, from his head to his foot,
Not J.R. and John, MTH might give them the boot;
A bundle of toy trains they had flung on their backs,
Was this the stuff they had on their half-price racks?

They spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
J.R. wanted to play, the others gave him a jerk;
After putting new engines on the siding tracks,
They nodded and said, "They could use some double-stacks!"

They sprang to the General, John blew the whistle,
And flew down the track, like a flatcar with missile;
But I heard them exclaim, as they puffed out of sight,


by Jim Herron

Someone got a look at Santa's Christmas wish list from various HTOS members. Here is what he has:

  • Aimee Atkinson -- the world's most powerful vacuum cleaner for all the unwanted artificial snow on her Snow Village display.
  • Tom Lytle -- a Shay that no one else has.
  • Mike Schneider -- 60 minute shopping spree in Madison Hardware.
  • Jim Herron -- a completed layout and visit to see Ward Kimbell's layout.
  • Mark Whetzel -- a computer that can actually talk back to him.
  • Russell Sullivan -- an antique train find.
  • Bob Rea -- a n/i/b$500 Congressional set.
  • Walt Sklenar -- half the annual train budget of either Victor or Jim Herron.
  • Robert Briggs -- finding a $5.00 car at a trash and treasure sale that is made of gold.
  • Will Esken -- a rare accessory at a cheap price.
  • Brian Fischer -- the "Rainmaker."
  • J. R. Viciento -- a way to quit smoking...again!
  • John Viciento -- a way for J.R. to quit smoking...and pocket the savings.
  • Victor Alvarez -- finding something he doesn't already have.
  • Carl Olson -- a spring trip to the York train meet.
  • John Grisham -- a wiring diagram of the portable layout.
  • Ed Dupaquier -- a trash and trash sale.
  • Jim Lynch -- a BN tank car under his tree.
  • Don Trial -- a return visit to China, Texas for more trains.
  • Bill White -- a n/i/b "Hiawatha" find.
  • Jim Gottardi -- a white, red and green engine with an AGIP tank car.
  • John Willbeck -- hoping HTOS members keep coming back to his new store.
  • Frank Peschl -- a $1.00 find anywhere.
  • Tommy Rome -- a flak suit to wear for the 1999 monthly meetings.
  • The Normans -- a house shaped like a train.
  • Karl Bernard -- to rejoin HTOS in 1999 with the two boys.
  • Frank Herzog -- to attend a meeting in 1999.
For those of you who haven't sent your requests to Santa, time's a-wastin'.


by Walt Sklenar

The year Lionel Corp. introduced their most popular accessory - the Automatic Gateman.
A. 1935
B. 1940
C. 1947

The year the shanty on Automatic Gateman changed from sheet-metal to plastic.
A. 1948
B. 1950
C. 1952

The year Western Pacific, New York Central and MoPac 6464 Boxcars were introduced.
A. 1954
B. 1957
C. 1960

Engine which led the Big Haul Freight Set (cataloged in 1954).
A. Wabash F3 A-A
C. Lackawanna FM Trainmaster.

The year Magne-Traction was introduced by Lionel.
A. 1950
B. 1954
C. 1958

The third road name, after Santa Fe and New York Central, for a postwar F3 diesel set.
A. Western Pacific
B. Baltimore and Ohio
C. Canadian Pacific

The year Wabash and Illinois Central F3s were introduced.
A. 1954
B. 1955
C. 1956

Lionel specifically designed some F3s to be run on O-27 track. Which was the first?
A. Santa Fe #2243
B. Texas Special #2245
C. New Haven #2242
(Do you know what year the first O-27 was produced?)

The year the #456 coal ramp was introduced.
A. 1930
B. 1940
C. 1950

Lionel introduced a 4-8-4 model of the Norfolk & Western J in this year.
A. 1952
B. 1957
C. 1962

Answers in the January 1999 HTOS newsletter!


Hallmark's 1998 ornament collection is in stores and going fast! Following the 1996 Hudson and the 1997 Santa Fe F3, this year's popular Lionel-licensed tree ornaments is a beautifully version of the Pennsylvania Railroad's famous electric, the GG1, designed by Raymond Lowry. Numbered 4701, this ornament is decorated in Pennsy green with a single gold stripe running along the side. It also has non-moving pantographs. These are probably going to be the most popular yet of the series. So, hurry to your Hallmark store. The purchase price is $18.95, plus tax. Good luck in finding one.

The 1998 Christmas Car is an aquarium car that wishes you Christmas greetings as it rolls along the track. The gear driven mechanism moves Santa Claus and his eight reindeer through the windows, along with "Merry Christmas To All . . . And to All A Good Night." The plastic car body is silver with blue lettering, has interior illumination, and plastic trucks. #19855 has a list price of $54.95. For those who collect aquarium cars, it is a great addition to your collection.

The 1998 Holiday Music Bay Window Caboose has a "Christmas Red" plastic body with white roof. It features die-cast metal trucks with Electrocouplers, has interior illumination, plus rear strobe and marker lights. It plays traditional Christmas music via RailSounds, and has Command Control option. #19750 has a steep list price of $189.95.


Just a reminder that January will be a busy month once again for HTOS. We expect to have the portable layout on display at two local shows:
  • January 9-10: Great American Train Show at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
  • January 30-31: Lone Star Division TCA Meet in Katy.

Details to follow in the January HTOS newsletter.

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