HO scale

Seasonal Merchandise

I didn’t need this caboose—in my growing collection of Tyco streamlined cabooses, I’ve already got one in the Bicentennial scheme. It was the box that caught my eye. Actually, it was the price tag on the box. Take a close look, it tells a story. Two Guys, a long-defunct discount department store, marked this car down to just 19 cents in 1977. (That’s still less than a dollar in today’s money. I paid $3.) As the kids say, a Bicentennial caboose was so last year by then.

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Hunka Hunka

Collecting Tyco streamlined cabooses has become a hobby-within-a-hobby for me. As caboose models go, the Tyco is an odd duck—it sorta-kinda looks like an Ann Arbor caboose, or maybe a Pennsy N8 with an off-center cupola, but not really. They were ubiquitous in ’70s-era HO scale railroading; every kid I knew with HO had one. These days, they’re easily found at train shows for $5 or less, in a broad variety of paint schemes, even a chrome-plated version, so why not?

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Say Yass to Brass

With the fall train-show season all but cancelled, a small group of local vendors got together and held a mini-show in a gravel parking lot outside of town last Saturday. It was sunny out, and there hasn’t been a proper show in six months now, so of course I went. There were only a dozen tables (50 tables is usually regarded as a small show), but I found a few things. My most notable purchase? Some brass-rail HO scale turnouts, to go with all that flextrack I got a few months ago. (more…)

Yonder Gallops the Gift Horse

Shown: brass-railed Atlas code 100 flextrack, and code 175 rail.

The appearance, some fifty years ago, of nickel silver rail has been hailed as one of the hobby’s great milestones. Not only did it present a more realistic appearance than the brass rail of the day, but when it tarnishes, it still conducts electricity reasonably well. Aside from cost, there was no drawback to choosing nickel silver over brass. Because cost plays a bigger role in the hobby than anyone cares to admit, it took another decade or two for brass rail to vanish from the market, but vanish it eventually did. You can’t give the stuff away now.

Okay, I’m lying. You can. Somebody just did. (more…)

Mennonite boxcars are a thing. Who knew?

I picked this one up at a show last spring, new in the box and unassembled, for $6. After I finished building it, I did a little Googling around and discovered the surprisingly complex history of Mennonite Central Committee boxcar models. I wonder if I could persuade Quakers into doing something like this.