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.(more…)
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?(more…)
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
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.
Travels With Windlenook
The Windlenook layout, unfinished as it is, has been out to a number of different places this year: a few library shows, an NMRA-sponsored 4H event, and even a birthday party. The electronics haven’t changed since last winter, but I have made progress on structures.
It Followed Me Home
This bobber caboose—I think it’s Tyco, but I’m not sure—was in a train-show vendor’s dollar box, for good reason. It had apparently taken a hard drop to the floor, and suffered damage to the steps, undercarriage, and roof overhang. One chunk of step was completely broken off, and dangling by the end rail. A coupler was busted, too. For a few bucks more, I could’ve had a similar caboose in mint condition, but I went with this one.
It got a new Kadee, naturally. A Number 27 was a perfect fit. I’ve been addressing body and chassis damage with bits of styrene, and some Squadron green putty here and there. I’ve got a little more sanding and shaping to do before it’s ready to paint, but the hard work is done now.
It ought to look cute with the Dockside, don’t you think?
The Joy of Cheap, Gaudy Boxcars
I overpaid for this ’80s-vintage Model Power boxcar at the train show in Cicero last December. I mean, look at it: crude, heavy molded-in detail, exposed assembly tabs, graphics printed directly on raw plastic. I paid $5. It’s not worth a nickel over $3. But still, that color! Oh, the color! Glorious, gaudy traffic-cone-orange plastic! It practically glows in the dark. Just what I need for the Windlenook project.
So I handed over the whole $5, took it home, pried off the shell and the horn-hooks, and proceeded to spend way too much time installing Kadee couplers. I had to do a surprising amount of surgery to both the underframe and the shell to get everything to fit properly, but it’s back together now. It’s prone to wobbling, however, and I’ll probably spend way too much time fixing that.
But the color!