rec.models.railroad FAQ-TINPLATE, Part 1 of 4

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Christopher D Coleman

Jan 9, 2002, 11:31:56 PM1/9/02
Archive-name: model-railroad-faq/tinplate/part1
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Last-modified: 01-05-02



Part 1 of 4, Information


This is a listing of frequently asked questions and general information
concerning the collection, operation and repair of collectable model
railroad equipment. I make every attempt to keep this information current
and accurate, but I accept no liability from the use of this information. I
do not endorse any of the products or companies listed here, although I
often state what I have chosen to use myself. Any comments critical of a
product or company is only an opinion from the experience of the author or
a contributor to the FAQ, and is to be taken in that context. Many
corporate names and products mentioned here are trademarks, so don't use
them for profit! Your input is necessary to keep the FAQ accurate and
comprehensive. Additions and corrections are always welcome. E-mail the
author at:
(Christopher D. Coleman)
TCA #88-26999
LRRC #0032070

Note: This FAQ concentrates on 'traditional' tinplate trains with AC/DC
motors and mechanical sequencers. Modern electronics and DC 'can' motors
receive little coverage.

The official World Wide Web archive for this FAQ is at

This FAQ is hereby Copyrighted Š 1994-2002 Christopher D Coleman. It may be
copied and distributed anywhere in either electronic or hardcopy format,
providing it is not altered, changed or edited in any way other than format
(DOS, UNIX, MAC, html, WP, etc) and no payment is extracted solely for its
use. All other rights are reserved by the author. All other types of
reproduction in part or in whole, or use in a for-profit manner are not
permitted without express permission of the author. Those who choose to
archive this FAQ are required to notify the author as to its archive
location and to keep the most current copy on file. This is solely to keep
the FAQ as current and accessible as possible. The author accepts no
liability for the usage of this FAQ.

This FAQ contains the following topics:

Part 1, Information


Part 2, Equipment


Part 3, Equipment


Part 4, The Hobby



After a long absence, the FAQ is back and updated. I'm hoping it is
still useful to folks out there despite the small trickle of feedback
I've received about the FAQ recently. I am adding more MTH info but
need source material in the form of MTH catalogs from 2000 and
earlier. K-line and Atlas-O catalogs would help too.
- Updated makers listing with URLs and other data.
- Updated Thomas the Tank Engine with more current production info.
- Updated Lionel TrainMaster section with latest products.
- Added section for MTH Digital Command System.
- Added MTH track systems.
- Rewrote the Motor Design section.
- Updated prices on club dues and magazind subscriptions.


What constitutes a collectable model train?

A collectable model train is any model train with intrinsic historical
or sentimental value rather than just scale accuracy. This can include
any vintage or antique trains as well as many current production items
manufactured in a similar way. For example modern issue trains using
three rail operation often appeal to those who collect older three
rail equipment. Scale model trains, on the other hand, are made and
used with scale accuracy as the paramount factor. Scale and
collectable often overlap in that models initially made for realism
become uncommon and are sought by collectors, such as 1930's OO Scale.
They may occur in any scale or gauge but are common to Standard, Wide,
O, S and other large gauges.

Tinplate is the word most often used to describe these trains but I
find it is often misunderstood as referring to only the stamped steel
"tinny" trains made early in this century. It also includes plastic
models made from the 1940's and later. The word collector is also
misunderstood. A collector is not just someone who amasses old trains
on shelves or in closets. Most collectors operate and most operators
collect. It is very difficult to draw a line between the two, but most
choose their own location in this spectrum. The pure collector is
concerned only with appearance and the pure operator mostly with
operation. Here I will use "Collectable" and "Tinplate"
interchangeably. Whatever these people are called, they like trains
for their "neatness" and entertainment value rather than their

Each collector (or operator) must establish his or her own unique
collecting strategy. Most basic to this is the selection of what types
of trains you wish to collect. A collection of all known types and
scales of model trains is not a realistic goal. The area of specialty
can vary from a period of a particular make (e.g. Flyer 1907-1942) to
all of a particular scale (e.g. O scale) to a particular style of
trains (e.g. cast iron). This choice is completely up to the
collector's preference.

There are, however, many in the hobby whose sole interest is to buy
and hoard trains until they appreciate and sell them at profit. These
persons have little interest in the hobby, but rather in monetary gain
from them. They are generally considered a liability to the hobby and
are disliked for their practices.


What are Grading Standards and what do they mean?

These standards were set forth by the Train Collectors Association and
have been accepted as the means for identifying a piece's appearance.
They give no information on its operational condition. The exact
interpretation of these levels is somewhat subjective.

* Mint: Brand new, absolutely unmarred, unused in original box
* Excellent: Minute scratches or nicks, no dents or rust
* Very Good: Few scratches, no dents or rust, exceptionally clean
* Good: Scratched, dirty, with small dents
* Fair: Well-scratched, chipped, dented, rusted or warped
* Poor: Badly damaged, use for parts

Other collectors jargon you may see:

* OB: original Box
* LN: like new - used but otherwise in Mint condition.
* MIB: mint in box, may have been unpacked but in mint condition.
* NOB: new with original box, may or may not have been used.
* Prewar: Manufactured 1943 or before.
* Postwar: Manufactured 1944 or after - for Lionel this period lasted
until 1969, 1966 for Flyer, and 1975 for Marx.
* MPC (Model Plastics Corp.) or FUNDIMENSIONS (later name) or
KENNER-PARKER TOYS (even later name): The division of General Mills
which produced Lionel and Flyer Trains under license from the old
Lionel Corp. from 1970 to 1986.
* LTI (Lionel Trains Incorporated): The maker of Lionel and Flyer from
1986 to 1995.
* TMCC: Train Master Command Control - Product of Lionel that allows
remote control of many model railroading operations.
* Lionel LLC (Limited Liability Corporation): The maker of Lionel and
Flyer since 1995. LLC comes from Wellspring LLC, the investment firm
which purchased Lionel.
* die: the mold used to form plastic or metal parts.
* clockwork: a wind-up train using a coiled spring as power.
* live steamer: a train operating on a real boiler/piston arrangement
using real steam, usually heated by an alcohol burner.
* railhead: the top circular or rectangular part of the rail.
* prototype: the real object you are modeling.
* spur gear: two normal gears meshing straight teeth.
* worm gear: corkscrew gear meshing with a gear with slanted teeth.
* tender: the car that carries fuel and water for a locomotive.
* sequencer (E-Unit): a device that automatically changes the direction
of a universal motor when the power is interrupted.
* York: very large train meet in York, PA put on by the TCA.


Which manufacturers are commonly collected?

Those with address are currently in production:


The Edmonds-Metzel Manufacturing Company was founded by William O.
Coleman in partnership with William Hafner (Hafner left to found
Hafner Mfg. Co.) in 1907. It's train line included clockwork O gauge
trains. The company first identified itself as the American Flyer
Manufacturing Company in 1919. At about that same time Flyer
introduced electric trains. Both cast iron and stamped steel were used
in the trains.

American Flyer introduced 2 1/8" Wide gauge trains in 1925 to compete
with Lionel's Standard Gauge. Wide gauge was the fad gauge of the
1920's, with Flyer and Lionel the big makers, and Ives, Boucher and
Dorfan with significant shares of the market. The Great Depression
killed all the Wide gauge lines and O became the mainstay of all
makers that survived. Flyer Wide gauge production ended in 1932.
Having weathered the depression, Flyer, like Lionel, concentrated on
more scale accurate trains that the public was demanding.

W. O. Coleman Jr. sold Flyer to A. C. Gilbert of New Haven, CT in
1938, who moved production and senior staff to Gilbert's factory.
Gilbert also made the highly collectable Erector Sets. Gilbert's
momentum, however, was interrupted by the onset of World War II and
the collateral shift of American factories from private production to
war-time production.

After the war, production resumed but in the S Gauge line, which
featured realistic two rail "T" track. Later, appearance was improved
by the introduction of the knuckle coupler. Gilbert and Flyer
prospered in the early 1950's as second in sales to Lionel. Their
primary selling point over Lionel was realistic length trains and two
rail track. By the 1960's Gilbert was in the same trap as Lionel with
rapidly decreasing demand for their "old fashioned" toys. A. C.
Gilbert Jr., then president, was unable to curb the slide and in 1962
the company was taken over by an east coast holding company. With
their own staff they were equally unsuccessful and ended Flyer
production in 1966 only to declare bankruptcy in 1967. Flyer rights
were bought by Lionel. Not until 1979 did Fundimensions reintroduce
the Flyer line and there have been limited offerings in most years
since then, using mostly old Flyer dies.

Address mail to Lionel LLC below
concerning their American Flyer Line


Founded in 1948 in Fort Wayne, IN by Jack Ferris Jr. They produced a
large line of the most realistic passenger cars made during the
immediate postwar era until being displaced by Lionel's extruded
aluminum cars. AMT also beat Lionel to the boxcar market with a line
of highly detailed cars, only to be displaced again, by Lionel's 6464
line. As American Model Toys the firm brought out starter sets in
1953. The firm continued with production of F-3 Diesels and Budd cars,
but by that time the market had shrunk and the company was in
financial straits. In 1954 after an unsuccessful reorganization as
Auburn Model Trains, the line was sold to Kusan who continued


Maker of S gauge models

American Models
10087 Colonial Industries Drive
South Lyon, MI 48178
Phone: 810-437-6800
Fax: 810-437-9454 URL:


American Standard Car Company
PO Box 394
Crystal Lake, IL 60014


(Polk's Model Craft Hobbies Inc./Aristo-Craft Trains): Scale like
G-Gauge equipment in 1:29 and 1:24 scales.

Polk's Model Craft Hobbies Inc./Aristo-Craft Trains
346 Bergen Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07304
Phone: 201-332-8100
Fax: 201-332-0521


Recent entry into O from a background in HO and N, Atlas now offers
locos, cars, structures and track.

Phone: 908-687-9590
Fax: 908-687-6282


Originally "Bachman Brothers" was started in 1833, but did not become
important to tinplaters until the 1950's when they mass produced a
large line of injection molded plastic buildings called
"Plasticville". The buildings are roughly O Scale but also look good
with S. The molds were also half-sized in the 1960's to produce HO
scale versions. Most of the kits in both sizes are still produced.
More recently Bachman has entered the G Gauge market starting with
battery operated trains and moved up to track current. Currently they
hold the low price range of the G market with some higher end items in
their Spectrum series. They also continue to make Plasticville

Bachman Industries, Incorporated
1400 East Erie Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19124


Pre WWII German train maker, who imported in clockwork or electric O
and 1 gauge trains to the US. Also introduced HO/OO gauge trains to
the US. Was forced out of the US market by World War I.


The Boucher Manufacturing Company made model ships previous to their
1922 purchase of Voltamp's line of trains. They were modified from 2"
to 2 1/8" to be compatible with Lionel's Standard Gauge line. Boucher
marketed their trains as highly accurate and occupied the high end of
the market. As with other larger gauge lines the Great Depression
killed Boucher's, and having no smaller gauge line to fall back on it
finally folded in 1943.


Made a line of large unpowered trains for outdoor use from about 1926
to 1931. They still produce a line of rugged toy cars. Powered
reproductions of the trains were made in the last decade.


The Carlisle and Finch Company was founded in Cincinnati, OH in 1894.
They began production of an electric train line in 1896 using three
rail track, then shortly converting to two rail track. Initial
products included only trollies but expanded to include an entire
line. C&F trains were heavy and detailed catering to the high end
market. C&F was the earliest leader in US train production until being
overtaken by Ives.


Makers of standard gauge locomotives

PO Box 179
Phone: 216-772-5177


Founded by James Cohen, it produced standard gauge stamped steel

PO Box 174
Trumbull, CT 06611


Founders Antony Collett and William Burke initially started in the
appliance business in New York, NY, and later began repairing trains
as a Lionel service station. In 1946 Trains became their primary
business as they became the Train Center of America, and grew to be
the largest Lionel distributor in the East. Unable to stock trains
fast enough to meet demand, they began making low price versions of
Lionel accessories in 1948 as Colber Manufacturing Company. Their
versions included beacon and floodlight towers, watchman's shanty,
street lights, and wig-wag signal.

Colber received a stern warning from Lionel concerning their packaging
in 1950, concerning that it was a near copy of Lionel's, which led to
its modification. During 1951-54 Colber supplied Flyer with several
accessories in addition to its own line by using different nameplates
and plastic colors. By 1954 Flyer no longer needed Colber's help and
the toy train market was shrinking so Colber decided to leave the
market. They sold their dies to Marx, who primarily wanted them out of
the market, and switched to electronic components, which it still
makes today.


Milton and Byron Dunkelberger created this line of 4" gauge trains
from 1922-25. Their principle feature was remote control of coupling,
uncoupling and dumping several years before Lionel and Flyer trains.
Their track was steel ribbon placed into slotted wood ties, similar to
Lionel's early track.


Maker of G Gauge equipment. The exact disposition of Delton is
unknown, but they seem to be out of existance and their dies are now
used by Aristo-Craft.


Dorfan was founded in 1924 by Milton & Julius Forchheimer. Their
trains were promoted as being educational in that they were easy to
disassemble. Their trains were made primarily of a copper-zinc alloy
termed Dorfan Alloy, which was strong and light weight, but impurities
in the alloy oxidized over time causing the metal to expand and crack.
Since most Dorfan castings are now deteriorated, many collectors
replace defective castings with reproductions.

Along with its idea of being a more thought provoking toy train, it
placed well detailed and painted passenger busts in the passenger
cars. Less expensive lines were lithographed stamped steel, but also
had flat lithographed figures.

Dorfan was unable to weather the depression with its higher detail and
hence more expensive trains, and ended production in 1934.


The J. K. Osborne Manufacturing Company produced a line of 1 Gauge
trains from about 1910-17 which were known for small production runs
and excellent detail work. They were made of stamped steel and were
meant as competition for Bing and Marklin 1 gauge trains. Electoy
trains were not produced after WWI rationing ended.


Founded by Harry Stearns in Chicago, IL, it produced a model of the
Union Pacific M-1000 and a two rail standard gauge track system from


Founded by William Hafner in 1901 producing Clockwork toys. He
produced trains from 1905-07 when he joined William Coleman to start
American Flyer. In 1914 he reformed his company and produced
lithographed trains. His son John took over in 1944 and ran the
company until 1951 when he sold it to All Metal product which shortly
went bankrupt in 1956. The tooling ended up with Marx who reused some


(pronounced Hoagy) Founded in 1909 in Manhattan, NY, by Hampden Hoge,
who had left the company by 1919. They produced only office supplies
until 1931, when Henry Katz dissolved his company and came to manage
Hoge's new toy division. The firm contracted construction of their toy
designs to Mattatuck Manufacturing Company. Products included stamped
steel passenger and animated circus cars as well as electric and
clockwork locomotives. The line ceased in 1939 and Hoge was bought and
dissolved by Mattatuck in 1958. The name is currently the property of
Robert Hoge (no direct relation to the founder), a Hoge collector.


Hornby was a large train producer in Britain and Europe, and attempted
to establish an American plant in 1913 to market its lithographed
trains. By 1925 it was producing US prototype equipment. Fierce
competition, their higher prices and limited selection contributed to
their limited success. Hornby was ill prepared to handle the 1929
depression and ended its US production. They are also known for their
Meccano construction set which they later sold to American Flyer.
Hornby is still a manufacturer of HO and OO toy trains in Europe.


The Howard Miniature Lamp Company produced a line of 2" gauge trains
from 1904-07. The line included steam and electric locomotives, cars,
and trollies. In 1907 the recession prompted Howard to concentrate on
its manufacture of electrical components.


Founded by Harry Ives in 1868, they produced various toys including
floor clockwork trains, until 1900 when a fire destroyed the plant.
Afterwards Ives was able to design an entirely new toy line including
both cast iron and stamped steel O gauge trains and 1 gauge clockwork
trains. They were also the first US maker to use preassembled
sectional track, as pioneered by European makers such as Bing. Ives
became the initial American market leader in electric trains in 1910,
when it introduced electric O gauge versions, following from clockwork
trains. 1 gauge electrics followed in 1912. Ives was in for stiff
competition when Lionel entered O gauge in 1916 and it was exceeded in
size by Lionel in 1924. Ives changed from 1 gauge to 2-1/8" Standard
Gauge introduced by Lionel, calling it Wide Gauge. Lionel fiercely
targeted Ives quality in their ad which is at least partially due to
the personal rivalry between J. L. Cowen and Harry Ives. By 1926 Ives
was in financial straights and filed bankruptcy in 1928. Lionel and
Flyer jointly bought Ives and in 1930 Lionel purchased Flyer's
portion. Lionel continued to build Ives trains until 1931 when train
sales plummeted. Lionel mostly wanted Ives for their superior and
patented three position reversing unit.

Ives is not produced except occasional reproductions
Name owned by Lionel LLC


A small maker of tin trains which became Marx's entry into the market
when they purchased it.


A more recent addition to the three rail fray, it was founded in the
1970's by Maury D. Klein (hence MDK Inc.). K-Line acquired many of the
old Marx dies and tooling, changing only the name on the products.
More recently they have greatly diversified into more accurate models.
They currently offer a full range of O-Gauge products. Their quality
is usually good but can sag dramatically in some cases.

MDK, Inc.
K-Line Electric Trains, Inc.
PO Box 2831
Chapel Hill, NC 27515
Phone: 718-648-5399
Toll Free: 800-34-HOBBY (800-344-6229)


Maker of G-Gauge equipment

Kalamazoo Trains
655 44th Street
Allegan, MI 49010


Henry Katz and Company was founded by Henry Katz and was famed as the
creator of the one dollar train and one dollar transformer in 1929.
The firm produced a few low priced yet attractive lithographed trains.
It was dissolved in 1931 when Henry Katz moved to Hoge.


Founded by Norm Kasiner and Bill Kachler in 1947 in Rochester, NY.
They produced a small line of O gauge passenger car kits.


No information available.


The Knapp Electric and Novelty Company was founded in 1890 and
introduced its full line of 2" gauge trains in 1904. Train production
ended in 1913, but Knapp later marketed HO scale trains from 1931-46.


No information available.


An established plastics maker who, under the guidance of president
Bill McLain, purchased AMT's tooling in 1954 and used it as a base for
their own line of trains. They were unique in being able to run on
either two or three rail track. Kusan created many "space train" items
in the late 1960's prompting Lionel to do the same. Nevertheless as
the train market declined, Kusan was financially forced to phase the
line out beginning in 1958. In 1961 the line ended production and the
tooling was sold to Kris Model Trains.


(Lehmann Gross Bahn) A German maker who defined G Gauge (G for (Gross)
or Big) in the 1970's and has imported increasingly to the US for the
past fifteen years. Known for their high quality and price as well as
being weatherproofed for outdoor operation.

Lehmann (Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk)
Nuremberg, Germany

LGB of America
6444 Nancy Ridge Road
San Diego, CA 92121


It was founded as the Lionel Manufacturing Company in 1900 by Joshua
Lionel Cowen (spelled Cohen at the time), a young inventor. It
initially produced electric fans during the summer of 1900, but in the
fall demand waned and during the Christmas season he had the "vision"
of an electrically propelled train. In 1901 he began production of
2-7/8 gauge two rail equipment. In 1906 he changed to three rail
2-1/8" gauge "Standard Gauge", a trademarked name. 2-1/8" gauge was an
improper interpretation of the old Marklin defined gauge which was 2-
1/8" between rail CENTERS not their inside faces as Cowen interpreted

Lionel changed its name to the Lionel Corporation in 1918 and exceeded
Ives in sales in 1924. This marked the start of the Classical Period
of flamboyant, bright trains. The depression took its toll on train
sales and killed the extravagant Standard Gauge by 1940 in favor of O,
which Lionel began in 1916. Lionel bought the bankrupt Ives in 1930
and then itself entered receivership. It recovered by 1939 largely
with the help of its hugely successful Mickey Mouse hand cars. From
1938 to 1942 Lionel produced several O and OO scale models as part of
the birth of the scale model movement. During WWII, as it had in WWI,
Lionel made naval navigation equipment.

The peak postwar year was 1952. By 1955 the market had soured and
Lionel headed into the red. In 1959 Cowen and his son sold their stock
to Roy Cohn, an corporate raider, who tried cutting costs and massive
diversification only to wreck the company by 1964. Lionel produced or
distributed fishing reels, race sets, chemistry sets, record players
and other odd products. Quality was often negated to the quick buck.
Lionel managed to buy the rights to Flyer in 1967 and keep a toy line
going until 1969 when they sold the train making rights to General
Mills Model Plastics Division (MPC), which later changed its name to
Fundimensions. Lionel floundered financially as a holding company
until bankruptcy around 1990.

Fundimensions had the advantage of great experience in the plastics
industry which they incorporated into the train line. The size of the
line ebbed and flowed, peaking in 1978 and 1983. Quality was good on
the whole, with top of the line items being far superior to old Lionel
and bottom of the line being worse. Fundimensions became a part of
Kenner-Parker Toys in 1985 and produced Lionel until 1986 when the
name, rights and facilities were sold to Richard Kughn, a collector
and real estate man.

Kughn created Lionel Trains Incorporated, an autonomous train maker.
Initially there were numerous excursions into semi-scale models and
Standard Gauge reissues, but their production was reduced greatly by
1991. The line has been significantly re-vamped providing more and
higher quality beginner level equipment and an overall more balanced
line up to $600 diesels. Quality and selection have also been greatly
increased. LTI introduced new and innovative items with a vigor
matched only by the Lionel Corp. of the 1950's. They have made
substantial use of the latest electronics in such items as Railscope,
RailSounds, RailSounds II, electronic e-units, and now TrainMaster
control system.

In September 1995 Wellspring Associates LLC acquired LTI and the
trademarks of the original Lionel Corporation, previously leased by
MPC and LTI. Their intentions include increased marketing toward the
general population rather than just the toy train market.

Lionel LLC
50625 Richard W Blvd
Chesterfield, MI 48051-2493
Phone: 313-949-4100
Toll Free: 800-4-LIONEL to locate the nearest authorized dealer
Toll Free: 800-727-7297 for info on the TrainMaster control system
Fax: 313-949-3273


Leading European maker of a wide range of gauges and scales.

PO Box 319
16988 W Victor Road
New Berlin, WI 53151


A popular manufacturer of toys and trains founded in 1919 by Louis and
David Marx, which usually supplied the price niche below Lionel and
Flyer, making it popular with those who couldn't afford those brands.
Marx train production started in 1938 when they purchased Joy Line
trains. Marx was likely the last train maker to convert from stamped
steel to plastic, in the 1960's, whereas Lionel and Flyer did so in
the 1940's and 50's. Marx's principle concern was maximum production
and quality at the lowest price. As a result there were endless
variations of products. Additionally Marx often did not place catalog
numbers on many trains. In 1972 Marx sold the company to Quaker Oats
Company who continued production until 1975. Many of the Marx dies
were purchased by MDK, who changed only the name imprint. The Marx
trademark is currently the property of American Plastics, and has
recently been licensed to James and Debby Flynn, who are making
reproduction stamped steel Marx trains.

Marx Trains
209 E. Butterfield Road #228
Elmhurst, IL 60126
Phone: 708-941-3843
Fax: 708-941-3829


This Kent, WA company is a producer of larger scale stamped steel
trains. It produced reproductions of Lionel's 2 7/8 gauge line from
1957-61. In 1966 it introduced its own Standard Gauge line eventually
including steam and diesel locomotives and freight and passenger cars.


No information available.


Maker of G-Gauge cars

Model Die Casting
3811 W Roscrans Blvd
PO Box 926
Hawthorne, CA 90251


(Mikes Train House) A modern distributor of well detailed locomotives
which they design and have manufactured by Samhongsa in Korea. MTH
previously made several Lionel authorized Standard gauge reissues. MTH
is currently posing a major challenge to Lionel for market share. They
produce a full range of O gauge including starter sets and

MTH Electric Trains
9693 Gerwig Lane
Columbia, MD 21046
Phone: 410-381-2580
Fax: 410-381-6122


Maker of Disney and similar motif stamped steel trains and trollies.
Meant as toylike collectibles, though they do operate.

Pride Lines Limited
651 Hoffman Avenue
Lindedhurst, NY 11757
Phone: 516-225-0033
Fax: 516-225-0099


Maker of scale like tinplate locomotives.

Red Caboose
PO Box 2490
Longmont, CO 80502
Phone/Fax: 303-772-8813


(ROW) Maker of scale-like O gauge equipment. Reported to be out of

Right-of-Way Industries
1145 Highbrook Street
Akron, OH 44301


Maker of S scale rolling stock.

S Helper Service
2 Roberts Road
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1621
Phone: 908-545-0303
Fax: 908-545-8303

SUNSET MODELS (3rd Rail division)

Maker of scale like O 3 rail locos.

Sunset Models
3rd Rail Division
138 W Campbell Ave
Campbell, CA 95008
Phone: 408-866-1727


Makers of reproductions of prewar tin and Buddy L trains.

227 West Main Street
Johnson City, TN 37603
Phone: 615-926-4287
Order: 800-825-4287


Founded by Jim Thomas in Wenonah, NJ to create a line of 0 gauge
trains. They succeeded in producing a General steam locomotive and set
before Lionel. They acquired Scale-Craft and Company's line of 0 gauge
cars and moved to a new facility in Shawnee, MI. Thomas continued to
produce trains until 1959 when Jim Thomas died suddenly of a heart
attack. Other firms continued production until the dies were destroyed
in a fire in 1964.


Founded by Ulmer and Robbins in 1949 in Chenango Bridge, NY. They
produced a small line of passenger cars until 1952.


Unique made a line of tin lithographed trains produced 1949- 51 by
Unique Art Manufacturing Company, an established toy maker. The line
included both electric and clockwork trains and four wheel cars, some
using old Dorfan dies. As a lower end of the market line, it could not
compete with Marx, and was ended when Unique decided to stay with
other toys and office supplies.


Maker of a variety of G gauge equipment, including cars and

USA Trains
662 Cross St.
PO Box 100
Malden, MA 02148


No information available.


The Voltamp Electric Manufacturing Company was founded in the 1890's
by Manes E. Fuld. It began producing electric trains and accessories
for 2" two rail track. The line included mostly B&O steamers,
electrics and passenger cars. The line was sold in 1922 to Boucher.


Another modern maker of scale-like O collectors pieces.

Weaver Models "Quality Craft"
PO Box 231
177 Wheatley Ave
Northumberland, PA 17857
Phone: 717-473-9434
Fax: 717-473-3293


Founded in 1971 by Jerry Williams as a maker of reproduction Lionel
and Ives Standard Gauge. The company slowly shifted its interest to
modern O gauge beginning with the purchase of some old Kusan dies.
They are now a distributor for scale-like three rail locomotives and
cars. Their quality was excellent in the 1980's but seems to have
sagged lately in the early 1990's.

Williams Electric Trains
8835 Columbia 100 Parkway
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 410-997-7766
Fax: 410-997-6196


Thomas, Thomas, I must have Thomas!

Please do not ask me where to get Thomas. I don't know who has the
sets in stock, but I can tell you when they were produced.

Thomas was offered by Lionel in G gauge 1993 thru 1995. Lionel offered
Thomas in O gauge from 1997 through 2000. The G gauge set was
reintroduced in 2001, minus a few components in the earlier set.


All are Large Scale and have loop and hook couplers.

* Thomas the Tank Engine Deluxe Electric Train Set, included 0-6-0
Thomas model with moving eyes and changeable face, Annie and Clarabel
coaches with removable roofs, DC power pack, 12 curved track sections
with yellow ties (brown ties in the newer release), Thomas sound
system with six buttons to produce Thomas sounds on internal speaker
(not in the newer release), Playmat 4" X 7" big enough for 2 straight
oval (not in the newer release), Thomas Faces, surprised, tired, angry
in addition to normal face, Figures of Sir Topam Hat, conductor and
driver (not in the newer release).
* James & Troublesome Trucks Set, includes 2-6-0 James the Red Engine
models with moving eyes and three additional faces, DC power pack, 12
curved sections with yellow ties, Troublesome Trucks with a total of
three interchangeable faces.
* James the Red Engine with moving eyes and three additional faces.
* Troublesome Trucks with total of three interchangeable faces.
* Thomas Play Pack includes Thomas sound system with six buttons to
produce Thomas sounds in internal speaker, Playmat 4" X 7" big enough
for 2 straight oval (no straights or switches included), Thomas Faces,
surprised, tired, angry in addition to normal face, Figures of Sir
Topam Hat, conductor and driver.
* Thomas Building Set includes Wellsworth Station, Windmill, Water
* Thomas Sound System with six buttons to produce Thomas sounds on
internal speaker.
* Track with yellow ties is available in Curved, Straight, Left Manual
Switch, Right Manual Switch and Pack of the four above.


* Thomas the Tank Engine, with three faces
* Annie the Coach
* Clarabel the Coach
* Harold the Helicopter and flatcar

Items were available for separate sale in 1998 and as a set in 1999
and 2000 along with a play mat, station (1999) or circus tent (2000)
and oval of track.
* Percy the Small Engine
* Troublesome Truck 1
* Troublesome Truck 2

Items were available for separate sale in 1999.


What the heck is Railscope?

Railscope is an invention of LTI which involves a miniature B&W camera
mounted in a locomotive sending a signal to a remote TV. The signal is
sent through the rails. The Railscope system includes the locomotive,
receiver enclosed in a simulated lumber pile, coax cable, coax
adapter, two inductors and a capacitor. A Lionel 4-1/2" TV was offered
separately. On larger layouts use of chokes and resistors on all track
connections is necessary to filter out noise that will distort the
picture received. The earlier engine cameras were powered by a 9 V
which lasted only about 30 minutes of run time. Later units contain
adapters for 6 AA batteries which will last longer. The receiver also
uses a 9 V which lasts much longer.

First introduced in 1988 with O gauge GP-9 and HO FA-2 with "Lionel
Lines" markings, all units ran on one 9-Volt battery in the locomotive
and one in the receiver. They suffered from the exhausted locomotive
battery problem. In 1989 the line was the same except for the addition
of a large scale (G) 0-4-4 and S gauge PA-2, also in Lionel Lines
markings. In 1990 Two additional O GP-9's were added, one in Union
Pacific and one in New York Central, and both cameras were to run
track power with a 9-V in the receiver. Neither unit was produced,
though. The S gauge was replaced with a PA-2 in Nickel Plate Road
markings, but it is reported that neither S unit reached production.
The previous HO, G and O were still offered, but with adapters to
substitute 6 AA batteries. There have been no units cataloged since

At the HORDE rock concert a few years ago, Lionel (a la Neil Young)
had a layout showcasing coming Lionel innovations. Among them was
LionVision, and improved version of Railscope. LionVision does not
transmit the signal on the track, thus eliminating many sources of
noise. Also the image was color and the demo at HORDE included sound.
It is unclear when or if LionVision will hit shelves.


I'm confused what all the locomotive types are.

This is a ROUGH listing of prototype locomotives types.

STEAMERS - (# front/pilot - middle/drivers - back/trailing
Principal Makers: Alco, Baldwin, Lima, N&W RR.
Burns Coal, Wood or Oil in firebox, fumes pass through water-
filled boiler in flue tubes, and exit into smokebox and up
through stack. Heated water passes from the rear tender tank
to boiler to the cylinders. Reciprocating rods connect pistons
to wheels.

O-anything-O Switcher
4-4-0 American
4-4-2 Atlantic
2-6-2 Prairie
2-6-0 Mogul
4-6-2 Pacific
4-6-4 Hudson
2-8-0 Consolidation
2-8-2 Mikado
2-8-4 Berkshire
4-8-0 Mastodon
4-8-2 Mountain
4-8-4 Northern
2-10-0 Deacpod
4-6-6-4 Challenger
4-8-8-4 Big Boy
2-8-8-8-2, 2-8-8-8-4 Triplex
4-6-0 Tenwheeler
4-10-0 Twelvewheeler
2-10-2 Santa Fe
2-10-4 Texas
2-4-2 Columbia
2-6-6-6 Allegheny
4-4-4 A Baltimore
4-6-4-4 Pennsylvania
4-10-0 Mastodon
4-10-2 Southern Pacific
4-12-2 Union Pacific

A steamer with two pair of cylinders is Duplex.
A duplex with the front and/or rear drivers hinged is Articulated.
A duplex which uses the steam in the cylinder pairs sequentially is a
A duplex which divides the steam between cylinder pairs is a Simple.
An articulated compound is a Mallet.

Diesel engine or gas turbine is connected to a generator: or
power from overhead lines passes through internal step-down
transformer. Electric power is regulated and transmitted to
axle motors in the trucks, hence diesel-electric, (AC or DC).
A=one powered axle 1=one unpowered axle
B=two powered axles 2=two unpowered axles
C=three powered axles 3=three unpowered axles
D=four powered axles 4=four unpowered axles
+=separation between different wheel sets
Ao, Co,... is sometimes used for an axle with an independent
traction motor
General Motors Electro-Motive Division.
GP-7,9,12,18,20,30,35 B+B GP=General Purpose
SD-9,7,40,40-2,50,60,70 C+C SD=Special Duty
F-3,7,9 B+B F=Fifteen-hundred HP (later
E-2,3,8 A1A+A1A E=Eighteen-hundred HP

General Electric Transportation Division
U-18B,22B,36B B+B U=Universal
U-22C,36C C+C
Dash 8-40C, C+C
EL-C (electric) C+C
EP-5 (electric) B+B

Alco (American Locomotive Company)


Baldwin/Lima/Lima-Hamilton/Lima-Hamilton-Baldwin (mergers)

Pennsylvania RR

Other oddities such as Steam turbines and Hydro-Motive
existed, but did not catch on.

End of the Tinplate Train FAQ, Part 1 of 4
On to part 2 of 4

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