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196  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Why do we collect Trains. on: March 14, 2017, 05:00:45 PM
I felt the desire to share here, as well as ask other folks, why they collect as well.

What got you into the hobby?

A bit about myself (this gets a bit personal, and long winded)

Back when I was a child, the holiday season was closely associated with trains for me. My only surviving grandfather, who was a Christian (I'm Jewish, but still love the Christmas season) would come visit every year around Christmas time, and he always brought along a train set to give to me. He knew I loved trains from an early age (The Mattel wooden "Putt Putt" trains, and a battery operated HO scale "Green Giant" train were my first ever train sets when I was 5... the Green Giant train, for those who may have seen it, housed batteries in the controller, made to look like a train station, and hooked into an HO track, that went together a bit like Lionel O track, but with a look that looks like our modern HO track)

So he would come over to visit, bringing a new train set, a 4x8 piece of plywood, some nails, and a jeweler's hammer, and he would nail down the track, and set up the train, and tell me "Happy Chrisnakkah", because he always had a joke to tell... and these trains, and nailed down track, became an ingrained fond memory for me.

Flash forward... to my 20s.

I was newly married, highly stressed, and kept running across these adverts for "Franklin Mint HO Pewter Trains"... they were hundreds of dollars each, they offered a new one each month, starting with the John Bull, and had a shelf to display them on, and worst of all, they were solid "fine pewter" (because if you put "fine" before a turd, it somehow polishes it) so they didn't run, nor would they ever.

I looked at those, appalled at the price, but FASCINATED with these small trains pictured, and remembering those holidays of my youth, when my grandfather was still around, and noticed a Bachmann John Bull at the toy store I was working at, and thought to myself "I can do better than that!"

My plan, collect the trains I thought were cool, or historically important, build a copy of the shelf from Franklin Mint, only with track on each shelf to display the trains on, and build a simple layout, so I could run them whenever I wanted!

So, the John Bull was out of my price range, however, I found a "Tyco Royal Blue" 2-8-0, with real smoke action as just the engine and tender. (the tender pushed the train, and well... poor design, but it still got me excited!) They I found a few cheap engines, and a Bachmann Gandy Dancer (I had to have that) and then, at a garage sell, I found a BIG box of trains for $10! Mostly Lionels from the 50s, about 20 of them, but a;so a bunch of HO, including a complete "Army" train from... COX? Maybe?

I started my layout (I bought a LOT of books, and paid attention to none of them, because I was 20, and already knew everything, and YOU'RE NOT MY MOM!)

*ahem*

But, tragedy hit... my ex and I had some issues, she would take anything not nailed down, and sell it at pawn shops while I was at work, and eventually, I simply lost interest, because I knew I would never have the collection I would want. I boxed up a few of the trains she didn't (or couldn't) sell, like the Royal Blue (which she busted the front off of) my Gandy Dancer, the military train, and a few small steam switchers, and I stored them, and have taken them with me for every move, never to be touched again...

That was it. The hobby was over for me.

So it was, and life continued... I went from retail, to aerospace, to gun smithing, to entertainment, to truck driving, to entertainment again, and eventually to photography... and from hobby to hobby, from firearms, to black powder restoration, to action figures of my youth, to Renaissance Faires, to SCA, to historical reenactments, to costuming, to sci-fi/fantasy conventions, to restoring old Victor Talking Machines to... well... wandering.

So, in 2004, I finally divorced... and took up a new hobby... brewing, distilling, and, of course drinking. Quite a bit of drinking, actually... we're talking, living in San Diego, and out-drinking Sailors, AND Marines, which... is nothing to be proud of, to be honest.

All the while, however... any time I saw a train set... of any scale, there was this... longing... remembering my childhood... remembering simpler times... remembering trying to get into this hobby in my 20s.

So a couple of months ago, I realized something... I was spending close to $300 a month on alcohol. I was drinking only on days that ended with a "y", and doing photo shoots that I had no memory of doing, singing songs I had no memory of writing (and we're talking FILTHY pirate songs) and waking up in strange places, not quite sure how I got there, but, feeling guilty every time (if not a bit hung over) I was even in the hospital, twice (unrelated to alcohol, probably... but... just told last week I'm diabetic... so... maybe related? That, or it runs in the family)

So a few months ago, I was listening to CW McCall's "The Silverton" (a fav of mine... I remember riding the Silverton when I was a child) and for wnatever reason, my Amazon showed me a Silverton train set by Bachmann!

Wow! They made that train? I put it in my wish list, and every month, I'd look at it, and say "maybe... someday..." and have a toast to the thought (to be fair, I wasn't drinking alone... there WAS a cat with me, staring at me with judgement)

So in December, I was watching some James May's Toy Story, and the great Hornby race, and was amused, before seeing a BBC show on the history of model railroads in UK. (The holidays are all about toy, and model trains on the BBC)

Well, those holiday shows were... inspiring. So, I looked up "John Bull" to see if it was still around... and it was! Right there on Amazon, on Bachmann's Amazon store page!

So, I saved it to my wish list, and kept thinking about it, and the Silverton... while nursing a hangover, and having roommates tell me all about the night before, when I was so drunk, I was running around in 1890s British Explorer's costuming, complete with a pith helmet, and a blunderbuss!

I realized... I had no memory of that... so I started looking at my budget, and seeing what I was spending on drink, and realizing that it wasn't even fun for me any more. Drinking became my Roger Murtaugh moment (Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon... I was just getting too old for that s██t)

So I made a vow. My alcohol money is NOW train money, and I committed to it by starting my new collection... I bought that John Bull set. Then I hunted down the Pegasus, the Lafayette, The Prussia... all new sets (except The Prussia... it's from 1986) and finally the DeWitt Clinton.

I built a nice shelf to display them on, on one of my bookshelves... set up track every so often (no layout yet) to run them... and having touched a drop of alcohol in two months... and haven't even had a desire to. Trains are the new obsession now!

So, I started asking myself... why didn't I do this before? These engines are great! Ooh, what's that on eBay? I remember those engines from the 80s! Ooh, a Spectrum 4-4-0 "Southern" in a beautiful green, and some matching Mantua combines, and passenger cars? Bachmann has a Blacksmith car, that I don't have to put together??? IT'S LIKE A BEAUTIFUL DREAM!

So here I am. My first ever DCC equipped Spectrum train came in the mail yesterday. I just discovered EZ Mate couplers, and wondered why I was ever impressed with horn hooks as a child...

My health is improving.

My conversational skills tend to toss a rail reference or two somewhere...

I have brought back, a hobby I loved, and remembered why I loved it so much, and why leaving it all those years ago was such a big mistake.

So there you have it... my tale of woe, and redemption... My tale of a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets my hour upon the stage, but then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing... save to say...

This is why I collect. This is what got me into this hobby. I have Bachmann to thank... and the friendly, helpful people here on this board, willing to entertain my questions, and the folks at the local hobby shop, willing to lend an ear, give advice, and never judge my buying choices, just so long as the money is good!

We call it "The Greatest Hobby in the World", and that isn't far off at all.

Anyway, thank you for your time, and please... share your experiences! What got you started?

197  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: EZ Mate question... on: March 14, 2017, 03:30:52 PM
Oh, will do! I'll even toss in some photos! (now that I know how, thanks to the good folks here!)

I think, if I do end up buying more stock, I may just have to start a drawer of just couplers of varying sizes... (and yeah, I'll give the Kadees a try some day, but, I already bought a 12 pack of EZ Mate Mark II for now)

This new Spectrum that came yesterday (and the two combines I got to go with it... Tyco... well... Mantua new stock, actually...) are the first trains I have ever purchased that have actual realistic couplers, and not horn hooks! (remember, I collected in the 80s, but walked away due to an ex wife that hated trains, hated hobbies, and hated happiness of any sort, and I'm brand new to the hobby once again)
198  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Cudos to Bachmann on: March 14, 2017, 03:18:39 PM
I consider myself a collector that likes to operate his equipment (annnndddd.. that came out WAY wrong)

I don't have a layout yet (and I stress the word "yet", as I'm collecting the things I need for my layout, I just need time, and space... I was thinking of maybe setting up a small layout at my photo studio in one of the unused corners of the place)

So my MO, right now, is I have some bookshelves in my study that I've laid EZ Track, and a couple of Hayes bumpers on each end, and I display my favorite, more visual appealing engines, and some cars on those shelves (in front of the books, but still easy to pull a book out) and my "ancient" engines feel right at home there.

Then, whenever the mood strikes me (or I get a new engine) I set up some EZ track on a table, or wherever, and run the new loco, and usually run the rest on display, because otherwise, what's the point? These are electric trains. Not those static pewter ones that the Franklin Mint did 20 years ago! I mean, HO scale, five times the cost of a high end electric, made of unpainted pewter, and didn't run? Now THAT was some pointless collectables... well... other than the magazine ads for those back in the 80s got me into the hobby the first time! I though, looking at those things "I can do better with electric, have better detail, and watch them run, for less money!"

I may call myself a collector of model trains, but, I also don't kid myself. The "investment" these are, is counted in joy... they are meant to be played with, not kept MIB. I open them, I run them, I admire them, and I putzy around with them. Hell, first thing I did with the Pegasus cars, was to paint the trucks, and detail the wheels into a brassy look, so they look more like the paintings of the original, and stand out a bit more than the black plastic did. (I saw a Youtube video where some guy took one of these "cheap", and I use the word "cheap" loosely, as they aren't the Bachmann Norris engines of the 80s, and he converted it to DCC with sound, and it was AMAZING!)

The thing is, though, sometimes the engine you want, was never made as a high end engine. The only way to get a John Bull, is to get the cheap one, and I wanted a John Bull. To run my rails, and to sit on my shelf, and though some would say it's a waste of time to fiddle with it, to me, it's the ONLY one on the market, past of present, and so... fiddle with it I shall!

And like the original poster here said... a bit of TLC, and these babies last.

It also helps, that Bachmann isn't a company that phones it in. Issues that "bargain" engines from the past had, they tend to fix, upgrade, and make better.

My Bachmann Gandy Dancer from 1988 died after it's second run... (it was worth it to me to fix) but a Bachmann Gandy Dancer today, is like the energizer bunny.... it keeps going, and going (and has so much BETTER speed control... I mean, the 1988 one, before the repairs, had two modes... stop, and faster than a diesel... like there was something in those two wee guy's coffee!)

Basically, what I'm saying is, there is no one way to enjoy this hobby, and if someone is enjoying putting effort into something others would scoff at, then that is part of their joy of the hobby!

(Oh yeah, and today's John Bull is less prone to jumping track like the 80s ones did, plus, they now have that little pocket under the stack for an extra weight to go into, to keep that guide down! Oh, and never run those cheapies at more than 3/4 speed... hell, my ancient guys, I never run faster than half speed, because it's better on the motors, and it's scale accurate!)

MAN, that was a mouthful!
199  Discussion Boards / Plasticville U.S.A. / Plasticville figures. on: March 14, 2017, 02:50:01 PM
Okay, so, I recently bought a DeWitt Clinton set, factory sealed, but when i got it, I noticed two things... first, the post card for a catalogue was for the 2004 catalogue, and second (and most important) the engineer (I guess "pilot" in those days) was missing!

 So, rather than be a bother, I decided to look for a replacement guy in Plasticville (I mean, it's all Bachmann, so why not?) but, I can't seem to find that figure ANYWHERE!

So, I'm wondering, if any of the folks here have a suggestion? Did they ever make those figures separate from the trains? (seems to be the same figure from the Pegasus, and Lafayette, just different colour) or mayhap there is that guy in a set, and I'm just not recognizing him? (I'm horrible with faces, and faces in 1:87 scale, even worse!)

I also have a John Bull, and a Prussia, and those never came with an engineer, so it would be worth my time if there WAS a set that had them...

If nothing else, I can always just modify a figure, but having the right one would be a bit cooler, in my not so humble opinion.

So... thoughts? Opinions?
200  Discussion Boards / Plasticville U.S.A. / Re: Want some new Plasticville products? on: March 14, 2017, 12:56:53 AM
As a kid, I LOVED going to Oatman Az whenever we took long trips... it's just so out of the way, and almost a ghost town.
201  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: EZ Mate question... on: March 13, 2017, 05:09:17 PM
Okay! Just ordered 12 pair of the EZ Mate Mark II, Center Shank, Medium couplers!

Wish me luck folks!
202  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: EZ Mate question... on: March 13, 2017, 04:55:21 PM
Ooh, yes! I do want to know! At some pint, I do plan to replace the link bars on my John Bull, and my three Norris 4-2-0s with couplers... (in another thread, someone suggested N scale for those, but looking at their "wells" I don't know if N will work, plus... there is a simple joy to having a John Bull passenger carriage stuck caboose on a 4-4-0 American, just to see who notices!)

Apparently, I'm a sick monkey who messes with some folk's OCD... who knew?

And a BIG THANKS ACY... That answers my question PERFECTLY! Now to go order some couplers! (I'm told that Kaytee are cool and all, but, I'll probably go for the Bachmann EZ Mate II, for both price, and availability... that, and I'm told the EZ Mate II are on par with any others out there)
203  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Cudos to Bachmann on: March 13, 2017, 04:47:50 PM
Part of my joy with this hobby, I have found, is doing exactly what other collectors would say is a waste of time!

I LOVE older engines, like the Norris 4-2-0 (I have all three that Bachmann ever made, one from 1986, and the other two from 2003, and 2013) and of course, it's not a set without a John Bull, and a Dewitt Clinton. Each and every one, I was told by the "serious" collectors was a waste of time... but a little TLC, and they run GREAT, even if they don't get a lot of track time!

Now, my opinions may change some day (I just got my first ever DCC equipped Spectrum engine today... a 4-4-0 Modern American Richmond DCC Southern in green, and it is BEAUTIFUL!) but as for the basics... the "set" trains... the "starters", and "nifty, but not expensive" engines... well, there will always be a place in my heart for them, and I will always buy when when one strikes my fancy!

204  Discussion Boards / Plasticville U.S.A. / Re: Want some new Plasticville products? on: March 13, 2017, 04:36:21 PM
A lot of folks don't know this, but... there are actually THREE model train museums here in San Diego (which are all accessible by trolley, and bus on a $5 day pass) PLUS two more rail road museums, if you count the "Depot" in La Mesa (open only one day a week, but you can still get nice photos of the train, as you can see by my profile pic)

You have the one you probably went to at Balboa Park (which is run by the La Mesa Model Railroad club... who are not in La Mesa any more) then there's the model train museum in Old Town, and then there's Frank the Trainman, who's museum is also a shop, but the museum is BIGGER than the shop, filled with classic cars, and the like (I found him by accident one day when I was looking for some Victrola parts he had... and they only cost me doing a quick and dirty restore on an Edison talking machine!)

OH... I almost forgot... in Grossmont Plaza, an S Scale train club has a sort of "museum/setup" in one of the shops, that is meant to get the younger generation involved in our hobby. (their setup is all in sections which are BEAUTIFUL, and so historically accurate, and then you get to one section that's Marvel, and Super hero themed, while still maintaining scale accuracy... it's fun, and nice to see the tradition of having Easter Eggs in a setup... oh, and to keep it on topic, a LOT of the buildings, and especially the billboards on their S scale layout, are kitbashed to scale Plasticville... who knew you could kitbash HO, and scale it up? I wouldn't have thought of that!)

Forts... yes... I am friends with Larry Storch (Cpl Agarn on "F-Troop", and yes, he's doing quite well... he just had his 94th birthday in January) so I am a bit predisposed that if I DO do a fort (which I'm considering) it will be Ft Courage. I've been to the REAL Ft Courage as a child, and know the place quite well, but, I'll probably do the TV version if I build it, simply because the TV version has more humor elements, and is a lot more open, and visually appealing than the actual fort.
205  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: EZ Mate question... on: March 13, 2017, 03:27:27 AM
PS... these are the seller's images... I didn't take them, as they won't arrive in the mail until Thursday... I'm hoping to have the couplers I need by the time they show)
206  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: EZ Mate question... on: March 13, 2017, 03:26:14 AM
Oh, wow! Thanks!

Okay, so here they are... as you can see, the UP #119 already has EZ Mate couplers... the Jupiter, and the rolling stock do not.

My question is, is what couplers should I get? I keep seeing things like "long", "medium", and "short"... Center shank, under shank, etc...

I have ZERO idea what I need for these, or how to figure it out!



207  Discussion Boards / Plasticville U.S.A. / Re: Want some new Plasticville products? on: March 13, 2017, 03:15:24 AM
That is simply AMAZING!

I was thinking, for my layout, I kinda want to do the old west thing, but in winter... (growing up in a desert, snow is something I've always loved the idea of)

I also don't know if I want switches... just a bare simple layout, but that attitude might change. At first I thought about a tunnel, to hide the train during it's journey, but then I remembered, back in the 80s, I didn't want to do a tunnel, so much as rock formations (using old ceiling tiles) for my hidden spots, and the ideas are just rolling in from there.

I know whatever I do, it'll never be finished... I mean... I'm not kidding myself here.

A flatmate asked me "if you do old west, then what will you do if you ever buy a modern diesel?" and my response was "who's to say it isn't a theme park?" We have plenty of rail museums around here that look old west, but has an active line crossing close by. Hell, the train in my profile picture is ten feet away from the Trolley line, and that's a whole 19th century railway station (for a line they are STILL attempting to finish... 150 years later)
208  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / EZ Mate question... on: March 12, 2017, 10:28:08 PM
So I just got these off eBay today, and the ONE engine has EZ Mates couplers, but the other engine, and the cars all have the horn hooks... so my question is (if anyone is familiar with these) is what EZ Mate Couples should I get to replace on the rolling stock, and the Jupiter?

(Unfortunately, the board won't let me put the photos up, it says my "upload folder" is full, whatever that is... but it is a Bachmann "Jupiter", and a Bachmann "Union Pacific #119", and some "old west" rolling stock, also Bachmann, like what was in the Civil War sets... I can e-mail the images, I guess?)
209  Discussion Boards / Plasticville U.S.A. / Re: Want some new Plasticville products? on: March 12, 2017, 06:41:39 PM
That's kinda what I've been looking for... used, and preassembled, and have found a FEW on eBay that I wanted (one auction even had stage coaches!) but was unfortunately outbid.

It seems, I keep getting, or being given by friends, unassembled sets. (a friend recently gave me a train station by Model power, that is unassembled... and it looks a bit like a task to build. I don't even have any supplies for building it yet)
210  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: EZ Couplers on John Bull on: March 12, 2017, 06:36:49 PM
Mine sit on a bookshelf mostly, but only because I haven't a layout yet... but every so often, I'll set up some track, and let them go! (I love the fact that with EZ Track, I can just set up a loop, or so on a bed, or anywhere in just a few minutes)
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