29 March 2017

The Woodbury Train Show

As far as I know the Greater East Area Model Railroad Club (aka Newport Club) has been around since the early 1980s. I recall visiting their layout sometime in that period but do not remember much. My attempts at modeling in HO were rather clumsy, but what do you expect of a kid. I had little knowledge of the craft of modeling.  
I recently visited it a few years ago and they were beginning a new update to the layout. Quite an impressive railroad.
This entry is about the shows they put on in Woodbury. More accurately they are fleamarkets since there are no layouts on display but mostly vendors and citizens with train items to sell. 4 times a year the club sponsors the show up at Woodbury High School in the cafeteria. From some archival footage on the YouTube, it appears these fleamarkets have been going on since the late 1980s. Check this footage out.

Look at that line, this appears to be one serious fleamarket. According to the poster it was one of the largest at the time perhaps only surpassed by the Twin Cities Model Railroad Club's fleamarkets.
What variety and stock of Lionel stuff. Look at all those highway crossing signals! You would be lucky to see 1 at a show these days. Even funnier, I got my highway crossing signal in Sioux Falls for the same price I saw on one of those tags in the video- $10.
Fast forward to 2017. In January I dropped by the Woodbury fleamarket. Actually spent a lot of time there. Little has changed but much has stayed the same. For one, the entry cost did increase. But that is inflation. It still is held in the cafeteria although the it has been renovated a bit. It is still a standing room event for a few hours. I arrived after opening so I can not tell if there was a line but certainly crowded. Hard to tell if there was less Lionel. I would say it was nearly the same with plenty of HO, a smattering of N, and a handful of the unusual or rare gauges like Standard and G. I recognized vendors from my other show exploits in St. Cloud and Sioux Falls.
How about some pictures? You got it.

MPC Era on 1 table

Plenty of N scale

Familiar Accessories

Marx passenger cars
A few additional observations. Somebody really wants to offload older Atlas Ore Cars. I saw quite a few vendors with multiples. I also encountered a vendor with a whole lot of O scale 3 rail used passenger cars which had been painted. They had average paint jobs but no one was buying.
I got a few cars at the sale including a Lionel NP Piggyback car, a combo car Andrew Pickens, and a few O scale vehicles. Pretty good show. If I am in the area again I would return.

17 February 2017

Fargo Block 6

Fargo Main Ave- Block6
My mostly Finnish wife painted the above picture in oil and few years ago. It is of the eastern portion of block 6 on Main Avenue just across from the NP depot. Businesses at time of painting from left to right- Babb's Coffee, Rhombus Guys, Harvest Community Church, and Kittsona.
Today I think Kittsona has absorbed the space that was the church.

Fargo Training- tracks out of Dilworth

West of of Dilworth yard  a few miles, the BNSF mainline makes its way into Moorhead and then over the Red River into Fargo. I captured these somewhat boring shots of grain hoppers off of US 10 not far from Moorhead High School on a frigid afternoon. They were sitting still but there was an approaching train heading west on the adjacent track. 

 

Going west just about a mile you encounter a large junction referred to as Moorhead Junction. 
Dilworth was a former Northern Pacific yard on the Staples sub-division of the St Paul division. It was also the point where the Fargo division began.
I seem to recall that unit trains of coal from the Powder River basin were routed over these lines. It was in an article from an old Trains magazine I had lying around.

10 January 2017

Lionel Stuff: The Lumber Shed

Lionel produced a trio of smaller building kits in the MPC era: The Watchman's Shanty, The Barrel Platform, and the Lumber Shed. None of these structures gets much press but you see them at the shows either un-assembled in box or removed from a layout. They make for a good evening project that can be personalize with a little paint and weathering.

Lionel Lumber Shed 6-2720
There is nothing really fancy about either of these models but they have a few little intriguing details. All of them came with a figure and a handful of detail pieces such as barrels, a ladder, or hand tools. The Watchman's Shanty is probably the only Lionel branded building to include a dog. Of the three I really like the Lumber Shed best. The workbench area is especially interesting.
workbench area has some tools
The Lionel Lumber Shed first appeared sometime in the MPC era. My 1978 catalog has it as 6-2720 with a painted plastic workman. The shed shows up in later years as kit too. It was cataloged as 6-2705 and 6-12705 in those days (maybe 1986-1996?) By then the workman came just in flesh color and the walls were cast in brown rather than green. In 2016 the kit was re-released again as 6-81629. Unlike a lot of the re-releases of MPC structures, this one never was made as a pre-built model. The Watchman Shanty and the Barrel Platform both have been released as pre-built with lights in the last decade. The Barrel Platform masqueraded as a Christmas Cocoa Barrel Shed in 2015.
What amazes me is the how much either of these models now cost. You can find the newest releases of these 3 models retailing between $30 and $45 each. Even the old new stock fetches between $20 and $30. I think that is rather steep for a small plastic structure with little detail. In the March 1983 issue of Model Railroad Craftsman,  Charles Ro advertised the Lumber Shed for $3.20. Then in June issue of Model Railroader, TrainWorld had the new version 6-2705 listed for $4.50. So why now does this model outpace inflation? And let me note the newest release is no different that the 6-2705 model and it is still a kit. Somebody could scratch-build something similar for less. The price point for this kit should be around $12-$15.
I found mine on ebay for $6 already built and missing pieces. I may have gotten one cheaper at a show but still a good deal.

22 December 2016

Training for Christmas: Santa Train in Fergus Falls

It was a frigid Saturday in early December, but I got the family out of the house for a little under an hour to meet Jolly St. Nick outdoors by the old Great Northern depot in Fergus Falls.

Otter Tail Valley railroad is own by short liner Genesee and Wyoming via their purchase of Rail America back in 2012. You can see the RailAmerica paint on the GP9 diesel.

Caboose OTVR 101 with OTVR 1483
Caboose was posed with the Geep for the Santa Train festivities. The caboose formerly ATSF (aka Santa Fe). The caboose is typically parked nearby the depot or further down the tracks near some maintenance facilities.  
For a cold day there were plenty of youngsters out to meet Santa. In fact there was a line.
GP9 in RailAmerica paint
OTVR 1483 is a GP9 originally ordered by Nickel Plate. Built in 1959 it went through a few different owners prior to coming to the Otter Tail in 1997 including Norfolk and Western and Dakota Minnesota and Eastern.

21 December 2016

Gathered by the child of peace

Went to the ever popular Concordia Christmas concert this weekend. Great music from choirs and orchestra, scriptures interspersed with strange liturgical tomes. I might even be on public TV for ages to come if the cameras swung past my visage.
This year is the 90th year of concerts. I have attended 2 previous to this year. These concerts have the heft of high church tradition and evoke the mystery of the Christmas season- how an Almighty God came to rescue his creation. There are a myriad of facets to that plan. Thematically this year's concert strived to look at community and peace. Very relevant topics considering the recent political cycle in the US.
According to the scriptures, the birth of Jesus brought shepherds and some type of foreign ambassadors (my take on magi) together although not at the same time.
Missing from this assembled "community"- the religious leaders and political ruler of the land. Religious leaders identified the prophecy of the Christ (Micah 5:2-3) but did nothing, probably intending to keep the status quo between them and the government (Herod's authority.) The ruler- Herod- was pretty furious about the notion of a king who may usurp his hold on power. He then set in motion a murderous spree of children in Bethlehem. Fortunately, Jesus' parents were warned beforehand and fled south.
Some well worded context from the 1st  Chapter of the Gospel of John enlighens us:
9The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.    
This "Peace Child" grew in stature and went on to mediate the peace we all need with God through the cross. His birth was like D-Day- the initial beach head to rescue those who were his. So as you wonder about Christmas or celebrate it, may your understanding of its significance grow beyond the gifts,Santa,snowflakes, and egg nog; even beyond the rudimentary stable or shepherds.  May this season point you to Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection which crushed the head of the enemy.

13 December 2016

Lionel Stuff: Coaling Station


In an earlier post I wrote about the a freight platform structure that Lionel produced. Today I will look at a coaling station I re-habbed after finding it in pieces at a train show. 
This coaling station comes from another structure kit that Lionel put out originally during the MPC period (1970-mid 80s.) Those who bought Lionel in 1970 appear to have been hesitant about re-issuing some of the classic coal handling accessories from the post-war period. It was probably a money thing. Plastic kits are much more inexpensive. The coaling station here is a behemoth although not as large as the grain elevator that was released during the same period. There is talk on some O gauge boards that the earliest releases of this structure also had some rudimentary manual coal loading action. Trains can pass underneath the one side of the building and perhaps simulate coal loading from a large mine operation. 

Car can go underneath elevated side

Some assemble required for pre-1990s releases
Recently Lionel has released this coaling station as a pre-built item with a light in a few variations most recently in 2011 catalog. However, I do note they have a newer one too which has not been cataloged as far as I know.
For a more hi-rail look this is the coaling station for you.

09 December 2016

Classic Toys: The Adventure People

Another entry for classic toys. This one is another Fisher Price production.

The Adventure People were a line of action figures and play sets produced by FP from the mid-70s until mid-80s. These 3 inch figures were around prior to the Kenner Star Wars line and had no built in marketing ploy to advance the line further. But that did not deter the kids who got these for birthdays or Christmas combining them into the Star Wars universe like myself. The Adventure People were pioneers in the small action figure market. 
The Adventure People were cool and durable toys. Just look at that commercial. FP wanted kids,boys and GIRLS, to really play with these figures. Quite a few sets produced centered around outdoor recreation- a camping set with jeep and canoe, a van with a dirt bike, a safari set with truck and tent, a kayak set, scuba divers. Midway through their run, there were more sets and figures geared toward space or sci-fi. 
My small assemblage I acquired as a child. Most were 2nd hand. I only received the Rescue Truck and the Northwoods TrailBlazer sets as gifts. I lost most of the additional accessories over time although I think I have all of the Trailblazer items except maybe the motor for the un-pictured canoe. I remember getting the rare TV Action Team at a garage sale with quite a few other pieces from other sets. Even for a Star Wars fan the TV truck was cool. I got it with most of the accessories too- camera, tower, cables, microphone. Alas, now most of those items are lost.
My collection of FP Adventure People

TV Action Team
I was surprised to discover that the earlier sets (pre-1979) had names for the figures. So the TV crew pictured above- Carol is the lady, Kirk is the technician, and Jeff is the man with the tie. A few of the space items that came later also have names like Clawtron the robot from 1982

Northwoods Trailblazer set
Above in the Northwoods set, the figures are named Hawk (white shirt) and Brad (brown shirt on left.)
I would not hesitate to let my kids play with these toys as they are Fisher Price durable and have a somewhat timeless vibe. I can say that because I am not a collector- more of an enthusiast when it comes to these things. Even I would play with them. They also seem to be a bit more diversified than action figures of the same period- more women and minorities represented in the line and even a few children (from Safari set.)
These toys are hard to come by outside of E-Bay. They were mass produced so there are a lot of them out there. Someplace. Maybe.