A Station for my Lionel Layout

plasticville stationI’m feeling bad about ordering so much O Scale stuff lately. I have all the track now for my Lionel Christmas layout but I still don’t have enough S Scale track to build an American Flyer layout. Since I’m an S Scaler not an O Scaler this kind of bothers me. My latest buy was a Plasticville passenger station. It was only $21.35 (including shipping) on eBay so I don’t feel too bad. Also the box says it works for both S and O scale… It does look a little small next to the Polar Express train. I haven’t set it next to a Fler train yet to see how it looks with S Scale equipment. I love the vintage look though, and it sure goes together easy – only 12 parts, and they interlock so you don’t even need glue.

The walls have a nice stucco finish cast in and are molded in white plastic. The windows are just part of the wall castings, with separate gray plastic doors. I’m going to paint the walls depot buff and the doors and windows some kind of dark red. I’d also like to add an interior floor, maybe some walls, and for sure some lighting. A smoke unit for the chimney would be pretty cool too but I don’t want to over-complicate things. One thing I will be doing for sure is adding snow to the roof – this is a Christmas layout after all:)

Oh – and I also ordered a Lionel Feather River service station set. Oops… To make up for it, I picked up a really nice American Flyer 30B transformer and an S Helper Union Carbide covered hopper. I really need to get this O Scale layout built and out of my system. Wish I could find a nice big stack of S Scale track in C7 or better condition…

Lionel Polar Express Train Set

Lionel Polar Express train setWe’ve been running this for about a week now. Track-wise, it would “fit” better if it was a 42″ circle (like American Flyer track:) ) instead of 36″. My son loves the way the cars light up, he thinks the the silhouettes in the windows are “too cool”, and he especially likes sounding the whistle. The smoke is pretty cool too, but it would be better if it actually produced a decent amount of smoke. My first project after Christmas might be upgrading the smoke unit.

As for the locomotive – to me it’s almost the perfect toy train locomotive. It’s die-cast metal, so it’s very rugged. All the detailing except the bell and hand rails is cast-in, so there aren’t any delicate parts to break off. The cast-in detailing is very crisp – with my poor eyesight it looks very realistic:) As I said, I wish the smoke unit worked a little better. I think the only thing that would improve this engine would be to add an American Flyer style choo-choo unit. I’ve listen to steamers equipped with Lionel’s electronic puffing sound and it sounds like crap compared to the AF sound – kind of like you’re in an echo chamber or cave.

I also ordered an American Models 4-8-4 Northern that DOES have a “real” choo-choo unit. It hasn’t gotten here yet but I’m really anxious to compare it with the Lionel Berkshire. After my experience with the Budd passenger car set I have no doubts about the quality, I’m just wondering if it will be as ideal as a toy. I’m kind of suspecting it will be a little too well detailed to place it firmly in the “toy” category. I’m really hoping that MTH will come out with a really high quality TOY steam locomotive in S Scale with die-cast metal construction, crisp detailing, minimal (if any) “separately applied” detail parts, a genuine AF-style choo-choo unit, and a good working smoker. Maybe 3 – a 4-4-2 Atlantic, a 4-6-2 Pacific, and a 2-8-2 Mikado. If the quality were as good as the Polar Express loco, I’d buy at least 2 of each. I hope I’m not the only one and I hope the manufacturers are listening…

American Models Budd Passenger Car Set

The same day I found out I wasn’t going to get my FM Trainmaster I ordered a Budd passenger car set in SP Daylight colors along with the extra coach. I didn’t really know what to expect but I needed something to put behing my River Raisin MT-5 that’s painted in the Daylight scheme. I’d never seen any of American Models’ products in person, and I was thinking they’d probably be pretty “toy-like.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I was a little worried they might not look all that great behind the highly detailed River Raisin brass locomotive. I didn’t need to worry…

The cars came yesterday (fast shipping!!!) which was the first surprise. Second was the box they came in – instead of the flimsy little card stock box with a cellophane window that’s typical of most toy train products, the cars came in very heavy duty boxes that were finished and printed very nicely. The best way I can describe the quality of the packaging is that it’s equal to the packaging on every high end brass model I’ve ever bought. The best surprise was when I opened the box – these passenger cars are nice. They’re going to look great behind my MT-5.

Snooze you lose…

Well, crap… I was feeling bad about wasting money on an O Scale train set, especially considering some of the S Scale companies are having problems. I decided maybe it’s time to “get while the gettin’s good” and since I don’t have a large pile of money just sitting around waiting to be spent I made a list of the 3 things I just couldn’t live without (as far as S Scale trains go). I decided on 3 things from American Models: a Southern Pacific Budd passenger car set with the extra coach, a 4-8-4 Northern painted for Santa Fe, and a Fairbanks Morse Trainmaster painted in the factory demo scheme. The Northern wasn’t a problem – Hoquat Hobbies had one at a discounted price of $369.95 and they even threw in free shipping. No Budd passenger sets or Trainmasters though so I tried to order directly from American Models. The Budd passenger cars were in stock (thankfully) but no Trainmasters in the demo paint scheme to be had… DANG!!! I’m kicking myself because I almost ordered one of these last summer but I couldn’t make up my mind between scale or hi-rail wheels. IDIOT!!! I guess I could buy one in a different road name and have it repainted in the FM demo scheme but that would add about $200 to the cost. I’m still kicking myself. The take away from this is to order things when you want them. If you wait, they might not be available when you get around to it – especially in S Scale.