|Written by Paul D. Race for Big Indoor TrainsTM and Big Christmas TrainsTM|
Trains-N-TownsTM, the Official Newsletter of BIGIndoorTrains.com, BIGChristmasTrains.com, and HalloweenTrains.comThis newsletter is for people who like O scale, O gauge, S scale, and Christmas trains, including people who combine On30 or O gauge trains with collectible villages. It is produced in conjunction with the Big Indoor TrainsTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, and HalloweenTrains.comTM web sites.
In this IssueWell, we're two years into the new house this month and still catching up on things we were going to get done right away. Sadly, for this audience, the garage bay that was going to give us enough room to start a small S gauge and O27 railroad is still full of boxes waiting for me to finish the shelves. I did get my outdoor railroad off to a good start and had folks over to see it before the snows came early again. My indoor railroad activities have to do with revisiting a topic I visited last year - the electric-powered Lionel Polar Express trains.
By the way, I came across the negative from a photo I took of my S gauge railroad in 1968. That's it in the title photo. Clicking on it will show more of the scenery.
The following articles and links are included in this newsletter.
Lionel has been making O27 Polar Express trains since about 2005. In fact, the first batch sold out as soon as they were off the boat, and there were some "backorders" under the tree that year, where there should have been train sets. It has remained one of Lionel's most popular train sets ever, and is certainly the most popular Christmas-themed train ever made.
This year we are comparing the O27 version to the more realistic and more expensive "American Flyer" S Scale version Lionel released for the S gauge collectors market a few years ago, and which was also popular.
When I was researching the article, I realized that simple things like measurements of the O27 train were hard to come by online, so hopefully, this article will be helpful even to folks who already have the O27 set or every intention of getting one.
I also learned about some differences between the early O27 Lionel Polar Express sets and the sets being made today. They're all good sets, don't get me wrong, but there have been some updates.
If you're a Flyer fan, you may be glad to see some exceptional models that were recently made in your scale. Some were limited editions (including the Polar Express set profiled in this article), but hopefully they indicated Lionel's willingness to give Flyer fans more of what they want.
Click the following link to go to the article: https://bigindoortrains.com/primer/polar_express/bit_polar_express.htm
I apologize for not having a high-rez photo of the clock tower (yet), but if you click on the photo to the right, you'll see a larger version with the people photoshopped out. At least it's a start.
Over at the OGRforum, folks have been discussing various ways to recreate such buildings for their own "Polar Express" - inspired railroads. Here's a warning - an O-scale rendition of the clock tower will be as large as a dollhouse. These guys don't propose any easy-peazy solutions, but they might give you some ideas.
Click the following link and scroll down:
If you still need inspiration for a North Pole City building project, look at other grand bricks from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. You may have such buildings in your own region. One near us is the Cincinnati Music Hall, for example.
On the other hand, if you want to stick with the Pullman theme, here's a line drawing showing what the factory looked like when it was in production. Remember, each of those doorways on the side of the tower represents a structure that would hold an eighty-foot car. You don't have to make your structure that deep, of course. I apologize for not having a higher resolution photo of this drawing, but I found it, unattributed, on Pinterest, and the site that the thumbnail came from has apparently been taken down.
Our Outdoor Trains Have a HomeFolks who have been following FamilyGardenTrains.com know that we moved in November, 2016 and spent most of the warm weather in 2017 planning and building our new outdoor railroad.
One of the features we wanted to add eventually was a place to keep short trains on the track and ready to go at a moment's notice. In 2018, we added a shed that provides just enough room for that task, patterned after a nineteenth-century country train station.
We kept an online log of our progress, which so far has come to twenty separate articles. If you want to follow our planning process in great detail, you may find them interesting. However, I have to confess that our plans changed constantly as the earlier parts took form and gave us a better idea of what we were looking at.
To save folks who just want an overview from a "deep dive" into the article series, we've added a 4-page pdf that gives a very brief overview of how we built the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek railroad in the back yard of our new home.
Click the following link to download the PDF:
If you want to follow the entire sequence, including the plans that changed as we went along, click the following link to start the sequence of articles. Feel free to skim, especially the first six articles or so.
By the way, if you're wondering what this has to do with indoor trains, I have been hoping to set up a small O27 outdoor railroad, once I was finished with my major Large Scale projects. Maybe adding an S Gauge section as well. Next year, both the Hogwarts Express and the Polar Express may make an appearance at our annual November open railroad.
Test Your Trains Early
Here's a tip I try to share every year at this time: If you only have one train, and you're going to set it up in December, test it now. Every year, starting in early December, I get deluged with e-mails from anxious, upset folks whose train set doesn't work when they set it around the tree. Trust me, the train manufacturers' repair departments are already working overtime by Thanksgiving.
Nobody with a cherished old heirloom wants to hear that the only way they'll have a train around the tree by this year's Christmas is to buy a new one, but that happens.
Because I write articles and do clinics, etc., I have backups, and backups for my backups, but even I get caught up unexpectedly, when a specific train I was counting on suddenly decides not to behave. Again, it is often reparable, but not in time to use as I had planned.FamilyChristmasOnline.com. When folks wondered why a train guy had so much to say about Christmas and vice versa, I published an article that explains why Christmas and trains seem to go so well together.
In fact it just seems natural, somehow to see a train station decorated for Christmas (like my backyard structure two photos up), or to see a train of some sort running under the Christmas tree (like the old-timey photo just above this section).
If you want to know why that is, click the following link to go to the article:
Don't Wait Too Long to Order TrainsHere's a quick recap of where you can see train reviews in our Buyer's Guides. Starting about Thanksgiving, the remaining trains tend to go fast. Though I'm usually pretty good at guessing which trains will be in high demand every year, the ones that I expect to be slow sellers sometimes sell out first and the ones that I think will sell out first are still around next year. So the moral is, if you have your eye on some specific train, please order it soon to avoid disappointment.
In fact, one Lionel train I specifically chose to highlight in this newsletter sold out between the time I started the newsletter and the time it was ready to publish (about six days). The moral - as always this time of year - is "Don't wait too long."
Why do I have links to Amazon and hardly anyone else? I used to try to link to any vendor I found with good stock, but many of them had so little that I had to take the links down as soon as they went up. Amazon lists links from other vendors with stock, so even if their primary warehouse runs out, you have a good chance of getting the train from someone else they list. And if Amazon has the train in stock, they tend to ship MUCH more quickly than some of the other vendors.
If you click on the Amazon link for a specific train and it is low or out of stock, you can sometimes see similar trains in the "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed" section. Just be certain you select a train comparable to the one you were searching for.
O Gauge Trains in Railroad Names - To see the Lionel trains that are painted for PRR, NYC, UP, GWR, and other "real-world" railroads, click the following link:
O Gauge Trains in Christmas Colors - Last year, Lionel offered more trains decorated for Christmas than they have ever offered at one time. This year not so much. Several of last year's nice sets are still available for now, though.
Click the following link to see Lionel's Christmas-Themed O gauge offerings:
Large Scale Trains in Christmas Colors - These are perfect for big displays in bank lobbies, etc. And they are "jaw-dropping" around the tree.
To see the Large Scale trains that are decorated for Christmas, click the following link:
To see Large Scale trains that are designed to be kid-friendly, click the following link:
To see the best currently-available recommendations, click the following link:
Hawthorne Village HO Sports Trains -If you've wanted to start collecting one of these sets and you've been putting it off, you should check now to see if your favorite team is still available. Several teams are not.
To see the sports trains that were available the last time I went through the list, please, click the following link:
Keep in TouchEach month, we get more interest in this newsletter, in the site, and in the trains and towns we discuss. We welcome your questions as indicators of what we should be working on next (also, we always try to answer reader questions quickly). In addition, if you have any photos, tips, or articles you'd like to share with your fellow hobbyists, please let us know. All of the hobbies we report on grow best when we all learn together.
In the meantime, please accept our very best wishes for a great and holiday season!
To view the Trains-N-TownsTM newsletter for July, 2017, click on the following link:
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