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Happy new year everyone!

Well it’s the first of the year and time for me to plan for some train show trips.Having never been to the Allentown show I have a few questions .How large is the show(my only comparisons are small local shows and York)and how long does it usually take to walk the show.It’s over a three hour drive each way for me and I am trying to decide to make it a long day or arrive the night before,do the show ,then head home.All responses appreciated.

John K

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Allentown is a great show. As said, not as big as York, but then again, you don’t have to walk outside to get from one hall to the other.
As far as staying overnight, I guess that depends on how much you like to drive. Sadly, Roadside America is gone, but certainly there are other things to add value to your trip. Personally, I really enjoy the big collectibles mall in Allentown (Merchants Square Mall), and the big Cabela’s a half hour away.

My son and I travel 6 to 7 hours from Maine to attend the November First Frost Allentown meet.   About 3 hours in the halls is a good amount of time to see it all.  We then head over to Merchant Square Mall.    We always stay overnight and hit Dorney Park or Six Flags Great Adventure the following day.   We've never attended Spring Thaw, as the weather can be a factor in our long drive.   Plus, the amusement parks are not open in February!   Oh wait, there is that expensive indoor amusement park inside the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford.   But we've already done that and there's still the weather issue.

So for your 3 hour drive, I think the meet is worth checking out.   Lots of vendors and not as overwhelming as York.   It's a great well run local/regional show.    You can make it a long day, or a nice  weekend trip and find so other things to explore.

Last edited by Mike McCutcheon
@jjk58 posted:

Happy new year everyone!

Well it’s the first of the year and time for me to plan for some train show trips.Having never been to the Allentown show I have a few questions .How large is the show(my only comparisons are small local shows and York)and how long does it usually take to walk the show.It’s over a three hour drive each way for me and I am trying to decide to make it a long day or arrive the night before,do the show ,then head home.All responses appreciated.

John K

John. Figure two hours from the GW Bridge as you calculate driving time. Local hotels are plentiful within minutes of the Allentown Fairgrounds and are near a very interesting DaVinci Science Center. You and your son might enjoy that. Also, I believe there are some YouTube videos posted on recent Allentown train shows which will give you a feel for the event.

I definitely recommend going- I agree with the rest, you'll need to spend at least 3 hours, no more than 4, to check everything out. I live only 15min from the meet, so I'm pretty familiar with the area. Here are some other places worth checking out:

  1. Weil Antique Center: About 15 minutes from the ATMA meet. Has 3 small sections of quality prewar and postwar trains. Also has a bunch of other neat tin toys. It's pricey, but worth checking out
  2. Merchant's square: Would've recommended it in the past, now not so much. The remaining major train dealer has gone to another antique mall. The Model Train exhibit and associated shop are only open from the end of November to Late January(despite what the website says). KD Smith auctions, which used to be a great Dutch auction, has moved the majority of their items online and there's barely anything to see there anymore. I might go there tomorrow for the model train exhibit, if I do, I'll report back on the status
  3. Tony's hobby shop: About 25 minutes from the meet, it's a smaller hobby shop but it's been around for 75 years!! Has a small but decent selection of postwar trains and modern traditional trains, another small but decent selection of modern rolling stock(mainly Lehigh valley road names), and a combo of  about 20+ modern and postwar locos. Good selection of fastrack, o scale accessories- people, buildings, scenery- as well as light bulbs.
  4. Trains & Lanes: I am somewhat loathe to recommend them. If you don't know them, don't expect great customer service. Depending on what you're looking for, they're generally pricey- but you'll definitely find things you aren't gonna find at other hobby shops.
  • They have a HUGE selection of modern motive power- Lionel, MTH, Atlas, some Weaver and some K-line.
  • HUGE selection of Lionel rolling stock including the most recently released stuff and items from the 80s, 90s, 2000s.  
  • They have a good-sized selection of MTH premier, Railking and K-line Rolling stock. And a slightly smaller bit of Atlas rolling stock
  • They also have a bunch of modern Lionel and MTH accessories including but not limited to: buildings/houses, extra floors for buildings(MTH), operating accessories, replacement trucks, people packs, industrial structures such as elevated oil tanks, coaling stations, trackside structures such as station platforms, signals, scrap yard, barrel sheds, etc... Also have a smaller but decent amount of Woodland scenics ready-built buildings.
  • HUGE selection of o scale figures
  • HUGE selection of Lionel Fastrack straights, curves, switches, wyes, etc...BIG selection of Atlas O track and still have a decent selection of MTH realtrax.
  • Decent amount of Lionel Legacy, TMCC accessories
  • MAJORLY HUGE selection of modeler's tools, adhesives and paint(Tamiya, TEstors, Vallejo)
  • HUGE selection of Plastruct and JTT sheets, Plastruct beams/bars. Woodland scenics grass, trees, etc..

That's just off the top of my head and only train related places, but hopefully its helpful

@Alentown posted:

John. Figure two hours from the GW Bridge as you calculate driving time. Local hotels are plentiful within minutes of the Allentown Fairgrounds and are near a very interesting DaVinci Science Center. You and your son might enjoy that. Also, I believe there are some YouTube videos posted on recent Allentown train shows which will give you a feel for the event.

Two hours from the GW and another two hours to get across the stinkin' bridge!

Three-four hours sounds about right.  Usually, by around one o'clock I'm on the road.  If I happen to spend too much time talking to friends, I might get on the road a bit later.   Since I'm usually at the breakfast and get early tickets, I'm in the halls around 8:15-8:30, I just wait for the line to disappear.  After my stint in the Navy, I hate waiting in lines!

Im surprised at many of you. This is a train forum and we should be promoting trains!

That being said, if you get to the show early and spend your 3 hrs there, you can goto one of the nearby tourist railroads... if not the Spring Thaw then certainly the First Frost. There is yhe Allentown and Auburn RR in nearby Kutstown. Pa

https://www.allentownandauburnrailroad.com/

You also have an hour away the Reading and Northern in Port Clinton to Jim Thorpe, PA . Finally head south for an Hours drive and you could goto the New Hope And Ivyland RR out of New Hope PA or the Coledale RR out of downtown Bordentown PA.

Finally. If stopping at Trains and Lanes off of PA RT 33. Expect to pay MSRP or more... hence the reason why so much N.O.S. of Lionel, some Atlas O, and some K-Line.

Last edited by prrhorseshoecurve

@prrhorseshoecurve above MSRP is super accurate and a much better way to describe T&L's prices than my use of "pricey". Below are some examples of items that I remember for being over priced as well as some that were :

All of the Lionel 2 bay covered hoppers from 6-17000-6-17010= $45

Ex.: 6-17008 Lionel 1995 DRG&W 2 bay covered hopper= $45

Lionel 2026500 Conrail 57' smoking mechanical reefer= $210

Atlas O 2007 SW Series Lehigh Valley w/ TMCC: $400

Weaver Conventional Lehigh Valley Alco c628 Snowbird: $300

All small fastrack sections: $5

Items I remember purchasing from them that I consider good deals:

MTH Railking Scale Lehigh Valley Also c628 Snowbird w/ PS2: $300(was mislabeled as a Weaver, still got it for $300 which actually isn't that bad- they mess up like that sometimes which is nice)

Atlas Trainman C&O 52' 6" Gondola(used, sold on consignment w/o box): $20 or $25

Lionel 6-27518 C&NW PS-4 Flatcar with Piggyback Trailer(used, sold on consignment w/o box): $45

Those last 3 are diamonds in the rough, but still, worth sharing

I live 6 hours away......been to First Frost once and Spring Thaw once......both were worth it.

Always have gotten close the night before ( once stayed in Philly and the other time at a motel about a mile from the Fairgrounds)....so I could join in on the Saturday AM breakfast gathering.  The show itself has been more than worth it both times I've attended.

Hope to attend another soon....

Peter

I went for years and always found Allentown to be a lot of fun and worthwhile. However, now it's a bit far from Florida. I miss it.

I disagree with prrhorseshoecurve. You should plan your trip or day to do what you enjoy. Real trains may or may not be on the list. Obviously, you are going to a train show because you enjoy it. I wasn't aware of the Farmers Market (right on the grounds -- a really short walk) for years. But if you go on Saturday, walk across the parking lot, have a great lunch, enjoy the Farmers Market, and return to the train show totally rejuvenated.

Gerry

@WRGMILW posted:

Are you guys talking about   Allentown , PA   or Allentown NJ  ?   What Month is it in this year ?

I am from the Midwest .  is there a AMTRAK station there ?



Thanks in Advance

Allentown, PA in the Fairgrounds is where the show is being held. Sorry no direct Amtrak stop. The nearest station would be Philadelphia's 30th Street or Trenton, NJ and you need to secure transport from there to Allentown, PA. Or NYC penn station then run uptown to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and take the Transbridge bus line to Allentown, PA. Then find the local  LANTA city route from Transbridge Terminal to the fairgrounds. I hope this helps.

Ted,

Thanks for the invite.   We won't be attending the spring meet, as Six Flags doesn't open for the season until April.   We are planning a trip to Dorney park and Great Adventure in May and definitely for the first frost meet.   I'll have to see if there's enough time in either weekend to visit your club.

Mike

Last edited by Mike McCutcheon

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