Skip to main content

Skip great layout, memories and photos. You have a lot of great detail and classics on the tracks.  I am such a fan of Super O track. It’s a shame it was so short lived. Do you still have this layout all these year later? Or has it been a donor for a more current layout?

It was built for portability but unfortunately not for durability. I planed to build it with a more conventional platform but then the need for wider radius track for larger locomotives (1990 saw the scale Hudson and Mohawk) upset that plan. It was originally built on four 4'x4' tables of masonite and 1"x4" pine board without much bracing. It wound up being stored in the garage and eventually the tables had warped to the point that it wouldn't go back together properly. It was disassembled and the tables discarded.

My Polar Express layout now occupies that space.

The only place I ever saw an image was on the front of the supplemental MPC-Lionel catalog. Has anyone ever researched it? Who built it? Where was it displayed? Any other views of it. I have many (most?) of the TM videos & don't recall seeing it.

Bill L.

Bill L,

I've attempted to research it, but never found any additional info.  In some of the articles regarding Toy  Fair in the 1970s there are display layouts, but I've never come across this one. I know its in a TM video, I'm thinking its the History of Lionel by TM Books and Video, the later one issued which was two separate tapes. I have the VCR tapes but no working player. There is a just very brief footage of the layout, perhaps from a 1970s commercial.

I wonder if anyone's reached out to Roger Carp about this picture? He's become a real Lionel "historian," over the years. Unfortunately most of the family members of the ORIGINAL Lionel team of workers & managers, as well as descendants of JLC, are deceased. Likely also most of the MPC management team and their descendants, by now. Who'd have thought the HISTORY of the company would continue to be of interest to "mere hobbyists" ? Guess that says something good about all of us!

Two final thoughts on that MPC layout pic: My grandfather was the one (in the mid-50's) to get me into the world of Lionel. He also would take me out to the local classification yard ("The Hump," as he called it) to stand on the walk-bridge which crossed it, and watch freight cars come over the hump and run into the various tracks, as the various trains were made up. So any 3-rail "O" yard definitely holds my attention! Also, with the limitation of O22 and 31" radius curves, any simple "yard" (like the one in this pic) has necessarily widely-spaced sidings. I once traveled to view a public layout in Iowa where the designer had figured out an ingenious way to more closely pack the parallel sidings, using all "stock," uncut pieces of Lionel O track. Of course, by using cut pieces, or O72 switches -- or by going to non-tinplate track, such as Gargraves, a more realistic "yard" CAN be created, but that would be cheating.

A very good possibility. I emailed Roger Carp earlier today & he was not familiar with it either. I wonder if there's anyone left alive that knows about those "Toy Building" layouts?

I was there twice in the Kughn years. They had a very nice layout that had one G gauge line in addition to O gauge. I'm thinking that the one in this thread may have preceded the one I saw being from the MPC years.

Regarding the "How to Build a Railroad Empire" layout, I've looked in old issues of the TCA Quarterly which had Toy Fair reports, there are some layouts in the articles but not the one on the brochure.  I've also found some LCCA "The Lionel Roars" from the same time frame, but once again no luck.

@ed h posted:

Bill L,

I've attempted to research it, but never found any additional info.  In some of the articles regarding Toy  Fair in the 1970s there are display layouts, but I've never come across this one. I know its in a TM video, I'm thinking its the History of Lionel by TM Books and Video, the later one issued which was two separate tapes. I have the VCR tapes but no working player. There is a just very brief footage of the layout, perhaps from a 1970s commercial.

Ed, I sent an email today (4/1) directly to Tom McComas on this topic. We'll see if he responds & if he knows anything.

Bill

@G-Man24 posted:

That's a beautiful layout. That platform is huge somebody must know more about it.

Looks somewhat like one of layouts built by the Police Athletic League (PAL) of Rochester, NY, decades ago, well into the heyday of the Post War era.  But from that angle, can't be sure.

The PAL layouts were photo-featured in the Lionel Bantam Book, Model Railroading,...subject of a separate thread recently.

A response to that thread indicated that the four layouts...seasonal in their scenic representation, but different in their track layout, buildings, etc....are yet in existence.   I thought someone from the Rochester area, past or present, might have commented in the other thread, but.....

KD

Last edited by dkdkrd
@ADCX Rob posted:

I did, posted links to my videos. Here is the link to the website.

Yes, you did, Rob, and it's my error that I didn't check your personal info to realize you're from the greater Rochester area.  My bad.

If you've seen the PAL layouts, is the cover photo above one of theirs?

Wife and I would make a stop to see them...if the hours were convenient...on our next (?) trip to a York meet.  Our typical pre-pandemic route was to cut across Canada (Sarnia to Lewiston, NY) , drop south to PA around Rochester.  However, the way things are going I doubt Canada wants anything to do with passers-through based on their current proposals for dealing with their own returning citizens.  If we take the 'southern' route...Ohio/PA turnpikes...besides $80+ dollars in tolls, it's a more harrowing ride, and Rochester is waaaay off the beaten path.

Thanks again, though, for the reminder on the PAL layouts!

KD

@dkdkrd posted:
If you've seen the PAL layouts, is the cover photo above one of theirs?

No, that is an O-27 Lionel layout from the 1970s, it looks like it may have been built on the same platform at the Mt. Clemens office as the TV commercial layout that is diagrammed on the inside back cover of the "Track Layout Book".

The PAL layouts were all "O" gauge, now are all K-Line Shadow Rail O & SuperSnap O except for the Spring layout which has been redone in GarGraves.

@dkdkrd posted:

Looks somewhat like one of layouts built by the Police Athletic League (PAL) of Rochester, NY, decades ago, well into the heyday of the Post War era.  But from that angle, can't be sure.

The PAL layouts were photo-featured in the Lionel Bantam Book, Model Railroading,...subject of a separate thread recently.

A response to that thread indicated that the four layouts...seasonal in their scenic representation, but different in their track layout, buildings, etc....are yet in existence.   I thought someone from the Rochester area, past or present, might have commented in the other thread, but.....

KD

I don't think so. I remember the photos in the Bantam Book from the 1950's and there were updated photos published several years ago. Looked nothing like this layout.

The layout on the cover of "How to Build a Railroad Empire" is on the History of Lionel Trains 1900-1990 VHS. I first thought it was in the later 2 VHS set that was done in 2000, but its not.  In the section of the video that deals with early 1970s Lionel there are some very quick shots of the video mixed in with other commercials such as Johnny Cash and Lionel HO.  The portion with the yard looks a little different, there is a Sandy Andy accessory in the yard and the floodlights are in a different position.  The clip features the 8550 Jersey Central running on the upper level.

I am going to cut & paste the nice response I received earlier today from Tom McComas of TM Videos:

"Bill,
"I think it was a TV spot and still pix that Lionel gave for us to use in a history of Lionel we were producing in 1990. We have no film or video left of that production. We produced another history in 2000 covering Lionel’s first 100 years. That still and video you are referring to was not used as we wanted al-new footage.
"I think the agency who put the spot together must have built the layout.
TM Books & Video
Tom McComas, Producer"

So that makes the 1990 "History of Lionel" video somewhat special -- IF the ad or the still photo appeared in it, like "ed h." says...

@ed h posted:

A few photos I shot from the TM video quickly, I'll try to get some better shots.  I'm fairly convinced this is the layout on the mini catalog cover.

DSCN8964DSCN8965DSCN8969DSCN8971

I don't think this is the same layout. The floodlight towers looked similarly placed, but the sidings are totally different. There is a second layout in the Johnny Cash commercial portion of the video that is actually featured in a Lionel Track Layout Book from 1975.

MPC Layout 4

Layout from tv commercial

Attachments

Images (2)
  • Layout from tv commercial
  • MPC Layout 4

One last shot from the TM video, right before the Jersey Central GP goes past the yard portion on the layout, it crosses over a bridge which looks similar to that in the 9 o'clock position of the mini catalog cover.

DSCN8990

Another layout image I've seen before but I really doubt is the one from the TM Video:

Toy_Fair

This layout appears to be a later one, as its featured in the 1984 LCCA Toy Fair Report.

Attachments

Images (2)
  • DSCN8990
  • Toy_Fair
Last edited by ed h

Nicely done, ed h. ! The floodlight towers are definitely seen in the background of that last shot (Jersey Central crossing bridge) but they are less prominent in the "yard shots" of the video. I think they may have rebuilt the yard. The surrounding elevated track is the same type of construction - track running on top of a ridge, rather than on naked trestles (except for the shot near the end, w/ the SF Alco in it.) I know there have been a very few interviews of MPC Lionel guys (John Brady is one name of the top of my head) but I don't recall any mentions of display layouts. In the PW days, they had a complete dept. There were guys like Jack Kindler that supervised layout building along with other responsibilities. It would be nice to find someone who could shed light on this layout. I'll bother Roger Carp one more time...

I have enjoyed seeing most of this thread a second time.

With the Roger Carps book "Classic Lionel Display Layout You Can Build" being hard to get, pricey and limited to 20 or so display layouts, I decided to copy the pictures and Track Plans from this thread to folder in my picture file on my computer.  I  have titled each picture with the Display Layouts "D" number for convenient reference.  It took a over an hour of coping and TV news time by multitasking.  Now I can zip through the picture file and find each Display Layout.

I now have a much more complete set of pictures of Lionel Display Layouts than the book, thanks to all of you posters on this thread.

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

I have enjoyed seeing most of this thread a second time.

With the Roger Carps book "Classic Lionel Display Layout You Can Build" being hard to get, pricey and limited to 20 or so display layouts, I decided to copy the pictures and Track Plans from this thread to folder in my picture file on my computer.  I  have titled each picture with the Display Layouts "D" number for convenient reference.  It took a over an hour of coping and TV news time by multitasking.  Now I can zip through the picture file and find each Display Layout.

I now have a much more complete set of pictures of Lionel Display Layouts than the book, thanks to all of you posters on this thread.

Charlie

I wish thumbnails of these layouts could be published in a Reference Guide type of book !

Bill L.

I wish thumbnails of these layouts could be published in a Reference Guide type of book !

Bill L.

Hi Bill,

I think the best value is the "Lionel Postwar Instruction Sheets Volume IV Dealer Displays DVD" from Bob Osterhoff.  It has the track plans and pictures of the layouts in jpg format, so it is easy to upload them to your computer and sort them, etc.  It is  sold by  www.Trainpaper.com.  Its about $20.

Roger Carp also published a special edition Classic Toy Train magazine a few years back, that is also a must have for dealer display layouts.   With those two sources,  you will have most of the layouts. 

I guess I am done w/ the effort to try & determine who built the O27 layout pictured on the front of the "Railroad Empire" supplemental catalog. It seems there really isn't the curiosity level or interest needed to unearth who built that--when or why. This was over 50 years ago, in the early MPC era (1970-86) and unless John W. Brady is still alive, to talk to, it's probably going to slide back into the dark catacombs of unexplored Lionel history. When you pause to consider that our "Display Layout" interest is only a small segment of the "Paper" collectibles portion (catalogs, books, data sheets, magazines, etc.) which is part of ALL Collectibles, which is part of "Lionel," which is part of 3-rail "O," which is part of Toy/Model Trains, which is part of a gradually-receding hobby pursuit, we DL folks are truly a speck in the "galaxy." Live long & prosper!

@ed h posted:

One last shot from the TM video, right before the Jersey Central GP goes past the yard portion on the layout, it crosses over a bridge which looks similar to that in the 9 o'clock position of the mini catalog cover.

DSCN8990

Another layout image I've seen before but I really doubt is the one from the TM Video:

Toy_Fair

This layout appears to be a later one, as its featured in the 1984 LCCA Toy Fair Report.

ed h - what is the exact name of the TM video you are watching & seeing these images from?

ed h - what is the exact name of the TM video you are watching & seeing these images from?

The color video screenshots are from the History of Lionel VHS, which came out in 1990. I believe the video was listed in the catalogs in that time frame. I don't believe this video was ever released on DVD.  I had the video but wound up borrowing a VHS player to get the screen shots.

The black and white photo I found online quite some time ago.  I was able to obtain some mid 1980s LCCA Lion Roars / Toy Fair  Reports.  In one of these issues there are very similar photos to that of the black and white layout, so its safe to assume that layout did in fact appear at the Toy Fair.

What I haven't had time to find is some LCCA Lion Roars from the 1970s, curious  to see if there were any Toy Fair reports that show the layout on the brochure cover.  I've researched TCA Quarterlys from that same time frame and found no info regarding the layout on the brochure cover.  If you are a member of the TCA, the Quarterlys are all available online.

Photo is what the VHS cover looks like.

1990_History

Attachments

Images (1)
  • 1990_History

After researching again last night a TCA Quarterly article from the 1976 Toy Fair, there are some small closeup photos of what could possibly be the layout on the cover on the "How to Build a Railroad Empire" brochure.

For starters, note the bridge and tunnel behind the Southern hopper. Also note in the photo with the NYC "646" Hudson, the bridge / tunnel is behind the Great Northern boxcar and what could be floodlight towers are above the Hudson, center screen. Seems to me these two photos could very likely be the bridge that is in the 9 O'clock position of the brochure cover.



1976_002

1975_mini2

Attachments

Images (2)
  • 1976_002
  • 1975_mini2
Last edited by ed h
@NYC Fan posted:

I don't think this is the same layout. The floodlight towers looked similarly placed, but the sidings are totally different. There is a second layout in the Johnny Cash commercial portion of the video that is actually featured in a Lionel Track Layout Book from 1975.

@ed h posted:

A few photos I shot from the TM video quickly, I'll try to get some better shots.  I'm fairly convinced this is the layout on the mini catalog cover.

DSCN8964

I think it is the same layout. The yard tracks are easily reconfigured. But the fully scenicked elevated fills running along the long edges of the layout, and the distinctive ridges and slope of the mountain are not. it is rare to see an elevated fill block the front of a layout- I don't think I have ever seen it on another layout. Also note the black bumper common to both layouts as opposed to the common red one.1975_mini

Attachments

Images (1)
  • 1975_mini
@ed h posted:

After researching again last night a TCA Quarterly article from the 1976 Toy Fair, there are some small closeup photos of what could possibly be the layout on the cover on the "How to Build a Railroad Empire" brochure.

For starters, note the bridge and tunnel behind the Southern hopper. Also note in the photo with the NYC "646" Hudson, the bridge / tunnel is behind the Great Northern boxcar and what could be floodlight towers are above the Hudson, center screen. Seems to me these two photos could very likely be the bridge that is in the 9 O'clock position of the brochure cover.



Agreed, also see my post above.

Last edited by Will

Can you contact anyone affiliated with the '76 article & determine where the pic came from? It's easy to assume it was a Toy Fair layout, but... When I compare the Empire pic w/ the Quarterly pic, the "fill" below the lower track looks more substantial in the latter, whereas in the former, it almost looks like ground-level tabletop. Also, in the Empire pic, it appears there was finished paneling down below the tabletop, suggesting a very substantial layout. Maybe the base was there & Lionel MPC marketing people changed the track plan a bit, from time to time. Does anyone know if John W. Brady, twice of Lionel employ, is still living?

@ed h posted:

The color video screenshots are from the History of Lionel VHS, which came out in 1990. I believe the video was listed in the catalogs in that time frame. I don't believe this video was ever released on DVD.  I had the video but wound up borrowing a VHS player to get the screen shots.

The black and white photo I found online quite some time ago.  I was able to obtain some mid 1980s LCCA Lion Roars / Toy Fair  Reports.  In one of these issues there are very similar photos to that of the black and white layout, so its safe to assume that layout did in fact appear at the Toy Fair.

What I haven't had time to find is some LCCA Lion Roars from the 1970s, curious  to see if there were any Toy Fair reports that show the layout on the brochure cover.  I've researched TCA Quarterlys from that same time frame and found no info regarding the layout on the brochure cover.  If you are a member of the TCA, the Quarterlys are all available online.

Photo is what the VHS cover looks like.

1990_History

There's one of these for sale on eBay right now. I could not get Roger Carp interested in helping us pursue this lead & in MPC-era display layouts in general (for whatever reasons.) Maybe just not enough interest in MPC-era, in general, either by writers or readership?

There's one of these for sale on eBay right now. I could not get Roger Carp interested in helping us pursue this lead & in MPC-era display layouts in general (for whatever reasons.) Maybe just not enough interest in MPC-era, in general, either by writers or readership?

Regarding the early 1970s Lionel display layouts, there is virtually no published information on them. There were a few different simple layouts offered in this time frame. On my last visit to the TCA museum, I was unable to find any info on these layouts.  There are simple advertising forms from Lionel, but that's about all that exist for documentation.

Here is an early MPC layout, the 3001. The article appeared in a hobby/toy trade publication, off the top of my head I forget which magazine.  The color photo is from the 1971 Lionel Canadian (mini) catalog.

Attachments

Images (1)
  • mceclip0

Add Reply

Post
The Track Planning and Layout Design Forum is sponsored by

AN OGR FORUM CHARTER SPONSOR
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×