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@laming posted:


Did any mfg'er make a traditional-sized outside braced boxcar?



Crown models? I looked on Ebay with the info that you are looking for and that brand showed up. They had an outside braced PRR box car that looked like some of the postwar starter type cars that Lionel might have had. It looked like it had fixed molded in freight doors with very simple molded in detailing. Seems like Weaver should have made something as well, but I am not sure.

Weaver made an outside-braced boxcar.  It was a scale model, but I'm pretty sure that the prototype was only a 40' car, so it will blend in just fine with postwar "O27."  What you're trying to do is art as much as science.  There are no rules.  You might just have to try a bunch of stuff, and keep what you think looks good.

Andre since you are druthering and apparently in no hurry, you might want to check Industrial Rail. The O gauge blue box.  An old thread provides some info.

I and others looked at them for S but except for the caboose they are a tad large and would require hacking. They are within O27, traditional or whatever they are called these days sizes.  They were relatively inexpensive when they came out.

Fair warning starting to explore this topic could keep you busy until suppertime.

Thanks all for your input!

I've taken a look at the Crown offerings (OB boxcar and the reefer). Those are indeed nice looking models. I think I now recall looking at these models years ago and concluded they were too "scale" to mix with my "traditional" stuff that I was messing with at the time. However, I do not clearly recall.

I do believe Ted shared a thought that I need to remind myself of:

"What you're trying to do is art as much as science.  There are no rules." 

I think he's onto something there. What I will be doing isn't "scale" modeling, in fact, that's one of the reasons this project is appealing: Instead of trying to stay as faithful to "scale" as possible (which can get exasperating), I get to set the standards. 

In that vein, it will indeed be akin to an impressionistic painting only in that I hope the elements compliment one another to the point that the overall result of various layout scenes (as well as the layout as a whole) are "acceptable" at a glance. But, like a photograph of any layout (even "scale" layouts), under closer scrutiny, even with the best layouts it becomes more apparent it's a model. Just that it won't take a microscope to spot it's a model for my "Traditional" layout! Besides, the only way any layout can ever look "real" is with excellent modeling within an excellent photo. That is, it will never be mistaken for "real" when standing looking at the actual layout.

I'm also beginning to suspect that I'm way overthinking some elements. (Me?? Overthink?? Surely you jest. )


Me thinks I need to chill, do the things that I enjoy that can be done in the immediate future, and any outside braced boxcars or "027" reefers (etc) I want to address, can be done at a later time.



Change of subject...

In this thread...

...We had been discussing train artwork (primarily scale drawings, but also some artist's paintings) with a "side discussion" of photo software and their use. I was getting ready to post what follows below to that thread, but then decided that doing so was going to take the OP's post even further away from what was originally being discussed.

SO... I decided I'd just post it here in my own thread so I won't be guilty of drifting someone else's thread!


In this thread, and other of my threads, I've made mention of my "PhotoFlats" that I will be using (have used in the past). Often when talking about "PhotoFlats", I get asked "what all is involved in doing that?"

So, I thought I would offer up a primer on what is involved, and provide some sample illustrations.

First the very basics:

* You would need "photo software" installed on your machine that can perform editing functions for digital images. There are several available, I'm sticking with "legacy" programs that I know well, such as "iPhoto4" (archaic by today's standards) and "Paint Shop Pro 7".

* You'll need to learn the basic skills, such as cut/paste, mirror, blending (via the "Clone" tool and such), how to remove "keystone" (the skewed distortion found in almost all photos of geometric shapes such as buildings). These skills aren't difficult to learn, but like any "art form", it can take a while before you're proficient enough that you can perform wonders with the software.

That so, seeing that photos are supposed to be worth 1000's of words, what follows are a few photos w/annotations that help to explain some of what is involved in taking raw photos and altering them within the software so they're usable as a flat on a layout.

This first one I saw while out exploring a town in Kansas I was stuck in while on an extended "loan out" by the RR company I worked for at the time. I knew it had potential... but it also had "issues"...


Next is one that I saw in my modeling "target area" in what's left of the historic West Bottoms industrial district in KC MO...


Some examples I snagged while on extended loan-outs out in OK (In these examples, Tulsa area and OKC)...


This one was another doozie...


However, I prevailed! And this is what I ended up with...


Eventually, you get adept enough at manipulating images that you can literally construct buildings using only portions of a photograph. Here's one example of that:


Lastly, with careful planning and with an eye toward reuse, I can use building blocks to create some truly gigantic "PhotoFlats", such as this one for one of my previous KC Lines layout iterations:


(Note there are no dock doors in place. This is because the dock doors are printed separately, cut out, and applied where needed in order to line up with a string of 40' boxcars, or 6464/etc!)

However, just like the ones that got away when fishing or rail fanning, going out on a structure hunt in far away locations, invariably ends up with fraught with that same "the ones that got away" syndrome! To wit, though I shot the foreground building... once home and the photo imported to my computer...


So, there you have it. A discussion you didn't ask for, but I decide to share anyway!!



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@Caldwell posted:

Andre since you are druthering and apparently in no hurry, you might want to check Industrial Rail. The O gauge blue box.  An old thread provides some info.

I and others looked at them for S but except for the caboose they are a tad large and would require hacking. They are within O27, traditional or whatever they are called these days sizes.  They were relatively inexpensive when they came out.

Fair warning starting to explore this topic could keep you busy until suppertime.

Missed this until just a few minutes ago.

Thanks for the input, Cal!

Yes, those industrial rail cars are great. I've owned some in the past. However, my "GnC*" syndrome kicked in.

* Gnats n' Camels. You know, that syndrome we modelers have, where we'll gag at a gnat and swallow a camel? Yeah, that one.

My "gnat" with the Industrial Rail cars was their questionable decision to use roller bearing trucks under them. Darn. Perfect for representing the transition era... but with roller bearings? Roller bearings were not in wide spread use during the late-40s/early-50s, especially on such cars as "every day" boxcars, cattle cars, etc.

However, I had several (sold off years ago):



Of course, now I feel pretty stupid.

Case in point, in the boxcars above? Livery wise, all but the Jade Green NYC car would have been right at home (okay, maybe the billboard MILW road car, too) in a late-40s/early-50s setting. I could have figured something out on the roller bearing trucks, or just gone ahead and ignored it. (Sort of hard to do once something draws your eye to it, though.)

And, of course, all the liveries in the tank/hoppers picture were good to go for my "transition" era that I'm now interested in portraying. 

BUT, in spite of precieved shortcomings, all of the above rolling stock were "birds in the hand", so to speak. Even that Jade Green NYC car (and the MILW?) could have been stripped and repainted/re-lettered!

Nuther "feeling stupid" thought point: I purchased the above Industrial Line cars for about 10 bucks each "then". Now? Try $35+.

Ah well... spilled milk and all that jazz.



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I ignorantly "assumed" that Library of Congress photos were "public domain". Well, apparently that is not the case, or at least some entity owns copyrights to the Delano collection.

Thus, I put OGR in a tough spot by posting the photos directly in a previous post here in my thread.

Lesson: Going forward, it's best to link to any illustrative pictures that may have copyright attached to them and thus avoid creating issues for our gracious host: OGR.

Just goes to show, you can't fix stupid (me!), but you can dull somewhat with a deft application of a 2x4!



Yes, OGR (Alan) followed up and advised me that the LoC photos were fine.  All is good. Great, even.

I think what flagged my post is that I posted additional LoC photos from my folder that might not have come directly off the LoC site. (Instead Flickr perhaps?) 

Anyway, the main points I learned are:

* Insure there are NO copyrights to photos being posted directly into a thread.

* Make it CLEARLY NOTED for any LoC photos that they are indeed LoC photos.


Last edited by laming


Is coming under closer scrutiny.

For years, I've always intended that any 3-rail layout I attempt would be theme specific: "KC Lines". That so, as is common with "theme" layouts, some of my "PhotoFlats" would be adorned in signage that sets "locale". That is, such things as "Kansas City Wholesale Grocers", or "West Bottoms Storage Co.", etc.


Now I'm not so sure.

Instead, I wonder if I would be better served to keep the layout's "locale" more generic and avoid location setting names?

Why you ask?

Well, doing so would allow me to run equipment that is very cool (like the cast frame "ERIE" FA's or a tender with "PENNSYLVANIA" on its side, and other such engines), and they would look right at home in an urban/industrial setting.


That's a radical thought for this KC kid.

What'cha thunk of this ideer???

All fer now. Gonna' head off to Fort Smith and snag a gallon of 99% isopropyl alcohol for use as paint stripper. (If all goes well, you'll see why later. )


Thats the beauty of traditional toy trains. Its all in your imagination. This 5 year old kid had no idea, nor cared that his 2035 K4 came with a NYC style tender nor that the 2046 NYC style engine in the catalog came with a PRR tender. Only that the headlight came on, the whistle blew, and the engine puffed smoke.



I knew I could count on you bunch of enablers to encourage me to feed my addiction.

The thought definitely has merit. I could definitely enjoy seeing Erie FA's and perhaps some custom painted NYC "Lightning Stripe" FA's, etc. Speaking of the NYC, was this simplified "freight" scheme also seen on the NYC FA's?


However, it could be a mite hard to turn loose of my KC Lines concept. Time will tell. No hurry, really.


Just got back with a gallon of what the solvent dealer says is industrial grade 99% Isopropanol. Alas, I don't see "99%" anywhere on the jug, thus I'm left to trust that it is indeed. Anyway, given the way 91% isopropyl alcohol will continue to be made of unobtainium at Walmart for the long term, I turned to other sources. Hopefully, it's strong enough to strip paint.

Now, just why would I want to strip paint?

Well, that's 'cause I just made an offer on these:


According to the description the pair "runs excellent no battery leakage". although somewhere in their life's journey, they were hand painted. SO...

Assuming we can work a deal, and assuming I can strip them, they will be repainted "FRISCO" using rattle can satin black and an appropriate yellow shot through my airbrush.

If they can't be stripped with the alcohol I now have, then I reckon I'll have to get more drastic and go for an "air eraser" type approach.

Anyway, if my offer is accepted, I'll get them at a fair price, considering their "custom" painted condition.

We shall see!



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On a roll, I guess...

Just purchased this for $6 (no box).


Here's what it looks like as per the box art from a Bachmann/Plasticville kit box:


(FWIW: For some strange reason, I always enjoy seeing well done box art. I like the nostalgic "warm fuzzy" I get when I see imagination-stirring box art from way back when. (Yup... I'm a weirdo.)

Now why in the world would I purchase this when I have less than a handful of equipment, and a long way off from even having a layout??

Well, I want to see what I can do with it in view of making it look "good 'enuf" for what I envision with an eye on how much time and effort investment there will be.

OH, and also, I may use the above Switch Tower on an experimental "diorama" that I'm considering undertaking. This "diorama" would be nothing fancy, just a couple feet length (or two) of GarGraves track, a piece of scrap Homasote I have on-hand (or a ceiling tile if I want to save my Homasote pieces), and using the couple bottles of Woodland Scenics "Cinder" ballast I also have on-hand (along with some other on-hand scenery odds n' ends), make a little scene to see how my ideas look "in the flesh". Plus, the mini-diorama could be used as a display base on which to place equipment and photograph it.

Hey, what can I say? It's another of them ideer's I'm 'a havin'!

I think sometimes my brain has a mind of its own.



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You're going to enjoy it, Jerry!

It wouldn't take a lot for me to collect the issues that had notable changes in them. For example, though by replacement Bantam Book and my original (long gone) Bantam Book had the same cover artwork, I recall there being a photo in my lost one of an engine service area with Geeps at the service rack. I remember that, because I tried to build a service rack like it (best I could at the time) using model airplane balsa wood and painted it silver. In the process of painting it, some of the paint splattered onto the page showing the photo!


Hi N5CJonny!

Thanks for your comments.

You found some pretty cool flats to use.

As for the use of angles, some of the things I learned about them when experimenting:

* For best effect when being viewed in person, at the minimum, the top of the building needs to be at eye level, higher than eye level is even better. Being above eye level isn't a problem on this small computer room layout, for the top of my bench work stands 58" above floor level. (I'm 6'1" for now.  )

* The steeper the angle, the better the effect when viewed from other perspectives.

* Any buildings opposite the effect need to use the same vanishing point. Otherwise the geometry looks wrong and the eye will quickly notice the inconsistency. (Humans are very geometric in our viewing input. Some more than others.)

A composite photo I just threw together to illustrate:


Offer my "PhotoFlats" commercially...

That was originally in the thought process, but I bogged down in regards to instructional tutorials, distribution issues, etc. It started getting to be a lot of "work". I learned from my past commissioned years (custom painting/decal/weathering work on engines/rolling stock, commissioned structure assembly/painting/weathering, commercial layout construction/installation, etc) that turning my hobby into work is not a good thing. (I ended up burned-out with the model railroading hobby for about a year or more.)

SO... even though I've own the "" domain for years (will renew again in Oct)... I don't know if I'll ever do anything with it commercially.

Well, I'll bet that's more than you wanted to read.

I tend to be a "bit" verbose.



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Last edited by laming

Some musings...

NYC F3 Black w/simple nose stripes on FA's:

Have yet to see any of the NYC's early FA's with that scheme. So far, all (a dozen or more) FA pics that I found while digging had the Lightening Stripe scheme.


Okay, at first I thought about an RMT "Bang" diesel, having had one a few years ago and seeing that it was a decent runner. SO, for several weeks I've been watching the Bay for one to appear to get an idea of what they go for on the second hand market. To date there's been: Nada. Zip. Squat. PLUS, it appears almost all of the RMT offerings on The Bay are higher than a cat's back ($$). You can get decent Lionel Postwar rolling stock cheaper!

Now, I'm sure if I wait long enough, RMT will miraculously find some another case or two of Bang's that were long lost and hidden in their huge "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" type warehouse they must surely have... and no doubt these will be an even later version than the cases they found last time... with new upgrades and all.

BUT... nearly $300 for a traditional sized toy train? Um, no.

SO, I've been doin' some learnin', and schooled myself a bit about the little Marx "1998" Alco switcher. Took a look at some of them and, lo and behold... I actually like the little fellers! The one in this pic is the one that really made me step back and go "HMMMmmmmm"...


Looks pretty nifty as is, but I think with a bit of doin', one of those could look pretty stinkin' good, and ought to blend in nicely (size wise) with my proposed steam and diesel rosters.

Like I said... HMMMMmmmmm.



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Received my user-painted FA's that will be heading off to the dunk tank. Though the box took a beating, there was no damage to the engines.

Hastily placed them on a test oval and...

...I reckon my idea of "run excellent" and the seller's idea are two different concepts. They buzz... but don't move. I'll need to dig into them later, but for now I'm off to go eat out with the Ms.

Likely they need disassembled, cleaned, lube/etc!

Still sort of ponderin' what road names these will become.

All fer now!



Last edited by laming

Bountiful day!

Got back from eating out with the Ms... and there on the porch was another package!

This box contained the pair of whistle tenders (6026W, 6466W) I purchased off the Bay. One works great (the 6026W)... the other (6466W) seems the relay works... and the whistle motor is trying... but the motor needs desperately to be cleaned/lubed.

I'll likely take all this stuff (FA's, tenders) out to my hobby hut (layout building) tomorrow and get started on the disassembly, clean up, etc.

Still to arrive is my Plasticville Switch Tower. Probably tomorrow.

Also, I'm watching some other items. Mainly rolling stock. Frankly, I'd really rather pick up rolling stock at a train meet. Remember train meets? You know, those places packed with trains n' people where we had fun and could often find "deals"? Yeah, those! Sure miss 'em.


Hi palallin!

To me it seems deals are gone on most postwar items, regardless of mfg'ers. I'm usually amazed at the typical "Opening Bid" and "Buy It Now" prices: Higher than a cat's back.

Marx vs RMT:

RMT actually makes the better looking of the two and I would be inclined to lean in that direction IF I could find one, then there's the part of being willing to layout nearly $300 for a traditional sized toy train. At this point I don't think I am. To my eyes, RMT's treatment of all the hand railings is much better looking than Marx's, and the RMT version also has the side railings the length of the walkways, which looks more "correct" than what Marx did.

Now, if I go with a Marx, and assuming it would run good 'enuf for my "good 'enuf"... then I would modify it (opening the cab end windows, glazing the windows, adding a crew, repainting, etc) which would remove any "collectibility" that it would have in the future.

HOWEVER... I'm not going forward with either RMT or Marx at this point! We shall see!


Hi All!

I posted a pic very similar to the one below over at this week's "Photo Fun" thread, but I'm slowly learning to be more cognizant of small things so I adjusted some very minor elements, and tried again with another shot. This time I included the noses of two steam engines to give more of impression that steam still rules, as well as placed the figures more carefully (against the black background of the engine's front) to stand out better. I also readjusted the figures so it makes the one pointing look like he's pointing at the subject matter instead of just gesturing as he talks. It is so easy to overlook things that can help set a scene.

Admittedly, these are very subtle elements, but I think my eyes like the result better.

Included here is the caption that went with the pic over at the "Photo Fun" thread to help explain the what I was trying to convey with the original, and this, pic...

Hogger "Stringbean" Collins and Ashcat "Shovel Butt" Sanderson stand in front of their steam hog they'll be climbin' on shortly, and are given the newcomers an eyein' over. Things are sure changin' fast on the rails the past couple years as more and more of these "diesel electric" locomotives keep showing up.

"They've got no soul" says Stringbean.

"Yeah, but you ain't the one havin' to sweat bullets keepin' these old hogs steamin' hot!" retorts Shovel Butt.

Little do either of them realize just how quickly the diesels will totally displace the fire breathing glory machines, one of which they'll be manning tonight. Yes, all too soon, these spectacular machines will be no more. However tonight, time will stand still as that proud old gal, the 2055, will be struttin' her stuff like she's done for years... blowing billows of  smoke into the crisp night air... as the glow of the firebox dances along on the cinder ballast below.


In the midst of figuring out a few things about photo composition, I've also learned that I think it's going to be fun to stage photos that have a "realistic" feel to them, yet using simplistic models and traditional trains therein! Looking forward to "one of these days" having enough actual "scenery" in place (weathered rail, ground cover, painted figures, some weeds, etc) to enhance the illusion, instead of the lack of same detracting from it.

All in good time, I suppose!




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Last edited by laming

UPDATE on the latest acquisitions...

Cast frame FA's:

The power unit isn't passing current through the E-unit. Have several posts and w/suggestions from forumites over in my "PW Questions" thread. With help, I'll get it sorted. Oh, and I made an offer on a Greenberg's PW repair manual and it was accepted, so that will be on the way.


Whistle motor's fine. Spins great. Turned out to be a lazy relay. Just doesn't have the "oomph" to pull up the floating portion the required distance so the tabs make contact. I don't think bending the contact tabs closer together will work in this case, for I must raise the floating portion with a wedge in order for it to "suck up" and blow. So, I'm going to improvise. I'm going to shim the floating portion upwards to where the solenoid can lift it the remaining distance to close the tabs.


Just needs checked over and serviced!

All fer now.


Last edited by laming


So I'm taking a break from working on engines/rolling stock. Thought I'd take a look at that Plasticville Switch Tower and see what I could do.

As a refresher course, I took a wall panel and distressed the plastic to try to make it look more aged and less perfect. Using the edge of the razor saw and an X-acto, I set about creating some wood grain and such. Below is a comparison photo. The untouched wall panel on the left, the distressed panel is on the right. Over to the left is the steps assembly that I also distressed.


I next took the platform, and made an overlay for it using V-grove styrene. I then used some 100 grit sandpaper to add wood grain, and followed that up with some draws of the X-acto to add some hints of splitting hither n' yon. (And carved in a few knotholes while I was at it.) Lastly, I carved the ends of the boards to be a bit uneven to indicate wear n' tear and such.


When I'm ready to start the painting process, the first color will be base gray. I may highlight the base gray by dry-brushing with lighter and darker gray to add some variation. That done, all gray painted parts will get a wash of India Ink/alcohol mix. The ink wash will settle into the wood grain that I added as well as into the seams, corners/etc.

The trim will get "Roof Brown", likely dry-brushed in place, and "Depot Buff" will be dry-brushed onto the clapboard areas to simulate worn paint.

It's been a long time since I've used the above techniques to achieve the old wood w/worn paint look, but I figure it will all come back to me as I move along.

Engines/Rolling Stock...

Sort of watching a couple engines on the Bay. I could be interested in either, but doubt that I'm ready to shell out the loot that would be needed to get both. Probably wouldn't hurt to hold off purchasing either of them, instead letting my hobby funds recover. OR, just decide which one to try for, and let that be it for a couple/three weeks. We shall see.

All fer now!



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The allure of Plasticville. Now when I look at a piece, my mind starts thinking paint, razor saw, X-acto and the ever popular Dremel. I won't mention glue to offend the purist. I thought the tower was one of the better pieces.

I think I have one buried in some moving boxes. Look forward to the progress. Maybe it will get me off my butt and do something on the railroad.


Get it out and go for it!

You said:

"I thought the tower was one of the better pieces."

I agree.


Yup, modifying, painting, the whole 9 yards. I'm a real doozie, I am.

Nah... no operating accessories. The only one I've ever had was a re-release (Ice Loader) I purchased new back when it came out in the 1990s. It was "okay". But I've since better defined my "Givens n' Druthers" for 3-rail, and it doesn't include operating accessories like the Gate Man, nor does it include Hi-rail, and for sure, not 3RS. As long as I stay with traditional trains, I'm sort of in my "safe zone".

From the "Ya Snooze, 'Ya Loose" dept:

Saw these last night...


"Buy It Now" at $163.19. (Plus $19.29 shipping.) Decided to sleep on it and give it some thought.

Checked on 'em this afternoon to take another look, and maybe ponder it some more. Too late. Gone, gone.

Ah well... just goes to show you...

Wherever you go, there you are.

(Huh? )



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@laming posted:




Checked on 'em this afternoon to take another look, and maybe ponder it some more. Too late. Gone, gone.

Ah well... just goes to show you...

Wherever you go, there you are.

(Huh? )



If you can live without the ozone (can motors vs. Pullmor's), WbB made these in Rock Island and other liveries to boot.  I have a set (I won't say what road name 'cuz I like to keep that a secret ), they're really nice.  And they're still available at some dealers, for about the same price you missed out on. 


If you can live without the ozone (can motors vs. Pullmor's), WbB made these in Rock Island and other liveries to boot.  I have a set (I won't say what road name 'cuz I like to keep that a secret ), they're really nice.  And they're still available at some dealers, for about the same price you missed out on. 

"If you can live without the ozone..."

You raise an interesting point there, Paul.

In my mental deliberations during those times I entertained the thought of doing 3-rail again, I was able to distill many aspects of my "Givens n' Druthers".  One conclusion I came to is that I will likely need to eventually turn to more modern traditional-sized offerings in order to have some of the motive power that I would like to have. Mainly, two areas:

* Switchers: Given my layout's "theme" I see a definite need for a switcher (or switchers) that will blend-in (proportionally) with Lionel's cast and stamped frame FA's, their Baldwin Hudson's, and Berk-boiler locomotives. Likely candidates for this role would be either the Marx "1998" Alco switcher, or an RMT Bang. Between the two, aesthetically, a notable advantage goes to the Bang. However, availability and price point causes me to look at, and seriously consider, Marx.

* EMD car bodies: I concluded that I am willing to go with Rail King's "stubby" F3's so I can have the EMD car body look, and thus avoid the overpowering size (in comparison to the other motive power) of the Lionel F3's.

Taking it on the nose would be GP7's and Alco's RS series. Just no way to have those without dwarfing the above mentioned engines.

So, as you can see, I've already made mental allowances for select "recent manufacture" traditional-sized engines such as the RMT Bang, and the Rail King stubby F3's. Perhaps later (when "luxury" status is reached), perhaps even a Rail King EMD E-unit. Didn't MTH also make an RK Alco PA?

WbB FA's could possibly be included among those mentioned, but frankly, I'd rather utilize Lionel's FA offerings, either in factory paint (like the Rock Island's I missed), or by picking up a non-KC line version (Erie, or silver 2023's) that has "issues", fix 'em, then repaint 'em into a "KC friendly" paint scheme. True Postwar Lionel, Marx, and others, really is a strong drawing card for me. I just like 'em. Can't explain, just do.

Thus, I see the RMT Bang, the RK stubby F3's, etc, as "evil neccessities" to accomplish my "Givens n' Druthers". (WbB would definitely be a "luxury" status purchase.) However, the backbone of the roster will be Lionel Postwar locomotives.

Curiously, I'm not nearly as "anal" about the rolling stock. Pretty much open season on anything traditional-sized that looks good to my eyes, will blend proportionally with 6464 boxcars, as well as being appropriate for my era choice.

All fer now!


Last edited by laming

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