Category Archives: Christmas Trains

Mister Rodger’s “Trolley” from a Bachmann Cable Car

I can believe that it took me 3 1/2 years to finish it. I’m given to much deep thought as to how to best finish a project, only to find that the simplest of methods and techniques are usually the most effective. In this case, rather than try to cut around each seat setting in the sides, I simply dimpled the top of the card stock between each seat, thereby reinforcing the old “3 foot rule”–if it looks good from three feet away, then it’s good enough.

The sides and sign are simply printed on heavy stock, then glued into place. My beloved lifted the graphics from a picture of Trolley, then reduced them to the dimensions of the cable car.

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As the video shows, it runs quite well, and the open air effect is quite nice.

Lionel set 1590 from 1958…

One of the great bugaboos of the model train hobby is the mindset that I run into at shows or just at social gatherings.  John (or Jane) Q. Public has a train set that’s “been in the family for a long time” and they want to know what it’s worth.  From the look in their eyes and the tone in their voice, they obviously have the one exceptionally rare antique set worth enough to cover their mortgage and send one or two of the kidlets to Harvard, so would I be a dear and please confirm this delusion?.

Nothing could be further from the truth in this hobby.  Old DOES NOT mean valuable, whether it sports a Lionel tag or TYCO.  What the Lionel debacle did in the 80s was pull out from attics and closets across this fruited plain, box after box of grandpa’s old trains, showing that what was once  considered “Rare” was actually just one of many hundreds that were buried, just like any other toy out there, waiting only for a good reason to be pulled out into the light.  5000 greenbacks for an original #300 Hell Gate Bridge will do that to anything out there, not just Lionel.

My 1590 set comes from a good friend who is settling his brother-in-law’s estate.  Fortunately for me, he understands that only special pieces get special prices.  He found this mixed in the estate with a bunch of track, most of which had fallen victim to the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.  It is in cosmetically good condition and has all four cars, the blue gon just didn’t make the cut on the too short shelf space.  The irony is that the value in the set is not in the whole, but in fact, one part…the “Range Patrol” truck that would have sat on the yellow flat car.  An orange or yellow truck can get double what the set complete can get.  Who knew…sigh…

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Original 1958 catalog listing…

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NOTE:  Settling this estate has been a hoot for my friend and his family.  With no will, the state and a reprobate offspring have ravaged the estate and my friend’s life over the last 2 years.  Being married to next of kin just gives the state a warm body to sink their fangs and claws into.  They will get their pound of flesh, and it will be yesterday…

If you don’t have a will, you are a fool and richly deserve every curse called down upon your corpse by the family you left behind.  Get a will…now.

…and then there was light.

Three Christmases ago, my building light string inexplicably went “Poof”, without the benefit of the customary magic blue smoke of all things electrical. Replacing bulbs (there are only ten), jiggling wires, liberal doses of magic blue language…all was for naught, leaving my Christmas village a dark and dreary place to behold for the next two Christmases.

Then, in what can only be described as that Biblical “still, small voice”, I was bid to try just one more time, on a socket I know I’ve tried many times before, and after we had already set up the tree, leaving any ability to really service it impossible.

The result….


Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.—-(1Corinthians 3:18-20)