Lionel Trains Warehouse Sale – Charlotte, NC

Well, this is the weekend of the big warehouse sale up at Lionel Trains’ headquarters up in Concord, North Carolina, just on the north side of Charlotte. I believe this is only the second year that Lionel has done this. More importantly, it is the first time I have attended. The sale goes on Saturday and Sunday, the 4th & 5th, but Lionel Collector Club of America (LCCA) members get in early on Friday night. Nice to be able to get in a bit earlier, though it is still quite crowded.

Little did I know that there is also a Lionel retail shop on site. Those pictures above that are all nice and tidy (the last 6) are the shop. The shop isn’t huge and by no means carries the full range of Lionel merchandise, but it is nice, friendly, and well worth the visit.

I won’t tell you how much money I spent, heck I am still trying not to let myself know, but there were some great deals to be had. Sections of curved FasTrack were only a dollar each, and straights were two dollars. There were random un-boxed cars, mint in every way except missing their boxes, for just $10. Suffice it to say that I stocked up on all sorts of stuff. But hey, I needed it all, right?

I must also mention how nice everyone was. From the Lionel folks working the sale to the collectors, kids, and other shoppers, everyone was smiling, pleasant, helpful and just having a good time. These are toys after all!

So, to some up, I think I have a new must-attend event and perhaps a new kickoff to the holiday train season. Now to see if I can make it to York next year …

Bluetooth Model Train Control

OK train people, I haven’t written much about model trains recently, but this Kickstarter project is very interesting. Basically, this small board which would be added into the model locomotive would enable you to control your trains via a Bluetooth device such as an Apple or Android phone.

BlueTooth Control

As much as other hobbies have advanced over the years, model trains have gotten a bit stuck. Or maybe we should say “derailed”? Anyway, the trains are still, for the most part, controlled via power and signals over the track. This is often called driving the track instead of driving the train. While DCC helps with that, it still relies on the track for the power and the computer signal to reach the train. The goal everyone would like to get to would be for the track to be support only, as they are in real life, with power and controls coming from the locomotive itself.

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Pictures of Charleston Rail

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a book about railroads in Charleston with lots of great photographs would be priceless, right? Well with a little help from the folks here in town, and maybe a few spread further away, that is what I am hoping for.

Charleston South Carolina Arcadia PublishingI am working with Arcadia Publishing, coincidentally located here in Charleston, to produce a book for their Images of Rail series. This is not going to be a dry history, but a look into how the railroads and streetcar lines in Charleston really fit in with local life and helped to shape that life. To that end, I am looking for old photographs that might be used in “Charleston Rail”.

Do you have a photograph of a great uncle waving from the streetcar on which he was a conductor? Do you have a snapshot of the old Seaboard Air Line Railway station at Grove and Rutledge? Maybe you even have a few pictures of relatives coming in to town at Union Station that burned in the forties. Anything like this would be of interest.

The importance of family collections cannot be overemphasized. Vintage photographs become increasingly fragile and by scanning and reproducing them in a book, they become available for all to see. While postcards are great, and well loved, what I am looking for here are actual photographs. They have to be out there somewhere – in trunks, in photo albums, or hanging on the wall.

So please, if you have anything you think might be of interest, just let me know. I would love to talk with you. Shoot me an email, give me a call or jump me in the street. If you choose the latter, please be gentle.

And if you are interested in the book, stay tuned and I will let you know when it comes out. If you subscribe to this site, you will be one of the first to know.

The West Model Train Collection

Yesterday I spent a good part of the day hanging out with what one person described as my “tribe”.  The tribe being that group of people who is interested in some of the same things I am. In this case it might have been a fairly eclectic tribe; those folks who are both in to British cars and trains. You see, yesterday members of The British Car Club of Charleston visited the home of member and model train collector Mike West.

Model Train Collection

Now I have known Mike for about thirty years, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I discovered that he, like me, has a things for trains. He started on this hobby when he was just a kid back in the forties and still has some of his original model trains from back then.

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Train Town Toy & Hobby

I am very happy to say that a model train store has finally opened in the Charleston area. While we have had a couple of chain craft and hobby stores available, they do not have staff who are really tuned in to the model railroader and neither do they seem very interested in developing the market. So this has been a veritable desert for model railroaders for about the last 8 to 10 years. But now that has changed. Train Town Toy & Hobby - Summerville, SC Train Town Toy & Hobby, the shop of Jim and Nancy Donlon, has moved to downtown Summerville. They used to be located in the Richmond, Virginia area, but thankfully for us they moved south about a month ago. David Geddings, my friend and co-worker, and I visited the store for the first time today, and we found it friendly and welcoming.

I talked for a short while with Jim Donlon, and he said one of the things he was surprised about when he moved here is that most folks seem to be into HO and N scale. It seems that he said in Richmond most of the folks he knew were into O. This is quite evidenced by the fact that the store is stocked primarily with Lionel. There are sections of HO, N, and G, but most of the space is dedicated to O. And I will tell you, he has some great items.

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