3 Mar

How To Start Collecting Model Trains

Model trains are an amazing hobby and one that many people find very exciting. Imagine having an exact replica of the Orient Express or the Trans-Siberian Express running around a mdel landscape you hand built in your basement. Ther very thought leaves a lot of people breathless. And the amazing thing about the model train hobby is that there is something in every price range for anyone who wants to get involved.

Some model train hobbyists simply like to buy modern train sets that can be run on a small layout they buy and set up while others love to make massive layouts complete with mountains, rivers, roads, tunnels and buildings in a fully landscaped environment. There is definitely something for everyone when it comes to layouts. And the model trains and cars created today by K-Line, Lionel, MTH Electric Trains or Williams are very, very detailed and sales are booming for these companies because of that. Their engines and rail cars are exact minitures of the real thing.

Other hobbyists get very serious about their train collections and look for collectible or vintage trains that can be very expensive to obtain. These hobbyists need to understand how to recognize true originals as well as understanding how the condition of each train model effects price just like any other vintage or antique collector has to. Over a hundred years ago Joshua Lionel Cowen created the Old Lionel model trains and many children in the early 1900’s had a train set as their only toy. They were unique in their detail and very well built and some still exist today. Those models can go for large sums of money so you want to know you are getting what you pay for if you decide to buy one for your personal collection.

It is very easy to get started in the hobby of model trains. There are a number of manufacturers today as we mentioned and you can start off small and build your hobby. If you decide to collect older models you can start much like others collectible hobbyists do, you can visit flea markets or yard sales and garage sales to find your first model trains. Estate sales, model train shops or antique stores may turn up higher priced model trains while the internet is filled with other places to look like the eBay auctions or web sites that deal in selling vintage model train.

Take your time to learn all you can about model train engines, the various rail cars as well as the large variety of landscape and layout pieces that exist. It is always good to buy model trains or individuals engines, cars or pieces because you enjoy them. Later on you may find you have a valuable collection to boot..Take your hobby serious but don’t forget to enjoy yourself. That is always a good rule of thumb to follow with any collectible hobby.

2 Mar

The Early Beginnings Of Air Transportation

It is difficult to imagine not being able to catch a flight to travel around the world these days, but this technology has not been around for that long. The first ever controlled heavier-than-air controlled flight occurred within Connecticut by Gustave Whitehead in 1901. This predated the Famous Wright Brothers flight by a whole two years. Whitehead’s engine powered plane with glider-like wings flew over 800 meters at an altitude of fifteen metres. Here in this article we look at the early history of the aeroplane and look at how important air transportation is today.

Since then, replicas of Whitehead’s plane have been flown successfully, his flight becoming the first real milestone in heavier-than-air powered flight in the 19th century. The highly publicised flights of the Wright Brothers however are far more well-known, with the flights they organised in Carolina in December 1903. These were regarded by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) as the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air power flight. The flight by Whitehead was not well known until the Wright Brothers fame was already world-wide.

Air transportation and heavier-than-air aviation was very popular in the first decade of the 20th century with many different inventors making claims of short flights. Many of these were verified and others were not. Lyman Gilmore claimed to have flown a plane successfully in 1902 but there were no witnesses to back this up. A farmer in New Zealand claimed to have created a monoplane that flew in March 1903. The Wright Brothers continued to conduct flights in Ohio during the years 1904 and 1905, inviting their family and friends to witness. Due to a failed attempt that occurred in 1904, members of the media did not attend and witness the later flights.

The history of the powered flight and air transportation created a major boost within the First World War (1914-1918), when manned planes were used by allies and central powers. Planes were used for the air transportation of aid and directly created air assaults. In the beginning people found it bizarre to use the plane as a weapon, but it soon became adopted.

Today air transportation is very important for many different reasons, but is still prominent in warfare and has changed war and travel across the world. Engineering specialists today are required to offer many services to aviation, in particular security. Much planning and work is needed for the building of airports, plane terminals and environmental impacts air transportation has created.

28 Feb

Thomas The Tank Engine Toy Trains – Bringing Happiness To Kids Everywhere!

Is it just me or have train sets gone out of fashion in recent years? I remember when I was young that train sets were a big part of my life, these days kids don’t seem to be into train sets so much. Children these days now ask for iPods, video games, and even cell phones before they’re 10 years old. That friendly little tank engine is causing a train set revival of sorts.

The Thomas The Tank Engine TV show has spawned innumerable amounts of merchandise. Thomas The Tank Engine is an educational program wrapped up in an adventure story, it even manages to include some history as well. And because Thomas is really a train, children are able to begin using their imagination and develop an appreciation for the more simple fun-based activities that many grown ups once knew as kids.

Thomas The Tank Engine is a big hit in my family and it’s all girls so I’m not surprised that Thomas The Tank Engine merchandise is springing up everywhere. Thomas The Tank Engine train sets grab a small childs attention like no other train set I’ve ever seen. Adults today will remember fondly the wooden trains that they played with when they were children. Now they can pass on that fun with a Thomas The Tank Engine wooden replica. The cars are colored vibrant gradations of red, blue, green, and yellow, and usually come with small wooden blocks to transport as “freight”.

There are heaps of accessoires to go along with the train set as well. Kids imaginations will go crazy with limitless possibilities of creating their own littlle towns to have adventures in, especially when they get their hands on their very own Knapford Station. With two pieces of authentic switch track this station closely resembles a real passenger station. The station can be brought to life with a built in microphone for making announcements and the sounds of whistles as well as movement can help stimulate your childs imagination. What little kid wouldn’t love the opportunity to become an engineer in their very own train station!

Thomas also has heaps of friends that kids love to play with. Max and Monty the dump trucks help teach children the importance of sharing. Max and Monty are of the opinion that they are experts in construction but actually cause trouble wherever they go. They are always found to be bossing around the smaller machines but in the end they learn the error of their ways.

Along with several toys and children’s shows, Thomas the Tank Engine makes a variety of merchandise just for children. There are heaps of educational materials such as mats, art sets, and puzzles to go along with the train sets. You can decorate just about every aspect of your childs room with Thomas The Tank Engine merchandise. There are clocks, furniture, bed sheets, doonahs as well as knives, forks and plates.

23 Feb

The Top 10 Model Train Shops in Illinois

For the past year I’ve been compiling a list of model train stores for my model railroading website. These shops all look like fantastic places to visit, but what are the most popular? Here is a list for the great state of Illinois.

The most popular model railroading shops (based on online chatter) in the state of Illinois are:

10. Ace Hobby Place in Chicago

9. Hammers Hobbies in Springfield

8. Woodstock Hobbies in Woodstock

7. B and G Train World in Elgin

6. Denny’s Trains and Things in Oswego

5. America’s Best Train Toy and Hobby Shop in Itasca

4. Prospect Bikes and Trains in Mount Prospect

3. Spring Hill Northern Train Supply in Richmond

2. Chicagoland Hobby in Chicago

…and the most popular shop for model trains in Illinois is…

1. First Hobby in Decatur

Hobby shops not quite making my top 10 were Al’s Hobby Shop in Elmhurst, Atomic Toy Company in Galena, Berywn’s Toy Trains and Models in Berwyn, Choo Choo Connection in Schaumburg, Des Plaines Hobbies in Des Plaines, Ed’s Hobby Warehouse in Palos Hills, Golden Spike Train Shop in Burbank, Grayslake Hobby World in Grayslake, Hands To Work Railroading in Alsip, Hauff Hobbies and Train Repair in Glenview, Hill’s Hobby & Collectors’ Shop in Buffalo Grove, Hobbies R 4 U in Bradley, Hobby City in Berwyn, K-10’s Model Trains in Maryville, LaGrange Hobby Center in La Grange, Leisure Hours Hobbies in Joliet, Mike’s Scale Rails in Peoria, Oakridge Hobbies and Toys in Downers Grove, Past-Time Hobbies in Brookfield, Pat’s Hobbies Oak Lawn, Pizza Express LGB Train Shop in Carterville, Rossville Depot Railroad Museum in Rossville, Royal Hobby Shop in Rockford, Sweetname Hardware and Model Train in Peoria, Thunder Road Hobbies in Moline, Tom Thumb Hobby and Crafts in Evanston, Trains and Toys of Yesterday in in Morton Grove, Venture Hobbies Wheeling, Wabash Junction in Springfield, and Walt’s Hobby Shop in Joliet.

Also in Illinois be sure to visit some of the great railroading museums including Chatham Railroad Museum in Chatham, Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum in Elizabeth, Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Kankakee Railroad Museum in Kankakee, Monticello Railway Museum in Monticello, Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and Union Depot Railroad Museum in Mendota.

I compiled this list by searching for the hobby shops listed on a number of search engines and ranking them by the number of web pages, discussion forums, photos, videos, etc that are available online. I further screened this list to include only pages that mentioned model railroading.

Check out my complete list of Model Train Shops in Illinois at www.ModelTrainsWithLarry.com which has complete contact information for each shop including an address, phone number, and map to the store.

21 Feb

Guide To Common Rail Wiring For Model Toys Electric Train Sets

For those interested in model toys, particularly that of the model train, one thing they will inevitably come across when commencing their hobby is the issue of how to wire their railway.

One of the most popular ways to do this is through the device called common rail wiring, the basic concept of which lies in always insulating the same piece of rail, while leaving the other one still connected. Sketch and/or draw a layout of your system that shows the dual tracks while marking the outer and inner rails as plus and minus respectively. In the example of an oval track layout, this means that the outer rail will always be positive no matter where it goes, and the inner rail will therefore also always be negative. The benefit of this is, once you have insulated the inside rail on every siding (even those controlled via on-off switches), the outer rail therefore becomes akin to common ground, while the inner rail resembles hot switched lead. This is why this method has become known as common rail wiring for the model train. Two different power packs are recommended for this system, both insulated from each other (such as in the cases where an oval is inside an oval), as they can then have the ability to control different areas of the layout in the same instances. Both packs need at least one wire to be attached to the common rail, with a second to go to either the insulated rail of the oval or to the sidings in order to be controlled.

The common rail system is a very popular one, primarily because it enables the system to pass on control from one of the packs to the other, with the model train on the track thus gaining power from the right side of the front truck at the same time as it is getting it from the left side of the rear truck. Minus the common rail, the model train would otherwise regard the insulated joint as a malfunctioning switch and would thus then just stall on the track. Just be prepared for the possibility of the model toys surging unexpectedly fast when crossing over the joint!

One last point remember to double insulate on the section of the track where you require the train to reverse back on itself this means that the positive rail will suddenly run smack bang into a negative rail, and thus an insulating gap and plastic joiner are essential here. A DPDT (double-pole, double-throw) switch will be required for this operation.

Aside from this, however, the common rail wiring should be the best solution for your model train toys system.