Year 2002 Toy Train Layout Update  [December 2002 update - page bottom]

Updates by year:  2011     2010     2009     2008     2007     2006     2005     2004     2003     2001     2000

January 2002 -- Layout and small motorized unit maintenance took center stage after the holiday operating session. I replaced a couple of modern era switches on the reversing loop that, due to their poor design, were the cause of too many derailments. I used vintage postwar Lionel O22 switches as replacements and haven't had a single derailment since. I highly recommend these postwar switches for anyone doing a lot of operating. Also continued the maintenance on the small motorized units in my collection. Completed were the # 50 Gang Car, # 54 Ballast Tamper, and # 69 Maintenance Car. The Gang Car was a bit of a challenge as the screw holes for the motor field bolts had worn out and would no longer hold the bolts. I found an extra Gang Car chassis in my parts box and proceeded to transfer all the parts from the old chassis to the new one. The biggest challenge was getting the old front axle bushings out. I accomplished this by pounding them out using a hammer on a small flat blade screwdriver. Was able to salvage all the original parts except for the motor brushes and springs, which needed replacing. These motorized units now run "good as new." I still have the # 60 trolley waiting its turn for maintenance.

February 2002 -- Attended the Spring Cal-Stewart toy train meet this month. "Spring" comes early in California, so it is usually held mid-February. The Cal-Stewart meet is said to be the largest toy train gathering west of the Mississippi River. It is jointly sponsored by the Train Collectors Association and the Toy Train Operating Society. I enjoy attending this meet because in addition to the usual buying and selling of trains, there are clinics put on by club members who have expertise in certain areas of toy train collecting/operating. During the day I picked up a postwar # 30 Lionel Water Tower and prewar Lionel # 440N Signal Bridge for the layout. Am in the process of cleaning/fixing them up.

March 2002 -- On my website, I added the Train Collectors Association online e-Train Magazine and Simply Trains to my Links page. There are now 19 websites (other than the award sites on my Awards page) that have added a link to my site. As a fellow website builder once told me, "the more links, the merrier." In the train layout room, I completed maintenance on the small motorized units. The Lionel # 60 postwar trolley required a complete disassembly and cleaning. I inadvertently broke one of the bumpers during re-assembly, so I had to order a replacement. The Lionel # 30 Water Tower and # 440N Signal Bridge are now installed and operational on the layout. Will take some photos of them and post them on my web site when I next update the layout photos.

April 2002 -- I wasn't satisfied with my Links page after last month's update, so I did some re-configuring. I also replaced some of the text links with banner links. On the Layout page, I added some explanatory narrative to each of the twelve current layout photos. On my Video page I posted a new video of the Lionel Circus Car and corral in action. Before shooting the video, I tuned up all three corrals on the layout to test which would be best for video viewing. I tried the cattle corral and horse corral first, but both videos turned out to be too dark because of their position on the layout relative to the window light. So I ended up shooting a video of the Circus Car and corral. Enjoy!

May 2002 -- I spent the last half of the month overseas visiting Thailand. Looked around in a few stores while there for toy trains. Found some cheaply made plastic non-powered or battery powered toy monorail and train sets. Did not find any electric toy trains. Purchased a toy tanker truck with a Thai fuel company logo for use on my layout. At the beginning of the month I did install a Lionel # 153IR infrared accessory controller on my main line O27 loop to activate the postwar Lionel # 145 automatic gateman when a train approaches. This infrared controller is ideal for powering automatic track side accessories like the gateman. I now have three of these controllers in operation on my layout.

June 2002 -- Worked on some repair projects. Replaced a broken front truck on a Lionel # 400 Budd Car with another original truck. Also replaced a broken coupler on a Lionel # 2530 Railway Express Agency Baggage Car with another original coupler. I always try to use original vintage toy train parts when they are available. Performed some needed service on the Lionel # 460 Piggy Back platform. The lift mechanism had a tendency to stick when trying to lower the vans to the platform. A complete disassembly and cleaning was done along with a few minor adjustments of the mechanism. I installed another six streetlights on the layout and a traffic signal in the Plasticville village. A pushbutton was added for a remote control track in the O27 yard. Lastly, I set up the Walt Disney World monorail set that I had purchased a few months ago. My intention is to eventually incorporate it into the layout, but for now it is set up underneath the train table.

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July 2002 -- I was given some Dollar Store figurines, houses, and trees to place on the layout. These were strategically incorporated into the existing scenery. Two weeks of this month I was away on vacation. I saw the real-life Walt Disney World monorail and noted that the model I had set up in last month's update was a remarkable representation of the real thing. On my way back home, I stopped in Kansas City to visit the Union Station. I learned that Kansas City is the second busiest train center in the country (Chicago is the first). The Kansas City Union Station had undergone a $250,000,000 restoration to recapture its past elegance. There was an excellent exhibit there that showed the history and restoration of the station. The Union Station is worth a visit if you are in the area.

August 2002 -- Attended the Toy Train Operating Society (TTOS) national convention in Las Vegas. Was a small meet by national convention standards, but there were still a good variety of trains offered. I came away with a prewar Lionel Mickey Mouse clockwork handcar for my collection. Hope to do a website video of this cute little car one day. I have also started modifying my train layout for the addition of the Walt Disney World monorail that I spoke of in my June 2002 update. Since the monorail is about "S" scale in size, I will be adding wooden blocks under all the monorail piers so the O gauge trains can clear underneath the monorail track. Some accessories and scenery items will be relocated to make way for the monorail piers. Hope to have pictures on my website in the next month or so of the new layout look when the monorail installation is complete.

September 2002 -- Decided on a location and fit the Walt Disney World monorail into the layout. The monorail is now set up and operational. I cut and painted some wood blocks to raise the monorail support piers high enough so the trains could clear underneath. A number of layout accessories and buildings had to be moved to make room for the piers and blocks. I still need to relocate some building and accessory electrical wiring. Will try to wrap this up during my next work session on the layout.

October 2002 -- Completed the relocation of the building and accessory wiring that was necessary due to the monorail installation. The monorail and surrounding scenery are now complete. I posted a few new photos on my Current Layout web page to update what my layout looks like with the monorail installed. I also modified my control panel wiring to take some of the load off the Lionel 275 watt postwar ZW transformer. I was controlling two of the main line tracks with this transformer in addition to the yard area. However, when running a combination of prewar streamliners and postwar passenger sets, I noticed a significant slowdown in train speed even with the ZW set at the 20 volt maximum output per track. So I wired the upper level main line track to a Lionel 150 watt prewar V transformer. The V transformer is capable of putting out up to 25 volts to the track, which is occasionally necessary for some prewar equipment. I left the ZW to power the lower level O gauge main line and the 027 yard. As a result of this fresh infusion of power, the trains run with new zeal.

November 2002 -- Typically, October and November are prime train buying months and this year was no exception. In the last couple of months I've made several new acquisitions for my train room. I found a Lionel # 454 Construction Kit that appears to have never been used at a train shop in Auburn, CA. It is now on display in the train room. Obtained a Lionel # 164 Operating Log Loader to be placed at an as yet unknown layout location. It is in excellent shape with very few paint scratches. It works wonderfully, too. I bought a Lionel # 3361 Log Dump Car and # 3461 Operating Lumber Car to go with the Log Loader. I added a set of three Lionel Madison heavyweight Pullman passenger cars that I found in a train shop in Reno, NV. A couple of space age items, a Lionel # 59 U.S. Air Force Minuteman diesel switcher and a Lionel # 6544 Missile Firing Car, were also added to my collection. As you can see, I've had quite a few new items to play with in the train room.

December 2002 -- My website had its 50,000th visitor this month. My toy train layout made its web debut in March 1999 and has steadily grown in popularity since then. According to my hit counter stats, in the three weeks before Christmas, I was getting an average of 1,400 visitors a week. Toy trains are very popular around the Christmas holidays! My local Ace Hardware stores had a sale on their miniature village line a few days before Christmas. I was able to purchase a large number of trees for my layout at a very reasonable price. The trees were all made to look like their branches are snow-tipped, so I am going to make one end of my train layout into a winter scene. Found some "Soft Snow" material on sale at another store right after Christmas. I will be using this to give an illusion of snow and snow drifts on the ground. Hopefully, it will look convincing once its done. Repairs for this month included cleaning and rewiring the Madison passenger car set mentioned in my November 2002 update. I know the job is complete when there is just a faint flicker of the interior lights as the cars are pulled down the track. I also installed a Lionel RCS remote control track section for automatically unloading the log dump cars that supply logs for my Lionel # 364 Conveyor Lumber Loader. I have decided on a location for the # 164 Operating Log Loader, also mentioned in my November 2002 update. Hope to have this fully operational for next month's update.

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