I've received emails asking why I've mostly left my online presences. Where do I start? For a while now, I've noticed that my vision has been degrading. Magnifying glasses began popping up all over the house so that I could read books and magazines as it was all blurred without them. I got a 27" monitor to try to make it easier to use the computer and I still wound up sometimes using a magnifying glass to read the screen. My ophthalmologist finally broke the bad news to me that I had a cataract in my left eye and it was getting worse. He recommended a top-flight cataract surgeon in NYC (Park Ave no less). To make a long story short, last week I had the surgery to remove the old clouded, yellowed lens and replace it with a new artificial lens. I can now see clearly out of my left eye for the first time in a long while and can once again read without the magnifying glasses. Next week I'll be fitted for new glasses to both work with the computer and for distance. There being a downside for every upside, I now know that my right eye is also degrading since everything appears to be yellowing and blurry compared to the now-fixed left eye, so in six months or so I will have to undergo the same procedure for my right eye. At least I know, based on the left eye, that it's nothing to be feared and that it will probably turn out as well as this surgery.
As if that wasn't enough, earlier this month, I was returning home from the pharmacy, the traffic light turned green, I proceeded across the intersection and, without warning, a Ford Explorer ran the red light (she didn't even try to stop and was clearly paying attention to anything but her driving) and T-boned my Envoy, caving in the entire passenger side. Fortunately, I had no passengers and just as fortunately I was driving an Envoy which kept me safe — by sacrificing itself. It was declared a total loss and I was faced with finding a new vehicle much sooner than I had intended. After careful consideration, I opted for a 2014 Cadillac SRX, returning to Cadillac for the first time since my 1990 Coupe de Ville. It's a magnificent vehicle but there is a steep learning curve due to the amount of technology built into it. ::sigh:: And people wonder where I've disappeared to. Now you know!
I'm sure you noticed that I posted nothing last year. Very few new toys, not much to talk about except the fact that I haven't been well and I don't like talking about that. I've just made the effort (I don't move or see nearly as well as I used to) to update the AtlasO Reefers page with photos of the reefers that were issued last year; it's fully up-to-date as is the Master List of AtlasO reefers. Enjoy.
Having been bitten very badly by the Standard Gauge bug, back in March 2012 I got the ultimate Standard Gauge passenger set — the State Set. This set is a reproduction of the set that Lionel brought out in 1929 which, when you think about it, was not the best year to bring out an expensive toy train. They are the largest and most elaborate passenger cars of that era (or any era for that matter), with the four cars alone stretching out more than seven feet in length! This set is in the original two-tone State green color; later sets also came in two-tone State brown. The cars have detailed interiors, down to lids that can be raised and lowered on the toilets! Since then (it's just before Christmas 2012), I've been hunting for the add-on cars that MTH created to go with this set, as well as the matching #381E electric locomotive that originally pulled this set (I've previously shown it being hauled by a reproduction #400E steam locomotive). Not that long ago, I finally managed to get all the cars and the locomotive, though it was the PS1 version. I was disappointed that it could not be upgraded to PS2, and started hunting for the almost-mythical PS2 version (there were not many made and they seem to be as scarce as hen's teeth). Just in the last few weeks, I managed to find and nab one! This True HD 1080p video shows the PS2 version of the #381E hauling all six State cars. While the original, from 1929, couldn't do a good job hauling the four cars it came with (which is why in subsequent years the set only came with three cars), this modern reproduction just walks away with all six. And what of the PS1 version that I now also have (someone very wise once said that you can't have too many #400E's or #381E's)? Stay tuned for a surprise coming in a few days. That's all I'll say for now!
In 1950, Lionel brought out a set of short streamlined passenger cars in yellow with red trim, accompanied by a set of yellow and gray Union Pacific FA diesel locomotives. Given the color and the fact that it was the 50th anniversary of Lionel, collectors took to calling this the "Anniversary Set". Though I have a reproduction of the set made by Lionel in 1994, I've never had the actual Anniversary Set, which has always annoyed me since I otherwise have a complete collection of these postwar short streamlined passenger cars. Well, I finally found a set in excellent condition and now have them! My collection is complete! I've posted photos on Lionel Postwar Short Streamlined Passenger Car page on my website and will soon shoot a video of the cars in action. Here are the photos; click on them to enlarge.
I've been after this car, the State baggage car lettered for Pennsylvania, for a long time and finally managed to bag the prize! It is the sixth and final car in my Standard Gauge State set (yes, I know that there were originally only four cars in the set, but that's one of the many advantages of having a modern reproduction set). The #381E (mentioned below) hauls all six cars (a very heavy load) with no trouble at all. Now that I have all of the cars in the set, I will go ahead and finally shoot the long-delayed video of the entire set in action. Meantime, here's a photo of the new car; click on the photo to enlarge.
On a trip to New York City (which I almost always do by train), an ALP-46 pushing a train of multilevel coaches pulled in heading toward Trenton. Just on a whim, I used my cell phone to take a photo of it and it turned out well enough that I've posted it on the ALP-44 & ALP-46 Electric Locomotives page of my web site. Here's the photo; click on it to enlarge.
Do you know what happens when you embed close to a hundred and fifty True HD 1080p videos on the Multimedia page of your web site? It refuses to load properly when someone tries to view it in a browser (any browser) and then Flash blows up! Even adopting YouTube's new way of embedding videos (inline frames) didn't help. Le sigh!! I've had to reformat and split the page so that there are no more than fifty videos per page — there are now three pages which interlink with each other so that navigation isn't a problem, but it's still a major bother. I need to do some thinking about how I ultimately want to deal with the entire "videos on the web site" issue.
I've noticed for some time now that my collection of O gauge trains has been missing one locomotive in particular — a New York Central Hudson. Now, I do actually have two (videos are on YouTube) but they aren't the standard Hudson that people expect — one is a "tinplate" Hudson, reproducing a Lionel prewar model, and the other is the Dreyfuss streamlined Hudson. When the opportunity presented itself to get a new one (albeit one that was issued some years ago), well, I've never been one to turn down such opportunities! :-) Here then is a True HD 1080p video of my new NYC Hudson, a 4-6-4 steamer that was a mainstay of the NYC for many years, hauling their fast passenger trains. I've paired it with my set of Lionel heavyweight passenger cars that came out more than 15 years ago but which are an ideal match for it. They're full scale length and while they don't have the detailed interiors and passenger figures of modern cars, they look just fine! Together, the locomotive and cars make for a stunning train as I think you'll agree! ;-) In the video, you can see the train running first at 10 smph and then at 15 smph under full DCS control.
The blog has a new look! Turns out that when WordPress upgraded to a new version, the old default theme stopped working properly, so I took the opportunity to apply a new theme and spruce things up a bit. For recent entries and from now on, clicking on a photo will bring up a lightbox with the photo full-size from my web site. Also, the photo and video thumbnails here on the blog are now larger. Enjoy!
The "eventually" in my last post turned out to be a month! LOL I snared the MTH reproduction of the 381E on eBay. It's the exact one that was brought out to go with my State set. Since it dates from 1998, it's PS1, so I will arrange to have it upgraded to PS2 in relatively short order. A video showing it hauling the State set (it's amazingly heavy and has no trouble hauling the 20+ pounds of State cars) will get done in the next few days. Meantime, here's a photo (click on the photo to enlarge).
As promised, here's the video of the Standard Gauge State Set in action. I show the cars being pulled by my Lionel Corp. #400E steam locomotive; I will eventually get the matching two-tone State green electric locomotive (modeled on a Milwaukee Road bipolar). Enjoy!