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Becoming Unglued:  How the Toy Train Mailing List (TTML) "stuck" it to me (in a good way) and we started a "cohesive" relationship

By Katie Elgar and Bob Mintz                                                 Winter 2021

Bob's self-inflicted wound was a voluntary one, and something he has come to regret.  Some parts of his collection contain extremely similar looking items that, without some sort of identification, even he would have no clue and great difficulty identifying which was which and who was who.

Many of us may recall a paper publication called "Highlights for Children" and specifically the "What's Wrong with this Picture" segment. Bob photographed these Santa and Mrs. Santa handcars, all with the gear covering (the semicircular piece over the left wheel) facing the camera.  Three out of four have Santa on the left side.  Seeing as how these figures can easily be exchanged, that may not be enough of a proof of identity.  They are all technically green in color, albeit the two outside ones are slightly different. The second from the right actually has a SKU number and further identification on it.  The one on the far right has a pad printed Xmas tree on it while the others have no such markings.

So he added a Dymo label to the underside of each piece in his collection so that he can easily determine the correct SKU when repacking them in their corresponding box.  The Dymo labels sometimes have dried out over time and come off all by themselves, leaving a sticky residue on the metal contacts.

But what about boxcars for instance?

Chemicals such as Goo-Gone on metal pickup roller or sliders is something that we can possibly live with, but when you add paint and decals older than us to the equation, well, we get a tad apprehensive.

Not only did this mint car have a black Dymo label, it had a red one too, and also had other "schmutz"-like deposits.  Bob the accountant, instead wanted a total and complete withdrawal.

He had posted an inquiry on the TTML (Toy Train Mailing List) regarding this, and Katie Elgar, like a helper engine, came to the rescue.

Former TCA National President, MKT, who is also currently the TCA National Secretary, recommended something called Medline Adhesive Tape Remover Pad #MDS090855 (sold on Amazon $41.38 for 1000 pads) and was generous enough to send Bob a bag full of these to experiment with.  Such is the camaraderie in this hobby and the TTML in particular.

After using a plastic pair of tweezers to remove the Dymo labels so as not to scratch the metal, Bob was left with the following mess.

Using these adhesive tape remover pads as the lowest abrasive possible and using a little elbow grease, Bob was able to remove all of the various adhesives on this item without any major paint removal to write home about.

Always experiment on small areas that are hidden or not normally seen first before doing any alterations/cleaning!

Bob is now in the process of replacing the Dymo labels with Avery 12201 Medium-weight White Marking Tags ($21.51 for a box of 1000 1 11/16" x 2 ¾") and Avery 8167 Easy Peel Return Address Labels ($10.85 for 2000 .5" x 1.75" labels).

Toy Trains Mailing List (TTML) is the official TCA sponsored, maintained and owned forum.  It was founded in 1996 by the late Ron Morris (HR 70-3178).  TTML was created to provide a platform where enthusiasts, both TCA members and the public, can discuss, inquire, and share knowledge about the collecting, operation and history of toy trains.

After being hosted by Yahoo! for two decades, TTML moved to in November 2019.  Anyone may join by sending a blank email message to  Members may access the TTML archives at, where all messages and photographs posted since June 1999 can be perused using a powerful search engine.

It's a great place to share friendships and get sound advice! You'll find youself "stuck" on this wonderful place!

Second Decade.
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