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An Inter-Urban Legend  (Part 1: Maybe?)

By John Coniglio, The Three Rail Rambler, TCA 79-4629        Spring 2021

"Have you seen my twin sibling?" He resembles me (above) except that he has no trucks (as I recall from when we were together).  Then the hammer fell and we were stuffed into separate boxes and sent in different directions."  

If only toy trains could talk, the stories they might tell! And this one is true and hopefully there will be a happy ending.

Cross-braces hold sockets for interior lighting made from C-6 Christmas tree lighting strings. Note that the brace was made from a metal container used originally for product packaging.

I (John C.) am mostly a steam locomotive guy where toy, or real for that matter, trains are concerned. There are only two electric outline locomotives in my standard gauge power pool, a Mojave No.8 given to me by a family friend, and a 33/38 hodgepodge I made from leftover parts. It looks awful but runs like a beast. (Editor's NOTE: Is Hodge-podge related to Stomper?) And now this interurban makes an uneven three.


Detail of brush holders, wheel mounting and motor frame. Note that this appears to be an 0-gauge motor (brand yet to be determined) that has been stretched to work on standard gauge track.

The auction listings were swamped with classic-era reproductions late one night two or three years ago and I was about done scrolling through when the listings for these interurban twins popped up. It was obvious that someone had put a lot of work into the two cars a long time ago. While not steam, they were the most interesting things I had seen for sale in ages. This one closed first, then the one without trucks closed fifteen minutes later. I bought this trucked one, but decided not to bid on the other.

View of the floor underside showing packaging printing.
People used what they had.

This brings us back to the note above. The owner of the other car might have made some changes.  At least mount trucks under it, or maybe motorize it and add couplers. Daydreaming at warp speed now I can see the two cars racing on parallel tracks on the SGMA layout at York in a couple of years. But first, my car is headed into the backshop.

Side view before renovations begin.

My goal going in is to preserve as much of the appearance and mechanics of the car as possible, while making it operational with working lights and Lionel hook couplers. There was no response from the electrical system during testing. The light sockets are C-6 Christmas tree fixtures and may need to be modified to take modern bulbs. The motor has unknown issues at present. There are various cosmetic conditions including rust to deal with. But the car has good bones and is at the moment at least, one of a kind.

Details of hand cut windows and door.

I shared this story with a small group of TCA members recently and the comment that stayed with me was one questioning why I ever had the opportunity to acquire it to begin with. It should have never been in the hands of an auctioneer, but rather it belonged on display in the home of the maker's children and/or grandchildren as a memory and reminder of their relative's talent and creativity. And I would add, as a reminder, that homemade toys were the only toys some of our parents and grandparents had.

If there is interest, I can do a part 2 during the project. There are no timelines, I pick at things like this in between home repair/improvement projects and music practice. We'll see how things progress.  Let me know if you think a Part 2 is in order!

Author's Profile:  I was a columnist for LCCA's Lion Roars from the mid/late 80s thru mid '90s and then did 8 to 16 pages layout when Mike Mottler was editor. My columns were under the heading of "The Three Rail Rambler." That was long ago and I drifted away from LCCA as they became more brand-focused and more modern-centric. I have been a TCA member since 1979, but never involved in any form of governance.

I have/had friends who were division and chapter officers but I worked strange hours and days and was not available for meetings and seldom traveled more than 3 hours one way to a meet, with a few York trips where I snagged an empty seat in someone else's car. Funny, I read everything TCA prints and vote in elections but Chris Allen's zoom group is my first real connection with anyone in TCA outside the people I saw at division/chapter meets twice a year. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Second Decade.
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