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The End of an Era

May 1st 2019

The End of An Era

Today marks the end of an era for MTH Lionel Corporation Tinplate Trains.

Some forty years ago Mr. Mike Wolf began manufacturing Tinplate trains for the Lionel Corporation. Their on again off again relationship brought both joy and happiness to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of train enthusiasts. Tinplate reproduction trains exhibit fine detail and a variety of vibrant color schemes making them fun to collect and operate. Tinplate is synonymous with toy trains.

It all began with the purchase of tooling for standard gauge tinplate from Williams Electric Trains by Mike Wolf. Mikes Train House has always owned the tooling for producing O and Standard Gauge tinplate model trains. For those train enthusiasts who operate either O gauge or Standard gauge train layouts there have been some exciting releases. Most recently, within the past ten years, the Super 381 Standard Gauge Electric Engine in a variety of road names and color schemes. The 281 Electric bore the road name of Milwaukee Road in two color schemes (Yellow/Gray, red/orange), Pennsylvania (Tuscan Red w/Gold Stripe), New Haven (McGinnis), Two-Tone Brown, and the State Green.

Operators of Tinplate Railroads have more fun. Tinplate Railroading is a blast and more fun than ever. The reproductions of steam engines, electric engines, passenger cars, and freight cars takes one back to trains of another era. Remember Rick standing on the railroad platform in the pouring rain with a Dear John note in his hand? Now that was an era when railroad travel was adventuresome and to some extent magical, even if it meant drowning your sorrows. Well Tinplate railroad operators enjoy imagining what it was like as they watch the 400E steam locomotive pulling a set of passenger cars around their layout. MTH has been making Tinplate reproductions taking the model railroader back to that era. The most popular was the O Gauge Hiawatha Passenger Train Set

The Lionel Lines O Gauge Celebration Series with a colorful orange/blue 400E Steam Engine and tender that pulled a No. 219 Motorized Derrick Car and No. 217 Illuminated Caboose past a 115 Passenger Station is fun to show-off to the kids. Another popular set was the 295E Blue Streamlined Commodore Vanderbilte steam engine pulling blue/cream passenger cars or the 279E O Gauge Distant Control Passenger Outfit. The most popular was the O Gauge Hiawatha Passenger Train Set, its bright colors of red/white/blue set it off as it chugged around the railroad layout. MTH/Lionel O Gauge Tinplate also produced the 2800 series rubber-stamped freight car,, the 2600 series rubber-stamped freight cars, along with the 2800 series freight cars.

Stop the Trains! As popular as tinplate O gauge was it was the Standard Gauge Blue Comet 3 car Passenger Set (pulled by the 400E Steam Locomotive) et with brass trim that everyone wanted. A true sight to see not only as it rumbled around the track but also as it sat still. To quote Lionel it was “The Greatest Achievement in Model Railroading – Beauty, Speed and Service that has never been surpassed”. The gold trim set-off the blue paint coat and made it a jewel to behold. MTH/Lionel claimed it was the “largest and most powerful model locomotive ever built”.

Tinplate Railroaders are going to miss browsing the Lionel Electric Trains Tinplate catalog, it was like having your own time machine, a look into a time gone by. It was a time when a boy would watch a traditional steamer roaring by and leap with joy, secretly wishing he was on that train. As the saying goes ‘all good things must come to an end’.

And so today a new era begins…enter the collector.