Saturday, July 14, 2007


"Tales of the unexpected" attributed to Mick Sharp (c. 1985)

"At the Swapmeet at Derby rumours were rife that one of our members had been to America
on holiday and whilst at a Swapmeet there had been talking to an American who also
collected the push-along and Treble-0 LONE-STAR railway range. Our English member
mentioned the 'Register' [the embryonic L.S. enthusiasts' club] and about joining it to which
the American expressed the wish that his American collectors could get together with their
English 'counterparts'.

The Derby Swapmeet was held on Saturday, 9 March [year?] and, as time went on, I forgot
all about this until the evening of Friday, 22 March. When I came home from work my wife
said: "A Yank has telephoned you, ring him back on this number"..... I telephoned the
number to find it was a hotel in Coventry. On further conversation it transpired that two
Americans were on holiday in England travelling around buying LONE-STAR for their
collections. They had bought the December issue of "Railway Modeller" which had
published my letter in reply to Rodney Hawkins' letter and they had decided to stop off
in Coventry to see me, if possible, about [joining] the 'Register' . They explained that they
would like to see my collection of LONE-STAR items; to which a time and place was
readily agreed.
I love any excuse to show off my collection! I managed to get some of my stuff, not all of
it, into two large cardboard boxes which, in turn, were hastily placed in the back of my
estate car. I then drove to the address they had given me, ready to meet my two American
collectors, but not knowing really what to expect or what the night would bring. I need
not have worried. I rang the bell of the Hotel and the door was opened by the first
American who introduced himself as DALLAS J. MALLERICK III whose home town was
Ellicott City, Maryland (this I later found out was on the east coast of America),
whilst standing behind him was the second American. He was 6ft 2inch tall Texan called
JIM WILSON who had a lovely soft drawl in his voice. Jim's home town was Arlington,
Texas, which is situated etween Dallas and Fort Worth. We then got into my car and made
our way to my local club where we proceeded to take-over the Lounge. What a lovely way
to spend an evening; drinking beer and talking LONE-STAR to two very interesting
Americans. [Evidently, the three were rather loudly affable during the course of the
evening]. The Americans said that they couldn't have been so rowdy in their own home
towns. In fact, Club members and Committee men introduced themselves and made
Dallas and Jim very welcome, for which I was very grateful. The time that night went all
too fast, as did the Saturday and Sunday which was spent travelling to various places
in and around Warwickshire looking at and purchasing additions for their already
extensive collections.
Dallas, although only 21, has already had an 'N' gauge catalogue published which
covers very briefly LONE-STAR as well as other American 'N' products. When he goes
home he is having published another catalogue to do with Athearn HO/OO. Jim owns
his own business which deals in amusement arcade machines and he comes to England
when time allows it, approximately every seven years. One of the many interesting facts
they told me about LONE-STAR in America is they made not only EL66 Baldwin 0-8-0
steamer in black with no transfers at all, but an EL66L which is the Baldwin 0-8-0 steamer,
silver front with "Union Pacific" on the tender, complete with a working headlight
(wheatgrain bulb, pickup from tender). Although fairly rare, they can still be bought
commanding to $50.00 for a mint and boxed specimen. Jim and Dallas have supplied me
with invaluable information regarding the American side of things and when I have had
time to 'sift' through it all, I'll make sure we all benefit from it through our History Section
...[whatever that was?].
We talked about the Swapmeet scene in England and America; they both said how they
enjoyed our Swapmeets and then proceeded to tell me about one of their Swapmeets. This
was held at a University on the Campus four football fields. The stalls amounted to over
300. Even they admitted that finding LONE-STAR amongst that lot is very 'chancy'.
Unfortunately, as they were going back to America on the Monday morning, Sunday night
came all too soon with no-one really wanting to say their "goodbyes". We have promised
to correspond regularly and, who knows, yours truly might, in the near future, be able to
see at first hand what the LONE-STAR scene is like in the States being guided about by
Jim and Dallas.
If anyone is lucky enough to go on holiday anywhere in the world and comes across
LONE-STAR, we would be very interested to know all about it."


My collection of miniature trains - by A. Montgomery (c. 1985)

"I have always had a great interest in really small miniature railway, that is, smaller in
size than 00 or even TT scale. My very first train set, if it could be called such, was given
to me by my father in far-off pre-war days. The set consisted a miniature tin-plate
clockwork railcar, 3.75 inches long [95mm] and made in Germany. It was modelled on
the, then, recently introduced Great Western Railway railcar. With a gauge of .75 of a
inch to a foot [19mm to 30.5mm] , it ran very successfully on a circle of tin-plate track
approximately 9 inches [228mm] in diameter. I still have the railcar but alas the track
has long since disappeared. My next acquisition was a Dinky train set, purchased
with my Aunt's christmas present postal order for 1s. 9d. [9p]. It was a Goods set with
a locomotive and three wagons, which I still have to this day [in 1984-85] in its original
box. I would have the Passenger set, with its diminutive passenger coaches, but it was
2s. 3d. [11p] but I had to content myself with the cheaper set.
Over the years, I have collected quite a few of these miniature trains and storage space
is not a major problem. Whenever LONE*STAR introduced their 'push-along' range in
1956, I eagerly purchased a set. It was the introduction in 1960 of the 'Treble-0-Lectric'
proved very disappointing to me, as, apart from the Baldwin - which came later - a
steam outline locomotive was not included. So, I successfully motorised an 0-6-0 3F
tank [loco] from the push-along range, using the late Mr. Whall's wheels and a 6V
motor which I made myself. Mr. Perrin of LONE*STAR was most impressed by my
conversion and wanted to see the locomotive. As I [was] reluctant to part with it, so I
sent him photographs instead. I quote from Mr. Perrin's letter to me dated 27th August
"We are very impressed with your method of motorisation but would like to point out
that we would have to manufacture a steam locomotive at a reasonable selling price to
compare favourably with our present diesel locomotives in the region of 30 shillings
[£1.50]. Regarding your suggestion of a 0-6-0 locomotive with the motor fitted in the
tender, we have already discussed this and feel that it would lose its realism. We have
already experimented with a motor fitted in the engine itself." A. S. Perrin.
They certainly had second thoughts about the 'tender drive'!!! ARNOLD & MINITRIX
were soon to introduce a range of 'N' gauge locomotives and rolling stock, and
LONE*STAR gradually faded from the model railway scene. When one surveys the
vast range of N/000 gauge items available today, it is difficult to realise that thirty
years ago, [mid-1950s] it was the field of the specialist modeller. Due to the efforts of
Mick Sharp and his colleagues and a few fellow enthusiasts like myself, the gallant
efforts of the first British manufacturer to attempt the production of N/000 gauge
electrically-driven, trains won't go unrecorded or forgotten, crude as they may have
been by today's standards, they still have a delightful appeal all of their own."
A. Montgomery

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