December 2020 Print

Fort Pitt Division

David Matthews, editor.  [email protected]

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We are all weary of the endless stories of the frightful year 2020 has been.  More than 250,000 Americans have died and predictions for the next few weeks are dire.  Many people have lost their jobs and countless businesses have closed.  We have worn masks and socially distanced.  Due to Covid, the Fort Pitt and other TCA divisions have been forced to cancel train meets and Christmas parties.  As you decorate your home and build your holiday train layout, I hope you will reflect on Christmases in happier times. 

I fondly recall that from the time I was four, my dad would set up the Lionel train under the tree. There was a steam engine and freight cars, and those beautiful silver passenger cars with the silhouettes on the windows.  The layout always included two sidings with automatic uncouplers where the trains were parked at the end of play sessions. Each Christmas, a handsome, new car would appear under the tree.  The year I turned twelve, however brought a new dimension to my train world.  

It began shortly after Thanksgiving.  Every evening after dinner, Dad would mysteriously slip down to the basement.  Though I was not supposed to know, I quickly discovered that he was building a big, new layout.  My family didn’t seem to notice; I would sneak outside and around to the back door where, through the window, I could catch a glimpse of him, working diligently to create a beautiful surprise.  How exciting it was to see the completed “L-shaped” layout when Christmas morning finally arrived.  My dad and I could run two trains simultaneously on a layout, complete with remote controlled switches!

The officers and board of directors of the Fort Pitt Division wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a safe, healthy, and happy New Year.  We hope your memories of Christmases past inspire you to create new inspirations for your family.


Virtual Christmas Greetings

The Lockon encourages you to submit pictures of your holiday train layout as an email attachment to [email protected]. Though we may not be able to be together physically, our goal is to share as many layout photos as possible on our website.  Please feel free to include a holiday greeting and/or a family photo alongside your layout.  Imagine it as a way to send Christmas greetings to your Fort Pitt Division buddies!


Back to top

Member Feature

An Important Benefit of TCA Membership

by George Starz, Fort Pitt Division Vice President

A question I hear over and over is, “What are the benefits of belonging to the TCA?” 

The obvious ones are York, The Quarterly and the Division Christmas party.  Allow me to share one of my favorites that is overlooked by most of our membership.  It’s the Toy Train Mailing List, aka the TTML.  This TCA owned forum was started in 1999 by Ron Morris to provide a platform where members could discuss, inquire, and share knowledge about collecting, operating and the history of toy trains. To date there are 1871 members and there have been 86,056 posts. 

Thanks to our fellow member and moderator of the list, Dr. Joseph Lechner, the TTML is very active on a daily basis. Dr. Joe delivers his posts every morning before 7:00 am, 365 days a year a “railroad history lesson.”  It reminds me of the days when paper desk calendars that included a line or two of trivia on every page were commonplace.  No matter how Dr. Joe begins his daily post, it always takes the reader on a journey that culminates with a connection to trains, full scale, or the toy versions.  Invariably, members chime in on the subject all day long, some with personal connections to the daily post.  Another feature of the TTML is that members can post questions and/or photos for help identifying a recent find, how to repair an ailing locomotive or a technical problem on a layout.  

I personally look forward to this “benefit” every morning as I enjoy my first cup of coffee. If you are looking for an outlet in these crazy times when train meets are few and far between, or would like to broaden your train knowledge, take a few minutes to investigate this valuable benefit.  How does one go about signing up for the daily installment that’s a benefit to each and every TCA member?  Simply go the TCA home page, scroll down to the “TTML” icon/logo, and click on it. The TTML mission statement page will appear; again, scroll down that page and click on “Join the group”.  You will be surprised how much fun train trivia there is to learn.

Pittsburgh’s Largest Pickle Vat Car

…and One Last 2017 Convention Memory

Jim Burke

In November 2019, yes, a year ago, one last piece of convention business was finally accomplished. Your author, with the help of Convention co-chair George Starz, was able to make a special presentation of our 2017 standard gauge Pickle Vat Car to Sarah Lehew, widow of Fort Pitt Division member Ed Lehew.


Ed Lehew             Sarah Lehew accepts Heinz car honoring Ed            

Fort Pitt’s Long-Standing Connection with H.J. Heinz.

Starting in 1984, your author had contacted and arranged with Ed Lehew to create the first official TCA Banquet Car – the red and white Heinz Ketchup 6464 box car. Moving to our 2004 TCA Pittsburgh Convention, Ed again obtained permission for Fort Pitt to produce its two very successful Heinz/K-Line scale striped refrigerator fundraising cars.  In 2014, it was a no brainer to again approach Heinz to do another convention car. Big problem: Ed had passed away. Next problem, K-Line had gone out of business, Lionel wasn’t interested, and we needed a standard gauge offering. Enter MTH and their reproductions of the Lionel 200 Series freight cars.


2017 Heinz Pickle Vat Car – Yellow      2017 Add-On Pickle Vat Car - Brown

Luckily, I had maintained my working relationship with two key contacts. First, we turned to Andy Edleman and Mike Wolf at MTH. I suggested to Andy that several of the 200 series cars could be repurposed to create new cars – refreshing the MTH standard gauge line. Repurposing would create a covered hopper, multi-dome tank cars, a wheel transport car, a bay window caboose, and a covered gondola.



This enabled a covered gondola with a sign on top – making a good representation of a Heinz Pickle Vat Car for Fort Pitt. Second, though retired, I had maintained my relationship with several folks at Heinz, and they graciously granted Fort Pitt permission to produce our Pickle Vat Car without paying any royalty. The ‘yellow/green’ pickle vat car proved so successful that a brown version with red “PICKLE” followed. 129 yellow/green Heinz Pickle Vat cars were produced and with the second brown/red cars a total of 200+ was reached. We owe Ed Lehew and H.J. Heinz a large measure of thanks for their great long-term support.

A One-and-Only Car for Pittsburgh

By Jim Burke

In the course of negotiating for the Fort Pitt Division 2017 standard gauge convention car, I turned over the designs for repurposing the six 200 Series freight cars, and MTH agreed to produce a one-of-a-kind standard gauge car for our Banquet Auction. This was originally to be a Heinz Vinegar Tank Car. When the Vinegar Tank Car proved too costly to produce as convention car offering, this also shot down specially decorating one as a unique banquet auction item. MTH then stepped up to create our suggestion of the one-and-only Pittsburgh Locomotive Works Wheel Transport Car. This proved to be very successful and was won by Bill Livolsi. The Fort Pitt Division owes Mike Wolf and Andy Edleman major thanks for their great support of our conventions over two decades. Their support for our hobby will be greatly missed.


The one and only MTH/Lionel Standard Gauge 200 Series

Pittsburgh Locomotive Works Special Flat Car

Recognition Plaque   

Back to top

Tin Plate Talks

Trains (Real) of Local Interest

West Pittsburg Station: Beaver-Lawrence Railway Historical Society

New Castle Yard, South of New Castle

The Beaver-Lawrence Railway Historical Society is a non-profit rail preservation organization located in New Castle, Pa.  The Society is dedicated to preserving railroad history in Lawrence County and the western Pennsylvania region.  Though it began as an informal group of rail fans and railroad employees, the Beaver-Lawrence Railway Historical Society is now a full-fledged historical society, which meets in its own train station, the West Pittsburg Station. 

The West Pittsburg Station was part of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.  It was built in 1907 by W.F. Trimble & Sons and is situated between the P&LE and B&O tracks in West Pittsburg.  Passenger service began in May 1908 and continued for many years though a decline was seen beginning in the 1920’s.  In 1964, the P&LE began closing stations including the West Pittsburg. In 1968, it was sold along with 4.5 acres to a West Pittsburg business owner who used it for storage.

Over the years, the station deteriorated greatly due to neglect, weather, and vandalism.  Finally, in March 2005, it purchased was by the Beaver-Lawrence Railway Historical Society.  Over the past 15 years, the organization has worked diligently to restore the station.  Water and electricity service was restored, and the roof replaced.  The ladies waiting room was completely renovated and is now used as a meeting area. In the main waiting room, damaged walls have been repaired and painted.


Today, in addition to the building, the group owns an interlocking tower, a watchman’s shanty, an N5c cabin car, a Brookville rail car, a Fairmont Speeder, N-8 caboose, a 26a caboose, and a 1908 PRR flatcar.


Currently, track is being laid and a shed is being constructed to house the Fairmont Speeder that was just returned to operating condition. Negotiations are underway with trucking and crane companies to bring the 50-ton switcher to the station.  The Brookville Rail Bus is operational so the arrival of the operational engine will permit them to give caboose, rail bus and speeder rides in the near post-Covid future.

The West Pittsburg Station is open on Mondays, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., weather permitting.  Visitors are welcome!  For more information, please consult their website,

Special thanks to Tom Bianculli for his help with this article.

East Broad Top Railroad

Rockhill Furnace, PA

In February 2020, the East Broad Top Railroad was sold to a non-profit organization called the EBT Foundation, Inc.  Closed since 2011, it is the goal of the new group to renovate and have tourist service in 2021.  Brad Esposito who will become the general manager of the railroad says the EBT Foundation has a three-part mission.  First, is to preserve and operate the East Broad Top as a steam railroad.  Second, the Foundation wants to educate visitors about the role of railroads, locally and nationally.  Third, they desire to contribute to local and regional tourism and economic growth.  However, before operations can begin, much work will be needed to overhaul track and equipment.

The EBT RR is said to be the only original, surviving narrow-gauge railroad east of the Rocky Mountains.  It was constructed between 1872 and 1874 as a 33-mile route to haul coal from the mines in Rockhill Furnace to the Pennsylvania Railroad connection in Mount Union.  The early years saw growth and prosperity leading to construction of buildings and equipment.  In 1906, a passenger station was built in Rockhill with commuter service for miners.   The railroad operated for decades despite periods of economic insecurity in the 1930’s.  However, following World War II, a decline in the demand for coal lead to the closing of mines.  Finally, in 1956, when the last mines closed, the East Broad Top Railroad and Coal Company was sold to the Kovalchick Salvage Company of Indiana, PA.  In 1960, it was reopened as a tourist train, operating until 2011. 

Christmas in Coal Country

The East Broad Top Railroad in conjunction with Rockhill Trolley Museum is planning “Christmas in Coal Country” for December 4, 5, 11 & 12, 2020.  The event includes a four-mile round trip train ride over newly refurbished track behind EBT’s M-7 diesel, a trolley ride out to Blacklog Narrows, and a visit to the trolley museum.  For information, consult their website,


Age of Steam Roundhouse

Sugar Creek, Ohio

When Jerry Jacobson retired from the railroad industry in 2008, he sold his entire 525-mile Ohio Central Railroad System.  However, Jerry kept all of the old equipment, especially his cherished steamers.  Immediately, he needed a place to store his fleet, so he bought 34 acres of farmland along the Ohio Central Railroad main line. From 2008-2012, Jerry and Laura Jacobson constructed their historically accurate Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, complete with an 18-stall, 115-foot brick roundhouse.  Funds were provided by the Jerry and Laura Jacobson Foundation, Inc.

Today, the operators of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum describe it as “a living, breathing roundhouse where talented restoration specialists work to preserve the locomotives, railroad cars, tools and machinery of the glory days of railroading.”  As a working site, visitors are permitted only on the museum’s guided tours.  Public tours are offered May through October on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  Though tours for 2020 ended on October 31 the museum plans to resume tours in May 2021.  All safety guidelines as set by order of the Ohio Department of Health, including strictly limiting tour size to 10 people will be observed.   

Camelback #1187 arrives

On August 3, 2020 the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum received its 23rd steamer, a camelback.  The museum was successful in a sealed-bid auction held in Strasburg, PA, on July 15.  #1187 was a Pennsylvania & Reading 0-4-0 steam switcher built in 1903.  The camelback was specifically designed to burn smokeless anthracite coal, which was found in deposits in eastern Pennsylvania.  This locomotive was a prized addition to the museum’s roster as it had long been on Jerry Jacobson’s wish list.

For more information about the Age of Steam Roundhouse, consult their website,

Back to top

Trains of Local Interest

Trains of Local Interest: Heinz Cars

Over the past two years, the Lockon has featured articles about model trains which celebrate local themes.  The focus of this, our fifth installment in the series is H.J. Heinz cars. Two excellent articles on this topic by Ed Lehew and Jim Burke can be found in the January and April 2003 issues of The Train Collectors Quarterly.  If you would like more information on this subject, I highly recommend them.  In this writing, we will provide an update of Heinz car toy train developments since the Lehew-Burke articles but first, we will offer some background on Mr. Heinz and his railroad.


In the 1800’s, most goods were sold to customers in plain jars, barrels, or sacks.  H.J. Heinz, having recently experienced bankruptcy believed he needed a new approach.  He created the concept of branding by placing his logo on all of his products.  He installed billboards on the sides of buildings, and along railroad tracks illuminated with floodlights.  He had signs on his horse drawn wagons, so the next logical step was train cars emblazoned with the Heinz name.

Mr. Heinz personally designed three types of railroad cars which were built by the Heinz company at their facility on Pittsburgh’s North Shore (then the City of Allegheny).  These included the Billboard Reefer, the Pickle Tank Car, and the Vinegar Tank Car, a horizontal barrel car made of wood used to carry vinegar from factory to bottling plant.  There was a fourth type, the Open Sided Pickle Vat Car, which is frequently modeled though no evidence of its use by Heinz has been found. 

In 1895, Heinz listed a rail line as Heinz Pickle Refrigerator Line.  Entire trains, advertising the Heinz logo, filled with Heinz products, were common. It is therefore not surprising that toy train manufacturers sought to capitalize on the Heinz marketing success.  As early as 1905, the Marklin Company created a superbly accurate Heinz Tomato Ketchup billboard reefer in tinplate.  In 1947, an HO gauge vinegar tank car was manufactured by StromBecker.  Just as the prototype, it was made of wood and could be added to the StromBecker wooden train.

Model trains sporting the Heinz name and its various logos are numerous.  Indeed, K-Line alone marketed at least 50 Heinz cars in 2 and 3 rail O gauge as well as S and G gauges.  MTH, Lionel, USA, Weaver and Aristo-Craft have also contributed cars to this road name.  On many Heinz model train cars are found the initials, H.P.R.L.  Other markings include H.P.F.L. (Heinz Pure Food Line), H.J.H. Co. and T.L. (Tomato Line).

The first K-Line Heinz cars were only sold through the Heinz factory.  Ed Lehew, a Fort Pitt Division member was a Heinz employee from 1938 until his retirement in 2003.  As director of marketing and advertising, he was instrumental in the connection between Heinz and tinplate train manufacturers like K-Line.  The tinplate cars produced were remarkably accurate representations of the actual train cars as found in Lehew’s salesman’s book and on Heinz glass-plate photos.


As previously mentioned, the January and April 2003 issues of the Train Collectors Quarterly, have excellent articles by Ed Lehew and Jim Burke.  The April issue has a listing with photos that was current as of that time.  You might also want to read

2003 and Beyond

The Heinz road name generated great interest in the world of model trains in the years 2003 to 2008.

K-Line produced at least 31 freight cars including twenty in 3-rail and seven 2-rail O-gauge.  To complete the roster, a Pacific steam engine, # K3398-1869W, and caboose, #K616-5201 were added.  For fans of other gauges, three S-gauge and one new G-gauge car were cataloged. 


MTH entered the Heinz toy train world in 2007 and 2008 producing four highly decorative wood-sided reefer cars, a Heinz Field boxcar, and an excellent vinegar tank car, #30-73219.  Of course, Mike and Andy at MTH also contributed two marvelous G-scale cars for the 2017 TCA Convention.  Please see the articles Jim Burke in this edition of the Lockon.


In 2006, Lionel contributed the well-known striped Tomato Soup reefer.  In recent years, Lionel produced a TCA National Boxcar in 2018, a LOTS Heinz Ketchup car in 2014 and a Baked Beans Vat Car in 2012.


K-Line cars after Burke-Lehew: O Gauge 3-Rail

  1. K762-5201: Heinz Baked Beans Scale Wood-Sided Reefer
  2. K762-5202: Heinz Preserved Fruit Scale Wood-sided Reefer.
  3. K762-5204: Heinz 57 Varieties Wood-Sided Reefer Advertising Car
  4. K762-5205: Heinz Pickles Wood-Sided Reefer Advertising Car
  5. K675-5205: Heinz Pickles Wood-Sided Reefer Advertising Car
  6. K5154007: We’ve Got Your Pickle
  7. K-515507: Heinz Breakfast Wheat Boxcar H.J.H Co. 744
  8. K6332-5201: Heinz Aluminum Tank Car UTLX 41993 – 2005 catalog
  9. K702-5201: Heinz Unloading Car H.P.R.L. 311
  10. K742-5201: Heinz Pickles Wood Sided Reefer: Heinz 57 Varieties: Pickles-Euchred Figs, Onions, Etc. H.P.R.L. 363– 2005 catalog
  11. K742-5202: Heinz Ketchup Wood-Sided Reefer H.J.H. Co. 5202– 2005 catalog
  12. K742-5203: Heinz Advertising Wood-Sided Reefer– 2005 catalog
  13. K742-5204: Heinz Apple Butter Wood-Sided Reefer H.P.R.L. 301– 2005 catalog
  14. K742-5205: Heinz Baked Beans Wood-Sided Reefer. Heinz Pickle Refrigerator Line No. 312– 2005 catalog
  15. K742-5206: Heinz Apple Butter Wood-Sided Reefer. Heinz Pickle Refrigerator Line No. 5206– 2005 catalog
  16. K742-5207: Heinz Advertising Holiday Reefer Car. Heinz for the Holidays J.H 2005– 2005 catalog
  17. K742-5208: Heinz Plum Pudding Wood-Sided Reefer. One of the 57. P.R.L. 5208– 2005 catalog
  18. K742-5209: Heinz Mince Meat Wood-Sided Reefer. Heinz 57 Pure Food Products. H.P.R.L 5209– 2005 catalog
  19. K742-5210: K-Line by Lionel Heinz Pure Malt Vinegar Wood Sided Reefer H.J.H Co. 467– 2005 catalog
  20. K763-5201: Heinz Tomato Stock Car. L. 729      H.J.H Co. – 2005 catalog

K3398-1869W: Heinz Pacific Steam Engine

K616-5201: K-Line Scale Heinz Caboose.  H.J. Heinz Co. 1809

K-Line cars after Burke-Lehew: O Gauge 2-Rail

  1. KS742-5201: Heinz Ketchup 2-Rail Wood-Sided Reefer– 2005 catalog
  2. KS742-5202: Heinz Pickles 2-Rail Wood-Sided Reefer– 2005 catalog
  3. KS742-5203: Heinz Advertising 2-Rail Wood-Sided Reefer– 2005 catalog
  4. KS742-5204: Heinz Apple Butter 2-Rail Wood-Sided Reefer– 2005 catalog
  5. KS742-5205: Heinz Baked Beans 2-Rail Wood-Sided Reefer– 2005 catalog
  6. KS742-52010: Heinz Pure Malt Vinegar 2-Rail Wood-Sided Reefer– 2005 catalog
  7. KS763-5201: Heinz Tomato 2-Rail Stock Car– 2005 catalog

K-Line cars after Burke-Lehew: S Gauge

  1. K511-037: Heinz Pickles S Gauge Boxcar– 2004 catalog
  2. K511-038: Heinz Ketchup S Gauge Boxcar– 2004 catalog
  3. K511-045: Heinz Baked Beans S Gauge Boxcar– 2004 catalog

K-Line cars after Burke-Lehew: G Gauge

  1. K923-006: Heinz G Scale Reefer– 2004 catalog

MTH Heinz Cars

  1. 20-94321: Heinz 36" Woodside Reefer (Pure Foods 1931) - 2007
  2. 20-94322: Heinz Happy Holiday Reefer- 2007
  3. 20-94329: Heinz Lady Vinegar Woodside Reefer- 2008
  4. 20-94330: Heinz Baked Beans Woodside Reefer (Boy in Blue) - 2008
  5. 20-94331: Heinz 57 Varieties Woodside Reefer (Girl in Pink) - 2008
  6. 30-73219: Heinz 19th Century Vinegar Wooden Tank Car- 2007
  7. 30-74405: O Gauge RailKing Box Car- 2007

33-6219: Henry J. Heinz Coach PRR Madison Passenger Car- 2007

MTH G Heinz Cars

11-30249: 2017 TCA Convention Std. Gauge Covered Gondola - Heinz Pickles

11-30250: 2017 TCA Convention Std. Gauge Covered Gondola - Heinz Pickles

Lionel Heinz Cars

Lionel 6-26676: Lionel 6-26676- 2012

Lionel 6-58575: Lionel LOTS Heinz Ketchup 2014 Box Car- 2014

Lionel 6-58042: TCA National Heinz Pickle Boxcar Refrigerator Line HJHX 15222- 2018


An updated list of K-Line Heinz cars will be added soon. It will be found on the Division homepage by clicking on the "Local Trains Roster" button, found under "Quick Links."

A list of K-Line Heinz cars can also be found at There too, photos are available.  

If you have additions or corrections, please let us know.  Your input is valuable!   


Special thanks to Bob MacDowell, Joe Kraynik and Tom Garrity for providing photos for this article, and to Jim Burke for history and background information.  Thanks also to TCA Librarian Lori Nyce for her kind assistance.

Do you have an idea for an article for the Lockon? 

We are always looking for new ideas and would love to hear from you.  Please submit your article for consideration to [email protected].


Back to top

Calendar of Events

October Trunk Meet

We hope you were able to join us for our outdoor train meet in Murrysville on October 24.  Though the early morning was a bit damp, many vendors came prepared with canapes to protect the merchandise displayed in front of their vehicles.  By 10:30, the sun came out and everyone present enjoyed a great day of model trains and much needed camaraderie.  

Our host, the Murrysville Fire Department remarked how well organized our event was adding we are always welcome to return.  With all vendors reporting strong sales and a steady stream of train buyers, we were encouraged by the success of our first outdoor train meet.  Plans for future events are being considered.

Back to top