November 2019 Print

President's Report

I want to thank all our members for supporting the TCA and the Ft. Pitt Division this past year.  I look forward to seeing everyone at our 2020 meets, events and whatever else we get up to.  And don't forget about our Christmas party on Dec 14th for an evening of running trains, pizza and cookies.  It doesn't get any better than that!! 

Dan Glover  93-38090

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Fort Pitt Division News

Some Fort Pitt and TCA History

Lionel Book: Standard of the World Celebrates the 30th Anniversary

~As told by Jim Burke and penned by Dave Matthews, Lockon Editor 

On October 26, 2019, a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the publishing of the second edition of Lionel Trains 1900-1943: Standard of the World was held at the home of Jim Burke.  Those present included living authors, Randy Berger and Jim Burke as well as contributors, Carl Abinanti and John DeSantis.  Mel Nelms, the third surviving author was unable to attend.

How the First Edition of Lionel Trains 1900-1943: Standard of the World came about

The 1972 TCA National Convention was held in Pittsburgh, hosted by the Eastern Division and chaired by Howard Whorley.  As they worked to prepare for the convention, many local TCA members built a strong camaraderie.  Weary of driving to Baltimore or Cleveland for meets, Pittsburghers desired to create their own chapter.  Thus, in 1973, the Fort Pitt Chapter of the Eastern Division was formed, soon followed in 1977, by the Fort Pitt Division.

Good friends, Jim Burke and Cy Hosmer ran for the first presidency of the Chapter.  When Jim was elected, he immediately appointed Cy to form a history committee to research toy trains and make their findings available to collectors.  At Cy’s first committee meeting, Lou Redman proposed a spiral bound brochure updating the TCA’s tender list.  A new member, Don Fraley asked, “Why limit the project to just tenders?  Why not photograph and document everything Lionel made from 1900 to 1943?” Everyone in the room was stunned!  At that time, the only books on toy trains were written by Louis Hertz including Riding the Tinplate Rails and The Complete Book of Model Railroading.  Dr. Fraley noted that the members of the committee had much of the information needed.  He said he could help with photography and numbering and Jim Burke, with his work in advertising could produce the book.

Why the Book Project was successful:

Seven of the eight members of the book committee, Randy Berger, Robert A. Boyer (60-449), David G. Felmby (71-3754), Dr. Donald Fraley, Jr M.D. (71-3451), Cyrus Hosmer III (CM-56-157), Melvin H. Nelms (60-464), and Louis J. Redman (CM-3) were already experts on everything Lionel.  James J. Burke (68-2321) had a career in advertising and was able to produce the book.  The members all lived in Western Pennsylvania, so they were able to meet, almost on a weekly basis.  For the first year, 1973, the group functioned as a committee of the Fort Pitt Chapter.  In 1974, as the volume of work grew, Lou Redman took the project to National suggesting it become a National project with National funding. This  was accepted and over 4000 hours later, in October 1976 the published first edition arrived.

The Process

Dr. Fraley was a meticulous person and a tireless worker.  He kept a card for each item the committee studied with information including from whom it was obtained, color and pertinent data.  Elaine New was hired to type Don’s cards.  

 A key component of each book was the first accurate color chart of all Lionel prewar colors. To create the Color Chart “like new” trains in each color were assembled from collectors, verified by the committee, and sent to the book’s printer. The printer then provided forms with the text printed and sent them with the trains to a paint manufacturer. The paint manufacturer then matched each color with actual paint and imprinted the colors as “chips” on the forms. Upon completion of the process, these “mint” trains then had to be returned to their owners, whether in Pittsburgh or across the country.  

With the first edition’s arrival in late October1976, a celebratory dinner was held.  Each of the authors took the opportunity to make a statement about what the project meant to them. Jim Burke exclaimed, “This has been an amazing amount of work for a volunteer group and it’s my belief that a project of this enormity might never be accomplished again.” 

Lionel Trains 1900-1943: Standard of the World, Second Edition

Over the next eleven years, new information became available and corrections were needed.  The committee also wanted to add a chapter on accessories, which necessitated repeating the Color Chart process.  In 1987 the authors, with the addition of Vince Giovannitti began work on a second edition.  Fort Pitt Division members, Carl Abinanti, Bill Blystone and John DeSantis also contributed much to the second book.  In October 1989, the completed second edition arrived.


Second Edition authors left to right
Front Row: Jim Burke, Don Fraley, MD, Editor, Lou Redman.
Back Row: Vince Giovannitti, Randy Berger, Mel Nelms, Dave Felmley and Cy Hosmer

The Lost Third Edition

By 2001, when Don Fraley passed away, enough new material had been received and verified to create a third edition. Don had even created a draft of the manuscript. Unfortunately, Don’s records on who had the trains to photograph was lost.  Sadly, the third edition never happened.

It is our opinion that the Fort Pitt Division should consider these books an important part of Division history and take great pride in their accomplishment.  In the words of Don Lewis, president of the Ives Train Society, “A good story deserves retelling!”

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Trains of Local Interest

Trains of Local Interest

The following article is an excerpt from an interview Marty Eibeck did in 2002 with Rich Foster, vice president of sales for MTH regarding manufacturing of Pittsburgh series train cars.  Because I felt it gives a very good background to our series on trains of local interest, I asked Marty if we could reprint it in the Lockon and he graciously agreed.  Due to space limitations, pictures have been deleted.  If you wish to see the original article, a link is provided.

MTH Electric Trains dispatches Memories onto Pittsburgh Pikes!

by MartyE.  

October 2002

It’s a Saturday fall afternoon in Pittsburgh and a twelve year old boy and his father are picking up the Sunday morning donuts and other odds and ends.  Walking down Brookline Blvd. they pass a familiar building with an aroma that is hard to beat.  Going inside they pick up a package wrapped in white butchers’ paper.  The young boy slips his fingers inside to sneak a small taste of the contents.  Chipped Ham, Pittsburgh’s favorite lunchmeat! 

That’s how I remember Isaly’s, the local deli chain, and now MTH is making it easier for all of us to remember this and other Pittsburgh classics!  What a great time to be involved in O gauge railroading if you are in or from Pittsburgh!  Over the past year or so we have been offered a series of cars that represent some of the local tastes and landmarks of Western Pennsylvania!  MTH Electric Trains of Columbia Maryland has been producing some great boxcars, tankers, engines and buildings that all have Pittsburgh flavor.  From the Pittsburgh Brewing series to the Montour Railroad, folks have been buying these beautifully decorated cars as fast as they come out. 

The series started with the Pittsburgh Brewing Series offered directly from the brewery.  There was little advertising done but quickly word spread, and it was off to the races.  The brewery series has grown to 6 cars that included offerings from MTH dealers.  Isaly’s, Eat N Park, and Kennywood Amusement Park Cars soon followed.  Just announced and now available to order are a Marsh Wheeling Cigar Car and Westview Amusement Park Car.  They just keep coming!

I recently had the opportunity to ask Rich Foster, MTH’s Sales VP about the very successful Pittsburgh series cars.  He was kind enough to spend some time giving us some specifics and a look into the Pittsburgh series as well as the new dealer program started here in Pittsburgh.  Rich has been a very pivotal player in researching and working with the Pittsburgh companies and landmarks represented in the series.  His work has paid off in what is undoubtedly a very successful product.

MartyE: A local series of cars for any region would be quite an interesting prospect, but one of the most asked questions that seems to always come up is: why Pittsburgh?  What was it about Pittsburgh that you thought that this project would work?

RF:  “There are several reasons why we felt the Pittsburgh area may be successful.  First, it is simply a good train area, with lots of railroading, railroading history, and an abundance of train enthusiasts.  It seems that virtually everyone you meet from the western Pennsylvania area had an uncle or parent or grandparent that worked for a railroad.  That gives those customers from the area a different perspective on railroads and they seem to enjoy model trains even more than most.  Pittsburgh seems to have a lot of small town feel in a fairly big town so there seems to be more “hometown” feeling from the locals as well as those who have moved away.  With the hometown feel comes a nostalgic feeling for the businesses in that area, like Isaly’s or Kennywood Park and folks like to see some of that captured on their layout.”

MartyE: There are many Pittsburgh cars being offered with many different Pittsburgh businesses represented.  From the Pittsburgh Brewery to our local amusement park and Pittsburgh icon, Kennywood Park, who has been open for over 100 seasons, MTH has captured a real local flavor of the region.  This must have been quite a task especially since not many people outside our hobby associate with O gauge trains.  What was the reaction of the local businesses and did MTH expect such a great response?

RF:  “Many of the local businesses we have dealt with for this series have been great to work with.  Often, they don’t know much about our industry and market, but trains seem to be a “feel good” type of word and most were willing to let us try it and see how it went.  We did not have any grand plans with the series, and I don’t believe they felt that the reaction would be as strong as it has been.  It is a win-win-win situation – for the brands featured on the cars, for MTH to partner with many of these great brands, and for the customer to be able to pick up a great looking car that is tied to his hometown area.”

MartyE:  And were there any businesses that were hard to convince to go along with the project?

RF:  “At times, yes. We’ve had a few that haven’t been as receptive as we would have liked, but I’ll keep working to show them that it is something the market is interested in and can be good for them as well.”

MartyE: The Pittsburgh Brewing series was the first of the bunch.  This so far has included 3 offerings directly from the brewery with a fourth on the way and 4 from MTH dealers including “The American Beer” refer.  I asked Rich whether we would see an engine to pull these cars.

RF: We are very appreciative of Pittsburgh Brewing and hope to continue with more PBC items in the future.  I won’t say what items yet, but an engine may be interesting along with some other ideas we have.”  (MTH has offered a brewery building in their 2002 volume 2 catalog without any Pittsburgh Brewing logos.  I am sure these would do nicely with a bit of kit bashing.)

MartyE:  MTH has put out just the tip of the stack of Pittsburgh cars that could be made.  I’ve heard from folks at shows and from the OGR Forum about other great Pittsburgh landmarks and businesses that they would love to see.  Obviously, all ideas couldn’t be produced but what is the best way for an idea to be submitted?

RF: “I am always interested in hearing from the customer.  The best way to probably get an idea to me is to email me.  We do get many good ideas from folks in the area and often several of them are thinking the same way.  I have a file with a bunch of notes that I have made, either from ideas I may have had or that come from the customer and retailers in the area.  It is tough to do them all too quickly, but we will be getting to many of them over time.  If anyone has any thoughts, let me know.  It is tough to answer all of the emails, but I certainly try to make sure I see all of them.”

MartyE:  MTH has obviously once again taken the lead in a very unique program and is making trains reflect a more local flavor.  Not only does this attract new hobbyists but keeps the veterans supplied with creative rolling stock that holds a nostalgic place in our hearts.  I tried to get Rich to spill the beans on some upcoming cars; held his ground but did say this.

RF: I can’t give any specific hints, but as I said earlier, we have many more ideas and you will probably [see] some popular items announced in the near future.  Some of the future offerings will be continuations of a current series and some will be brand new.  As many of the folks have seen, we have primarily offered rolling stock, but we have begun offering other items and we will be delivering some local buildings and a Montour RR diesel soon.  I would like to continue to encourage the ideas and thoughts from not only Pittsburgh, but other areas as well.”


The Isaly Family History

Christian Isaly was a cheesemaker in Switzerland.  He and his family came to the United States in 1833,  settling in Monroe County, Ohio with other Swiss immigrants.  There he established a cheese making business using the copper kettle he brought from his home.  The family business was carried on for generations, expanding to include dairy farming.  Eventually the Isaly’s Dairy Companies were formed with stores in Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania.  For more information, click on the link:

MTH Isaly’s Rolling Stock

The first Isaly’s RailKing box car, I Remember Isaly’s, was delivered in April 2002.

It was followed in October by two modern reefers, the Skyscraper Cone and Chipped Chopped Ham


There are currently nineteen O gauge Isaly’s cars with a new entry scheduled for delivery in December 2019.  There is a Skyscraper reefer car in tinplate as well as a standard gauge reefer, Isaly’s Fresh Milk.  In addition, MTH created three Isaly’s cars in HO scale.  Of note, collectors know that there are three Isaly’s buildings in O scale, produced by MTH. 

You can find an excel file with pictures of the known MTH Isaly’s cars in the online version of the Lockon at Under the Quick Links menu, click on "Local Trains Roster."

Thanks to Tom Garrity, Joe Kraynik and Bob MacDowell for their photo contributions to this article.

Comments welcome!

A big thank you to Bob MacDowell for his response to our Trains of Local Interest article on the Montour Railroad in the September issue of the Lockon.  Bob contributed additional pictures which can be found on our website, We invite your feedback, as well!  Questions, suggestions, corrections, pictures are definitely appreciated.


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Fort Pitt Division Activities

September 29 Fort Pitt Division Meet




Fort Pitt Division Members at York, October 2019




Layout Tours

Do you have a train layout that you would like to share with our TCA members?  We would like to organize tours of Fort Pitt Division members’ layouts.  If you have a train layout and would like to host an event, please email [email protected]

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Community Service

Fort Pitt Division in the Community

Members of the Fort Pitt Division Kids Club and Hi-Railers have been actively represented the TCA in community events throughout western Pennsylvania.  Both groups set up layouts and greeted train lovers of all ages at the Castle Shannon Train Show in October.  Bags of toy train related items provided by Amy Frye at TCA National were handed out to excited children.  The Castle Shannon Train Show is a family oriented event.  Now in its seventh year, it is organized by volunteer firefighter and Fort Pitt Division member, Fred Molly. 



Hi-Railers at the Pine Township Dazzle Show


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Calendar of Events

Christmas Party

The Fort Pitt Division annual Christmas Party will be on Saturday, December 14 at St. Gerard Majella Church in Verona, from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.  Bring the children and grandchildren to see Santa Claus.  Enjoy an afternoon of Christmas spirit with your TCA friends.



Mark Your Calendars!


November 24, 2019

Ft. Pitt Division Holiday Train Meet, Syria Shrine Conference Center,

Members: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Non-members: 10:00 – 3:00


December 14, 2019      

Fort Pitt Division Christmas Party, St. Gerard Majella Church, 121 Dawn Avenue, Verona, PA 15147

4 p.m. – 7 p.m.


January 11-12, 2020

Locomotion Days, Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh North Shore


January 26, 2020

Ft. Pitt Division Train Meet, Syria Shrine Conference Center,

Members: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Non-members: 10:00 – 3:00


March 6 - 15, 2020

Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh


March 29, 2020

Ft. Pitt Division Train Meet, Syria Shrine Conference Center,

Members: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Non-members: 10:00 – 3:00


April 24 - 25, 2020

TCA Eastern Division Meet, York Fairgrounds, 334 Carlisle Avenue, York, PA 17404

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