St. Maarten PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
Player Development is an all-volunteer free reading and
homework after school program for at risk and special needs children
on the Island of St. Maarten
logo is a train engine.
We first started reading Thomas the Tank
engine so the logo had to be a train. A little research led to the
GG1. It was one of the most innovative and long lasting engines made
in the United States. Trains are a fun way Player Development
encourages the children to work hard, learn and then play.
The little ones start out reading Thomas the Tank engine. When they
finish a book, they get to play with one of the four trains sets we
have. Set one is a wooden Thomas that can be pushed around the track
but also has a battery. As the reading level improves so does the
quality and size of the train set. Set two is just an oval with a hand
car with two railroaders pumping away to get to work. Set three is a
double track O gauge set. We model the Long Island railroad passenger
service but can sneak in a freight train if we pretend it is evening
The last set is HO. There we have both steam engines and some
diesel power. From the beginning, trains played a big part in
encouraging the children to work. Originally, we thought of Thomas as
our logo, but it is copyrighted. We did some research and found the
GG1. A unique engine. Streamlined, first without rivets, and electric.
Best of all it was a double ender so could change direction easily.
The story we found said the engineers were working on building
submarines. They were worried that after the war they would be out of
a job, so they designed the GG1 in 1939. The war would not end till
1945. Now that is some advanced planning. Thus, we decided the GG1
should be our logo. We also had a suggestion of a baseball with
crossed bat and pencil. You guessed it, the train won easily.
We are fortunate that tourist have become friends and help us.
Conductor Steve, yes a real conductor on the LIRR has taught the
children all about ticket punching, making announcements and some
safety rules on trains.
Now when the children play trains, they have a dispatcher who uses
a walkie-talkie to tell the engineer when he can proceed to the next
stop. Then the conductor makes the announcement, closes the car doors
and off they go. He is also the webmaster for the Oyster Bay Railroad
Museum Facebook page. He lets the children write train stories and he
posts one a week. The stories have to be well researched and about the
Long Island Rail Road.
We have Big Roger a modeler from Pennsylvania. He brings kits to
the island and shows the children how to assemble them. He taught the
children they could name their own railroad and helped design the P &
D Railroad Logo and came up with the slogan Home of the Great Salt
Pond Route. Mr. Don from Canada use to be in the railroad maintenance
He has visited several times and talked with the children about
speeders and high rail trucks. Those are tracks that have both metal
train wheels and rubber wheels. Using hydraulics to raise and lower
the wheels the truck can drive on the road or the tracks. Forklift
Gary is a volunteer at the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. He drives the
forklift to help set up outside displays. He sends us videos on the
equipment there and how it was used. The children have raised more
than $6,000 to help restore the museum's steam engine 35.
Pilot John was a U.S. Navy pilot who landed on aircraft carriers.
He was also a manager of a race car team. He does not know a lot
about trains, but he reads a lot of magazines and sends us cool
stories about trains.
Ms. Debbie and her husband Barry live in New Hampshire. She sends us
information about their mountain climbing cog railroad. Mr. Joey is a
model railroader and a professional photographer. He is teaching the
children long distance through the internet how to take pictures of
the model trains and make them look real. He is also the editor of the
Mainline Train Magazine and has encouraged the children to do research
and write about Bangor and Aroostook Trains from Maine.
More recently we have met Steven Lynch of Trains are fun website.
We found the site by doing research on the LIRR. Now we have become
friends. He has put up this Player Development Web Page and asked the
children to write stories to fill it.
Player Development is a committee under the
Little League Baseball Association. Character, Courage and Loyalty is
the motto of the Little League and thus the foundation of this
program. We aim to provide a safe and fun learning environment outside
school hours for kids in need.
Coach Tom’s efforts, which began in 2002 as a
high-performance team, focus on pulling children off the streets and
providing them with a safe environment where they can have fun and
learn basic life lessons. In 2012 PD changed direction and put more
emphasis on the education and behavior. We had members certified to
teach Aggression Replacement Training and we began working directly
with the Court and SJIS to help get the children in the biggest need
off the streets.
St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation donated an old office to
be used as the reading area. One of the first set of books we
received was Thomas the Tank Engine. Thus a train set was
St. Maarten Railroad
The SMRR started in
1928 as a freight carrier for harvested salt from the Great Salt Pond
to the Philipsburg and Marigot Ports for export shipment worldwide.
The railroad was bankrupt in 1967 when salt harvesting stopped on the
northern French side. The Dutch side had previously ceased operations in 1949.
Player Development sits on top of the old SMRR rail yard. We are in
the process of restoring some of the yard, as the tracks were never
ripped up just covered with sand from the harbor dredging project.
Once the track is uncovered, we want to restart the salt water
evaporating plant and have the school vocational program run the salt
production. They would be able to sell salt to the tourists and run
their own export business.
Research can be fun! by Isaiah The
Kids Herald 9/21/2022
Long Island Rail Road first to offer piggy backs
by Malik, age 15
have probably seen someone carrying another person on their back.
Sometimes this is called riding piggyback. But if you think about
it…why? Can you imagine a farmer carrying his pig to market on his
back? Me neither. I wanted to know why we call it piggyback, so
I did some research. It turns out that way back in the 1600s carrying
someone on your back was called pick pack. Over time the words slowly
got changed to piggyback. No one seems to know why.
In the old days, in 1885, the Long Island Rail Road used to run a
farmer’s train. Horse drawn wagons hauled goods to market, including
live animals like pigs. Everything got put onto the train for
transportation to the cities. The goods were held in boxes still in
the wagon and were loaded onto the railroad flat cars. The horses were
put in the boxcars, and the farmers got to ride in a passenger cars.
When they unloaded the train at the city, they would put the wagons,
goods and horses back together to continue on to the market.
The farmer chose to pay the railroad $4 to put his wooden cart on the
train so he could get to the market in as little as two- and one-half
hours. Otherwise, it would take the farmer and his horse nearly two
days to reach the market. Back in the early days of the Long Island
Rail Road, there were no bridges for the trains to get off the island.
So, starting in 1880, train cars were loaded on barges and floated
across to track connections. It would not be until 1917 when the Hells
Gate bridge opened that Long Island trains could connect with the
mainland without having to be shipped over on a boat.
all leads us back to the railroad’s use of the term piggyback, for
when the back half of a big truck, trailer carrying a container, is
placed right on the train’s flat car. It would later be called TOFC,
for Trailer on Flatcar. But most people still call it piggyback.
Nowadays, the railroads put whole containers on flat cars. They even
have longer cars with a well in the center, so the first car sits
lower almost right on top of the track. This allows the railroad to
stack a second container on top of the other and still pass through
tunnels and under bridges.
It is easy to load and unload containers if a crane is available. But
there are some drop off points that do not have a crane, so the
container is left on the trailer and the trailer and container are
loaded on the flat car. Some shippers choose to leave the container
attached to the trailer even when the final destination has a crane.
It is faster and thus cheaper to lift both the trailer and container
at one time, place it on the ground, then have a truck connect to the
pair and drive off.
LIRR was the first railroad to offer piggyback transportation, but now
they only transport people, they are out of the freight business. In
1997 they arranged for the New York & Atlantic Railway to carry their
freight, using the tracks owned by LIRR. By the early 1900s the
farmer’s train no longer hauled horses with wagons. The service
switched over to boxcars. Yet the term piggyback remains.
I know one thing for sure, if I ever called my sister a piggy, I would
be in big trouble with Mom and I would not get dinner!
Long Island Rail Road helps prevent fatal accidents
by Malik, age 15
Every three hours someone is hit by a train in the United States. It
does not matter if you are in a car or walking too close to the
tracks, the result is severe injury or death. According to the Federal
Railroad Administration there were 236 fatalities and 662 injuries on
and around railroad tracks in 2021.
as that sounds it used to be worse. In 1972 there were 12,000
collisions at highway-rail crossings. Fifty years ago, the state of
Idaho started Operation Lifesaver. Just 12 months of educating people
about train crossings and the dangers associated with being near train
tracks led to a 43 percent decrease in accidents. Soon more states
began the Operation Lifesaver. By 1986 the safety program had
expanded national wide.
Lifesaver has been committed to preventing collisions, injuries and
fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade
crossings, with the support of public education programs in states
across the U.S.,” according to their website
Founded in the
west, Operation Lifesaver placed a lot of importance on safety at the
crossings. Public service advertisements told people they should not
try to beat the closing gates or drive around them trying to avoid
long trains. Waits of 20 minutes or more are common. The adverts
tell people that although the trains may appear to be going slowly,
they are usually moving up to 50 miles per hour and that it takes a
train nearly a mile to stop.
In 1989, LIRR
initiated the Together Railroads and Communities Keeping Safe (TRACKS)
program, along with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
"The TRACKS program provides
customized training to schools, camps, day cares, libraries, and
community groups, stressing the importance of safety at grade
crossings and on our platforms and trains." Not surprisingly, the
TRACKS program is geared toward children, educating them to stay away
from the red flashing lights and signal bells of a railroad crossing.
It offers age appropriate information on how to travel safely using
the system; and the hazards that exist on or near the tracks, this is
according to their website,
The main differences between the trains out west and on Long Island
are speed and people. The Long Island Rail Road is the busiest
commuter railroad in North America, It moves about 301,000 customers
each weekday on 735 daily trains. The New York and Atlantic Railway
handles rail freight on the Long Island Rail Road. The freight line
averages just six trains each night. In general, passenger trains are
much shorter than freight trains and can reach speeds of 100 miles per
hour. That means the wait time for drivers sitting at crossing gates
is usually much shorter.
The LIRR also has posted Emergency
Notification Signs at crossings. The signs tell drivers if their
vehicle gets stuck on the train tracks at a crossing, they should get
out of the car and call the number on the sign. They should give the
locator number to the operator. The locator number tells the railroad
exactly which crossing is blocked, so the train engineers in the area
can start to slow down the train. This way they can avoid a tragic
accident before it occurs.
The LIRR and the MTA offer train
safety coloring books and videos. In addition, the LIRR gives to free
talks to students, usually involving the Metro Man Mascot (a silver
looking robot). Toy manufactures have even
involved with track safety making toy trains reminding children to be
extra careful around train tracks. One toy LIRR boxcar has printing
that says: Stop, Look and Listen!
It has flashing red lights on a railroad crossing sign along with the
railroads yellow Dashing Dan logo. One last piece of caution. Realize
the train is wider than the track it rides on. In fact. the train can
overhang the track by as much as three feet. So do not walk on the
tracks or even near them, or else you might be one of the people hit
and hurt by a train every three hours.
Toy history is
much more fun than dates
by Roger, age 10
June 15, 2022
I used to think history was boring – nothing but
dates, dates and more dates. So, when I was asked to do a story on the history
of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, I was not too happy. But I like trains, so
I thought that learning more about the history of railroads could be fun.
dug right in and found that the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, also known as
BAR, was founded in 1891. Already a date!?!
It was just the beginning – more dates to remember! I learned that BAR traces
their origins to 1833. You see, they took over the Bangor and Piscataquis
Railroad and the Bangor and Katahsin Iron Works Railway which were founded in
I was almost ready to give up when I discovered that toys can be used to
teach history! You see, the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad became famous around
1950. They shipped a lot of potatoes and paper from Maine to places all over the
country. They decided they needed new box cars. They bought both new and used
railroad cars and painted them – nearly 2,500 cars – red, white and blue.
The high visibility cars put the small railroad in the public eye. You see
BAR at its peak only operated about 800 miles of track. Yet with 2,500 boxcars
to haul a seasonal potato crop, BAR had the second largest fleet of boxcars –
second only to the famous Santa Fe line.
When the cars were not needed in Maine for the potatoes, the extra cars were
rented out to the mid-west to haul produce around the country and all the way to
The cars were so nice looking, two toy makers made models. The toys ended up
under Christmas trees in train sets. Soon other toy manufactures followed. The
model red, white and blue boxcars are still available today more than 70 years
after the original cars were made.
The red, white and blue boxcar features three big horizontal stripes: one
blue across the top, the white in the middle and red across the base. Painted in
big bold letters on the blue line were the words “STATE OF MAINE.” In the white
stripe, across the middle part were the words, “BANGOR AND AROOSTOOK RAILROAD.”
In bottom stripe, across the red was just one word, “POTATOES” in all caps.
And this is where history gets interesting: You see, after just a few cars
were labeled Potatoes, the word was changed to Products.
Adults argue a government law made BAR change the word to Products.
Other adults claim it was a railroad association guideline, and others say it
was just the cars would be used for more than potato hauling and that is why the
word was changed to Products.
But, come on, I think it was the toy manufactures. What kid wants to haul
potatoes around the Christmas tree, when there are Legos and matchbox cars? As
for me, I prefer cookies. That way, every time the car comes around, I stop it,
open the door, grab a bit of cookies and send the car around again.
And to close this history, the dates are still confusing. You see, BAR was
sold in 1995 to Iron Road Railways. In 2002, the company went bankrupt (that
means ran out of money), but the history people say BAR was no longer
in 2003 when they were bought again this time by Montreal, Maine & Atlantic
Railway. Go figure.
As for me, I like history by toys not dates. It’s a lot more fun. Roger, age
Here's the LIONEL 6464275 State-of-Maine Products BAR boxcar product from 1955,
Roger referenced in his article and photographed in "Cookie
BARs on Long Island Railroad Research by Roger, age 10:
I was paging through a Long Island Rail
Road book looking at the different engines. I
have to tell you the paint jobs were NOT
impressive, no sir. Blue with white or yellow.
Gray and orange. Then, as I turned a page I
saw it: a really beautiful engine.
It had stripes from front to back, with colors
like black, red and gray with a thin white
stripe in between. I read the caption. It said
BAR 69 GP-7.
Huh? A bar? I know the LIRR had parlor
cars, and if you bought a drink and it came in
a souvenir glass with Dottie the Dashing
Commuter on it, and you got to keep the glass.
But it didn't seem to me like there should be
a bar in a locomotive. I am just a kid, but I
was thinking that was a bad idea. Then I did
some more reading, and I found out that BAR
stands for Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, the
trains from Maine. BAR was known for shipping
potatoes, wood and paper. All that could be
sent to Long Island, but most railroads kept
their engines and just let the other railroads
haul the freight cars with their own engines.
B&A GP7 #69 at Morris Park 1974
Well, it turned out that the LIRR had
rented the engines from Maine. It happened in
1972 when the LIRR had to deal with some
unhappy employees, 5000 of them, to be exact.
The 12 unions represented most of the
railroads maintenance workers, like carmen,
teamsters, clerks, electrical workers, sheet
metal workers and other non-operating
employees of Long Island Rail Road went on
strike. In other words, not the conductors or
engineers, what they called the trainmen. It
all started when earlier that same year when
1,500 Long Island Rail Road trainmen received
raises. That meant trainmen were getting a
daily rate of $51.75, while the non-operating
group were being paid about $27.20. the
trainmen got big raises – like 20% - but the
maintenance guys were only offered a 6% wage
increase. The strike started November 30,
1972. Approximately 170,000 passengers had to
look for other means of transportation. Most
of the passengers needed the train to get to
and from work. The strike continued until
January 18, 1973 when the government stepped
in and worked out a deal for a 90 day cooling
off period. The unions were given an 6 percent
raise dated back to January 1972, for
returning to work while negotiations
After the cooling off period, it was
announced that an agreement had been reached.
But both the LIRR and the Unions agreed to
keep it secret. The Unions did say, “They got
everything they asked for.” It was estimated
about 10 percent of the commuting passengers
never returned to the trains. They had found
other ways to get to work and they stuck with
their new routines. But the strike had caused
another problem. Since the trains had been
sitting idle for all those months, and they
had not been well maintained during that time,
when they tried to get it all back to full
service, they found out that nine of their
Alco switcher locomotives had frozen up. Their
engine blocks had cracked. The locomotives
could not be used. Long Island Metro, the
official LIRR employee newspaper, reported in
issue 29, February – March 1973, that all nine
of the damaged engines were scraped. So LIRR
asked the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad if
they could rent some engines. And BAR said
In all, eight BAR engines saw service on
Long Island. LIRR also rented engines from
Precision National. Three Bangor and Aroostook
locomotives were sent on January 21, 1973: the
GP-7s BAR 66, BAR 72 and BAR 74. BAR 66 would
stay until March 10, 1976 while 72 stayed
until April 6, 1977 and 74 returned to Maine
April 22, 1977. Engines 62 and 64 were sent to
Long Island on January 23, 1973. Both would
stay on the island until March 10, 1976.
Engine 60 and 65 was sent to LIRR on April 1,
1974 and would stay until March 10, 1976. The
last loaner engine, BAR 69, was sent on May
18, 1974 and it would stay in service until
April 22, 1977. The Maine Railroad was happy,
the lease was a good deal for BAR. They had
bought a lot of powerful locomotives for their
busy season which had been all about the
shipping of potatoes during the winter. In
1969 BAR sent the potatoes in heated box cars
to the interchange run by Penn Central. New
York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad had
In the past, the yard crews keep the box
car heaters fueled and running until the cars
continued their journey. This year not. The
crop was ruined. It would be 40 years before
Maine famers would once again ship potatoes by
rail. Just to give you an idea of how
important potatoes were to the railroad, the
1949 Maine harvest yielded 46,856 boxcar loads
of crop. The potatoes were shipped all over
the United States. Some were taken to the
shipping port and sent off on cargo boats
across the Atlantic to Europe. Belgium got 246
boxcars of potatoes and Germany got 1,458.
Spain got a lot of Maine's potatoes too: 4,042
boxcars full! So when the potatoes business
came to an end, BAR had extra engines. So they
were glad to rent them out.
But, do not worry they did not lay off the
engineers or even rent the crew to the LIRR. I
learned that when a train has a lot of cars it
may take two, three or even four engines to
pull the load, but they still just need one
engine crew. The engines are connected
together and operated from the lead unit. Oh
and when I went back and looked at the book I
realized I had seen several BAR engines but
they were painted blue and I just thought they
were LIRR. It's interesting to learn about all
these things that happened back then. And just
so you remember the LIRR did not have Bars in
Number 1 not first? by Roger, age
I may be only 10 years old, but I
can count. So let me ask you, when
is number 1 not first? The answer
is when it is a caboose on the
Long Island Rail Road. Yep, all us
kids know the story Of the Little
Red Caboose. The children of
Player Development After School
Program also know that cabooses
marked the end of a freight train
for a long time. According to
estimates, there were
approximately 2,700 cabooses in
use on American railroads in 1870.
By 1900, there were more than
17,600 on the rails. Cabooses
started to be replaced from the
mid 1980s. The beloved caboose was
replaced by a red flashing light
called FRED. Which stands for
flashing rear-end device.
Anyway, back to my story. So, I
was learning about cabooses of the
LIRR and I discovered that LIRR
Number 1 was a steel caboose that
the LIRR got. And that was in
What? 1928? Impossible! The LIRR
waited until then to put a caboose
on their trains? Let's remember
that the LIRR is the oldest United
States railroad still operating
under its original name and
charter. The LIRR was chartered in
1834, and the first section of
track opened in 1836. I have to
solve this mystery. I went to the
Trains are fun website (http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/lirrcontents.htm
and searched for caboose.
Jackpot! I discovered the LIRR
began replacing their 4-wheelers
with N52 Cabooses in 1916. They
started by making their own
8-wheelers with a steel
under-frame. The first three
caboose were numbered 33 to 35. In
1917 the LIRR built three more,
numbered 36, 37 and 38.
Wait one minute. The first steel
caboose they make in 1916 start at
number 33? Now I am more confused.
They got number one in 1928. That
is eight years after they started
making their own caboose? And why
did they start labeling the cars
with 33? I continued searching the
website. Then I discovered in the
early days the LIRR called their
4-wheel caboose hacks. That's why
they are not listed as cabooses.
So I found a list of the hacks the
LIRR had. The list starts at
number 3 and says it was built in
1899. Also built that year were
numbers 10, number 11, number 6
and 7. Get this, Number 2 was
built in 1905. If I counted like
this in school, I would get a bad
In all, the LIRR had 24 hacks and
several of those lasted until
1927. So now we almost know why in
1916 the LIRR made their first
caboose and labeled it number 33.
Did you notice that number 3 was
the first Hack the LIRR reported
on their roster. No number one.
And two came six years later after
the car before it was 21 made in
1904. Anyway Number 1 was an old
Pennsylvania Railroad caboose. At
the time, PRR owned the LIRR and
sent old equipment to New York.
One last thing I have to tell you,
somewhere around 1950 the Long
Island Rail Road started painting
their cabooses ORANGE with black
The Long Island Rail Road got out
of the freight business 1997. LIRR
arranged for New York and Atlantic
Railway to handle the freight on
Long Island. But that does not
mean you cannot see a real Long
Island Railroad Caboose. Two are
located at the
Oyster Bay Railroad Museum
12 is an N-52A caboose built by the
American Car Foundry in 1927 and
was retired in 1961. It is painted
Best of all the museum offers free
tours of both cars online at
YouTube. The link for Number 12 is
Number 50 is an N-22
built by International Railway Car
Co. in 1956 and did not retire
50 is painted orange.
The link for Number 50 is
Mystery mostly solved, for now!
NEW LOGO - NEW IMAGE by Isaiah, age 23
Maine Line Magazine - Winter 2022
Editor: Joseph T. “Joey” Kelley
Railroad Blue is the Strongest Color
by Malik, age 15
is a strong color. It is so strong it can stop a speeding car. It can
even stop a freight train that is miles long. But,
Blue is stronger and more powerful. Red can stop a train. But Blue
prevents the train from even being started!
Traffic lights first appeared in the United States around 1920. Nearly
90 years before the traffic light, Railroads already saw the need for
signals to safely control traffic. They devised a flag system to
direct engineers when to stop or move the trains. It took a few years
for the signals we know and use today to become standardized. Red
means stop. Yellow means caution and Green means go. But blue means do
not touch a thing.
term 'flag' was carried forward even after the signals became lights
for night use. The railroads were not satisfied with red means stop
and green go. They needed more. “Railroading is a very dangerous job
and people are hurt or killed every year in simple accidents. Some of
the worst used to come from fellow employees moving trains while
people were working on them,” explained Steven Torborg a Conductor on
the Long Island Rail Road who frequently visits St. Maarten.
Basically, there are two times workers go between cars. Workers have
to add cars to or take off cars from a train. This is called coupling
or uncoupling and is done with an engineer on the train who knows
workers are between the cars. The
second and potentially more dangerous situation is when work needs to
be done on a train before the engineer arrives.
It was clear a sign was needed to
tell the arriving engineer someone is working on or under the train.
Blue was the assigned color for the flag.
“Virtually every railroad in the United
States uses blue signals, though the designs vary,” said Conductor
Steve. First came the Blue flag. But of course, the Carman needed a
place to hang it.
Other signals included lanterns and then flashlights for night use.
Some railroads used a piece of plastic on a metal rod that could be
clipped to the track out in front of the engine. There were fold up
and down blue barriers, like those used on St. Maarten for reserve
added safety plastic blue signals were made and left inside the engine
on the start-up controls. Today the carman has a blue ID badge that
they can take off and place on the engine control panel, so the
engineer not only knows someone is working on the train,
but exactly who is on under or between the cars.
Railroad motto is Safety is of the first importance in the discharge
of duty," said Conductor Steve. That
is why Blue is the strongest color on the railroad.
M7 interior cab with Employee
blue flag ID: "DO NOT OPERATE - MY LIFE IS ON THE LINE"
Circus train Blue Flag at Garden City Secondary,
Quentin-Roosevelt Blvd. - View NW 5/23/2017 Photo/Archive: Marc
The Not So Red Caboose by Malik, age 15:
Diamonds Can Be Dangerous
by Collis, age 12:
Trains with Three Rails Which came first: 3-rail toy
trains or the LIRR? by Roger, Age 11:
Steam engines were the power for early trains. They
burned coal, oil or even wood in the locomotive's firebox to boil
water to make steam. The steam would build up so much pressure that it
was enough to get the wheels to turn and the trains to move along the
tracks. Steam engines made a lot of smoke and dust, so everything
around and on the train ended up dirty. In those days there were two
tracks, and many train tracks are still two rails.
But, when trains evolved into a new source of power – electricity –
they tried different ways to get the electricity to the train. The
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) was one of the first roads in the United
States to switch to electric. Ideas for how to get the electricity to
the train engine included above-ground wires, although many people
thought that the above-ground lines looked ugly. Plus, the wires were
prone to breakage in high winds, and especially during winter ice
So in 1905, when the LIRR replaced dusty, dirty steam engines with
modern, clean electric locomotives, they decided to use a three rail
system. The two tracks already laid down were one side of the electric
connection and the other electrical line went to a third rail placed
outside the pre-existing ones. This was done in part so the rail could
be covered to avoid accidental short circuits or electrocutions.
Some of us kids at Player Development think the LIRR got the idea of a
third rail from model trains. Yes, believe it or not, toy trains were
electrified before real trains.
Model trains, made from wood, and later metal, started appearing in
1860. By 1891 train sets were being manufactured and sold. The
first sets required the child to just push or pull the train around on
the tracks. Next came toy trains that the child could turn a crank and
wind them up, then let them run on their own, until they wound down
and had to be cranked up again. Electrical toy trains were first
designed in 1896, but these still used a two rail system. In 1901 the
Lionel Train company came out with their first electric train sets.
Some early train makers experimented with and liked third rail
operations. A few manufacturers actually had the third rail outside
the main rail and used a “shoe” pick up similar to the ones used by
the LIRR. But the familiar 3-rail O-gauge train sets were sold as sets
starting in 1906.
That means Lionel had to be working on 3-rail system
at the same time that the LIRR was switching to electric. Of course,
we do not know if the designers at LIRR ever played with the toy
electric trains. The Lionel train set has the third rail in the center
of the two tracks with a special roller pick up on the bottom of the
trains. The wheels making contact on the outer two rails complete the
circuit. So we cannot tell who had the idea of a three rail system
first but we are sure glad they did because these are like the ones we
have here on St. Maarten at Player Development. They are fun to drive
around the track and imagine you are an engineer driving a real train.
Making new toys look antique By Roger,
Imaging taking a brand-new toy , perhaps a
shiny red sports car, out of the box and getting it dirty right away,
on purpose. Your mom might get a little made. Maybe not let you bring
the toy in the house. Yet that is what model railroaders do. They buy
new trains, and make them look old sometimes even before they put them
on a track and run them around a bit.
process of making a train or anything look old is called weathering.
There are many ways to do this but today I am going to talk about
using chalk. At Player Development, the after-school program at
the Little League Ballpark on St. Maarten that helps kids do better in
school, we have five train sets.
You need to know railroads try to keep the
passenger trains looking good. They have wash stations that the cars
pass through, so they shine. So we weather just the freight
You start with chalk. We use brown and
black. Rub the chalk on some 400-grit sandpaper. We do this over a
small plastic bowl. The chalk is turned into a fine dust. Next
get a small soft bristle paint brush. Dab it into the pile of chalk
then dab it on the car. Note we take the car shell off the chaise so
as not to get the wheels dirty. On one end of a boxcar there is
a wheel on it. It looks like a steering wheel but it is really a
brake. Any way it is the back of the car. Once you dab the chalk on
the car paying close attention to the ribs of the car you will put
more chalk on the brush and lightly start at the front and draw the
brush to the back of the car.
left, and Collis busy weathering the freight cars!
represents the effect of wind on the moving car. Also weather the roof
and ends of the car. Once the car is weathered, set it down and
look it over. If you are not happy with the weathering get a damp
cloth, wipe the car clean, let it dry and try again. If it came out
good, get a can of Dull-Coat , and gentle spray the car. Start far
back and mist the car. You do not want the spray to blow the car
clean. Once the car is coated let dry. Put the shell back on the
wheels and run the old looker on your layout. This weathering
technique can be used on all kinds of models to make them look more