model train set on track

MTA–Are these the most difficult club cars to find?

e*Train Issue: Feb 2004   |   Posted in: ,

By Mike Stella

I was watching a few items go through eBay a while ago and was surprised to see the 6464-500 Timken with the 1969 MTA ROUNDHOUSE plates on the doors come available.

1) 6464-500 Timken from 1969. A valuable car even without the MTA plate.

This is a tough piece. Most collectors, including the seller, have no idea what MTA is and are totally unaware that for many years they produced an annual ROUNDHOUSE freight car to help promote and support the yearly all-day special train meet in Bellflower, California.

2) 9230 Monon from 1977 Roundhouse. Brass door treatment was “borrowed” from TCA cars. The #9230 was the first “uncataloged” car produced by MPC.

An interesting story in the folklore of Toy Train Clubs finds MTA (Model Train Association) being founded in the Southern California area just a few years after a more notable organization was formed in Pasadena.

3) 9747 Chessie with dual Brass Doors. Only 5 were available at auction.

MTA was formed by the same founding members that walked away from a strict, uncompromising Founding Father up in Pasadena and for many years was the most popular toy train club in the region.

4) 9407 Union Pacific stock car with Over & Under Brass Doors.

I found MTA right after relocating in the area after my discharge from the Navy. From 1975 on MTA was for me the “Friendly” little club that always had bigger raffles, show & tell presentations, movies and slide shows, FREE coffee, and lots of toy trains to buy.

5) In 1980 the 9608 was offered with a very large Brass Door. None of these cars ever turn up for sale making them impossible to obtain.

No longer the biggest club in Southern California, it still was loads of fun but something was missing in that the often discussed annual ROUNDHOUSE was a thing of the past.

6) The 5th car in this series utilized an aluminum door on the 9420 Sentinel boxcar. A very striking effect and again only 5 were offered.

By 1977 as an officer in MTA, I helped work to bring it back and for a decade it was the biggest toy train event held in MAY in all of California.

7) Something different! A 16 wheel depressed flat car with a very large Brass Plaque promoting the ROUNDHOUSE in 1982.

To help celebrate the meet and to raise enough money to pay the rent, MTA produced an extremely limited group of cars that were offered to attendees only in the auction that was held towards the end of the day.

8) For 1983 a 6414 postwar flat hauled a scale size trailer with an even larger Brass Plaque. In 1983 postwar flat cars were near throwaways?

Only FIVE cars were offered each year from 1977 through 1985 except for Nine cars in 1979 and a 10th Anniversary “Thank You” Special given to everyone in 1986.

9) A postwar 6462 gondola with custom wood load followed in 1984.

The financial success of this yearly all-day event allowed MTA to provide members with monthly meetings that were virtually free and a year end Christmas Party that still has no equal in the entire Southern California area by any of the larger clubs.

10) In 1985 the 6465 postwar tank car was utilized to promote the ROUNDHOUSE.

Small local clubs are a huge asset to the hobby and over the years I have belonged to clubs in San Diego and Alaska, in Virginia and even in England.

I would encourage you to seek out these little gems and maybe, just maybe, you might find a rare car or two to add to your collection.

11) Ten years after starting up the MTA ROUNDHOUSE again we celebrated by giving every member a caboose in 1986. This ended the first train and ended my involvement with the production of these cars. These “cheap” bobbers were often laughed at. Many were throw away. About six months after the meet I informed the membership that a $50 bill was hidden in one of those giveaway cabooses. To this day no member has come forward with the find. Keep this in mind if you every see one of these cars. We produced just over 100 so there is an ample supply out there.