model train set on track

My Best Find of 2015

e*Train Issue: Apr 2016   |   Posted in: ,

By Joe Carr   01-53295                                              Spring 2016

My parents bought my first train when I was about seven or eight. It was a Lionel 224 steam engine with several cars, track, transformer etc. I still have the trains and have restored most of them.

Several years ago, I bought an American Flyer 290 steam engine three passenger cars, track, and transformer. Now I’m hooked on both Lionel and American Flyer.

I went to the October 2015 York Show with Plan A and Plan B. Plan A was to find and purchase the number 353 Circus Train or at least the engine to start. I did my research ahead of time. The set was produced in 1950-51. After searching all the halls, I could only find a couple examples and they were all repaints. I was very discouraged at this point, but maybe it was time to go on to Plan B.

Plan B was to find the 350 Pacific Royal Blue Set. I wanted to find the set in the best condition that I could afford. Again I did my research beforehand. My research told me the set was produced in 1948 and 1949. The 1948 set was the one with the wire handrails. The other set had cast in handrails. During the day Thursday, I searched most all the halls. I did not find what I was looking for. I headed for the Silver Hall, just about to give up; when I spied a dealer with a group of American Flyer sets in the original boxes! I was in luck! He had both of the Royal Blue sets!!  I opened the first box and found it was the 1948 version. The set consisted of 5 pieces: the 350 steam engine and tender, 633-R B&O red box car, 631 T&P green gondola car, and the 630 Reading caboose. This set contained all the original boxes, track, directions, and lock on. The set was marked 48T which meant that the transformer was included. That was missing, but as it turned out I had the correct one at home. I am missing the box for the transformer but that is another hunt!

Not long after this I went to the National Toy Train Library to see if I could find more information about the Royal Blue Set. Librarian Jan Athey supplied me with a wealth of information. She even had a copy of the 1948 catalog which I purchased.

My “Royal Blue Set” has given me much pleasure. I enjoyed finding the information also. I plan on continuing to look for Plan A. That’s the fun of this hobby for me.