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Christmas 2023-24 Trains

Once upon a time in December, 2023, I was looking through a Factory Direct Hobbies‘ emailed advertisement of some Broadway Limited Trains being released for the Christmas 2023 season. In that flyer was a very cool and interesting looking N scale Paragon4 with smoke Christmas Wrapping theme painted Reading Railroad T-1 4-8-4 Steam Locomotive with “Merry Christmas” written on the side of it. Some of my viewers know that I have “stopped” collecting Steam Engines. But that locomotive looked great. And the smoke feature is something that I do not know for certain that I have on any of my other N scale items. I might have it on another one because I have found an N scale sized funnel that might be used on such a locomotive on my N scale HJR Lonsway Pike, but I do not remember to which locomotive it belongs.. Anyway, over the past 5 years, I have been getting rid of the majority of my HO & N scale steam locomotives. I still have a fair number left that I intend to keep but I didn’t feel that I would be buying any more. Well, FDH got me. They hit me up at the right time and the BLI Reading T1 lust looks incredible. And, because it has “Merry Christmas” written on it, I said to myself, “If I could find a Caboose with similar paint scheme that has ‘Happy New Year’ written on it, then I could see myself buying those 2 items as my Christmas gift to myself this year.” So, I set out to find a caboose.

I invested several days searching for a caboose that I thought would match the locomotive. I found a Merry Christmas around the World N scale Diesel train set made by MicroTrains and distributed by Con-Cor. I only found the caboose I wanted in a 5-piece set available only on Con-Cor’s website at the time. As I browsed around Con-Cor’s website hoping to find just the caboose by itself, I ran across a lot of N scale Christmas trains promoted by Con-Cor or made by them. I put over 11 different items in my cart. However, Con-Cor doesn’t keep his website well maintained. The tracks on the HJR Lonsway Pike where I would be operating these trains mostly are Atlas code 55 tracks requiring low-flange wheelsets on any rolling stock that is used on them. High flange wheels will roll but they the will hit every railroad tie they encounter. So, because of this and a lot of other unknowns about the 11 different items in my Con-Cor shopping cart, I created a long list of questions for Con-Cor. Con-Cor also has a very high restocking fee if one returns an item to them and I didn’t want to buy something uncertain of what I would get. I sent them the email. Well, long story short, the response I received was unfavorable. We went back and forth a couple times and basically, they just didn’t have the time to address ANY OF MY CONCERNS or QUESTIONS I presented them in my long and specific email. So, at whit’s end and because the number of Reading T1’s available via FDH had dwindled to 2 and I had the last 2 in my cart on their site, I needed to hurry up and make a decision on whether or not I was or I wasn’t going to get any of these items for Christmas. I settled on the 5-car Christmas Around the World set JUST to get the Caboose out of it, and 3 passenger cars from Con-Cor. I ordered the FDH/BLI T1 Merry Christmas train. My troubles were just beginning apparently.

Con-Cor managed to get their order to me before Christmas. However, the train set was supposed to have a Diesel engine with a DCC chip in it. It does not have a chip in it. It is DC only. I had to complain. Con-Cor said they would make it right by sending me a chip. THAT has not happened yet (as of 2/2/2024) and now their parts guy quit and they cannot being to find me a chip until after they hire a new parts guy.

Factory Direct Hobbies tried their best, but someone how my purchase of 1 of the last 2 “available” Merry Christmas T=1’s ended up being delayed at the Custom’s docks and there was no way I would be receiving the locomotive before Christmas. So, I would have to wait. It arrived on the 2nd of January. But, on Christmas Day, I decided to TRY to work diligently to finish most of the HJR Lonsway Pike layout by wiring up all of my Tortoise controlled turnouts and all the lighting on the layout. Well, a month later, and I’m much further along than I was over the past 5 years, but I still don’t have the turnouts actually working. I have a very beautiful Control Panel made though and every house and building has been outfitted with lights and the lights leads dropped through the benchwork. I will put a lot of the renovations made in another Photo Album at a later time. It would be around the 20th of January before I opened the T1 locomotive.

I tested the Christmas Around the World train set. The train cars are very well done and the scenes painted on them are exquisite. They look a little weird size-wise because of them being Hi-Cube box cars. I’m not sure how close to scale these are. And, since I’m certain that the paint scheme never existed on any real trains, one could say that their is no prototype for them to be accurate with. Other than the short, stubby look, these cars are beautiful. They would have been BETTER if MicroTrains had installed metal wheels, but they didn’t. They roll nicely though. The DC diesel engine does okay. It tends to run a little rough and a little noisy, but it’s okay. I will like it better when it has a DCC chip in it.

The 3 passenger cars are very well done too. You know me. They could be better. The only disappointing thing about these are the cellophane jewel cases they arrived in. I really don’t see those cases lasing very long, in fact, there are some imperfections in them already. I have a lot of Con-Cor N scale trains, most of which arrived in much sturdier jewel cases or boxes. I told Con-Cor about this and made mention of it on a video in this album. One thing that would make them better would be seated people inside of the cars and interior led lighting with Kato style power pick-ups. But hey! Con-Cor didn’t make any of their trains to suit me yet.

I rain the Christmas trains from Con-Cor in different configurations and there is a video showing both trains running at the same time. There are some still shots of the 2 train consists as well.

Since I video-taped the opening of the Con-Cor trains when they arrived, I decided to do the same thing with the T1. It came out of the jewel case broken. The drawbar was broke and at least 2 pieces fell out. I suspect that a 3rd piece fell into the inside of the locomotive but if it ever came out, I haven’t seen it yet. It couldn’t be fixed by me, plus, the T1 is perhaps the second or third most expensive individual locomotive that I have in my collection. For what I paid for it, it was going to have to go back and be replaced with a new one in perfect working condition. I made arrangements through FDH for BLI to send me a replacement in exchange for me sending back the broken one. Although the drawbar was broken and a piece that I still cannot identify where it came from or where it belongs fell out, it still operated on my tracks and did so very well. I was able to find a route that the locomotive could run around on consistently with the least number of issues. Then, one-by-one, I added all the trains that I bought from Con-Cor for Christmas. This included 4 of the Christmas Around the World trains (excluding only the locomotive) and the 3 passenger cars.

When the replacement T1 came, I double-headed a consist of all the Christmas trains and ran them around the tracks. The 2 T1’s look good together and sound very good. They ran together pretty well too. The newest one is always in front in all of the pictures and videos. However, it derails a lot in one particular spot on the layout. Even running solo it does that so something is slightly different between it and the first T1 which rarely derails in the same sport or elsewhere.

Although I glanced at the paperwork for the T-1 and saw that BLI suggested light-weight Marklin smoke oil, I know I don’t have any such oil. I was hoping that oil made by BLI would work and so when a tube of it came that I ordered before the trains came, I put some of the smoke oil in the new T1 locomotive only. It never produced any smoke. Later, I read that BLI smoke oil is too high in viscosity to use in the N scale T1. I found some lightweight oil by Tyco that is probably 30 years old on more, but was previously never opened. It says it is Lightweight oil, but it too would not produce any smoke, at least not after having put the BLI oil into the locomotive. So, I have sent back the first T1 as promised. Thus far, I have seen absolutely NO SMOKE from the T-1 that I am most likely going to keep. I will try to find some Marklin smoke oil and order it to try it the next time I get a chance.

I really want to finish all the lighting and get all the turnouts and signals working on the HJR Lonsway Pike. I am trying my best to do so. I need a few more parts though and I cannot order them from a particular Chinese supplier until after he returns to work from celebrating the Chinese New Year. He is supposed to be back on the 16th of February. My time will become more limited though as a need to work on other home improvement projects becomes very pressing and takes the highest priority and getting ready for upcoming train shows at the end of February too. Plus, I have another layout referred to as the Uhaul layout which needs to be readied to a state to make it sellable the last weekend of February. I’m starting to doubt that I will get anything at all done on it before then. Plus, I have to work and there are tons of jobs to be complete and the workflow usually increases during this time of the year. I also have a lot of other challenges going on and need to put serious effort towards improving my health which means getting back on a healthier time schedule, eating regimen, and workout plan, all of which take many hours in a day, something I am running very short on as it is.

Anyway, this is the Christmas 2023 N scale trains that I added to my collection this year. I included 2024 because the T1 didn’t really get here until some time in January. When Con-Cor gets me a DCC chip and I get it installed and running good, I may attempt to obtain a few more of the Christmas Around the World box cars if it looks like the diesel will pull them well in DCC mode.

I hope you enjoy the Christmas Trains. You may be able to comment or Like this Album or the page on my website where I may appear eventually. May 2024 be a wonderful year for us all, ALL AROUND THE WORLD!!!

Currently, there are over 50 photos and several hours of videos related to the Christmas 2023-24 Trains. For now, to view them, open this Google Photos link. You may comment on the items in the photo album. As long as your comments remain on topic, mostly positive, and true, I will leave commenting turn on. But abuse this commenting opportunity and I will turn off that capability. I hope to return later and insert a couple photos on this page to break-up the writing. I will also turn on Sheena so that you can listen to her read this page to you. Just be aware, some words and phrases are harder for her to read than others.

Posted: 02-02-2024.