CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

US Toy Train Company - A&A RR models

I primarily model in HO gauge, but I like to collect anything and everything related to the Arcade and Attica Railroad. As someone who has regularly monitored EBay for A&A stuff for the past 15 years, there isn't much I haven't seen. And if something is rare I know it pretty quickly. I have a couple of pieces in my collection that I believe are rare but it is difficult to say based on EBay sales. One caboose I literally just found this week because I intentionally mis-spelled a word and the caboose popped up. It took me about a second to decide I had to buy it!

#201 Tender
I moderate a post on Railroad.net about all commercially available A&A models and I try to keep it updated frequently. The most interesting items on the list are O scale tinplate models manufactured by the United States Toy Train Company (USTTC). The company had an address of Route 78 and 362, Bliss, NY, 14024. Some of the items were shown in a brief write-up in the February Classic Toy Trains magazine. Oddly, the caboose wasn't shown in the write-up (perhaps it didn't exist yet?).

#501 Coach
I had actually run across a few of the pieces in the Arcade train station, but not all of them. I assumed at the time they were custom painted models. I learned later that they were commercially released. They are pretty rare. In the past 10 years I have seen only two boxcars, two gondolas, one coach, two different cabooses, one tender, and one station offered for sale. That's it.

#301 Gondola
Some history of the USTTC might be in order. As someone who isn't an expert on anything tinplate, I would refer you to this excellent summation of the USTTC. Sadly, the company is out of business. Per a different online thread, the owner passed away in 1989. However, there appears to be a second USTTC with that name! The second company released models of A&A stuff and was a small sheet metal shop as its normal business. They both manufactured tinplate O scale stuff, and because I am not an O scale tinplate expert it looks like they used the same trucks, couplers, and even base cars bodies. Perhaps the second company took over the first?

#403 Boxcar
Regardless, I find these A&A models charming. They clearly were a labor of love, and the boxcar is especially nice. I bought the gondola for a rather hefty price several years ago, and then the rest of the models (except for the Station) nearly fell into my lap when some seller wanted to move them all on EBay and was frustrated at high reserve prices not being met. He then listed them starting at $1 (bad mistake) and I got all the rest for nearly the same price as the gondola. I should have purchased the second gondola just to have a spare!

#901 Caboose
Under the "huh?" category, the company released two cabooses. Neither was featured in the magazine write up, and I assume that they were done later on. But, the A&A actually had two cabooses and the end cupola model is reasonably close to it (well, as close as the coach and gondolas are). I just saw the center cupola caboose this week and bought it, and it looks original. I suppose the owner might have switched roofs, but nothing looks amiss to suggest this. A real quirk of a car.

#901 Caboose
Now, I need something to pull them. I am thinking a Lionel 44-tonner, which isn't tinplate but it looks large enough and is readily available on the market. Repainting it would be a snap, and I will replace one of the couplers with these tinplate hook things so that it can couple to the other cars. Finding a steam engine of the 2-8-0 or 4-6-0 wheel arrangement that is inexpensive probably isn't very likely.

The station I have only seen come up once and it never sold, so perhaps it will appear again. It has nothing to identify it as an A&A model, so it might get listed under a title I wouldn't normally associate with it. Sigh. I guess that is what makes collecting fun!

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