Sunday, August 31, 2014

White River Productions buys Railroad Model craftsman and Railfan and Railroad from Carstens publications

RMC and Railfan and Railroad have been saved! White River Productions, publisher of several railroad related products in North America serving historical societies, modellers and Railfans, has purchased RMC, Railfan and Railroad from Carstens Publications, and has also purchased another publication, The Railroad Press. Flying Models magazine, another Carstens publication, was not included in the deal. Staff assignments for the two publications have not yet been determined. Included in the agreement is Carsten's book division.

Founded in 1992 by Kevin EuDaly, White River Productions produces 22 historical society magazines, calendars, books, membership brochures, advertising rate cards, annual meet announcements and ballots. The company also publishes Model Railroad News, Railroads Illustrated, and Passenger Train Journal. The company began when Kevin EuDaly published the book Missouri Pacific Diesel Power. He produced The Eagle for the Missouri Pacific Historical Society from 1993 to 1996 and picked up the editor’s reins again for the MPHS in 2010. He has edited and produced numerous historical society publications. His wife, Nadean, manages day-to-day operations at White River Productions.
"We are excited to welcome The Railroad Press and these two Carstens titles to our family of White River Productions publications,” said Kevin EuDaly. "These magazines are important railroad publications and White River Productions looks forward to continuing their legacies.”

Existing subscriptions are to be honored and fulfilled by the new ownership. Fulfillment will be based on the number of remaining issues in existing subscriptions. Due to the need to get the magazines’ cover dates current, a combined issue scenario will likely be employed, but the number of issues owed to each subscriber will be adjusted accordingly.

"If you have six issues left on your subscription, you will receive six issues,” EuDaly said. The magazines’ new mailing address for all subscriber, reader, and industry communication is White River Productions, PO Box 48, Bucklin, MO 64631.

Advertisers should contact Mike Lindsay of White River Productions at 800-282-3291 or via email at,, or Mike will be managing advertising for the new titles.

The Railroad Press magazine was founded by Gregory Monroe in 1989. The most recent issue was Issue 102 (Jul-Aug-Sep 2014). Issue 103 (Oct-Nov-Dec 2014) will come out under the White River Productions flag, but will still be produced by long-time editor Jaime Serensits. Serensits will continue to serve as editor for White River Productions.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Demise of Carstens Publications: The inside story

Will this be the last issue of RMC?

The following is a post written by Chris Lane, editor of Carstens Publication's On3 Annual:

Any business owner will tell you, it is all about cash flow. You may have all the sales you can handle, but if you don't get the money in the door in a timely and steady manner, you are going to have issues. And that has been the case at Carstens for some time. We have been on a "pay to play" deal with our printer for years…We'd send the mag and the money to print it…then we'd send the money for postage and they'd mail it. And these were not insignificant dollar amounts.

From 2008 on, as the recession kept going, people kept losing their jobs or taking work that paid less, our sales diminished also. We had increases in the book line, primarily due to the On30 and then the HOn3 Annuals, and our ad revenue stayed pretty steady. But over time, the cash coming in, and the frequency of it inched downward. Our costs (payroll, taxes, printing costs, mailing costs etc.) kept going up, and in the case of mailing, significantly so.

When Super Storm Sandy hit, we were out of power for 10 days (no phones, no computers) and we counted ourselves lucky compared to some on the east coast. But there was basically a half month that we could not generate any revenue, and of course many folks on the east coast couldn't buy from us if they wanted to because they didn't have power or were dealing with flooding issues. Then we had the polar vortex and the winter that would not end, and had many of the same issues. Those hurt our cash to the point where we were missing print windows because we didn't have enough cash to print, and we had to delay. That delay hurt subscriber confidence and you can see the death spiral picking up steam. There were any number of things that you could point to, but Quad Graphics (our printer in St. Cloud for the last 15-16 years) making the decision to shut the St. Cloud plant down and move us (and they let all the people we'd worked with go) and put us with a new plant and new people, that was basically the end. We had very little money coming in, and with the delay, small prospects of any coming in. We scrapped enough up to do the June and get it out, but the July will never see the light of day as a Carstens product.

Now two companies are bidding to buy RMC & Railfan, and so they will continue in the future in some form. What that looks like I don't know. The Annuals future is somewhat more vague. It is my hope and certainly my intent to continue to serve as the editor and bring those out, but that decision is mostly out of my hands at this point. 

I don't want anyone to feel bad for me, I will be just fine and it was my pleasure to serve the model railroad community and especially the narrow gauge community as a member of Carstens. God willing, I will be able to continue to do so in some other form, but I likely won't know what that might look like for at least another week or so, and likely longer.

Another factor worth mentioning is that Carstens was very late in keeping up with the digital era. They had just recently started publishing their on-line edition. Their main competitor, Kalmbach Publications, has had on-line editions for some time, plus a whole slew of features on their website for subscribers only. 

Carstens was a very small publisher, with few resources to keep up with all of the recent changes in printing and publishing. Their main sales venue, the local hobby shop, has been vanishing at a rapid pace. Compare the hobby magazines of today with those of a decade ago. They're a lot thinner. Their advertising base has all but dried up.

Perhaps Carstens magazines will survive in the hands of others, but they'll be facing a tough uphill climb.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Carstens Publications has gone out of business

It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of Carstens Publications. Carstens, publishers of Railroad Model Craftsman and Railfan and Railroad magazines, closed down on August 22, 2014.

The roots of the company go back to 1933 with the initial publication of Model Craftsman magazine. Harold "Hal" Carstens joined the company in 1952 and purchased the company in 1969. Hal started Flying Models magazine that year, and in 1974 started Railfan magazine, In 1979 he purchased Freeman Hubbard's Railroad magazine and combined it with Rainfan magazine to create Railfan and Railroad. Hal passed away in 2006, and his son Henry took over operations.

Besides their two rail oriented publications, the firm also published several annuals, such as the On3 Annual, the HOn3 Annual and Great Railroad Photography.

On their website, the following notice from Henry Carstens was posted:

"It is with regret that Carstens Publicatons, Inc. will be closing permanently at close of business on Friday, August 22, 2014. Carstens Publications, Inc. has been a leading publisher of leading hobby magazines for over 50 years. Unfortunately the current economic climate has placed us in this position. Discussion is continuing with several parties who expressed desire to take on the continuance of the magazines. At this point there is still hope that all three titles will remain in existence. But I can offer no guarantees. We thank you for your patronage over the years, and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors."

Carstens publications has always been a strong supporter of model railroaders everywhere, especially in Manitoba. Who could ever forget the publicity they gave Railway Jamboree, 1983 NMRA national convention held in Winnipeg, by publishing all those articles of Winnipeg's great model railroads? Hal Carstens was there himself, sitting at a table with a big box of his magazines that he was giving out.

They did the same for us for the CARM's 2005 Golden Rails convention held in Winnipeg, and for the TLR's 2010 Steam on the Prairie convention, they sent over Associate Editor Ken Goslett to do a special presentation. Ken was best remembered for chasing the Prairie Dog Central through a terrific rainstorm during that convention.

According to a post by Chris Lane, former editor of Carsten's On3 Annual, negotiations are under way between Carstens and two interested buyers to purchase RMC and Railfan, but no deal has been reached yet.

Going to the hobby shop isn't going to be the same without those Carstens publications on the rack.

Monday, August 25, 2014

No. 1 Northern Division readies for Manitoba Mega Train Show

The Manitoba Mega Train Show is only a month away, and the NMRA's No. 1 Northern Division's Free-Mo Group is ready to go with their most spectacular layout ever, measuring a staggering 95' x 22'!
Last year, their layout was the largest in the show. It was so large that during set-up organizer Maurice Dorge called No.1 Northern Superintendent Dennis Rietze just to double check that he got the measurements right (he did).

This set-up should be called the long, long layout! Being 95 feet long, it'll provide plenty of room for some long run-throughs! Much thanks to Ian Plett (the driving force behind the No. 1 Northern's Free-Mo group) for suppling this plan.

The Manitoba Mega Train Show will be held on September 27 and 28 at the CanLan Sports Centre, 1871 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg. The hours for both days are from 9AM to 5PM. General admission is five dollars. Admission for children ages 3-12 is three dollars. Free admission for children two and under. Admission includes unlimited rides on the Mega-Train which encircles the entire show. Vendors, a huge Lego exhibit and plenty of model railroads on display. Free parking, handicapped accessible.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Manitoba Live Steamers open house August 23 and 24

School's still out until after Labour Day, but the model railroad and railfan season is opening early, and it's starting off with a blast of steam from the Manitoba Live Steamers! They'll be holding their annual open house this weekend, August 23 and 24. 

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Manitoba Live Steamers and Model Engineers, which means they've been around since 1939!

The hours of the open house are from 10:30 – 4:30 on Saturday and 11:00 – 3:00 Sunday.  There will be displays of Model Engineering, with model engines running.  These include stationary engines in the club house, model traction engines – sometimes as large as 1/4 scale – and model locomotives.  The public is welcome to ask drivers who are running for train rides on both tracks.  There will be craft demonstrations as well.

A canteen will be open, selling burgers, hot dogs, pop, chips, and coffee.  All proceeds go to the club.  Donations are appreciated to help defray the costs of maintaining the facilities.

Rides may be available, but they're at the sole discretion of the owner of any individual train that is running on the track, so ask first before you attempt to hop on!

They're located just east of Sturgeon Rd. and Inkster Boulevard. If you're travelling west on Inkster, be sure to take the turn-off before you get on to Centrepoint. Check out their location on the map by clicking here.  

The club features 1000 feet of Elevated Track, which can accomodate (4) different gauges of locomotive:  2-1/2″, 3-1/2″, 4-3/4″, and 5″. The Manitoba Live Steamers’ track features a park-like setting with a clubhouse and caboose, steaming bays, and watering facilities for both ground level and raised track. There are 1100 feet of Ground Level Track for both 4-3/4″ and 7-1/2″ gauge locomotives. The unloading facility consists of two hoists for unloading from trailers to either the raised or ground level tracks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Lionel Train price list from 1954

An elderly gentleman donated his collection of Lionel Trains to the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club this spring. Among the items in his collection was this gem from 1954 - a Canadian price list for Lionel Trains!

The sheet was stamped as coming from the Trainatorium in Montreal, which is long gone. What's interesting is that there were two types of sets being sold - one for 60 cycles and another for 25 cycles. Some areas in Southern Ontario were still using 25 cycles in the 50's.

The prices look fantastic, until you realize that 60 years ago if you were making $100 a week, you were considered pretty well off. Considering inflation, we're paying less for model railroad equipment than we were back then!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Watch "So You Want a Model Railroad" (if you dare)

    This is a hilarious (and somewhat painful) short sent by long time WMRC member Ron Einarson about how a man's obsession with building his model railroad gets just a bit out of hand. This is one of a series of shorts made in the 40's and 50's featuring a character named Joe McDoakes, who gets into all sorts of trouble following his desires. There were over 60 shorts made, all with the titles beginning with "So You Want To......."

     If the voice of Joe McDoakes sounds familiar, that's because the actor, George O'Hanlon, was also the voice of George Jetson!

     This short is a little over eight minutes long, but please watch it all the way through, and look out for that surprise ending! It is strongly advised NOT to watch this with your spouse. Click here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

All about the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's new location at the Charleswood Legion

Starting in September, we will have a new place for our monthly meetings - the Charleswood Legion Hall at 6003 Roblin Boulevard. You can't miss it - it has a tank on the grounds!

We'll be meeting in the Tank Room, in the basement of the hall. The door on the west side of the building provides the best access.

This new meeting place holds many advantages over our previous location. It's on a main road, and very easy to find. It also promises to be a lot warmer location. Our past two locations have been in church gymnasiums. Although the club has been very grateful for the use of these locations, a lot of our members found them to be uncomfortably cold in the winter (The blower fans were on the ceiling, heat rises).

As an added bonus, members will no longer have to take their winter shoes off! Leave your slippers at home!

The legion hall is not in a central location (although one of our members live right across the street from it), but it's still relatively easy to get to from most parts of the city. Members living in the Kildonans or the northwest part of the city can take the Perimeter Highway. A short cut can be taken by going down Brookside Boulevard then onto Centre Point Canada Way (It is much faster).

However, it is a lot farther from our beloved Santa Lucia Pizza on St. Mary's Road, but there's another location close by at 2029 Portage Avenue, right between William Clement Parkway and Route 90!

The WMRC wishes to thank our Past President Ed Mulholland for finding this new location. Way to go, Ed!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tickets still left for the Prairie Dog Central's "A Day Out With Thomas"

Thomas the Tank Engine will be at the Prairie Dog Central Railway on August 16, 17, 23 and 24. All of the rides are already sold out for this weekend,  but there are still a few tickets left, mostly for early morning and late afternoon for next weekend on both Saturday and Sunday. Out of a total of 44 separate excursions, there are still tickets available for twelve of them. These tickets must be ordered on-line through Ticket Web. You cannot order tickets for these excursions though the Prairie Dog central's ticket office. You can reach the site by clicking here. You may also purchase tickets over the phone by calling 1-888-222-6608.

On the site, a few of the trips listed say that some tickets for a few of the rides for this weekend may be available on site, but why take the risk of disappointing some youngsters when you can be guaranteed a ticket on-line for the following week?

For more information about A Day Out with Thomas, click here. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tom Snyder and Mandy Patinkin talk about model railroading

   One of the best known celebrity model railroaders was the late Tom Snyder, host of Tomorrow and The Late Late Show. He had a Lionel standard gauge layout in his home and regularly discussed his love of trains quite often on the air. On the Late Late Show he once had actor Mandy Patinkin as a guest. Mandy, who has starred in The Princess Bride, Alien Nation, Chicago Hope and Criminal Minds, is also a model railroader who has a large Lionel layout in the basement of his home in Connecticut.

    So what do you think they talked about on the show? Trains, of course! Mandy did have a few other things to plug, but the discussion of their mutual love of model railroading took first priority!

    You can see the segment of that chow by clicking here. Thanks to WMRC Vice president Dave Downey for finding this!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Will Rod Stewart be at the Assiniboine Valley Railway's open house this weekend?

    Could we see Rod Stewart riding on the AVR this weekend? Who knows?

   Everyone knows that Rod Stewart is not only a legendary world class rocker, but he's also a model railroader! In the model railroading community, he's almost as famous as Ron Einarson or John Longhurst!

   Tonight  Rod will be in concert along with Carlos Santana at the MTS Centre. This man commands large crowds wherever he performs in concert. When he's not performing, he lives year round in Hawaii. So why would he pick this weekend to perform in this mosquito ridden backwater?

   There can be only one answer - he must've heard about the AVR's open house this weekend! Maybe he read this blog for the information!

   We don't know for sure if he's going to be there, but the only way to find out is to go there yourself! It looks like it's going to be a wonderful weekend for riding the trains! The hours for the open house are from 11:00 to 5:00 on Saturday, and from 1:00 to 5:00 on Sunday. It costs a measly two bucks a ride, and kids under three can ride for free. A 12 ride rail pass is available for $20, which is good at any AVR event.

   The Assiniboine Valley Railway is located at 3001 Roblin Boulevard, right next to Assiniboine Park. If you see Rod there, remember that you read it first right here! But even if he isn't there, you're guaranteed a great time riding the rails!

   Please not the the AVR has a new website, which you can reach by clicking here. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club moves to the Charleswood Legion

   Effective in September, the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club will have a new meeting place. The club will now be meeting at the Charleswood Legion Hall at 6003 Roblin Boulevard. The first meeting will be held on Friday, September 12, at 7:30 PM.

   The Charleswood Legion is on a main road, and it is very easy to find (it's hard to miss that big tank they have on their property). There is also plenty of parking.  The club's annual spring open house will also be held at the Legion.

   Please note that we will meet in the Tank Room, located in basement of the Legion. The door on the west side of the building provides best access because the east side parking lot tends to be more popular with the regular legion patrons on Friday nights.

    Mark your calendars, and set the date! We're looking forward to seeing you at our new location!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Ride the Assiniboine Park steam train this summer

    A great place for rainfanning, although often overlooked, is Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park. It features a neat miniature live steam train that has just celebrated its 50th anniversary in the park. Although it's mainly for the kiddies, it's still a live steam engine, and still a wonderful sight to see when it's all fired up! Tickets are a very reasonable $2.75 each.

    While you're at the park, take a walk over to see CN's classic 6043 4-8-2 Mountain steamer. This historic engine, built in 1929, made the last scheduled run of steam power on Canadian rail on its run from The Pas to Winnipeg on April 25, 1960. The engine was placed in the park in 1983.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Watch this amazing parade of steam from Poland

Ever see a dozen steam engines lashed together barreling down the track? It's an amazing sight, and you can view it right here. This clip is from the annual steam locomotive parade in Wolsztyn, Poland, operated by the Wolsztyn Experience, a mutual society for the preservation of steam railway in Poland.

Wolszyn seem to be the Mecca for all things steam! They offer not only excursions but courses on operating steam engines as well. For more information, check out their website here.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Railfanning the Prairie Dog Central

    What better way could there be to spend a summer weekend than riding on the Prairie Dog Central? You can buy a ticket at the station from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM at the station, but it is advisable to order tickets online and in advance, as some of their special events sell out pretty fast!

    Please note that because of the CentrePoint highway project, it's a little trickier to get to the station than it was before. The big pile of gravel that blocked the road last year is gone, but now you have to veer off the main road to get there! For directions click on this link.

    The next best thing to riding on the train is railfanning it, but you should always do so at a proper distance. Please don't do so at the station if you're not going to buy a ticket, as parking is limited.

   But there are plenty of other places to get a good shot of the train. The track run parallel to Prairie Dog Central Road right to the Perimeter Highway. The tracks cross Sturgeon Road, Mollard Road and Paterson Road within the Perimeter. There is also a service road running parallel to the Perimeter Highway. Please don't stop on the Perimeter itself to take a picture - it's one of the busiest roads in the province!

    You can follow the train along Highway 6, but it is not advisable taking shots along the road, as that stretch of Highway 6 has been designated as one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the province. A safer and much more scenic place to stop would be to get off the highway and go  to Grosse Isle, where the train often stops, or to Warren, which is the terminus of the PDC. The tracks also cross Highway 67, Highway 321 and Highway 322.

    Always remember to stay off the tracks at all times, and keep a safe distance from the train. Happy railfanning, and keep safe!