Dusty Rails

I should probably share a couple of additional things concerning Dust Tactics.

One of the things I’d wanted to do with that game – back when I was serious about one day playing it – was to incorporate some “real world” material so that it wasn’t entirely “science-fictiony.”  This included adding a few 1/48 scale tanks, like a late war German Panzer IV and a Soviet KV-1, a couple of trucks, and two platoons of soldiers.  I’d also wanted to add an O-scale locomotive with a few rail cars, possibly as obstacles or objectives, but one glance at what such trains cost nowadays, and that addition died rather quickly.

Until today.

I went to an antique store this morning and found a Lionel 1655 steam engine, along with two cars.  There were actually four cars, but each item was priced individually, and I’d wanted to do this on the cheap – meaning that something had to be left behind.  I’d only wanted it for set decoration, not actual use, so at first, it didn’t bother me in the least that the engine was in several pieces (but the metal shell was intact), nor was I fazed by the fact that one of the cars had one of the trucks (wheel sets) detached, with no means of permanent reconnection.  At least the remaining car was in decent, if not filthy, condition.

I know nothing of Lionel trains, so after dropping my $20 on a bag of dubious worth, I came home and did some research on my questionable bag of booty.  Turns out that what I have were the components of a single train set.  These were not cars purchased by a big-time model railroader; this was boxed set that likely had one owner.  The 1655 model was sold for only two years – 1948 and 1949 – making the train (oh irony of ironies) perfect for the Dust universe, as it’s a good representation of period locomotive.  If only it were completely intact . . . but then again, if it were, I’d likely not have been able to afford it.

Between the rust, calcium deposits, and missing parts – the engine is a 2-4-2 model that’s more accurately described as an 0-4-0 version (i.e., it’s missing both the forward and rear trucks) – there were a lot of reasons to take a pass on this mess.  It’s going to take some time and effort to get this stuff where I want it.  The motor’s there, but I’ve no way to test its functionality, much less repair or clean it; heck, I don’t even have tracks.  But again, I didn’t need it to work; I just wanted there as dressing.  That fourth car?  Broken and in at least four pieces, but I might return to get it because I think it might have the engine trucks I need.  I now know that it contained parts of the engine’s coal hauler car, so that alone might be worth the visit.

I’ve got, however, two reservations.  In addition to the bag of broken parts (for $7.50, which will bring my investment up to $30), there was the power box and a couple of rail light posts.  These were a part of the set as well, and I feel guilty about breaking up a set like that.  But assuming I get that bag, I’ll be in for $30; I’m guessing that the power switch and the light posts will add at least another $15, and that’s more that I care to shell out for what is essentially junk.  I can’t imagine the store selling them by themselves.

My other issue is with the restoration.  I’ve checked and even for parts, I’ve done pretty well for myself.  Ebay has a slew of sellers with 1655s worse than mine, and they’re asking $15 and up.  It’s not a rare model, nor is it worth more than what I paid.  Yet I’m still uncomfortable about stripping and refurbishing the original paint, knowing that it’s nearly three-quarters of a century old.

Well, let’s see how the cleaning goes, and I’ll worry about the other stuff later.

 

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