Lionel 113 Station AF 4689 Lionel Trolley Ives 1764

Tinplate Times


Commentary Mailbag Links Archives About This Site Contact Us


by Jim Kelly

Bob Thon and the Mc KEEN sets in Syracuse (Nov. 2010)

Green: Set completed by Bob Thon

Blue: Set completed by Sergio Sanchez

Sergio Sanchez working on a Boucher 2500 locomotive

Sometimes a project takes a long time and some luck to complete. About 25 years ago Bob Thon of Robert's Lines in New York decided to make two models in Standard Gauge of the unique Mc KEEN Motor Car & Trailer. Bob went to work and created four car sides out of steel. However, the project came to a halt when Bob decided to market the Mc KEEN cars being manufactured by Dick Mayer (RichArt) at that time instead of making his own models.

Mc KEEN Power Car Side Panels created by Bob Thon

Bob hung his four unfinished car sides up on the shop wall and that's where they stayed until early 2010, when toy train collector and craftsman Sergio Sanchez, who lives in California, contacted Bob. Sergio proposed that they each independently finish the two models that Bob started years ago. Bob agreed and sent one set of the car sides to Sergio.

Handrails, steps, and doors and other details on Sergio's model

Size comparison: The Sanchez model and the RichArt model. Sergio's power car is 27 inches long and the trailer is 21 inches in length!

Thon Power Car under construction

Thon set sans roof. Bob's trailer is a few inches shorter than Sergio's. Bob explains that he cut the trailer sides short when he accidentally activated his metal shear with the trailer sides in the machine.

Work on the two models went forward during 2010 with each of the two craftsman communicating throughout the construction and finishing processes and bouncing ideas off of one another. Sergio does not have a shop: "I have soldering guns, rubber mallets, tin sheers, a ruler...the rest are just things I used that were laying around the house to help me." It is truly remarkable that Sergio could construct such a beautiful and detailed model using just basic hand tools. The roofs for both sets were hand- hammered by Sergio. The two models were completed by the Fall of 2010.

Sanchez (L) and Thon (R) Mc KEEN Sets on the SGMA Main Lines, Syracuse, NY - November 2010

Bob Thon got a chance to examine Sergio's handiwork when both models were displayed and run on the Standard Gauge Module Association's layout at the Syracuse Train Fair in November 2010. The finished models differ in some respects, but share the same pedigree, and they both reflect the unique talents of these two talented craftsmen.

Sanchez Mc KEEN Set

Illuminated Fixtures on the Exterior of the Sanchez Power Car

Sanchez Interior Detail and Window Treatment

Sanchez Power Car Nose

Would you like to comment on this article? Click here to Email TINPLATE TIMES

© 2011 Tinplate Times - All rights reserved.