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Tinplate For Dummies

by Dave McEntarfer

Tinplate-- We all know this name and what it stands for but how many of us know how the name was given to toy trains? Well at least here's the story as it was told to me.

By approximately 1910, Voltamp and Carlisle & Finch were two of the main companies making electric trains in America and both used a form of strip track. Although Carlisle and Finch did make a crude brass track shaped somewhat like our modern track, for the most part all manufacturers used strip track. When the Germans introduced an improved version of their strip track it was tin-plated steel. This was considered a vast improvement over the older strip track, and consequently other competitors, primarily Lionel and Ives advertised "Tinplate" track. Thus the word tinplate came to signify the better grade toy trains. When the Carlisle and Finch, Voltamp and other strip track manufacturers became less known, "tinplate" became generally accepted as the trade word for toy trains. The passing of years has gradually made this word stand for any trains that are modeled in quantity and usually of metal. Thus throughout the world "tinplate" or "tin-plate" stands for good, cheap strong, long lasting trains, usually made in quantity and always made commercially

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