Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kenner Sky Rail Project Part 1 - The challenge

Instructions for the Kenner No. 18
Sky Rail Set.
Dad has started me off on yet another oddball adventure. He's a member of the Capital Miniature Auto Collectors Club. The tradition is that the rotating host come up with a program (related to toy cars, of course).

Long-time readers may recall that when Dad hosted in 2012, he decided the theme should be Japanese tin toy vehicles of the postwar era. Since most of the toys were mine originally, yours truly was designated the guest speaker -- and started my frenzied investigation to quickly become an expert in the subject.

This time, Dad's decided the theme will be building toys often used with toy cars -- and since most of the building sets residing in his collection were originally mine...

Here we go again.

The plan is to hold the meeting at a facility with several tables where these sets could be assembled. And there are a bunch of them. Just among the Graves collection are:
1) American Brick - pressed composite flat Lego-style bricks.
2) Block City - plastic locking blocks that created mid-1950's-style homes and structures
3) Legos (other members will probably bring examples of those -- we'll focus on the more exotic building sets)
4) Kenner Girder and Panel sets

Just a few of the many things you could build by combining
Girder & Panel sets.
Girder and Panel Sets
Kenner made over thirty different girder and panel sets from 1957 to 1965. After that, Kenner assets passed through several hands, ending up at Bridge Street Toys and are still available (after a fashion) today.

I was the recipient of four different sets; the No. 4 Bridge and Turnpike set, the No. 3 Girder and Panel Building set, the No. 16 Build-A-Home Subdivision set, and the No. 18 Sky Rail set. They also made a Hydromatic Building set, but Mom wasn't about to have model waterworks (with real water) keeping her basement damp.

All the sets could be used together, so it was possible to create some elaborate structures and roadways. Most of the sets were compatible with H0 scale vehicles, so my Matchbox cars and trucks had an instant urban environment to drive in.

Here it is, my No. 18 set -- opened for the first time
since 1968.
The challenge
For the car club presentation, it will be my task to build something with each of the already mentioned sets to show as examples. The real challenge will be the Sky Rail.

The Kenner Sky Rail was a fairly ambitious toy. It was a monorail that operated on direct current, supplied by two "D' cell batteries. Like the Japanese battery-operated train sets I've worked with (see the Straco Express series), operation was marginal at best.

So the goal is to take this play set that has remained in storage since 1968 and restore it to operating condition (if possible) in time for the meeting next month. This will be a challenge.

Read all the posts about this project here.

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