- I wanted to share with a list an interesting hobby shop that I visited this
past week. I lived in Pittsburgh, PA for most of my life and had dealt with
A.B. Charles & Sons on occasion. Since moving to Columbus, OH 8 years ago, I
had not been back to A.B. Charles. Well, I was overdue.
The shop has been in business for 57 years. It is packed full of model
railroad and hobby kits, trains, cars, planes and everything else that makes
a great shop. Ed Charles is the owner. We started talking and he showed me
his 'low' inventory of Märklin Z scale. First let me say that I was amazed at
the selection of older items he offered new in box. For instance, some of the
sets and cars he had on the floor included dozens (yes dozens) of Märklin's
Amtrak passenger cars, Märklin passenger cars dating back to the 1970s (black
wheels and wood grain boxes), a large selection of Märklin's American freight
cars from the 1980s and 1990s, the rare Coca-Cola passenger set 8790 (I had
to take this one home with me), the Orient Express sleeper car set 8777, all
of the European regional sets from 1989 and 1991 (including West 8697, Berlin
8691, 8696, Nord 8695, Bayern 8694 and others), and a ton of other sets,
locomotives and individual cars. Most were older than 1990. Actually there
were very few 'new' items though the ACL set and F7s were stocked.
Ed then told me about his 'archive'. Taking me to his vault, I discovered a
whole world of Z scale guaranteed to excite collectors and operators alike.
Looking for the 8863 Burlington Northern F7, they got one new in box.
Collectors, looking for the three Starlight Express sets? They got them, in
stock and not just that, but 2 -3 of each set! One surprise was the 8114 Red
Cross 125 year set, they had 3 -4 of these in stock! Other sets in the
archive were the 8130 Provincial freight sets, 8135 Dompfeil set, 8155
Lufthansa set, and 8664 Barum circus set. Plus these are many more that I
cannot not even remember right now.
Finally, parts... WOW, you cannot believe the parts they have in stock and
for sale from Märklin. I picked up an extra diaphragm for my ICE (not because
I needed it, but because it was there).
I asked Ed about mail order. The shop does ship all over the world. One
problem is that their inventory is not cataloged. Ed suggests sending him a
fax of your wish list and they will see what they have in stock. This is a
great idea! I recommend anyone looking for older Märklin items to send Ed
your wish list. As for pricing, much of the pricing was the original pricing.
Ie: Amtrak cars for their original 1980s price anyone?
Plus this large inventory does not just end with Z. Huge quantities of
Märklin HO and other manufacturers can be found stocked and in the 'archive'.
A.B. Charles and Sons are located at 3213 West Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
15216. Their fax number is 412 561-9234. Their phone number is 412 561-3068.
Ed does dissuade people from calling asking for stocked items as it does take
time to search the inventory. Again, faxing is your best bet.
Good hunting ... hopefully, many of you will be able to fill a hole or two in
the inventory. I know I did.
Ztrack Magazine, Ltd.
6142 Northcliff Blvd.
Dublin, OH 43016
Phone/Fax (614) 764-1703
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