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Lone Star Locos

Lone Star Products Ltd. was the brand name for the toy division of British company Die Cast Machine Tools Ltd (DCMT). DCMT started up in 1939 and was based in Welham Green, Hertfordshire, north of London. The Lone Star toy production started in 1949.

In 1957, Lone Star started a range of trains called Lone Star Locos. These were a newly developed gauge (000) “push-along” and included locomotives, rolling stock, track and accessories die cast in zamak. Zamak is a white metal alloy of zinc, aluminium, magnesium and copper pioneered in Germany. The idea was to create a new small gauge, appealing to a market in smaller homes, where it could fit on a table top. It was a precursor to the most successful small gauge for model railways, the N gauge. A range of products were developed, with rolling stock (locomotives, coaches and wagons), track, trackside, signalling and lineside accessories.

In 1960, an electric powered Lone Star Treble-0-Lectric range was introduced, modelled to the fractionally larger N gauge. Being electric, this required an alloy track to conduct the electricity sitting on plastic insulating sleepers. Locomotives modelled for this were only diesels, whilst remaining rolling stock came from the same moulds as 000.

Initially, the rolling stock was solely British designs. However, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Brisbane, a market was developed in North America and Australasia. As a result, there were trans-continental additions to suit this expanded overseas market.

The genius of the Lone Star Locos 000 railway system was many, including

  • It pioneered the small models, being able to fit onto a normal table top
  • It was the precursor of the Treb-0-lectric, which in turn was the first N gauge railway
  • Whilst only a toy, the detail of the die cast was high, with a lot of carefully molded detail shown

There were flaws with this railway system, including

  • The radius of the curves was too tight for a lot of the rolling stock, allowing it to come off the track all too easily
  • The absence of power, demanding effort and some skill in moving the trains
  • The flat wagons were just too light a construction and would easily derail
  • Issues with the locomotive couplings – the initial tin plate was too fragile and the downward hook couplings did not work very well either

The flaws of 000 caught up with it and there was a significant advancement with N gauge elsewhere. This led to a demise of both the push-along 000 gauge and the electric powered N gauge. Production of the 000 range ended, with a push-along N gauge introduced, using a limited range of 000 rolling stock fitted with N gauge wheels running on plastic track.

The premier retail outlet was Woolworths, though many small local toyshops of this era stocked Lone Star Locos. Although production ceased in 1971, unsold stock was still available for sale for a while after that. A warehouse clearance led to an influx of unsold stock for collectors in 1988. Now, both new and second hand stock can be found at auction sites, such as eBay.