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Lastra

(Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic)

LASTRA was founded by LAdislav STRAsky in 1938, and began electric toy train production in the city of Trhovy Sviny later that year. Initial production comprised a 2-6-2 steam loco and tender with a modest range of track and passenger cars. Prior to the outbreak of WWII, LASTRA made very few trains and even fewer survived the war.

After the war, Ladislav Straskyís son continued to produce trains based on the pre-war offerings, but it was a small sideline effort compared to their main product line of manufacturing special needles used in mechanical looms. The train set illustrated below is believed to have been made in the early 1950ís, shortly before LASTRA abandoned toy train production in 1955.

The set consists of a 2-6-2 locomotive and separate tender, three passenger cars, 12 curved track sections and 4 straight sections. It came in an attractive set box with the cover sporting an artistís rendering of a steam powered passenger train crossing the Vltava River in Prague.

The locomotive is powered by an AC motor controlled by varying the voltage between 3 and 15 volts, although there is no transformer in the set. Direction control is manual, and forward and reverse are selected by moving a lever mounted inside the locomotive cab. The locomotive electrical pickups are located in the leading and trailing bogies (trucks), the leading bogie collecting current from one rail and the trailing bogie, the other rail, all other loco and rolling stock being insulated.

The loco is nine inches long, and is of sheet metal, with cast cylinders. The metal tender and passenger coaches are five and twelve inches long respectively. The metal couplers are similar in function to the 'automatic' couplers introduced by JEP in 1952. The passenger cars are each fitted with external metal ladders as per the full size passenger cars of the time. The locomotive has electric forward facing marker lights but the coaches are not lighted.

Each hollow-rail track section is mounted on a Bakelite roadbed base. The rails are connected using track pins and the Bakelite sections are additionally secured end to end using a U shaped connector attached to holes in each end of the roadbed. When set up, the track forms an oval 50 x 73 inches. Unfortunately, the track gauge (25mm) is similar to, but not quite compatible with other S gauge systems such as American Flyer, JEP and VEB.


Lastra Passenger Set, box lid

Lastra Passenger Set, box contents

Lastra Passenger Set, 2-6-2 locomotive

Lastra Passenger Set, locomotive with lights

Lastra Passenger Set, locomotive reverse switch

Lastra Passenger Set, locomotive front pickup truck

Lastra Passenger Set, locomotive rear pickup truck

Lastra Passenger Set, three passenger cars

Lastra Passenger Set, ladder and automatic coupling

Lastra Passenger Set, automatic coupling

Lastra Passenger Set, (almost S gauge) track and connectors

Lastra Passenger Set, (almost S gauge) track and connectors

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