Another Question?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by marty w., Aug 1, 2002.

  1. marty w.

    marty w. Member

    How did you get started in model railroading?

    For me, it was my Dad.

    My Dad had a Lionel set up on a 4'x8' the week before I was born.
    He would set it up every year from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. When I started a family, he passed that set to me and we still set up a loop around the Christmas tree every year.

    Then when I was 8-9 years old, he had a HO scale layout in the basement.

    In 1968, we went to the New York Society of Model Engineers open house in Carlstadt, NJ. We both were amazed by the size of the HO and O scale layouts. So we changed over to N scale, so we could run long trains.

    In 1969, we moved to Indiana. With Dad's new job and me with other interests (cars,girls), the N scale layout was never set up again.

    Since that time, I have been in and out of model railroading. Time and money commitments with raising a family, did not allow for much model railroading.
    Then 2 years ago, with the last son out of collage and married, I'm now building my HO scale dream layout.

    Ever notice how much space one has without kids in the house?

    That's my story and I'm stickin to it.

  2. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Always been fascinated by trains, but never really did anything about it. Took my wife to the train show here in Edmonton last fall, and was bitten hard.

    Bought some rolling stock, one locomotive, and some track from my brother, who has been slowly parting with his smallish collection over the last year or so (he's very flitty about his hobbies, I'm sure he'll be back once he sees how kewl my layout is). Then went from there.

    So I still have my rookie status for another two months (end of September).
  3. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    I had always been fascinated with trains, and had a few lucky exposures.

    In 1939 --- when I was 5 --- we visited friends in Panama for several months, and we had a couple of opportunities to ride across the isthmus on the railroad there. Believe it or not, it was open-platform wooden coaches. Fun stuff, but I remember being plenty scared jumping from one car to the next while underway.

    During WWII, one of our regular family entertainments was to go down and watch P38's do practice landings at a local runway. As it happened, the SP ran right by there, and I spent more time watching the cab forwards and the Daylights than I did the planes.

    I got to ride the Daylight to San Francisco on several family trips during the war. And my father took the Super Chief to Chicago once or twice a year, and it was always a thrill seeing him off, and having a peek into his compartment before the train left.

    I got a clockwork Marx train set when I was seven or eight, but my father pronounced that playing with trains was for little boys, so had taken it away from me by the time I was eleven.

    In 1946, when I was 12, my father retired, and we moved to a country place near a small town in Oregon. It happened that there was a hobby shop there with a pretty nice figure eight layout. and after hanging around there for months and bugging the hell out of the owner, I was hooked. How that hobby shop made a living is beyond me. The town was only about 1500 people, and I can't remember ever seeing very many customers in there. But I have that guy and his shop (cannot remember the names) to thank for getting me into this.

    I had other interests. Had horses, and even participated in a few rodeos in my teens. But model trains became my prime hobby.

    My father always wondered where he went wrong. Here I was, he'd say in disgust, nearly full grown, and I was still "playing with trains!" (And he wasn't kidding!)

    Bill S
  4. BDC

    BDC Member

    My dad bought a toy store HO set when I was about 5 (Tyco Silver Streak) and we(he) built a small layout on a piece of plywood. That lasted a couple of years and then faded away. Still have that locomotive though.

    About 10 years later we tried building another layout that didn't go so well. Could be because we were still running the same loco and cars from that original set. That setup very quickly migrated to the back wall of the garage and eventually to the scrap heap.

    Last year I bought a Kato Nscale set and the whole thing started all over again. No layout yet, except for some snaptrack that's been "temporarily" on the dining room table for the last year.

    I just realized that if this pattern keeps up, I'll be running Z-scale trains by 2010!:p
  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    It was the late 1960's Boy's Life series on a 4X8 HO layout that did it for me!
  6. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I think I was born this way.:D :D :D It just seems like I've always been a model railroader.
  7. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Thoughts of a Kinder and Gentler Time

    Well I got started in the early '50's....Santa brought me the only thing that I asked for...An American Flyer Train Set. A Pacific locomotive and 5 cars. The "Jolly Old Elf" also threw in a pair of switches and a Whistling Billboard. Over the next year or so my Dad (who was a commerical artist) and I (but mostly Dad because I was only about 8 years old at the time) built an AF layout that was about 6x10 took up one whole wall in my bedroom. It was our "pride and joy" for many,many years. Still have the trainset and the accesories carefully packed away but the layout has been gone for many years. Dad passed away in the late 60's. Mom's still living and is 96 years old and lives with me. She loves to see the trains and especially likes to blow the whistle on the sound system!!! Thanks Dad and Mom and Santa for giving me a hobby I have enjoyed all my life.

    I got in to HO in the late 60's and built several layouts up until about 1985 when a friend of mine who collected HOn3 sold me his collection. Was always facinated by narrow gauge and I've been there ever since although its gotten a lot harder with these @#$% bi-focals on.
  8. alkcnw

    alkcnw Member

    I;m with Catt, can't remember a life before trains!!!!!:eek:
  9. Matt Probst

    Matt Probst Member

    It seems like fathers were the big influence on a lot of us!
    (Hope this post isn't too long!)
    My father has always been a "modeler" of some sorts...and his attention to detail is remarkable...I hope I can be as much of an influence on my son as he has been to me! ( I gave my 4 year old son a box full of old brass sectional track pieces and some cheapo, beatup pieces of rolling stock that he loves to play with on the floor..."connecting" pieces of track into all kinds of crazy configurations and proudly showing it off! "just like Daddy's ray-road!")
    As far as my father's influence, he began before I was born with modeling scale circuses in his yard. Hand sewn tents, riggings, scratch built wagons, animals and people carved out of wood and on and on.
    By the time I entered the world, he switched to HO railroading with a 5' x 9' layout in a spare bed room. He scratchbuilt all the structures and wrote on the bottom of each one things like " made for Matt's 2nd birthday 1968, made for Matt's 3rd birthday 1969" etc. I now have all those pieces on my layout and even though they aren't exactly to scale in some cases, I couldn't dream of replacing them!
    By the time I was 5 or 6 he gave up on his layout due to time and job restraints and indulged in other activities. So the railroad scene slowly disappeared from our home.
    Then, when I was a freshman in high school we had an exchange student from Holland who was a model railroader in his own country and a huge Marklin fan. He brought pictures of his home layout and the "bug" bit me again. Together, in that year, we built a 4' x 8' and had many a fond evening together running my dad's old trains.
    As high school and college years progressed, modeling fell into the background again, though I still kept my subscription to MR and always read it cover to cover.
    Then, after college, the "bug" flew out of nowhere and bit me again and hasn't let up since!
    As far as my father goes, he retired and built a workshop where he spends most of his time hand carving shorebirds and ducks out of wood. His birds are remarkably realistic (each vein in each feather!). But he still likes to discuss my railroad and when he comes over to my's off to the railroad room to check on my progress, see the trains run, and look at all those old structures he built 30 years ago.
    Thanks, Dad!!

    Matt--Hershey, Pa.

    (Dad, tell me that story again of your youth and listening out your bed room window to the sounds of the NYC Hudsons on the turntable that drifted up the valley to your young ears! Please?!)
  10. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    In the beginning, there was Lionel. There is a family photograph of me as a toddler in diapers, standing on a box and holding on to the table edge to watch my older brothers trains. I have never lost my affection for trains, well, except for about ages 16 thru 24, when other obvious things grabbed my attention. By age 9, when my brother went into the service, the Lionel trains were secondary to HO, which resided on a 4x14 table my father built for me. My brother, prior to going into the service, "helped" me build my first layout. Somewhere I still have photos taken of that layout. I remember having a Lionel accessory which unloaded metal pipes from a gondola. There was a tower which was part of this structure. It looked like the structures used on modern hump yards out west. Modern for the early 60's that is. I removed it from the Lionel building and "kitbashed" it into a yard tower. I also built a girder bridge by gluing toothpicks onto shirt cardboard, painting black and gluing to the plywood spanning over tracks below. It actually didn't look bad!

  11. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    I had started modelling at the tender age of seven with one O - scale BING (wish I still had it) 0-6-0 clockwork. (Come to think of it, it never ever did stall at a turnout) Anyway, the fascination with laying track all over the place has never really left me. I can still remember my mother (Bless her) stating I could use the spare bed room to run the trains, as she never used it much. I was over the moon, I could leave the tracks down for as long as I wanted, come home from school and run trains. Wrong! - My dear mother meant I could use the room, not infest it with tracks. The law was laid down, I could run trains, but afterwards, remove the tracks before bedtime. (Oh dear, those days were very hard for a seven year old.)
    I am now Sixty Five years of age, and the bug is still with me. I do still like to explore the possibilities of laying new track from time to time, and all this was in British OO. So what about the American modelling, okay, I started the American scene quite by accident. While reading a British model railroad magazine, I came across a copy of an American magazine called Model Railroader which had somehow got itself in between the pages of the British magazine. I can remember thinking that this was what I had been looking for to model for years.
    Book, books, and more books were read on the subject of American railroads, and I spent hours just drawing up track plans. It wasn’t until a move to my present house that I was presented with a spare room
    to model in. This room was some 11 feet in length but only 7feet 6 inches wide, so I had to re-think some of my previous track plans to fit the new room.
    My eldest daughter (Bless her heart) decided to get married and immediately donated her rather large bedroom to dear old dad to use as a train room. My wife was not too pleased about this, but I assured her that I would re-decorate the smaller room I was attempting to build a railroad in, ready for her sister to visit when ever she wanted to. (YES, I got it) --- and I still use it to this day.


  12. billk

    billk Active Member

    Shamus, do you still have to pick up the tracks before bedtime?
  13. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    :D, not now dear boy, I just tell the grandkids to take it up:rolleyes:

  14. Oh, dear...I'd really like to respond to this thread but there's no way I can answer the question in just a couple of paragraphs. Actually, I wrote a 6-page article (with photos) on this very subject.

    I know this will sound self-serving, but if anyone is really interested in how I got started, the article is available on the Download page at my website. It's in pdf format; all you need to read it is Acrobat Reader or one of the other programs that can open pdf's.
  15. CSX6638

    CSX6638 Member

    Well let's see i am 69 yrs old, never had trains as a child, about 19 months ago my wife and I were invited to a christmas party and they had a train set up about 4' x 19' two tiers ,four continuios running trains HO and about 30 animated scenes, we were going to stay an hour , 5 hrs. later I was still talking to the owner about his trains. A few days later my wife asked me what I wanted for christmas and i joking'ly said a set of trains, well christmas morning there was a set of trains which I immeadiatly set up under the tree and they ran for about 12 hrs. straight and about 6 hrs. a day for the next 4 weeks, It was a bachmann set and It still runs great, I guess from what I have read on a few forums about Bachmann I was lucky. In April the hobby shop where my wife purchased the trains sent me an invitation to their train show, there was about 35 layouts Z to G scale 2'x3' to 12'x20'
    I was hooked. Since we now have a small house I was getting tired of setting up and taking down my HO trains so N scale looked good to me. I picked a copy of the Sept. 2001 issue of MRR and they had a 2' x4' N scale layout, that's for me. I needed a theme, after world war 2 developers were buying farm and ranch land and since I had aquired both steam and diesel N scale locos I went with that idea. This is a great hobby esp . for an old guy like me. I don't know how to post any photos here but I have some at so my children and grand children can see what I am doing, this is my first attempt and I am having a very enjoyable time sorry to bore you with this long story. I must also say of the forumns I look at this is of the best and very helpfull.
  16. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member


    Hi All:

    I have always loved trains. My first one was a Tyco BO set I got for Christmas. That damn track never stayed together on the carpit! :( So, finally my parents got me a Lionel one year. Yes, it was A Rock Island!!! :) That did stay together.

  17. pcentral

    pcentral Member

    Let me first say the above stories are heartwarming. Now my story. My father has always had trains around and started displaying them in our business for lack of room at home. One thing led to another and it became a business within a business. I spent alot of time there and ended up helping to run the store. I built an N scale layout in the front window with dads help when I was about 10. We have had many layouts over the years in N and HO scale and O and G gauge running overhead in the store. I never strayed from trains growing up and Lionel has always been my first love. I still have most all scales except narrow gauge and run it all from time to time.
  18. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I think I had just become old enough to be fascinated by trains when My dad tore down his OO train layout, out in the sunporch, to make a bedroom there. It was maybe a year,or two after that, when I expressed the desire to get into model railroading. The deal was, if I would build a basic layout, they would help me get locos, and rolling stock. That next Christmas I got my Varney "little joe" B&O 0-4-0t. the rest is history. That layout became the one I posted a picture of in "my first layout". I still have the little Varney dockside.
  19. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    My Story??.......I was born, a poor black child.....oops, my apologies to Steve Martin.

    My Mom and Dad conspired with our neighbor George Walker to get me a train set for Christmas when i was 8 years old. They ended up buying an American Flyer set, used, from a man George knew, for $35.00. It had the "Rocket" passenger set, a set of freight cars, and four operating accessories. I ran that train until i was 11, when i tried my hand at HO. My uncle in Chicago had a basement full of a WONDERFUL HO layout and i was inspired each summer when we'd drive from DC for a visit with all the relatives. My layout never approached his but i enjoyed building the buildings and running the trains.

    The man across the street from me introduced me to radio and u-control airplanes at about the same time and so i was up to my ears in hobbies, did i mention i also built plastic model kits of any and everything? Also ran slot cars. Had to cut a lot of grass to pay for all this but people had big yards back then.

    Then i discovered girls at 15.

    Twenty-six years later my folks are coming to our house for Christmas and i decide to get the trains out of the attic, thanks to Mom for keeping them all these years and then giving them back to me ten years previously, and setting them up for the holidays. By the way, "the trains" can only mean one thing, the American Flyers". We had a ball, mom, dad, my two kids and me. My wife was amused. I set them all but two of the following five years.

    Last year, i made the mistake of going to a train show here in town and i met a great group of guys running a modular layout of AF. I had never even SEEN any running AF except mine! I was in love. I joined the club, built four modules and took my trains on the road. I've since built two more modules and one of the club members has developed a "button board" system we can mount on the outside of the layout so the kids who come to the shows can operate the accessories. We had a 35-foot by 25-foot layout at the last Charlotte show with 50 operating accessories the kids could run. Kids were stacked two deep and having a BALL! We were too! We hope to do better at the upcoming GATS show in Charlotte.

    I don't know if i could ever compete with the beautiful scale work that Shamus and CAtt! and you other guys, and gals, show here on the gauge, but i'm having a great time and the kids at the shows are too. That's not to say you can't do great scale work in "S". S-Gaugian has lots of pictures of very well done scale work. And i'm not implying anything about what it takes to have fun in this hobby. But i like the operational side, and all the neat accessories with lights and noise and that funny smoke smell. I especially like that "real smoke and choo-choo" when it comes from a 4-8-4 northern hauling a line of freight cars.

    That's what i loved about trains in the beginning, and that's what i love about them now. Guess i'm in a rut! Oh yeah, i still like to lay my head down at the end of a long straight away, at night, and watch that big ol' "Rocket" passenger set roar down the rails at me, howling that "real diesel horn" sound.

    Take me now Jesus, I'm ready! Y'all have fun.


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