Father son project

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by TrainNut, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Wow -- that's pretty neat. It's a really good looking layout. My 4-year-old is train crazy too & he likes helping to run our 4x6' layout. He's only helped with a little bit of scenery though. Rob
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    What to do with younger kids


    Welcome to The Gauge! And kudos to you and your wife for recognizing that kids are receptive to working on "real" stuff instead of the usual "kid-proof" toys. While I would not let my 3 and 6 year olds near my most valuable stuff, they can handle and run the "hardier" items. My 6 year old started sitting with me at the workbench painting stuff from the junk box or cheap kits when she was about 3.

    My "lessons learned", in no particular order:

    - Start them small, with one or two items over which they have full responisibility. Let them run them on the layout. For my 6 year old, she started with a boxcar and a caboose, to which she could do anything she liked. They both now have about 1200 coats of craft paint, but they still run because she's careful not to get paint on the wheels or couplers.

    - Let them sit at the controls. Your homework (to be completed the night before) - set up a train that you know can negotiate the loop of track (or whatever) at maximum warp - 'cuz you know it's gonna happen! ;) But let/help them put some of the stuff on the track, and them turn them loose. My 3 year old loves this part. Don't underestimate the attraction of a simple loop of track. But make sure it is reliable!

    - Keep some buildings and other scenery elements around that can be changed out. Both my kids like rearranging the "town" from time to time. Since the base is styrofoam, they can simply "plant" the trees wherever they like. Cars, trucks, buildings can all be moved. Choose stuff from the consignment area of your local store, and/or "overbuild" a few kits (like DPM or Walthers modulars) with lots of internal bracing and few outside details to withstand repeated handling.

    - Choose a project to do together. My 6 year old helped me with making a whole bunch of trees the other day. She is quite good at it, and it passes the time together.

    - Look for simple kits without a lot of separately applied detail. Athearn and Accurail boxcars are a good example - moulded on ladders and grabirons are not easily broken. The simplicity of snapping the base into the box, and then adding paint (as "needed") is a straightforward, non-frustrating exercise.

    - As you noted, travel to see the real thing is also very exciting. We are fortunate to have a lot of railway related activities where I live. Despite the museums (Science & Tech, and Smiths Falls Railway Museum), the most popular activity is riding the O-Train (local LRT). It's $2 for me, and free for them (under 12 years) and you can ride as long as you like. With our simple system, you return to where you started every 40 minutes or so.

    - If there are clubs in your area, this can also be a fun outing, provided the members are open to hosting kids (with supervision of course ;)).

    Hope that helps...!

  3. w8jy

    w8jy Member

    Pat, did I ever make mistakes! Check out this link for my original post on that topic: http://forum.zealot.com/t119310/

    Read as much as you can before you start buying - this hobby is not as complicated as some people believe. This forum is a great place to learn, and if you have a question, it is answered quickly and accurately.

    You need to make a couple of basic decisions: Will you use DC or DCC?
    Even if you decide on DC, I wouldn't invest a lot of money in locos that are not DCC ready - just in case you change your mind.

    What kind of track will you use? The snap together tracks are easy to set up, but limit flexibility. Even though the layout will probably be pretty simple to begin with (youngsters really like to watch trains run in circles), you will probably want to expand it as he gets older. Don't limit yourself unless you look at the original layout as a throwaway!

    Welcome to the Gauge - you will find this site is the home of many really great hobbyists. They have helped me a lot, and I know they will do the same for you!
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Pat - one other note. Even though this is the Nscale forum, my lessons were learned in HO scale...! ;) But most, if not all should apply to N as well, if that's what you are intending to do.

    You can also use the search function to see what others have posted. And if you scroll all the way down this page, you should see a "Similar Threads" box that may point the way to some other useful info.

  5. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I wish I had more to say than WOW.
    That is a wonderful memory for you and your sons.
  6. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    That is an intense little layout you have going there :).

    About the post frequency, I think i post 2x as much in the winter as i do in the summer, especially since i joined the gauge around the holidays :) i spend hours and hours on the board researching etc!! That was what snow days from work were for hahaha.

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