What got you into Model Rail Roading?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by iis612, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I used to be an avid R/C Pilot. I had several airplanes.
    When I was a kid (maybe 6 years old) my brother and I got a train set for Christmas. We were kids (as though I hadn't mentioned that) and we ran it full throttle all the time, sending the engine flying onto a concrete floor. Needless to say, the engine didn't last more than a few days. Instead of trying to explain that it couldn't go full throttle and replacing the engine, my Dad pitched a fit. He threw out the entire set. I missed that train set.
    Fast forward a few years. I was working for CSX, and was sent to training, where they had a bit of a model set up to show a typical switching lead. I remember wanting that, but my wife at the time said no way.
    Fast forward a few more years, a new wife, and a young daughter. My daughter is fascinated by trains, and the fever never left me. I also have another child on the way, and I know (without being able to explain how) that he will love trains also.
    Now I am able to get into the hobby with my wife's blessing (because I don't have to leave the house to run the trains).
    I have sold all my r/c stuff to finance the construction of my HO layout. My daughter even helps me build it.
  2. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    My dad had a bunch of trains before he had kids. He was a Carman (30 some odd years) for Western Pacific, and I grew up as a railroad brat in and around their main yard in Stockton, CA. When I was born (his first) in 1975, apparently, him and my mom's dad got into a debate over who'd buy the first train set for the new baby. While mom went into labor and went to the hospital, Grandpa went to Standard Hobbies and bought a large Bachmann set. It was a figure 8 with blinking bridge, a ATSF "Illustrachrome F9" (which I still have the engine and caboose all these years later in a display case in my office), and about 6 or 7 cars. I recieved that during my 4th Christmas in 1979.

    My new train set set up on Kitchen table, Christmas Day 1979

    Dad then introduced me to 2 large 50 gallon carboard barrels full of trains that he had collected over the years before I was born. My aunt told me about one of his apartments before he went into the service that had a layout in the spare bedroom. Soon, a 4'x8' table was built and covered with green felt, and the "trainboard" was born. He had all sorts of Tyco accessories and trains (my generations Lionel!), and we had hundreds of hours of fun with it. Mom worked for an optometrist inside a Gemco dept. store and daily, when picked up from pre-school, if I was good, I had a car, caboose, structure, sometimes even an engine waiting in the trunk for me, which of course was added to the empire. This was when Tyco rolling stock cost $.99 a piece and would go on sale at times for $.89 and $.75 a lot of times on clearance. When I was born, Mom insisted that Dad sell his stock cars (he raced two of them at our local short track with Ernie Irvan who later went on to win two Daytona 500's). He took up HO slot car racing to fill his need for speed and we had a HELLACIOUS Aurora AFX set in the living room where we would have ultimate death match races. That got me hooked on racing and to this day, I have been crewing on real race cars for years. We used to sabotage each others cars when the other was at work or school until we had to finally start stashing our cars and coming up with creative hiding spots for our pit cases. We still spent many hours playing with the trainboard though and adding to it.

    Growing up on the WP though was cool. It was a VERY family friendly railroad and since Dad usually worked swing shift, in the summers when school was out, a lot of times, I would go to work with him at 3 and go home at 7 when Mom would take Dad dinner and pick me up. Dad would put me in the cab with the yard crews who at 5 years old taught me to run SW-9's, SW-1500's and GP-7's and GP-9's. I spent many many hours behind the throttle of WP locomotives in Stockton yard. Of course, this was back when you could get away with that. I still work with a lot of these guys and care for several of these very locomotives years later at the WP RR Museum in Portola.

    Dad and I with WP 94 before it left Stockton Roundhouse for Rio Vista's museum

    Eventually, I graduated to Athearn and Roundhouse trains and have built dozens of small layouts and a few moderate sized ones. I currently have the 6' x 11' layout featured in the Sept. 1997 model railroader and have a new double decked 16' x 21' layout in the planning stages. And along side the Atlas, Genesis, Athearn, MDC, Proto 2000 and and Kato equipment, a few old Tyco pieces still roam around, I couldn't EVER get rid of them. I had too much fun with it as a kid.

    I went to work as an engineer for a local switching company at 18 years old, worked that for a while, then went to Amtrak, ST&E Railroad and now co-own and operate a Railroad Training Company with my Dad who still all these years later works for the railroad, though now at Amtrak as a Conductor.

    Working at the museum with my brother Tim during a visit by UP 3985

    On the rear platform of UP business car Sunset during a Shortline Association meeting with Dad last year

    As a little getaway, I still am heavily involved with the museum in Portola still running several of those very same WP geeps all these years later. I recently introduced my ex-fiance's kids to HO Slot car racing (they call them "Crazy cars"). I wish I knew years ago how much fun having kids would have been. Their mom and I split because she wanted children and I wanted a RR career. You know the old saying, "If I knew then what I know now...." :rolleyes:

    Sorry for the ULTRA long life story post, but this is how *I* got started in Railroading, both real and model. Just in time to get ready for work too. :thumb:

    I couldn't get very far away from railroading now though if I tried. :D
  3. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    one word: BRIO. I was obsesed with it as a kid (but not to over-dosingsign1 ) and I had like these grand layouts in the living room floor. I also had like all of the adventure packs in that Railway Series books ( I wanted them SOLEY for the engine those days:D ) and I had like a few Thomas trains+thair roundhouse (Including the limited edition Lady:thumb: ). But What REALLY got me started was at my favorite store: The Great Train store. It was there I think I saw a GP30 or so on display in conrail style and I was entranced by it. I actualy saw it agin w/ a cabose for HO for about $110 but we didn't get it because we needed track, not trains. I hope to get that engine soo, though:D
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    I Bought my dad a train set for christmas years ago. Once he opened it, I set it up(he was handicapped) and that's all she wrote. I took over and he never got to use it. Now I think I actually bought it for myself.:D

  5. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    I've always modeled military planes and vehicles as a kid. Running a model train was beyond my kin and my wallet. My dad was a big help but wecould never fully realize what I envisioned... I was ten or twelve. Now I am 45 and about three years ago I went into a hobby story to buy a Panzer Tank kit.... I randomly walked down the HO aisle and something told me to buy a single Athearn UP stock car kit and a length of flex track...

    That was it.... hooked and railroading ever since.
  6. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Got at Lionel Cannonball set for Christmas in '74. My dad was constantly buying more and more stuff for it. My folks divorced and my dad moved to Georgia in '86. When he moved, the house was sold and our trains went into storage at our aunts's farm. Fast forward 20 years later and I am at my aunt's for Thanksgiving dinner. I thought to myself it was time to get those trains out of her basement before they completely went to ruin. My brother and I split up the stuff and I took the original train set. I brought it home and to my amazement, the thing still ran after 20 years in a dark, damp basement. I found another set just like ours on Craigslist and gave that one to my brother for Christmas. Now I've jumped in with both feet and driving my wife crazy. :D
  7. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    Well, my son was into Jay Jay the Jet Plane. He had the whole set pretty much and someone gave us some "remnants" of their wooden train set. He set it up with his Jay Jay stuff (he was about 1 1/2 years old). Then he was read his first Thomas Book and saw his first show (I am VERY RESTRICTIVE about TV- so I had to watch it FIRST! LOL).
    It was all "downhill" from there.

    Since then we have managed to acquire enough wooden trains (over 200) to literally run 90% of the episodes. He has the take along set at my moms house with about 90 trains there and takes those with him when we travel (of course not ALL of them or he would have to have his own suitcase just for them). And now the models! He got them this year for his 4th birthday. He LOVES them and can't wait until we construct the layout.

    He says he wants to be an engineer when he grows up. Well, either that or a doctor or a pro golfer he says. Ah, to be 4!

    [​IMG] What you cant see in that pic is that the track goes from the playroom at the OTHER END of the house. It branched into every room- the Master bedroom, his room, the bathroom, the dining room and through the living room to there where it ended in the kitchen. Thats what I woke up to one morning... he did that all before I got out of bed!

    Anyway, thats how I got into it! But we're having fun!
  8. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    My dad built me a layout in the basement when I was a kid in New Jersey.....1959....I was 4. I Don't remember it lasting long. I got another when I was 8. This was an oval with one remote switch, flex track on a 4X8 (still in Jersey) I ran that thing into the ground! The year it dies I was in 8th grade still in Jersey. I got an N scale set for Christmas. I was earning money by then mowing lawns and shoveling snow so that was soon added onto. (all the while we didn't live too far from the A&P super market in Red Bank that the tracks ran on 1 side of the parking lot and where I saw my first GP!!! much better looking than them old F's...LOL) That train did not survive the Move to Minnesota a few years later. By then I was 16 and fast cars and girls were way more important than trains (still sorry I ever got rid of my 68 GTO)(for some odd reason I kept my girl)!

    Then I got married, had a baby and joined the Army all in one year. At Ft Riley my first time I built a layout that my son and I enjoyed greatly but I soon learned that few trains can live through a military move.

    Fast forward to Mannheim Germany 1991. I was on an unaccompanied tour and found the Kabri models. I built as many as I could afford and brought some of the bigger cranes home to build. They did just fine (i packed them myself) until my oldest daughter had a fit one day and slammed a door knocking most onto the floor and breaking them. I kinda lost interest at that point and was busy with my family and work and then school. Right after I went back to school VA told me that my back, neck feet and knee problems (tanks and running) were bad enough that they were upping me to 100% and giving me unemployability. I kinda bounced around the house for a bit without much to do. Got fat too...LOL. Then while Christmas shopping for our kids I found an Athearn John Deer train set in Wal Mart of all places and got it to give my some who collected JD stuff prior to getting married. The "little woman" said you have so much of that stuff no more till we get a bigger place so he got something else for Christmas. A couple of months later I was baby sitting one of my grandsons just before he turned 3. I figured that maybe the train would grab his attention even if it had one of them ugly F7s.....well it, mine too!

    And the rest is history!

  9. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    Wow! That's a heck of a mainline. It's amazing what such young kids can do when they put their minds to something.
  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    1 part retirement + 2 parts creativity + 3 parts fun + 4 parts nostalgia = MMR.
  11. DRail

    DRail New Member

    For me it was unavoidable.
    My grandfather had a toy store, and one floor was completely filled with model trains. This was in 1974, when I was 6 years old. Every time I visited him, he would get me a little something from behind the counter, and on birthdays, my parents got a huge discount on anything I asked.
    Now, as an adult, I live with my wife and kids in my third house. But everytime we moved, the main criterium was the size of the attic. So I'm lucky now to have quite a bit of room for my H0 trains. The kids love it as well, especially my 11 year old daughter. She always asks me if she can make some more trees, or anything else to improve the scenery (which is still not much :( ).
    My two sons prefer cars. Maybe they'll learn some time...
  12. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    does that include the feature legth movies? (i.e. Thomas & the Magic Railroad, Calling All Trains, and On Site W/ Thomas) I still have that Lady engine they sold. My mom bribed me with it so I would give some water snake/worm thing to a friend who was visiting cause his broke. It's in better condition than most of my wodden trains actualysign1
  13. conrailmike

    conrailmike Member

    My dad had a layout in the spare bedroom when I was little, it was only 4x8 but I thougt it was cool! He even named the coal mine after me! I would say that layout and the rides down to GTW's Pontiac Yard are the reasons the MR big bit and never let go.

  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Suffice to say I was born a railroader after all I come from a family of railroaders..Both Grandfathers,my Dad,all of his brothers,my Moms brothers,my Mom and a aunt.This tradition dates back to 1880 to my Great Grandfather and Great Uncles..Of course at 18 I went railroadin'.I still have 3 cousins working on the railroad.
    My Dad was also a model railroader so I was raise with model trains as well.
    Suffice to say I had my share of spankings for "sneaking off " to watch trains on my bicycle at the ripe old age of 5. sign1
  15. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I've been surrounded by model trains from birth, mostly in the form of Christmas gardens. Firehouses all around Baltimore are famous for their elaborate setups, something I try to recreate on my Christmas layout. The modeling aspect came around the 8th grade in 1974 when a shop teacher started a model railroad club after school.

    Attached Files:

  16. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Facinated with the small and intricate detailing...right up to the point where I have to reach for my glasses...then I wonder why I chose Nsacle. :rolleyes:

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