Who or What Got You Started?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by TomPM, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. TomPM

    TomPM Another Fried Egg Fan

    Who is the person who introduced you to model railroading? Or did you get infected on your own? Or was there some event that got you hooked?

    For me it was my father. He worked at the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Eddystone from the time he quit school at age 14. He was laid off during the Depression but went back to work for them until they built the General Steel plant next the Locomotive Works. He helped build GS plant and was part of the crew that shut it down. He introduced me to model trains with a Lionel set when I was 3 years old. That set was around the Christmas tree. When I was five he set up a 4x8 HO and O scale layout in the basement. A few years later the O scale tracks were removed. That layout would remain in place for some 25 years. I still have some of the original locomotives that ran on it. BTW the Lionel set made its 37th appearance around a Christmas tree this past Christmas. The new operator is my son, the third generation to operate that 2-4-0 Lionel locomotive.
  2. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Nice idea for a thread Tom! For me it was the famous 4X8 HO layout featured as a "how-to" series in Boys Life magazine in the late 60s/early 70's.
  3. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    When I was a little weenie tot, and mum was pushing me around in the pram, I used to scream my head off is she didn't turn me around to see the TOOT go past.

    "twain, mummy. twain. TOOOT... twain mummy" :) I think I must have got addicted while still in the womb!
  4. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    i became interested on my own. When about 12 years old, I went out and collected pop and beer bottles from ditches and beside the road. Turned them in for a penny each. Went to Woolthworths and made a down payment on a American Flyer. Every day after school on the way home and weekends, I looked for bottles. It took me 6 months to pay for it but it was worth it. I went to the store every week and sometimes I only had about 50 cents. Other times maybe a dollar. That was my first charge account. I don't know how I got it except I guess the sales lady felt sorry for me. I do remember she was very nice. When I made the last payment, she reached under the counter and pulled out the box and handed it to me. I ran all the the way home and even took a shortcut down some tracks. It was about 3 miles and I wasn't even tired. Isn't it funny how you can remember things like that 58 years ago?
  5. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    That would be my Dad and the 4x6 Christmas platform we would set up every year. He would build cardboard houses to go with the dimestore ones we had. Wads of lichen, bottle brush trees and died sawdust from LifeLike and roads made of salt rounded out the scenery. We used to run an AHM trolley on it 'til I took it to school with me and destroyed it. The next year we got an AHM "Genoa" 4-4-0 (I'll never forget that the box advertised a 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" for $49.95) and two passenger coaches and about 2 dozen Union and Confederate Infantrymen. From that point on, the Battle of Plasticville Bridge raged on one end of our layout whilst idyllic suburbia slumbered in a winter wonderland at the other. I am the only one in my family that still sets one up every year.

    In junior high school, my shop teacher, Mr. Rhoades started a model railroader club that I joined, and the rest, as they say, is history. Thanks for the 35 year trip down memory lane.
  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Gee, I can't remember who or what got me excited first. Maybe it was my dad's old wooden toy trains. Maybe it was my older brothers O scale set, but I don't remember him ever running it. Maybe it was just me. I remember getting a plastic battery powered O scale steam set that ran on a plastic loop of track. Tried to run it on the metal 3 rail and it just slipped, but I fould I could double head with the metal O steam engine and all was fine.

    Then what really got me bit was seeing my cousins HO 4 X 8 layout with a tunnel, mountains and real turnouts! He had a nice little pond and some stuff like that and it all just seemed so real. I guess I was about ten, and I got a few starter sets and some turnouts and had a loop and an industrial section. Over those early years, I built up about 20 plastic structure kits, built my own mountain, collected live stock, LPBs and all sorts of stuff. Then the usual thing happened (Val, please close your eyes!), cars, beer and GIRLS! So I was out of it for about 20 years. I always maintained an interest, and planned to dig out my "stuff" and start again.

    (Open your eyes now Val) So, there I was, in my 30's, minding my own business, and my mom asks me to pick up an MMR and an RMC for my cousins articles in the current issues. Of course, I had to read them before giving them up. One article was on his large full basement layout, so seeing it and looking over the magazines got me excited about the hobby.

    So I began to tinker around, and naturally, surf the web on MRR stuff. Then by chance, on a Jeep forum, t. alexander somehow figures out I like to play with toy trains. So, naturally he directs me to an awesome site called the-gauge, and I naturally ignore his advice for a while, come back to it by searching the jeep forum, lurk for about 6 months, takinga peek now and then, and then join the-gauge. Then I was further inspired by Shamus's logging lines, and all the work of the many masters here on the gauge. The rest is history.

    So I blame, in this order:

    1. My Dad
    2. My big brother
    3. Myself
    4. My cousin Al
    5. My mother
    6. My cousin Al again
    7. t.
    8. Shamus
    9. All of you :D :D :D

    And a cat only has 9 lives.

    And I am happier than I have been for years and years! And I have made some really, really good and solid friends here.

    BTW: Clerk, you got ripped, we got 10 cents a bottle! :D :D :D

    I'll second Ralph: Great Thread!
  7. Paul Davis

    Paul Davis Member

    A criminal act got me started. I almost died! Ok I'm exadurating. It was when I was at school when I was about 11. Someone set fire to one of the classrooms. I was in the classroom right above it. Anyhow, due to all the smoke and flames everyone who lived near the school got sent home while everyone who didn't got to sit in clsrooms at the other end of the building untill the buses came at the end of the day. I didn't want to hang around so I went home with a boy in my class who lived nearby. He had a railroad in his attic. It looked like fun to me except I lived in a small house so I didn't have room to build my own untill I moved to Canada and took over a room in the basement.
  8. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    In 1948, when I was 14, I lived outside a small town in Oregon (Junction City) and in this small town there was a hobby shop where I spent a whole lot of time. I cannot imagine how the town supported the shop, but it was there.

    The owner had a figure-eight layout in the shop, probably about 5 x 10, on which he would let me run his trains when he was in a good mood.

    I worked every job I could find --- picked beans, hops, and strawberries, tied sacks on an oats combine, shoveled out chicken s**t, and finally saved enough to buy a Silver Streak caboose (and I remember that I did a great job of building it) and then later, a Mantua Belle of the Eighties (for you young ones, that was a part brass, part pot metal, HO 4-4-0 kit --- not terribly well proportioned, but I loved it.)

    The Belle was the only loco kit he had in stock when I was ready to buy. I couldn't wait so I bought it even though I wasn't particularly into old time stuff then, and my caboose was of much later era. But I guess the Belle got under my skin, as I've never modeled anything but 1880's since.

    I don't remember the shop owner's name --- and he's certainly dead by now --- but he is the one I have to thank for the years and years of pleasure I've had in model railroading.

    Bill S
  9. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I can remember as a young tot, dad taking me to the train station in West Cornwall and watching the New Haven freights go by. It wasn't til I was a little older that I got my first train set. A Tyco with a Sante Fe Plymouth switcher. I had a small 4by8 set up in my room on a peice of old junk plywood my dad brought home. I think dad ran the trains more than I did.
    After I got out of the service, my father and I started a layout in N scale that we could set up on the dining room table. Afew years later, him and mom moved to Arizona. The layout went across the street to one of the neighborhood boys, and I kept some of the best equipment for myself. The girl I was living with wasn't interested, so it was stored in a closet. Then, a couple of years later, the new girl that was living with me(who became my ex- wife) was cleaning out the closet and found the box, and asked why it wasn't set up. Three layouts a later, and one scale change, here I am.
    I guess I have two people to blame then. My father. And if my girlfriend hadn't found that box...I probably wouldn't be here on the Gauge telling my story!
    This is a great thread!
  10. absnut

    absnut Member

    I guess, I too, would have to credit/blame several people for my railroading habit. When I was a wee lad, my Uncle Bill used to take me train watching. He was more a railfan than anything else but he stirred the interest in me. Then, in 1949, when I was 9, my older brothers and sister gave me a Marx o-27, 2-4-2 train set. This sort of set the hook until in my teen years I discovered HO and began a small layout. In the summer of 57, I went to work for the local fire department "filling in vacations" (this job helped put me through college as I did it fot 7 summers!). Most importantly, I met Charlie, another fireman, who was the consumate scratch-builder. He could turn a few sticks of balsa and a couple of manila file folders into a beautiful O scale trolley in a matter of days.... Charlie introduced me to the fine art of scratch-building which I still enjoy doing today. College and marriage and a new career slowed down my interest but it came back in the mid-60's, along with a couple little boys who "loved Dad's trains"... to pieces, I might add. It was then I discovered N scale, newly marketed in this country, and it allowed a small layout to be hidden or put out of harm's way! I have been in N scale ever since.

  11. stary

    stary Member

    when I was growing up in the early 60s, my Dad set up an HO layout in our basment. Just an oval, about 6' x 2', no roadbed, a few Plastic houses, and no scenery. Later, he put in two turnouts, one on either side at one end, and a passing track, then later, he put some trestles and a bridge at one end. It wasn't much, but it was enough to get me and my brothers hooked! Now, all these years later, they're not interested, but I still am. In fact, I'm working on my 3rd layout!

    I'd write more, but it's late and I'm getting tired.
  12. My start

    Well, I dunno if its in my blood, or just a rediscovery

    My grandfather was a conductor for 4 railroads in the 30s and 40s, and my Mother used to always 'walk the tracks' when she was a teenager.

    I got a Tyco figure 8 track back in 1975, with a Santa Fe Warbonnet freight set and a "spirit of '76" set of patrotic boxcars and a red-white-and-blue Engine. It was on a green-painted piece of plywood that was hinged to the wall, so that I could unhook it and it would drape across my bed. As often happens to little boys, cars eventually became lost or damaged and the trainset ended up in the attic after several moves.

    I still enjoyed some train things, including a number of trips by Amtrak across the country (in 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995 I took cross-country Amtrak trips)

    I was also a Wargamer, and about 2 years ago, when Battletech released an N-scale miniatures set, the idea of making a wargaming train set germinated in my head. After I got a job at the LHS in June, I decided to try to get back in. I still plan to build that big Sci-fi Layout, but Not until I get more room.
  13. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    For me, it is a bit of a "rediscovery", as ScrewySquirrel put it.

    I got a Bachmann set for Christmas when I was 7 from my parents. My Dad also took me around to a couple of shows, and we had a family friend who had a basement empire.

    For a few years, I got some cars and so on at birthdays or Christmas. I ended up with a loop of track on 1/2 sheet of particle board, with some nice papier mache mountains, and a few buildings and so on.

    Interest ran out by the time I was about 10, and things got packed away.

    When my wife and I bought our house, my parents brought all the rest of my "stuff" that they had kicking around their house. That included the locomotive and a few of the cars and a power pack from that original Bachmann set.

    I set it up with some new track on new plywood, and things have just progressed form there.

    Since the arrival of my daughter (who will be two in September), I have found that we need hobbies to "actively" relax. We used to sit around and watch movies, or go out, or whatever. Now time is precious, and we find we need quality time with our other interests to "get away" for few minutes whenever possible.

    I have also found that the local club, and this forum have helped keep me interested and have provided inspiration.

  14. I'm not sure at what point I became a model railroader. I've been a model builder since I was 7 years old - started out with a Nautilus submarine kit and a large tube of messy cement, I did. And I had an electric train set I played with off and on as a kid. I was also aware of a magazine called "Model Railroader" when I was a kid. but the lure of trains wasn't as strong as that of airplanes, tanks, and of course AMT "3-in1" hot rod kits when I was a teenager. But at some point in time, between my teen years and adulthood/fatherhood, I became hooked on model railroading, and I've been going at it for a long time now.
  15. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

    Who or What Got Me Started

    Who? I really don't know, although I suppose my parents, as they gave me the usual Lionel for Christmas, when I was quite young. I think my interest really developed on its own, however. I just sort of "got interested." I went on, primarily with the help of an uncle, to develop a rather extensive O-27 layout in my parent's basement, and even dabbled a bit in O scale. When I went off to college and later the USAF, my interest sort of dwindled, although it was always laying dormant. After the service, when I settled down, the rumblings came back. I sold the Lionel stuff and started dabbling in HO. I attended our local "Railfair", put on by our NRHS Chapter each year and that really re-awakened me. The next thing I knew, I had joined the Chapter and was soon asked to RUN the Railfair, which I did for several years. Having a great interest in the prototype, I was soon elected National Director from my Chapter to the NRHS and one thing led to another. Now, I am quite active in NRHS at the Regional level and my modelling is, at this point, pretty much in my head. I've got lots of rolling stock, but no layout on which to run it. I recently joined the NMRA LDSIG, and maybe something will happen soon.
  16. UP_STEVE

    UP_STEVE Member

    im not sure who to blame or thank for getting me into this hobby :D i guess my grandfather was a big contributor, it seems ive just had an interest in trains, my mum would buy me train books and train related toys because they were the only ones that would really hold my interest for any length of time, she bought my first model railroad from a garage sale, it was just a double track on a peice of ply wood with 2 trains, but i thought it was great!
    my interest in trains is probably mostly my doing, i have an aunt and uncle that kept trying to get me into cars and model cars etc, but they gave up on that idea.
    at the moment in my life i dont have the money or time for modelling, i guess thats the phase people seem to go through at this time in life :)
    im more focused on music, trying to get a job and the opposite sex than models... but this comes in spurts, occasionally i lock myself away with my trains :D
    and of course i still read train related things and post on model rail and prototype message boards and so forth :D
  17. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    I was marked as an infant...

    I was a teenager when I found out that what I thought was just a re-occuring dream was actually my earliest childhood memory. I told my mom about it and she was very shocked that I could remember this event... She filled in the details on who the old people in the dream were and when and were it happened... So it turns out that my earliest childhood memory is from the West Toronto Train Station. I was only a few months old, but I can still "see" the station in my mind's eye when I close my eyes. I remember looking across the tracks, back towards the station from one of the platforms. My Grandparents were taking a trip to Montreal. I still dream about the event....

    Call my ungrateful, but.... That is to say, that I don't remember who gave me my first train set.

    It was Christmas 1974, but I don't know if it was Santa, my Parents or Grandparents who gave me the HO Bachmann EMD F-9 freight set in Canadian Pacific Livery. Although the model trains that are being manufactured now are superior to the ones of more than 20 years ago, this train set has sentimental value. In the hands of an eight year old kid, this train took a few too many express trips to the basement floor. Despite this, it still runs well, which is a testament to the quality and value of Bachmann trains!

    As a kid, I didn't have any other friends who were into model railroading. I was the only one in the family with an interest in trains. Both of my brothers are a few years older than me and had their own interests. My dad's hobby is restoring antique radios, so he at least taught me how to solder and do the wiring...

    When I was a kid, I liked railfanning, but the CP tracks by my house weren't very busy, so I didn't get to see very many trains. I at least remember some of the FP's that ran into the seventies...

    So when I was a teenager, I put away the trains and played Dungeons and Dragons instead....

    It wasn't until about 2 years ago when I was off work for an extended period due to a hyperthyroid problem, that the doctor told my that I needed a hobby to learn to relax.

    So I dug out my old trains and started to restore them. Got onto the Bachmann Message Board to track down parts and got hooked on On30....

    I don't have a layout yet, but I am building some On30 Modules...

    Attached Files:

  18. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Christmas 1961, I had asked for a train and i got a nice wind up or battery powered one under the tree. After we got done opening presents and everyone was messing around with their new stuff Dad asked me to go down to the basement with him and help him get the roaster ready so mom could start the turkey.

    So, went down stairs, the basement was your typical unfinished ranch house affair, and there in the middle was a 4 x 8 table with an oval of track and an American Flyer train set all set up and ready to run. I'd been in the basement the night before, playing with some scrap wood and nails, and this table wasn't there! Well, took me a few more years to give up Santa Claus after that, and i finally had to ask them years later how they had pulled it off.

    Turned out they built the whole thing at a neighbors house, top, legs, track, accessories, shelf under for storage. They put hinges on the legs so they could fold them in half. Folded up the legs after i was asleep, walked it over to our house from the neighbors and down into the basement and voila! Trains!

    Did AF till i was 11 when i switched to HO. Built plastic models from 7 years onward, u-control and RC planes from 12 or so. Gave all of them up for girls at 16. Got back into Flyer Christmas '94, with my original trains which Mom & Dad had kept for me. Still have the HO in the attic. I'm having almost as much fun now as i did when i was 7! Only this time half the fun is in sharing my trains with other kids.

    Like you guys.

  19. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Like most of you, I received an 027 Lionel Pacific set when I was a youngster living in Ft. Dodge, Ia. We lived up a hill from the wye where I used to watch the afternoon M & St. L "doodle bug" make its turn to back into the train station. I also liked the big steam freights that rumbled by and across the Des Moines river. The Lionel broke and got sold somewhere in Pennsylvania and I didn't see small trains again until our first son was born in '63. I bought him a small Marks HO Hustler set with a circle of track and a couple of cars. He still hasn't seen that train. While in the Air Force at Lockbourne AFB in Columbus Ohio, a fellow Communications Officer showed me his 3' x 3' traction layout that he had set up in the middle of his living room. That did it. Subscribed to MR and have been a model railroad junkie since. Had a little club experience in Biloxi, MS with an N-scale group in the early 70's but never had space to develop a layout till last year. Like Jon- I found the Gauge and the rest is history.
  20. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Three things got me started:
    1. Need to find my lost youth
    2. Financial
    3. Regulations
    Let me explain. When we retired a few years ago I went looking for a hobby that I could not afford during my impoverished youth and one that held my interest. I looked at MRR and concluded that in spite of my love for trains, it was expensive (what, $100 or more for a decent locomotive, no way) and would need more room than I had to do what I wanted (HO, 35 to 50 sq ft min.). I then looked into model airplanes and thought, “this won’t take as much room,” and a balsa and paper kit wasn’t that much. I built many a model plane when I was a kid and still enjoyed doing it. I asked my LHS what it would take to get into radio-controlled airplanes; his response was “$500 to $1000 for a basic model, plus engine and controller, in addition to a year of training before you get your license.” He then turned and walked away from me before I could shout “LICENSE, WHAT LICENSE?” Yeah, I could easily be out $2000 and not even be able to fly the thing in my back yard. Suddenly, model railroading didn’t look so bad after all. Besides, it would be difficult to total out a loco, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be quite so painful.

    I bought an HO set and some HO structure kits, and said, “gee, this is fun, but I still don’t have the room.” I bought the same thing in N scale and discovered my years of working with electronic components made working in N scale easy, and I now had the room. After finding The-Gauge I figured there would be no cause to panic if I didn’t know what I was doing. All things proved right….

    This story is neither exciting nor inspiring, but it is the truth….


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