Any model railroaders here?

Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 05:59 pm
Mo loves trains.

Today we had an appointment and we arrived a bit early. We started just walking through the neighborhood looking around when we chanced upon a tiny, incredible model railroad store.

Mo just stood in awe.

I double checked and triple gagged at the prices but have to admit that these things are beautiful.

So I was thinking that maybe for Christmas this year we could get him started on a set - some track, an engine and a couple of cars.

There appears to be a variety of gages and brands and whatnot. I'm looking for something appropriate for a kid but that could be expanded on over the years.

I appreciate any advice!

Here's a link to the train shop: http://www.hobbysmith.com/index.html
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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 08:18 pm
Toot toot!

Oh well. It looks like I'll have to do my own darn research.

<grumble grumble>

I wish my grandpa was still alive. He had an incredible railroad.

Thanks for looking in!
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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 08:20 pm
Sorry Boom, been on a really depressing thread.

HO is where to start. lots and lots of reasonably priced stuff that is fascinating. I will get back when I get more time.
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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 08:21 pm

Thanks, Rockhead. I'll be looking forward to any information you can share.
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Green Witch
Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 08:32 pm
Just go to Ebay and type in "HO train" or "Model train". You might want to start Mo with some used goods to make sure he will stay interested. You can always trade up by reselling them.
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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 08:37 pm
I've had two clients who were mad for model railroads, with me in one case and my partner in another facilitating outdoor railroad gardens. There is some major magazine about all of it - can't remember if it was both indoor and out, or just outdoor... and a book of compiled magazine articles.. sadly, I forget the name and.. don't personally give a wit about them.
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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 08:39 pm
Huh, Mo might like getting and reading the magazine...
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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 01:16 am
Wow, this brings back one of my favorite memories of my dad when we were kids (back in the early 60's)

Every year around the holiday season my dad would take us to this model train museum where every square inch of floor and ceiling space was devoted to rail track configurations. Lionel engines would chug around the tracks, articulated people and animals would interact with the trains and scenery and the landscapes were so realistic you had to reach out and touch it.

I don't remember much about the trains themselves other than they were Lionel and were quite intricate, but heavy. They were made of metals not plastics.

I can still visualize the looks on the faces of my dad and brother as they both got so engrossed in the mechanics of the track layout and figuring out how things were done. I was more interested in the landscape scenery and stories that were told.

Found a couple model train museum links that may help you with info:

This one is from Canada


and this one is in San Diego, CA


Now I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy. Thanks for refreshing those memories of my dad with your question.
Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 01:23 am
Found this website that will be helpful to you:


It answers questions such as:

I want to build a layout. Where do I start?

What's the best layout for kids?

I want to start with one set. What should I buy? \

Where's the best place to buy trains?

Are 'O-gauge' and 'O-scale' the same thing?
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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 05:00 am
We had Lionel trains when I was growing up, including a circus car where the giraffe's head would bob up and down out of a hole in the top of the car. There was also at least one box car, a coal car and a red caboose. Those suckers were huge (14 or so inches long) and heavy. They were made of steel and God knows what else. Very sturdy. The mechanism was electrical but most of the time needed to be hot-wired by joining two wires. It sparked a lot.

It went to my cousin, and now her daughters get to see the setup every year. I can ask her whatever else she can tell me about the set.

I don't think ours was blue but this is essentially the giraffe car, and it may or may not fit the time period (I'll ask my Dad but I think his trains were from the 50s or maybe even the 40s): http://www.postwarlionel.com/cgi-bin/postwar?ITEM=3376
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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 10:03 am
What a great link Butrflynet! Thank you!

And thanks for sharing your story.

A train that runs through the yard would be heaven for Mo but I'm afraid he will have to settle for an indoor track.

The giraffe car is cool!

They had a lot of those Lionel trains where we wandered in. I had no idea that they were so big and so heavy! I picked one up and was looking at all the detailing and said to Mo: I don't think we're in Target any more.

Interesting, isn't it, that people remember model trains through their dads and grandpas. Judging by the shop I was in there is still a big market for such things but it has become very specialized.

They're really like little works of art.
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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 11:16 am
My family in Germany is very much into trains - but by now they're much
more into these expensive miniature model trains with very intricate features.

We've gone many times to the San Diego Railroad Museum, and it's so
interesting there, even for me having no clue about trains. At the museum, they rebuild all the major train routes (Copper Canyon, etc.) and there and you'll
meet those neat retired volunteers whose life evolves around model trains.
Their eyes light up, when they can explain all the trains and routes to
you, they are so dedicated, it's nice to hear them talk.

Also, at the end of the museum there is a room where kids can play
with model trains. They set up a nice scene with various model trains for
the children.

If you get a chance boomer, you should take Mo there, or send him down
to us, we'll go with him.
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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 02:09 pm
HO scale is smaller than the pics and stories, and easier on the budget to start. I will try to find a couple good sites to show you.

We actually have a model railroading hobby store where I live. You might ask around about one near you. I am certain there is also a group of enthusiasts near you, you will just have to look for them a bit.

This is as close as I know to a worldwide hobby. I have met people from all over who really get into trains. I'm a steam guy, myself. Very Happy
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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 02:39 pm
The shop I linked in my first post isn't far from my house and I'm in that neighborhood a couple of times a month so that would be a good place for me to buy things.

I thought about online buying but when I'm first learning about something I like to be more hands on and have someone that I can bug with a lot of questions. Plus, it seems like a nice shop and the guy working there wasn't pushy at all.

They did have some big "starter kit" type of things but I'm not sure what size or gage they were or whether they were expandable or anything. One kit was the "Polar Express", I remember that.

He had some trains that were heart-stoppingly beautiful.

I think Mo would like steam engines the best too!
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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 02:45 pm
Boom, Guys don't work in those kinda places unless they have a serious passion.
No bene's, low pay, poor hours, but...
He spends all day passing on his love of the trains to kids like the one I was eons ago. Half the fun is just seeing all the stuff you can get someday...

The train store was something my Gramma did with me on weekends when I was small....
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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 08:54 pm
The thread title really caught my eye. I was reminded of the O gauge train set that my dad bought for us boys as a Christmas gift back in the early 50's. It was a diesel engine. Diesel engines were just getting popular back then.

In the 80's, my wife (knowing my love of trains) bought me a HO gauge set as somewhat of a joke gift for Christmas. Well, that joke gift turned into many, many hours and many, many dollars of work and delightful enjoyment.

I added steam locomotives (you will find that these can be very expensive, but wonderful works of art and nostalgia). I built the layout, buildings etc. and put as much realism as possible into it. Even down to the grout in the tiny bricks.

Everything has since been put into boxes, looking to be resurrected some day. Since we are guardians of a 8 and 1 year old boy, I am being moved by this thread to once again setup the trains.

I even had one nephew that asked if he could have my collection when I die. Personally, I hope he has to wait for a long time.

If space is a problem, N gauge is the way to go. Too small for some. HO has the most options.

Give a big TOOT, TOOT to Mo for me.

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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 09:24 pm
Although my intention was not to evoke so many lovely memories, I'm loving the way this thread has turned out.

It reminds me so much of my grandfather.

He made a big mistake and it alienated me and the rest of my family too. Really, it was a huge mistake. A big and heart-breaking thing.

Still, I miss him.

I wish I had taken the time to learn about his trains and him.
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Reply Sat 17 Nov, 2007 09:44 am
The comic strip "For Better or for Worse" has a character that loves model trains: John Patterson, dentist, father, and husband to protagonist Elly. Over time we saw him develop interests in cars and model railroads.

While looking for information on the Patterson model train set up in his back yard, I found this wonderful site:


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Reply Sat 17 Nov, 2007 10:45 am
Boomer, I was only mentioning that my own experience, however little, was only with an outdoor model railroad, not that Mo should have one of those. There are some popular magazines re both indoor and outdoor model railroading.. I looked them up briefly, and thought better of delving into the descriptions on those and posting about it, since magazines may only foster a major set of "I wants". I had thought of it as a way to encourage Mo re reading. Visiting the shop, or whatever possible museum, with you seems better all around.
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Reply Sat 17 Nov, 2007 09:10 pm
Hey Boom, here's a good place to start.


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