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inspiration.....what drove you into model trains?

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Monday, November 13, 2017 5:52 AM

Like most men my age, I had trains as an adolescent.  American Flyer S gage then HO.  Like most men my age, I eventually put away the things of childhood and entered adulthood.  Then along came grandchildren who loved Thomas the Tank Engine.

In the process of building a 4x8 "empire" for Thomas, I remembered how much I had enjoyed it.  It now is DCC, and fills my two car garage...

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by Shock Control on Monday, November 13, 2017 6:39 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

I have told my story before, but here goes.

As a child, in the 1960's, my father was a "holiday modeler". That is he set up a Christmas Garden that was more of a scale model railroad than a train set. It was HO scale, it consisted of the typical "modeler" products of the day, including many "craftsman" type kits.

This layout was pretty large for a Christmas Garden, two 5x9 platforms, which filled half our living room every holiday season from Thanksgiving until well after the new year.

Two loops of TruScale wood roadbed track, Aristo Trolley Bus, cars, locos and structures from kits - not your typical RTR train set stuff.

When I turned 10, we moved into a house with a basement, and that Christmas the layout was set up in the basement - with multi level trackage, plaster mountains, hidden stagging tracks and more - truely a model railroad.

I was very interested and learned even more very quickly. I guess my father could tell I was ready, and in short order the new permanent layout in the basement was mine.

Do you keep all the stuff from your Dad's layouts?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, November 13, 2017 7:03 AM

Shock Control

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

I have told my story before, but here goes.

As a child, in the 1960's, my father was a "holiday modeler". That is he set up a Christmas Garden that was more of a scale model railroad than a train set. It was HO scale, it consisted of the typical "modeler" products of the day, including many "craftsman" type kits.

This layout was pretty large for a Christmas Garden, two 5x9 platforms, which filled half our living room every holiday season from Thanksgiving until well after the new year.

Two loops of TruScale wood roadbed track, Aristo Trolley Bus, cars, locos and structures from kits - not your typical RTR train set stuff.

When I turned 10, we moved into a house with a basement, and that Christmas the layout was set up in the basement - with multi level trackage, plaster mountains, hidden stagging tracks and more - truely a model railroad.

I was very interested and learned even more very quickly. I guess my father could tell I was ready, and in short order the new permanent layout in the basement was mine.

 

Do you keep all the stuff from your Dad's layouts?

 

I don't have every piece, but I have lots of items from the original layouts he built.

And most all of it will find a home on the current layout project.

In fact, I made some important progress on the new layout this weekend.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Heartland Division CB&Q on Monday, November 13, 2017 9:05 AM

Howard ... Thanks for starting an intersting thread.... I read each comment so far, and I can relate to many of the experiences. ... I thank those who particpated here becaue it helps me get to know some forum members better than previously.

My grandfather made a functioning live steam locomotive in the 1920's . My father was active in O scale and also live steam. Here he is on his 4-6-4.

I was born in Texas during WWII. Before my first birthday, we had moved to Tennessee. My first memories were when we lived in TN. I recall traveling by train to see grandparents. Dad's side in St Louis area and Mom's side in Chicago area. 

Just before my fifth birthday we moved to Chicago area where I grew up. We lived close to the CB&Q mainline, and I could see the trains from our house. While I was very young my parents took us on the Burlington suburban trains to see Santa Claus in Marshall Field's department store. The CB&Q trains were still steam powered, and I recall seeing the locomotive smoke from the coach window. The big store in Chicago had a huge layout in the toy department featuring nearly every item (if not all) in the Lionel catalogue at the time. 

Of course, the list of wanted toys I presented to Santa Claus had trains at the top ahead of a cap pistol for playing cowboy. My first train was a Marx set. It was followed a year later with Lionel trains. 

My father's job required him to travel overseas from time to time. When I was about 10 years old, he went to Germany, and brought me some HO train made by Fleischmann. That began my life-long hobby of HO model trains. I had a crude 4X8 layout in my bedroom for maybe 2 or 3 years, and I acquired US made HO trains of Amercian prototype. (I played the tuba in the school band.) 

My father retuirned from a business trip in Japan with a Tenshodo HO 4-6-4 which he gave to me. He allocated room in the basement so I could build a 16 x 8 layout.

My family continued traveling by train to various destinations on several different railroads. I recall travel on the following: CB&Q, ATSF, PRR, NYC, B&O, ACL, C&NW, MILW, SOO, IC, SP, UP, CP, and CN. I also road on interruban trains in and out of Chicago (North Shore, South Shore, and CA&E) 

The crude poor quality photo below is on our trip to California on the Santa Fe Super Chief. 

I worked odd jobs, lawn mowing, yard work, etc. to buy trains including my Tenshodo Santa Fe FT ABBA with passenger cars. I bought more and more. Filled up the 16X8 layout by the time I graduated from high school.

Next, I went to college, and model railroading became a low priority item for me for a long period of time. I graduated from college, and then went further to get a masters degree. Starting my career and starting a family meant very little time for hobbies. Eventually, I got back into model railroading while living in Michigan. I worked many years for CN/GTW. I had a 1900-era layout, and my ambition ws to build a John Allen quality layout with a midwest setting. My fictional 1900 era railroad served the little towns of Hither, Thither, and Yon. 

Next, I experienced several life saving events, and moved several times. The 1900-era layout did not survive, but I kept many of the trains, buildings, and structures. 

Without a layout, I began modeling Burlington trains such as I saw as a kid looking out the window of our house. We moved into our present home in western Kentucky in 2001. I have been building my current layout ever since. The Heartland Division of the CB&Q is a fictional division of the Burlington. 

Below is a photo of my own model railroad museum on shelves over my work table. The remains of my grandfather's 1920's live steam locomotive is on the top shelf. Below it is an O scale 4-6-2 built by my father as a recovered from polio when we lived in Tennessee. Also on display is a crude HO modle of  a diesel locomotive and passenger car he made in the same time period. There are numerous HO trains I have acquired during my lifetime. 

GARRY

HEARTLAND DIVISION, CB&Q RR

EVERYWHERE LOST; WE HUSTLE OUR CABOOSE FOR YOU

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Posted by TheGamp on Monday, November 13, 2017 4:09 PM

Last fall it got too cold outside to work on the electric guitar I was building, and I needed a (cleaner) indoor hobby.  I was just going to make a scale model of the White Castle where my friends and I shot our band's music video 30 years ago. I don't know a reefer from a gondola or when the Transition Era begins or ends. But I rode the MTA subway half my life, and since the Queens Blvd. El is across the street from the White Castle I let myself get sucked into planning a layout.

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Posted by Billwiz on Monday, November 13, 2017 6:49 PM

simple...Dad.  He had Lionel and Marx trains.  He got me my first HO train (and my second).  Miss you dad!

 

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Posted by emdmike on Monday, November 13, 2017 6:51 PM

I am autistic, and for some reason, naturaly drawn to trains both real and model.  Have been since before I could walk.  All of my toys that I wanted to play with were trains of some sort progressing to Lionel as a young child, then HO scale and then ad in G scale as an adult with a home and a garden to put them in.  So nothing drove me persay to trains, unless you atribute it to me being on the autism spectrum.          Mike the Aspie

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

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Posted by Shock Control on Monday, November 13, 2017 6:59 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I don't have every piece, but I have lots of items from the original layouts he built.

And most all of it will find a home on the current layout project.

In fact, I made some important progress on the new layout this weekend.

Sheldon

Big Smile

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, November 13, 2017 9:03 PM

OK, well, no railroad, model or real, is part of my family history.  My dad got me the first train set, a Marx, with the dark purple switch engine, Santa Fe, when I was 6.  Shortly there after, he died.  No parts of this set remain, and are long gone.

I've always loved to build things, particularly models, from farm machinery, to buildings, a few planes and ships, and a TON of cars.  They were everywhere in my room.  And, again, nothing remains of any of this.

During the late grade school and into the middle school years, I spent summers at my grandpa's farm in WI.  A couple of his bigger fields were across a creek from the SOO Line's, Fond du Lac, WI./ Chicago main line.  That was it, trains now were part of my modeling.

I've buildt about 6 mrr's, all HO scale, (the 60's, one had the Aurora HO scale race track set)  to date, along with the grandson's MTH RailKing O scale set.  The links to my current layout show the only layout that was finished, scenery and track.  Many details to go yet.  All previous attempts were basically "plywood centrals".  The current layout took about 2 years.  I'm retired, many days were spent doing nothing but building the layout.  Current layout is from the late 90's to present.

I never was around steam.  I first remember the SOO's string of GP7s and maybe an F7 in with the mix, pulling a long train past my grandpa's field, while baling, or cultivating corn.

I just like trains, they're massive and powerfull, and a good clue as to how the economy is doing.

Mike.

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Posted by marksrailroad on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 5:02 AM

I failed to mention in my original reply that I went for over twenty years not having anything to do with model railroading. What got me back into it was a magazine article that I saw at work. After that I began buying Life Like and Bachmann sets until I graduated up to Atlas and Kato. I now own around 80 locomotives and about 250 pieces of rolling stock which is nothing to some of you guys that own way more than I do...

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Posted by Water Level Route on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 6:12 AM

For me, it was the JCPenney Christmas Wish Book catalogue.  I remember flipping through the toy section and stopping short when the page turned to the model trains.  I was mesmerized.  Looked at those pages every single day until Christmas, and I'm talking months of looking.  Somehow, my parents got the hint. Laugh

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 4:02 PM

I honestly do not remember what got me started. I always received train sets for Christmas when I was young, and had a 4 by 8 in the garage during grade school.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 4:32 PM

Nature or nurture, that is the burning question and debate which may never be agreed on.

No history of train in my family but the gene must have mutated when I was born.  I was given trains at a very early age, like 2, and a Lionel set for Christmas at age 4 and that was it - infected for life.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by BATMAN on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 9:01 PM

Had trains as a kid as far back as I can remember. Had a couple family members that worked for the RR, A Grandpa, and a couple of Cousins. Life always seemed to revolve around the RR somehow as it was often the topic of conversation. Someone was always going on a train or someone was talking about work. A lot of family members seem to have free passes to travel, so that added to the frequency of travel I'm sure.

Dad had mild to moderate Muscular Dystrophy so our life was less active than what most families seem to have. Trains and fishing he could manage, so we did a lot of that. I loved both, so it worked out. I did leave MRR behind as I entered adulthood but always thought I would return to it someday.

I lead a very active life, even to a bit of an extreme level as far as sports and pastimes go, however, I always had MRR in the back of my mind.

In my early 40s, I knew something was up, health wise. I was diagnosed with one of the rarer forms of Arthritis and knew that sports and then work would be leaving my life sooner than I ever thought, and I immediately thought of getting back to trains. It has been a sanity saver for me and I doubt I would be in it if it wasn't for my Dad introducing me to the hobby.

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by LakeErieExpress on Thursday, November 16, 2017 8:54 AM

ruderunner

For me it was the Shaker Rapid Transit. I grew up a block away and my grandfather worked at the Terminal Tower.  Occasionally Grandma and I would go shopping downtown or ride out to the West Side Market, rails all the way. But the cavernous space under the tower, which I eventually discovered was Cleveland Union Terminal, always amazed me. 

Matter of fact a good portion of the downtown area is actually a bridge over the yard.

If that was all, I'd certainly be a trolley modeler, PCC flavor. But there was also the Goodtime cruise ship, viewing the heavy industry along the lakefront and especially the Cuyahoga River really cemented things for me.  Whiskey Island being a favorite, the Huellet loaders were amazing machines.

As time went by I dabbled in plywood centrals, but after moving into my own home and doing some traveling I found a few other places I wanted to model, towns like Wellsville and Stubenville.  As I researched the rails in those areas, I discovered that all my favorites were actually on the same railroad! The old Cleveland and Pittsburgh.  

So now that I have a predrawn track plan I'm in process of building it, under Penn Central ownership. Specifically the CP mainline from Cleveland to Yellow Creek (Wellsville) and the Powhatan secondary from Yellow Creek to Omal, better known as Hannibal.

Fwiw I'm 43 years old but this started when I was quite young.

 

 

Aww, a fellow Clevelander! 

 

My earliest memories are a bit more recent (30 year old here) but seeing Big Blue running in Berea and the operations in the Rockport yard. Also growing up in Medina and seeing the faint lights in the distance of a Black W&LE GP35 as it snakes its way through a sleepy little town on a weekday morning. Theres just something exciting about the real thing and I think model railroading is just an extension of that (not to mention YOU get to be the boss on YOUR own railroad!)

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Posted by Attuvian on Thursday, November 16, 2017 9:24 AM

There's a pretty wide range of early exposures here, with not a few commonalities.  Perhaps the most obvious is the involvement of a parent or other family contact who either took a shot in the dark with a toy option when we were wee or saw what piqued our interest on some other occasion.  And then fed it.

I suppose there are a few MRRers out there that are relative loners or have an aversion to letting younger folks near their layouts.  I hope they are very few.  I think the good fortune of our circumstances (growing up near the real deal or using it often) often gives birth to the hobby.  But mostly it's other people.  I hope we always remember how important that factor is - and make efforts to share our delight with anything that moves. Regardless of their age: hey, there are a couple posts here from folks who picked it up late!

What keeps us alive is community.  No better proof of that than these forums - and this string.

Thanks, Howard, for starting this one.  There seems to be evidence on these pages that you've kept a lot of pumps primed over the years in many ways.  May we all learn from your example.

John

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Posted by Howard Zane on Thursday, November 16, 2017 11:02 AM

Sharing and opening your layout for visitors of all ages is quite important. My dad was just the opposite as he would allow no one in the basement unless he or she was helping or spoke model trains fluently. On occasion he would actually deny having choo choos in the basement when queried. I could never understand this thinking and perharps is why I'm different today.

I have found the most interest coming from folks who are about to retire or have just recently retired...then of course there are the clubs and groups who visit who are already well into the hobby. My six grand kids and two children have absolutely zero interest although they do admit that it is "cool".

With today's prototype raildroads redifining the word....."boring" (at least for old curmudgeons like me), I do see a problem attracting new folks. Europe and Australia are much different and the hobby seems quite a bit stronger there....as trains are everywhere!!!.

I have discovered that we all who are fortunate enough to have pikes which have room for visitors.....that sharing is possibly the best way to ensure the hobby's longevity.

HZ

Howard Zane
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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, November 16, 2017 11:10 AM

Howard, I love having kids in to play, though they are far and few between these days as they seem to have all grown up. I hear some guys rattle on about the fear they have of the kids touching their stuff. I have found that the best way to avoid that is to get a controller in their hands and sitting in my Captains chair the second they walk in the door. 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 16, 2017 11:21 AM

Attuvian
I suppose there are a few MRRers out there that are relative loners or have an aversion to letting younger folks near their layouts. I hope they are very few.

.

Here is one! I never let anyone near the layouts. Too many bad experiences 20+ years ago with visitors and especially visitors with children.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by SouthPenn on Thursday, November 16, 2017 7:34 PM

What got me into model railroading? My Dad.

I am three years old in this picture. 

And, we lived ~100 yards from the B&O tracks. I don't remember seeing steam engines running, but I remember seeing them being towed by 'F' units to the scrap yard.

South Penn
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Posted by WM fan on Thursday, November 16, 2017 7:51 PM

After childhood and many years away from the hobby, the pressures of work were getting to me. I needed an escape and to be in more control of my environment. Model railroading provided that.

From a simple Bachman N scale set, a few switches and extra track and some extra cars to start with, until today with an overly complicated track plan, a mess of wiring, more engines than can be staged and scenery that is a bit too steep - well I love it!

I have been retired six years now, but the sight of those trains going round the layout is so relaxing.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, November 17, 2017 11:55 AM

Of course it wasn't just models from an early age - it was the real thing, too.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10210034432951678&l=7062f70ac3

That's a photo of me, about 3 or 4, with my Dad on my first trip to Strasburg and what would become the Railroad Museum of PA - at that time it was just some tracks in the field across from Strasburg, no building yet. (no Facebook account needed, you can click and view it)

I have others from this same trip, one of them hanging on to the brake wheel of a bobber caboose at Memorytown USA. Road the Strasburg of course, first of so many trips that I have their spiel memorized, also hit Dutch Wonderland and Gettysburg.

                         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by emdmike on Friday, November 17, 2017 12:21 PM

I so wish I could say my father was the driving force in my early model railroad years, but I got more support from my grandfather(his Dad) that from him.  Neither of my parents outwardly really supported my hobby.  And even when I got dad to take to me train shows it seemed like i was a bother and he only took me to shut me up.  This is hind site talking as at the time, I got trains at Christmas and for my Birthdays, but that was it.  No father/son time working on the layout and so forth.  The little bit of that came from my grandfather at Christmas time when running the Lionels under the tree at thier house.  My driving force and desire to enjoy model trains came from within myself from an early age.    Mike the Aspie

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Posted by csxns on Friday, November 17, 2017 4:08 PM

emdmike
myself from an early age.

Same here.

Russell

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, November 17, 2017 11:16 PM

Howard Zane
With today's prototype raildroads redifining the word....."boring" (at least for old curmudgeons like me), I do see a problem attracting new folks. Europe and Australia are much different and the hobby seems quite a bit stronger there....as trains are everywhere!!!.

Actually there is more young faces trackside then you see at train shows.

Boring you say? Ever hear a brace of  SD70M-2 start a tonnage train? The ground vibrates.

And a lot of us old curmudgeons like me enjoys todays railroads. Of course the short lines and regionals out number the Class 1s and many railfan those because of the older locomotives.

I suppose my oldest Grandson's generation of modeler/railfans will miss the "good old days" when they reach our age..

Larry

SSRy

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Posted by Howard Zane on Saturday, November 18, 2017 9:11 AM

Larry

A lash-up of 10 SD70M-2s would put me to sleep, but boring to me may be different to others such as yourself. I know you take great pride in telling folks you are into real railroading...and that is fine and I respect and admire most folks who love what they do. I actually did work on the T&NO for about a year, but my next step up the corporate ladder would have been cleaning the company latrines....but I was in railroading!!! I then opted for careers in aviation and industrial design and of course model trains.

I was a lucky kid and teen as I had two uncles who ran steam with my dad and myself often riding with them. If you could experience riding in a PRR K4 4-6-2 at close to 100 mph, then you would then understand why for me there is no diesel on the planet that could capture my interest for more than a passing glance.

As a industrial designer (retired) I do admire the esthetics of the first generation diesel such as the F's and E's, but the newer stuff today makes me sick.....then again form follows function.....sort of why steam locos captured so many. A similar example...auto design of the 50's and early 60's compared to today's insipid excuses for automotive art.

HZ

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Saturday, November 18, 2017 9:51 AM

Howard Zane

Larry

As a industrial designer (retired) I do admire the esthetics of the first generation diesel such as the F's and E's, but the newer stuff today makes me sick.....then again form follows function.....sort of why steam locos captured so many. A similar example...auto design of the 50's and early 60's compared to today's insipid excuses for automotive art.

HZ

Hey Howard-

I understand your sentiments, but I'm not sure I agree with your interpretation of form follows function . . . 

The aesthetics of the early Es and Fs came entirely from cowling. Same thing with the autos of the 50s and 60s. Lee Iococca said the huge successes of the '57 Chevy and '64 Mustang and the only reason they became instant classics was sheet metal, nothing more.

Robert

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:24 AM

Howard Zane
A lash-up of 10 SD70M-2s would put me to sleep, but boring to me may be different to others such as yourself. I know you take great pride in telling folks you are into real railroading...and that is fine and I respect and admire most folks who love what they do. I actually did work on the T&NO for about a year, but my next step up the corporate ladder would have been cleaning the company latrines....but I was in railroading!!! I then opted for careers in aviation and industrial design and of course model trains.

Howard,After working 9 1/2 years as a brakeman it guides my switching operation  since I  know how the railroaders work and I emulate that work.

Now  believe it or not I had a love/hate relationship with railroading-I loved the pay and the work but,hated the time away from my family and family activty...IMHO you were wise to move on to your chosen line of work.

Oddly as it may sound I recall the last days of steam on the PRR,N&W,B&O and the C&O in the Columbus, Ohio area and recall seeing brand new GP9s, RS-11s and of course the second generation diesels when new. I recall E8s on PRR passenger trains yet I have no desire to model the 50s or the 60s.

As far as those SD70M-2s think of the ground vibration of a 2-10-4 lifting a tonnage train.

Larry

SSRy

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Posted by Howard Zane on Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:36 AM

Robert,

I was referring exactly to the "cowling" designs. Form follows function refers to efficiency of design being the art.....not the cowlings. A steam loco is a wonderful example of this. During the 30's or Art Deco period, with only a few exceptions....streamlining sort of made a mockery of the pure beauty of a design built only for efficient function. Some of Lowey's, Dreyfus', and Kuhler's designs for steam were quite interesting and with some inherent beauty. Others....??

Interesting is that one of the most beautiful steam loco stream styled designs came from a lady who worked in corporate with no design back ground...Olive Dennis. She came up with the B&O P7d or Cinncinattian which along with the Dreyfus NYC J3a will be forever in the annals of great design.

I'm sure others have different opinions, which is to be expected and that is fine. It is how we learn!!!

HZ

Howard Zane
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Posted by Sir Madog on Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:50 AM

Howard Zane
streamlining sort of made a mockery of the pure beauty of a design built only for efficient function

Couldn´t agree more! Take a look on what they did in the UK in the 1930´s! IMHO, Sir Nigel Gresley´s A4 Pacifics are outright ugly and Oliver Bulleid´s "Battle of Britain", "West Country" and "Merchant Navy" Pacifics even beat that. People aptly nicknamed them "Spam Cans", which, when British Rail decided to free them from their "night gowns" turned into beauties!

   Ulrich     

People of my age don´t tan, they simply rust!


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