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Non-Prototypical Operations a good thing?

  • The local Youth in Model Railroading just had its annual "Train Fun Day".  This is where there is no emphasis on the prototype or running trains prototypical.    Among other things there is a great train race, a pulling contest, and a timed switching puzzle.  The children are encouraged to decorate their own locomotives and have a good time.

    Here is my daughter's Athearn HI-FI drive F7 ready for the loco drag race.

    The races were fun for a while.  Her FP45 in John Deere paint was beat in the pulling contest by a Bachmann U28B because it had traction tires....

    Anyway the races were great fun for a while but soon degraded in to throwing anything on the track and just running them full speed into the foam cushion at the end, another kid continually unplugging the power supplies during the race, another kid insisted that his hand propelled dummy was the winner, and yet another kid insisted on holding the loco so it couldn't move but just skid until he burnt out the motor.

    The switching puzzle was good (easy children level) but very few of the children would even try it and those who did often gave up before they finished.

    Anyway my question is philosophical.  Is this sort of frivolity a good thing to allow the children to break out and just be crazy kids or does it create a disrespect for the equipment and more serious train "running"?

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  • Texas Zepher

    Anyway my question is philosophical.  Is this sort of frivolity a good thing to allow the children to break out and just be crazy kids or does it create a disrespect for the equipment and more serious train "running"?

     As irreverent as I am in my approach to the hobby I have to say the latter, one primary reason I do not let my in-laws kids know I even have a layout is that I DO NOT want them coming over and wanting to run stuff on the layout, which would knowing them be at full throttle and into what ever they could put on the tracks or run stuff right of the table. God forbid any neighbor kids get a whiff, it will all end up snatched. I'm only speaking for my own situation.

    Kids and trains is an individual thing, I'm sure some kids would be great and have fun running like the rest of us, but some kids just treat everything like its disposable or break things just because they can. Guess I'm not too trusting in kids behavioral natures.

        Have fun with your trains

  • I'll admit that my take on this is biased, because I grew up in a household dominated by an old-line, brook no nonsense mother and an artillery officer father, attended a military school and spent most of my adult life in military uniform.  It sounds to me as if there were no rules and little supervision, hence the destructive behavior and the argument about a possible non-powered winner.  In any rationally-conducted pulling contest, traction tires would have been in a separate class.

    Maybe what was lacking in the switching puzzle was a sense of competition. and also an 'Alpha dog,' to challenge the others.  A supervisor with a stopwatch, and a ranking sheet, might have done wonders.

    Anyone spoiling the fun for others (Pulling power plugs, for example) should have been summarily grounded in a corner for five minutes.  Second offense?  Don't let the door hit you in the butt!

    Model railroading is supposed to be a cooperative, constructive effort.  Unless there are rules (and rule enforcers) even on a 'fun day,' the dark side will come out.  I don't see how that could be fun for anybody except the gangsta wanna-bes.

    Chuck (whose undisciplined grandson is NOT welcome in my layout space)

  • You don't mention the age range of the children, but most children by the time they are old enough to handle an Athearn engine have learned about rules and proper behavior in group settings.  But the adults are supposed to be in charge and it doesn't sound like they were in this instance.  Unless this was the first event the organizers should have established and published rules for the locomotive drag races and pulling contest based on past experiences.  Even for a first time event there should be rules even if they haven't been honed by experience.  But the rules have to be enforced and it sounds like they weren't or worse there weren't any.

    Tolerating unruly and destructive behavior is not good for children no matter what the event is.  The events themselves sound like they would be fun for kids, but I doubt most of them had much fun.  Even young children understand the idea of rules and fairness.  And when there aren't any or they are not enforced why bother with a switching contest or any other contest.

    Paul

    If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • At the last fair or train show in Little Rock, they had something like a 30 foot drag strip with two locos. I went ahead and went up against a kid for a race. Lost it because the kid had his power pack slammed to max power before I had mine halfway through. Never mind having to make the stop before the foam end.

    If children were closely supervised and discipline administered to those who pulled off the power or whatever then the event would be not bad at all. But when left to their own devices, it will get pretty bad really quickly.

     

    I remember a vendor who had a kid roughly handle a model of a locomotive at a table and the vendor showed no apparent ... problems with it. After the kid (and momma went away) I asked the vendor how is it possible to watch a 70 dollar engine get roughed up like that.

    he winked, smiled at me and beckoned me under the curtain under the table where there was a mother load of mint, untouched engines and all was clear to me there.

    I am not a saint either, I remember ramming the O gauge hudson through barriers constructed on the track with my brother. That engine is been restored and is still 100% other than a bit of dust.

  • I agree that it sounds like there wasn't enough adult supervision. A few "for fun" things are fine, I remember my local NMRA region had a contest once to find the strongest member's steam and diesel locomotives.

    Stix
  • tomikawaTT
    Maybe what was lacking in the switching puzzle was a sense of competition. and also an 'Alpha dog,' to challenge the others.  A supervisor with a stopwatch, and a ranking sheet, might have done wonders.

    They actually had an adult there with a stopwatch and ranking sheet for an hour or so.  The adult apparently also lost interest when he did not have a line of children waiting to do the event.

    Anyone spoiling the fun for others (Pulling power plugs, for example) should have been summarily grounded in a corner for five minutes.  Second offense?  Don't let the door hit you in the butt!

    I agree.  At these sort of things I am always quick to point out the issues, but am hesitant to jump in and take over someone elses event.   Personally I would have taken the plug puller kid and stood him in the corner for a time out or tracked down his parent and given him walking papers. 

    .

  • IRONROOSTER
    You don't mention the age range of the children, but most children by the time they are old enough to handle an Athearn engine have learned about rules and proper behavior in group settings. 

    I think the official age for members of the organization is 8 and up.

    [quote] But the adults are supposed to be in charge and it doesn't sound like they were in this instance.  Unless this was the first event the organizers should have established and published rules for the locomotive drag races and pulling contest based on past experiences.  Even for a first time event there should be rules even if they haven't been honed by experience.  But the rules have to be enforced and it sounds like they weren't or worse there weren't any.[quote] I totally agree.  I believe this was the 5th annual event of this type.  The adults in charge just did not step in soon enough in my opinion.

    Tolerating unruly and destructive behavior is not good for children no matter what the event is. 

    Yes, and we have the same issue with the cub scouts.  Our Pack doesn't seem to be teaching that fundamental principle.   Even the adults that come to pack meeting rudely talk in side conversations while the meeting is going on.

     

     

    The events themselves sound like they would be fun for kids, but I doubt most of them had much fun.  Even young children understand the idea of rules and fairness.  And when there aren't any or they are not enforced why bother with a switching contest or any other contest.
    That is a thought.  I might have to become one of the adults in charge and try to effect some changes.

    .

  • Yes , I agree that non prototypical ops are a good thing in that it gets the youth interested in trains and may lead to a furture model railroader, as most of us old timers are getting to point where we need to help the younger set to learn to enjoy the hobby as a fun thing to do and not burden them with all the rules yet.

  • I am all for letting kids be non-prototypical as long as it gets them interested in trains and model railroading and as long as it is not wantonly destructive.

    My kids, for example, are allowed to run some goofy consists, but staged wrecks or "racing" are not allowed. Both of my kids have really taken to running at mostly prototypically correct speeds, and they like smooth starts and stops. They sometimes run a steamer pulling a couple centerbeams or some other anachronism, but they're getting into the hobby.

  • Re the drag race.

         One requirement would have to be that the engine not only cross the finish line first,  but also had to stop within a prescribed area.  Have a finish line and a stop line. The winner is the one who can not only cross the finish line first but then stop before the stop line.  Having some sensor tracks that automatically identify the winners and disqualified(going over the stop line) would reduce complaints. 

           Seperate the classes.  Class One locomotives with geared drives.  Class Two rubber band drives. Class Three free wheelers, ie dummy locomotives pushed by hand. 

    Oh last but not least duct tape the  plugs!!  LOL

    Thx IGN

  • Texas Zepher

    Anyway my question is philosophical.  Is this sort of frivolity a good thing to allow the children to break out and just be crazy kids or does it create a disrespect for the equipment and more serious train "running"?

    Well look at it this way: Prototype operation is largely governed by things like federal safety regulations, labor codes and formal work practices. In other words, rules.

    Kids don't like rules. The more rules there are, they get turned off. You want kids to enjoy the trains, not think they're a bore.

    As long as the only rule is not to break trains, free play is a good thing. 

    Then once they tire of that, teach them prototypical operation. They'll find the challenge in that. 

  • Having coached, taught SS, been aScout Master, Cub Master, volunteer for youth, I have found that boys in particular like to touch things and have some fun in the physical world before they are drawn into the virtual world.    So, anything that makes it real helps.

    Richard