Getting kids interested in trains

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Getting kids interested in trains

  • First off, I would recommend using trains you yourself are interested in and comfortable with. I'm lucky that I model with three rail O gauge trains because they are big for little hands and you can get some rugged pieces. If you model in HO or N gauge you can make a case for staying with your own gauge and using the more durable pieces you have,although a loop of three rail track, an old 1033 or LW transformer,and a Williams diesel is VERY simple for anyone to handle.I say diesel because I would recommend you buy kids trains they'll actually see on the tracks today. I do NOT understand the logic of Lionel and other companies marketing things like New York Central or Pennsylvania steam freights to kids born in the 90's. I'd get freight cars with loads so there's play value beyond watching the trains run around in circles. In O gauge there are operating accessories: I'd invest in some of them. I'd start out simple: no Protosound II for a first train. Do that later. Make sure whatever you get the kid is dependable and rugged and stuff that if it's tumped off the tracks some you won't worry about. When the grandkids come over the house I put stuff up to run that I won't mind too much if it's broke. Also, I try to stay away from the rocket-bomb stuff that goes airborne with just 10 volts. Mike Santa
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  • Mike:

    Lionel is not marketing trains to kids - they are marketing fantasy. The sell sets that launch missiles and have spotlights. They even had one with a Bay Watch (shore patrol) theme. They see their products for kids as imagination-starters. Having seen movies of the 40 and 50 kids can related to war times in a fantasy-based way. A modern diesel wouldn't fit that fantasy.
    [ ]===^=====xx o o O O O O o o The Northern-er (info on the layout,
  • The trick is, Gerald, is to tap into the fantasy of travelling to glamorous places and also the fantasy of hauling big loads around the country. Lionel found out the hard way that the missles and rockets didn't do as well as the milkmen and coal loaders did. There's a place for the shore rescue set but the bread and butter of trains is the freight moving and the power of the trains themselves. Also trains are an alternative to the war video games for many parents. That's why if I was Jerry Williams or Maury Klein I'd be running ads in kids' magazines and on kid TV like Lionel and Flyer did. I've seen Bachman ads on cartoons lately.
  • In my case, I built a 1.5 meter by 1 meter HO layout for my daughter with a cheap engine, a few 'flea-market' wagons and some inexpensive operating gadgets -like boxcars that deliver boxes- trying keeping her off my layout! Now, more than a year later, the train remains in good shape, despite the age of the operator(4 years next month).
    I think using HO scale for kids was far easy than using a bigger and costly scale because it has the right size for their hands and abilities; and since they operates with 12 to 16 volts, there's no electrical risks when they touch the rails.
  • l'm into "G" railroading and my grandkids like it. It's big enough for then to handle and large enough to put things into/out of cars easily. They're 3 & 5. They're both excited about starting the RR outside next summer instead of just in the barn.

  • Maybe I'm oversimplifying, or don't really understand the question, but my answer would be - If you want to make anything interesting or important to your children, spend time doing it with them , whether it's trains or math homework.

    And of course, your kids will let you know if and what is important to them. There is soooo much to explore in this hobby, whether or not your child 'loves trains', you can have fun together.
    For example, my youngest son is a real train-head, like me, and loves 'playing with trains', but my older son isn't really into that. He sure likes to ride 'em, though.

    Anyway, we found our common ground with his love of building things - from legos and lincoln logs to styrene, now.
    It goes both ways, of course: I was never really into 'detailing' the layout until he showed an interest in it -so now we're learning together: we get books from the library about older building styles, and painting techniques and stuff.

    He's only six, and I'm UTTERLY unskilled - and yeah, before you ask, I'll cheerfully admit that model buildings assembled by a six-year-old and a neophyte are pretty amateurish - (our work won't be featured in model railroader anytime soon) -
    so every so often we totally 'roach' a kit, and have to toss it.
    But that is happening a lot less often now, and anyway, I wouldn't trade the cost of two hundred kits for the time we spend together.

    sweet lady fair, where C:\Documents and Settings\mikea\Desktop\WORK\Readi II\locomo1.gif[ hast thou gone??
  • My 3 year old took on trains all on her own. I had no trouble getting her interrested in trains. In fact I had no part in it. I was on a 6th month deployment on the USS Harry S. Truman when my wife says she went train crazy. She has 3 different train sets in the house. If anything, she re-kindled my interrest in trains and has motivated me to build a N scale layout in my attic like I used to operate at my grandfather's house when I was younger.
  • As a doting grandfather, I started out when he was 2-3 years old by going to IRM for his first steam ride and to the South Elgin trolley museum. Both locations really got his attention.

    Knowing that kids like to get mail, I got him a subscription to Model Railroarder and a membership to IRM. In addtion he liked getting all the flyers at Christmas time.

    Found that Model Railroarder was beyond his understaning and switched to Trains.

    When he reached 7, I got him a Lionel starter set. Like one of the other sites noted
    he enjoys the action items which i get him at Christmas and for his birthday.

    My opinion is that if you expose your child to the thrill of seeing this equipment in action that they may become as interested in it as you are.
  • Tell them to stay away and not even think about them. Most kids do exactly the opposite.[:)]
  • My Young Nephew just loves trains. What gets them interested in the hobby is how you describe it to them.. If your interested and you show this too your kids, they usely will follow that enthusiam.[:)]
  • Started my daughter in lionel 31 years ago and it is still running for three year old great granddaughter. Now my adopted grandson who turned three in December has had everything possible from Thomas the Tank engine and he will even sit and watch a 90 minute passenger train video wuth grandpa counting all of the negines and the different type passenger cars. have several pieces of HO equipment that he plays with as well. We are getting ready toi take his first real train ride real soon and he is excited. We often go over to a nearby crossing so he can see the trains pass and he waves at the entire train until it is past. I think I have the makings of a regular railfan in the grandson.
  • We in Saint John last fall open the Harbour passage which is a foot thrail which
    gives a beautiful veiw of the harbour as well as opens the vast green area under the
    harbour bridge.along asection of the thrail you are mere feet from the New
    Brunswick Southern Railway.

    The local day cares be it the Y ect of Saint John take the children for walks
    along the thrail and they love seeing the Trains.the transfer and switcher crews
    love how they get so excitted as wave and watch the trains go.I myself have
    watched the trains go by and recalled living in Brookville.

    The Day care workers as on the street tell them of safety and being polite.

    You love em young as old

    David Brown

    PS ITS a good excuse to take a romantic walk along there and happen
    to see a transfer go by with two gp-38-3,s ect.
  • Thomas the Tank engine. That is what got me immersed. Strenghening that interest was the times we went to railroads in the Pennsylvania area, such as Horseshoe curve. And regarding model trains, it does not matter what scale it is in. I had as much fun With HO scale as I did with my Duplo Train set. Now 14, I am the newest volunteer at Kempton Railroad, and there are kids there my age, although not as prolific as the old-timers, share the same enthusiasm.

    Railroading aint going away

    Paul Lyter
  • Actully how I got into trains is when I was little my dad worked for the railroad. That got me to like trains. I also watched Thomas the Tank engine.
  • For really young kids 18 months to 4 years old, the wooden Thomas trains are great. I have a 7 year old and a 4 1/2 year old and realized that they were getting a bit old for Thomas. We are lucky in the St. Louis area to have a company called the Whittle Short Line railroad they make wonderful wooden diesels and modern freight cars. Both boys continue to play with these all the time. These products have significantly lengthend the life of the wooden Thomas track. A simple loop of electric train track, regardless of scale, becomes boring to a little kid quite quickly. The wooden trains provide significantly more imaginitive play. We are also building an HO scale layout together. Little hands can be taught to be careful, and both of them can get my BLI Mikado on the track correctly without problem. We have been "playing" with the HO scale trains for about 3 years now. The trains helped them learn colors, helped them learn fine motor skills, helped them learn logic and control. (I set them a route and they have to manually switch and then place a specific box car at a precise location). The best fun we have is making Athean BB kits and weathering them together. Ink washes and powders all get used to make some of the heaviest weathered cars you have ever seen[:D] The bottom line is that this hobby can be very rewarding for kids and parents alike. We just switched to DCC with a Digitrax Zephyr and Andrew (7) is already quite proficient at running trains. Christopher (4) uses an old MRC powerpack on a jump port while Andrew jumps around the Digitrax keyboard controlling the functions on both his and the Jump port locomotive. Since I am using 4 digit addressing based on the road number of the locomotive both of them are having to use thier brains to remember larger numbers. In my view a significantly better use of their time than being glued to the TV or Nintendo!

    Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site and our videos at