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Did the Railroads/Cars You Had as a Kid Influence Your Future Directions in Model Railroading?

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Did the Railroads/Cars You Had as a Kid Influence Your Future Directions in Model Railroading?
Posted by Shock Control on Sunday, November 21, 2021 1:18 PM

...or were they a jumping off point for other railroads and other eras?

I had PRR and B&O as a kid, and I have stuck with these ever since. 

There are some cars from my childhood that I absolutely adore, for example, the Athearn Minneapolis St. Louis boxcar, modeled in a color someplace between salmon and melon, that no other company has replicated, that I've seen.  (No idea i the color is prototypically accurate or not.). Also love the yellow MKT livestock car from Athearn.  

I am also obsessed with F units and USRA 0-6-0s with the sloped tender.  

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Posted by selector on Sunday, November 21, 2021 1:25 PM

My first rail toy was one of those simple plastic shells with a couple of cars.  It was a diesel...pretty sure. I was maybe four at the time.  The two or three cars were green, yellow, red, and the diesel was blue?  66 years ago now.

At age 12 we got a simple Marklin train set in HO.  It was fun.  The middle-aged next door colleague of my dad's built a plywood slab with a steep ramp up and over a hill...a large knob, really.  His own basement was a huge O Gauge layout.

I did nothing train related over the next fifty years. I had just retired and was looking for a hobby.  Hadn't thought of trains until my eyes rested on an advert in the local paper.  Next day, I had my first locomotive and some EZ-Track.  That got the fire lit, but the boiler wasn't going to get hot until I furnished it with some learning and figuring.  That came over the next six months.  

So, my story is disjointed, and I don't see a linear development.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Sunday, November 21, 2021 1:36 PM

As a young boy, I had Lionels, and realized that as I got a bit older I got kind of tired of the toy train part of the hobby and wanted greater realism.  I also realized that HO offered more for me than O scale.

My teenage layout was Milwaukee in HO, chosen because I liked the colors and I instantly liked the looks of the GP9 locomotives that we didn't have where I was growing up in suburban New York.

Now I am 74, and I've been back in the hobby for about 15 years.  I still have all of my very old rolling stock and I run a couple of the old engines around as dummies, or "honorary" engines.  And, I still run Milwaukee geeps.  Sorry, no rocket launchers, exploding boxcars  or cattle cars with the cows that paraded around on little rubber feet on a vibrating platform.  But, y'know, I still have one of those yellow MKT stock cars from Athearn that I got with my first HO train set.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by Water Level Route on Sunday, November 21, 2021 1:40 PM

My first set was a Life-Like that had an HO Santa Fe F-7 pulling a fantasy boxcar, cities service tank, yellow Katy livestock car, and caboose.  I model the New York Central in HO today.  In between I acquired Pennsylvania, B&O, and another AT&SF locomotives.  I dabbled in N scale for a time as well, with Chessie System & Rock Island locomotives.  It was completely by chance I ended up with New York Central.  I had saved enough money for my first quality locomotive (an Athearn Bluebox) and my Mom took me to my first ever real hobby shop.  I fell in love with a Soo Line engine, but didn't have enough money.  I did, however have enough for a New York Central SDP-40.  After flirting with various other eras and railroads, I finally settled on a 1940's themed layout.  No idea what railroad I wanted.  Started researching the history of lines for equipment I already had and that is what did it for me.  Learning about the elegance of the 20th Century Limited and the rivalry with the Pennsylvania hooked me.  If it wasn't for the Central, I probably would have ended up either a Pennsy, Santa Fe, or C&O modeler.

Mike

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Posted by chatanuga on Sunday, November 21, 2021 3:35 PM

I started in the hobby with a Lionel train set for Christmas 1976, and then a couple years later I got a Tyco Silver Streak train set.  While I still had the Lionel, the HO stuff initially was "anything goes".  About 10 years later, I started focusing phasing out the toy train stuff and focusing more on the realistic scale models, many of which are still running on my current layout.  When I got into the 1990s, I started focusing more on a "specific" time range (mid-70s to mid-90s), which is what I've been sticking with since.

Kevin

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Posted by Mister Mikado on Sunday, November 21, 2021 3:52 PM

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Posted by Shock Control on Sunday, November 21, 2021 3:56 PM

Thanks all!

Interesting to hear the Tyco/Lifelike stories.

When I was a very little kid, my older brother had HO trains, and he had yellow-box-era Athearns and Tyco, back when Tyco was RTR Mantua.  These cars made such an impression on me as a kid.  I especially loved  the sprung trucks on the Athearn cars.

By the time I was a little older and buying trains, the readily available stuff was all glossy plastic Tyco and Lifelike.  You had to go to higher-end hobby shops to find stuff along the lines of Athearn, but we either didn't have those stores near us, or I didn't know about them.  

I would always look for Tyco and Lifelike cars that still retained some of the older characteristics - you could occasionally find things - but most of what I would come across was billboard cars with cheap glossy plastic.  

Many decades later, when I got back into trains as an adult, I started shopping online for the older Athearn and Mantua/Tyco cars.  I was happy that so many were still available and in good condition, sometimes unassembled in the box.  

But while I would occasionally get an engine of another railroad, I pretty much have stuck with PRR and B&O, the trains my older brother had.

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Posted by York1 on Sunday, November 21, 2021 4:03 PM

Shock Control
Did the Railroads/Cars You Had as a Kid Influence Your Future Directions in Model Railroading?" ...or were they a jumping off point for other railroads and other eras?

 

The Lionel I had in the 1950s probably played a part in my return to the hobby after retirement.  I always remembered that train, even though it had been 60 years ago.

It did not play a part in my choice of scale, road name, etc.  I went to N Scale and a modern time period.

My kids say they want a cat for Christmas.  Normally I do a turkey but hey, if it'll make 'em happy ...

York1 John       

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Posted by RR_Mel on Sunday, November 21, 2021 4:22 PM

My father gave me a Lionel 027 2-6-2 train set for my 8th Christmas and I was hooked on trains.  My father and an older cousin built a full basement layout for me.  We moved to El Paso Tx into a house without a basement 4 years later witch dinged my Lionel trains.

Two years later as a teen I bought my first HO locomotive, an MDC 0-6-0 kit. I built an around the room layout in a room behind the garage.  That was in 1951 and I’ve been modeling HO ever since.  I fell in love with the trains of the early to mid 1950s so that is the era I model in both steam and diesel.
 

Mel


 
My Model Railroad   
http://melvineperry.blogspot.com/
 
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Turned 84 in July, aging is definitely not for wimps.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, November 21, 2021 4:27 PM

Shock Control
"Did the Railroads/Cars You Had as a Kid Influence Your Future Directions in Model Railroading?".

As a young child, I never had trains, other than the real ones, which were just across the street from the front of our house.

Wayne

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Posted by Southgate on Sunday, November 21, 2021 4:31 PM

No. I was unjustly deprived of the electric train I so richly deserved as a child. Or so I thought, anyway.

My folks knew my little brother and I were too rough on the toys, a train set wouldn't have lasted long.  I was about 17 when i got into it on my own. Dan

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, November 21, 2021 4:47 PM

Shock Control

...or were they a jumping off point for other railroads and other eras?

I had PRR and B&O as a kid, and I have stuck with these ever since. 

There are some cars from my childhood that I absolutely adore, for example, the Athearn Minneapolis St. Louis boxcar, modeled in a color someplace between salmon and melon, that no other company has replicated, that I've seen.  (No idea i the color is prototypically accurate or not.). Also love the yellow MKT livestock car from Athearn.  

I am also obsessed with F units and USRA 0-6-0s with the sloped tender.  

 

Well I have been active in this hobby since age 10 or so, but no my current modeling theme was adopted about 40 years ago when I was a young adult.

When I was young I modeled the late 60's, I did model the B&O.

Today I model the early 50's, a time before I was born. I freelance/protolance my ATLANTIC CENTRAL and have interchange with the B&O, C&O and WESTERN MARYLAND. It is September 1954 here.

So there is only a small connection to my childhood modeling.

I worked in a hobby shop by age 14, I managed the train department in one by age 18, I was a member of a well established club that has been in MR at age 15.

So I did not have "toy trains" as a child, never had LIONEL or a cheap HO set. My father got me started by building a serious 5 x 18 layout for me.

By age 15 I was buiilding wood freight car kits and Mantua locomotive kits, and doing the repairs at the hobby shop. By age 16 I was building a new larger layout on my own with hand layed track, open grid benchwork and hard shell scenery.

So today I don't model the toys of my youth or the prototypes of my youth, I model this region where I was born and have lived my whole life, but I model it in a time three years before my birth...... with the freelancing thrown in.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Shock Control on Sunday, November 21, 2021 6:19 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
... So today I don't model the toys of my youth or the prototypes of my youth, I model this region where I was born and have lived my whole life, but I model it in a time three years before my birth...... with the freelancing thrown in.

Sheldon 

The protoypes of the models I had as a kid predated my time on the planet.  I never connected with contemporaneous trains that were around as I was growing up.  I always leaned toward the 1940s, 50s and very early 1960s.  

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Sunday, November 21, 2021 6:29 PM

When I was 5 my house backed up to the SP main. I've always liked SP and that may be why. I never had model trains as a kid. I started in my 50's.

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by Paul3 on Sunday, November 21, 2021 9:06 PM

Yes, indeed!  The model trains of my youth have brought me to where I am today, both in the hobby and in life.

My father is a model railroader, and I grew up with HO trains in my basement.  He had a set of Rivarossi heavyweight cars painted in the black and orange stripe scheme of the New Haven Railroad.  As these were expensive cars (compared to the rest of my dad's fleet), I was told I was not to play with them.  Of course, I did anyways, just in secret.  I was much surprised to learn later that the New Haven wasn't just some random railroad with a cool paint job, but had in fact run right next to my house for ~100 years.  I wanted to know more and we happened to see the New Haven Railroad Historical & Technical Association at the next train show we attended.  My father and I have been NHRHTA members ever since.

Fast forward 30 years, I am now the editor of the NHRHTA's SpeedWitch magazine and the guy that digitally puts together their quarterly Shoreliner magazine.  I am the "boss" of the NHRHTA's train show crew and I'm the moderator of the NHRHTA Facebook group.

Because of my contacts in the NHRHTA, I got into nitpicking NH models for various companies and helping these companies "get it right" for the NH.  I've worked with Athearn, BLI, Atlas, Walthers, etc., and especially Rapido.  I guess I made a big enough impression with Jason Shron that in January this year he hired me to work for him part time at Rapido as a nitpicker on other model railroad products (not just NH models).

All because my mother bought my father a bunch of Rivarossi NH passenger cars and they told me not to play with them.  Whistling  Funny how life goes...

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Posted by PRR8259 on Sunday, November 21, 2021 9:32 PM

Yes.

I loved those freight cars, and the paint schemes they offered, or a few they did not offer, occupied my dreams.

I have tried to "modernize" to today's railroads but can never really accept wide cabs, and I have at various times attempted to backdate to the steam/transition era.  However, I still want Alco Century diesels and the colorful 60'/70's boxcars more than anything else.

For me it all goes back to the Mantua-Tyco freight trainset of the late sixties that had a C-430 in the Santa Fe red/silver paint scheme very close to the one actually applied to Santa Fe's U28CG units.  In hindsight, I've never really left the 1970's.  It's those paint schemes I'm buying on freight cars (and a few of the modern "survivor" Alco Century paint schemes).

Santa Fe "Shock Control" Indian Red, ICG orange with the I-Ball logo, UP yellow/silver and still others live on for me on the layout, just on more modern models, but I have those models because I once had the Tyco models.

I kept one still operable Mantua-Tyco trolley, to remember my youth...but at 53 I'm still very much the kid playing with those trains...just nicer models or perhaps models that they actually didn't get around to making, but that we saw in real life back then.

My Dad was great and we had a lot of fun with those old trains.

John

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Posted by HO-Velo on Monday, November 22, 2021 12:10 AM

Never owned any trains as a kid.  My Pops, a machinist by trade, set-up his Marx O scale train around the Christmas tree every year.  Our house in Albany was literally a stones throw from the S.P. mainline, so there was always plenty of train sounds.

Pops good friend, a policeman, had Lionel passenger trains that actually ran thru the walls of his house and into the living room, his wife was a very special lady.

If there was something that lit my candle towards being a future model railroader it was Pops taking my brother and I to a couple open houses put on by the East Bay Model Engineers Society.  The entry to the club's digs on Halleck St. in Emeryville was thru a full size caboose facade, where was sported both an O and HO layout.  Some experiences are indelible, and for me, seeing those epic layouts at such an impressionable age certainly qualify.

Thanks and regards, Peter 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Monday, November 22, 2021 1:21 AM

No, for obvious reasons...

Hornby clockwork. by Bear, on Flickr

Smile, Wink & Grin

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by Track fiddler on Monday, November 22, 2021 2:59 AM

Funny you should ask. 

I've spent the last three years replacing the old Bachmann train set my Grandfather gave me for my 11th birthday, one piece at a time.

Finally my childhood train set is complete again.  Most of these are brand new old stock and the other two are in excellent condition.  I plan to have toy train day on my layout once and a whileLaugh

I like those Minneapolis and St. Louis's too.  Minneapolis Northfield and Southern as well.

I have some more Minnesota rolling stock around here somewhere.

It Isn't so much the cars I had when I was a kid influencing my modeling today.  It's the cars I saw in the area.  It was a rare treat to see the old Great Northern and Northern Pacific boxcars amongst the Green Machines and I sure do like them.

Here's a few of em.  I keep them in totes like I kept my Matchbox and Hot Wheels when I was a kidLaugh

It's high time I quit this carried away buying of micro trains rolling stock as my demand for steel wheels keeps growing largerWhistling

 

 

 

TF

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Posted by NorthBrit on Monday, November 22, 2021 6:01 AM

I am in the same camp as Bear with a  Hornby  clockwork train set.  Mine was a bit older.   The locomotive was London & North Eastern 'apple green'.   Happy days.  Yeah

 

David

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, November 22, 2021 7:25 AM

Shock Control
...or were they a jumping off point for other railroads and other eras?

Yes.

Model RRing has come and gone in and out my life manytimes, while growing up, and continued doing so in my adults years.

My current layout is from the last "growth spurt" that started up again in 2009.

Mike.

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Monday, November 22, 2021 7:48 AM

Since my 1st train set (O-scale steamer with 4 cars and circle track), my favorite freight rolling stock has always been box cars. My 2nd train set was S-scale  and, again, I was always attracted to box cars. Hence, my preference for modeling businesses that utilized them back in the 1960's-70's.

Looking out of my parents' bedroom window (as a rugrat) I had no idea that I was looking at NH (later PC) freight trains.  Just knew that I enjoyed looking at the colorful rolling boxes in those slow moving trains being hauled by orange & white striped "Locomotoras" as my Dad called them (EF-4's as per Paul III Wink )

I'm re-doing my shelf layout and, on the freight side, I plan on having at least 2 businesses that utilize 3 to 4  forty and fifty-foot boxcars at a time. Of course, passenger trains made me go "ga-ga", but I didn't have any passenger car models until I was about 8.

 (photo Credit: Ben Fiorello)

 

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, November 22, 2021 8:25 AM

Yes but in the same opposite way as others have said.

My first "model train" was a tinplate clockwork OO scale Hornby. My second was a "much more realistic" electric OO scale Hornby tank goods train set. My third was my first HO scale North American CN freight train set by Triang, with British hook and loop couplers no less. Then much later in my teenage years I went to a real model train store to sell my Triang set, which had a market much to my surprise. There I saw a real model locomotive, same as the F7 in my Triang set. Blew the entire sales proceeds plus another $15 on just the one Athearn Blue Box F7, undecorated.

That experience hooked me on real model railroading which I only recently had enough time for. Finally finished the F7 last year, for the nostalgia. While finally painting and decorating that model I  found out that my chosen railroad never owned one....

Well they do now, complete with a fanciful back story.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by CNCharlie on Monday, November 22, 2021 8:28 AM

My first train was an Athearn F7 HiFi drive in Burlington livery. My parents bought it for my 10th bithday in 1957. I still have it but that is the only Burlington loco I've ever had. I was a CN fan then but nothing was available for CN . I was attracted to CN as I could access the CN mainline with my bike,CN ran the line to the resort town where I spent summers and my grandfather was with CN police.

CN Charlie

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 1:08 PM

My toy train set in the 1960s was American Flyer S: a 4-4-0, GN boxcar, Monon gondola, and red caboose running on scale-type sectional track (not sure who made it, but similar to Atlas HO snap-track.) I do still have most of the stuff.

I don't know how much it influenced what I do now. I grew up across the street from a real railroad, and their first-generation diesels probably influenced me more than the AF did. Although, now that I think of it, one of my last purchases was an HO Spectrum 4-4-0....Huh?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dc7Fh66khs

Stix
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Posted by YoHo1975 on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 2:03 PM

My First train set was my mom's American Flyer 4-8-4 set. Aside from making me love big steam, it really didn't influence my modelling preferences. My first scale trainset was The Bachmann Zenith Electronics set. My dad worked for Zenith for 50 years. Aside from being Diesel (U36B) and me putting the shell on an athearn chassis, there really wasn't much influence. I think it was mostly The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's layout that influenced me. During the 80s, it was o-Scale with Yellow and blue warbonnet sd40-2s as the main power and that just stuck with me. So Santa Fe became my go to going forward.

When I moved out west, that expanded to all western railroads, but funny enough, I also now have more interest in Soo and C&NW, the 2 railroads in my Chicago Suburb growing up.

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Posted by Ulrich on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 2:45 PM

My parents got me a Triang train set when I was eight or nine years old. At the time I considered it to be super prototypical.. it consisted of of a CP Rail F7 and CP Rail painted rolling stock. It got me started in the hobby.. next purchase was an undecorated Athearn GP35 for which I bought CP Rail decals separately. My plan was to paint and letter the unit. 

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Posted by cv_acr on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 3:45 PM

My first train set was an IHC set with a blue and yellow Santa Fe SD40-2 and matching red caboose. 2 or three other miscellaneous freight cars.

I do not model Santa Fe currently.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 4:21 PM

no.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

DrW
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Posted by DrW on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 7:17 PM

No. As a kid back in Germany I had a Marklin HO layout of German prototype, built mostly by my mom, with working signals and a working catenary. All that is left from this layout are 5 locomotives in my inlaw's basement.

When building a new layout here in the US for my son (and for me, of course), we went with the railroad most associated with our current location in West Texas, the Santa Fe. Comsidering the price of European model railroad equipment (even if you buy them in Europe), selecting an US prototype will save you a lot of money.

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