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

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  • Member since
    March 2013
  • 325 posts
Posted by Colorado Ray on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 10:23 PM


My first train was a Lionel O-27 Texas Special.  My first HO models were a mishmash that included a horrible Varney or Marx (can't remember which - both bad) Monon GP-7, a PRR Mantua 4-6-2, and Athern shorty B&O streamline and heavyweight passenger cars.  

I now plan on modeling the Southern Pacific, although my second choice would have been the B&O because those passenger cars were awfully pretty.



  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 14,560 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 10:32 PM

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

I was going to say "no" until I read this sentence. Hmm... I love F units and sloped back tenders also. Maybe train sets did influence this.


Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • 695 posts
Posted by NHTX on Thursday, November 25, 2021 1:54 AM

   My American Flyer tinplate made me want something that looked more like the prototype.  This led me to HO and, the rest is history.  Now my aim is to replicate that which I photographed in the pre-wide nosed, non-ditchlit, caboose on every train, 1980s.

  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 5,501 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, November 27, 2021 8:57 PM

I inherited my brother's Lionel O gauge in the late 1950s.  I built it up considerably until the mid 1960s when I saw HOn3, and sold my Lionel.  But I was soon off to college and didn't get back into trains until I had my own house in the mid 1970s.  I bought some HO just to get started quickly, but within a few years I was lured back into O gauge by Atlas O.  However, it seemed I couldn't find Atlas in my local hobby shops anymore, and interest lagged while I tried to figure out how to keep water out of my basement.  By about 2000 I solved the wet basement problem, and everyone was coming out with O gauge.  I did buy some new Atlas O and MTH cars to replicate some of what I had in Lionel, although in closer to scale.  I also bought some of what I never had, but always wanted, like a NH EP-5.  Nevertheless, 2 rail O gauge seemed a hard pull out in the boondocks where I live.  Then along came the seemingly perfect compromise, On30.  It was O scale, it was narrow gauge, and it was on universally available HO track.  I'll keep my 4'x8' table with my 3 rail O gauge nostalgia set-up, and then I can go ahead and build my dream layout in On30.

  • Member since
    August 2008
  • 36 posts
Posted by deckroid on Saturday, November 27, 2021 9:20 PM

In 1978, my grandmother got me the Tyco Chattanooga Choo-Choo set. I loved that set. I still do, to this day. It was my first train and my first layout the following year when my parents got me a sheet of plywood. I was 10 and didn't know what I was doing, but in some ways that silly sheet of plywood and that horribly, wonderful engine dictates to me today what a layout is and should always be: It Is Your World. 

I had my ho scale slot car track on the same sheet of wood, complete with the jumping the train tracks.

I can still smell the smoke from the engine! I still have the engine, most of the cars, caboose and controller.  Fun fact, the controller I have used to power lights and other things on other layouts I have had. 

To this day, I still think steam engines on a layout need to puff smoke as it chugs along.


  • Member since
    November 2007
  • From: California
  • 1,841 posts
Posted by HO-Velo on Saturday, November 27, 2021 10:02 PM

In 1978, my grandmother got me the Tyco Chattanooga Choo-Choo set. I loved that set. I still do, to this day.

Deckroid,  I think it very cool that you still have some of the train-set your grandmother gifted you, and the transformer still in service.  Call me sentimental, but often wish I had but just one piece from my late Pop's long, long gone old Marx O scale train-set.  Remembering the joyful parts of the past are one thing, but touching it is a whole lot better.  Thanks & regards, Peter

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Heart of Georgia
  • 4,646 posts
Posted by Doughless on Sunday, November 28, 2021 7:43 PM

My first train set was a TYCO at age 8.  Shorted out in 2 days.  Next train set at age 10 worked well, but I quickly realized that the trucks and truck mounted couplers stunk, and the AHM GP18 was a poor runner.

About age 12 I got my first Athearn Blue Box kit.  At $1.98 from Millers Appliance in Grand Island Nebraska, it was twice as expensive as the AHM and TYCO cars I could get from Woolco's.

Easy for a 12 year old to build, and it was way higher quality rolling and coupling.  It was a 40 foot boxcar, the red and black with large white Santa Fe Shock Control logo.  Fantastic.

Got an Athearn BB F7 "supergeared" in UP paint.  Fantastic loco.  Its the only BB loco that I still have after about 45 years of ownership.

At age 12 to 14, I got onto to quality and never looked back.  With the exception of the crude details by today's standards, the quality of running and operation still stands the test of time. 

- Douglas

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