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Your first model train, how did you get started?


cteno4

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1 hour ago, cteno4 said:

 I remember those days when freight cars were 2-2.50, specialty freight was around $3 and passenger cars were $4-5!

 

Yeah, but man, were those dollars expensive back then!

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Yeah the hard work was like $2-3/hr! I got smarter as I got older and found things like painting toy solders and wood and metal crafts paid better! We’re a bit more creative and more fun!

 

jeff

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I would have been around 8 or 9 years old when I bought those. I got a small allowance every week - I am guessing maybe $0.25 or eventually $0.50 per week. I made some money doing chores for my grandparents or their elderly friends. I remember sometimes working what seemed like a long time to have one of these old folks finally hand over $0.10 or $0.25. Birthday and Christmas brought another small influx of cash. It seemed like it took a long time to get to $10 or $20. There was no place in my small hometown to buy any model trains, so I had to wait for the occasion - maybe 2 or 3 times per year - when we journeyed 150 miles to the "big" city (50,000 people). Then, I had to hope that there was time in my parents agenda for a stop at the toy store, so I could finally have a chance to spend my loot. I had to make a quick decision when I was finally in the store, money in hand, before my parents would become impatient to get back on the road.

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I never got an allowance, just had the basic chores that were to be done, but then there was alway a pile of things I could do extra for $$ and dad always had a boat and those always needed, scraping, sanding, painting, varnishing, washing! It got old fast and I think dad paid me a premium wage as he knew it would get old fast and I needed incentive and he needed the scraping done! 
 

I branched out to a few neighbors later when we had a house finally. One neighbor had bamboo growing on the side of their house, it became whackamole game but probably earned me a few train cars a month, but an unrelenting foe to face! She also had me polishing silver which my grandmother had taught me to do. She had several large tea and coffee sets so it was like painting on a boat, total start over once done as first set from last month is looking dull! I never noticed any difference in the silver sets, I was like 11 so they all looked the same to me, but a couple of years later her husband was arrested for being the big fence of stole goods in the area (his street name was mr big). They ran a couple of restaurants and their large garage was always full of different boxes and I just figured it was stuff for the restaurants. I was an accomplice polishing up all those silver sets for sale! That was around the time making wooden toys in the shop proved to be much more fun and lucrative and no involvement in criminal enterprises, even unknowingly (I guess except the turned wooded wheel mob I crossed paths with).

 

jeff

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My first train dates back to around 1980. Not sure when I exactly got my first own loco. But my grandpa used to build the houses with me. They where then on display in a showcase. It was east german TT gauge. One loco I used to play with was DR series 130 "Ludmilla". That I remember clearly 🙂

Second wave of "first" train was then in the mid/late 1980s Austrian H0 gauge from Kleinbahn. I even had a layout in my tiny room. It had a working overhead wire, and I was able to control 2 trains seperatly at the same time. Highlight was the overhead wire powered ÖBB series 4020 commuter train.

After that a long model train absence followed until 2012.

I made my first trip to Japan and instantly fell in love with the Shinkansen (and all the other trains).

So my third "first" train was a N gauge Shinkansen series N700 (Tomix). That marked the beginning of an obsession with Japan trains. About 9 years later I clearly passed the 1000 cars mark 🙂

 

Servus, Tibor

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Tabor,

 

Nice you were able to build those houses with your grandfather! 

 

yikes 1000 car Mark, that’s a seriously severe way to count the collection! Made my stomach turn with a quick thought to my car count...
 

jeff

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My older brother had Hornby O scale clockwork back in the 60's. I thought they were crap, all you could do was wind them up and watch them run. The locos weren't very realistic. When I started work around 1970 I bought a Lima N set with an Italian 2-6-4T and 3 freight wagons. It wasn't too bad, not great. Then I switched to US N scale and built my first layout, about 2m x 0.9m. I had 2 Rivarossi IHB 0-8-0's, a couple of Bachmann diesels which were cheap and ran well. The best loco was a Rivarossi SW1500, it would run at really slow speeds and cruise through points. The worst runner was a Rivarossi Fairbanks Morse C Liner 5 axle loco, the motor was mounted vertically over the leading B type bogey. When the loco hit an upgrade it would start shaking. Pickup was only on one bogey. Bachmann diesels had pickup and all wheel drive, ran reliably and a lot cheaper than other brands.

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twistrackson5

First HO:   Late 1970's. Union Pacific(Bachmann ?) with various freight cars from Tyco.

First N:  Early  1980's: ATSF tanker steam with caboose.

First quality N:  Concor/Kato Southern Crescent. A Christmas gift from an uncle.  This is where I learned about Kato and its reputation for quality.

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gavino200
2 minutes ago, twistrackson5 said:

First quality N:  Concor/Kato Southern Crescent. A Christmas gift from an uncle.  This is where I learned about Kato and its reputation for quality.

 

That's exactly how I found my way to Japanese trains too.

 

US trains -> Wow, these Kato trains are better and cheaper than the rest -> search for Kato and accidentally find a E5 Shinkansen -> Smitten, hooked, the rest is history.

Edited by gavino200
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disturbman

I’m still scarred by their scissor couplers between the Eurostar/TGV motor cars and the first cars. I’m glad they finally changed, these things were a nightmare.

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railsquid

What brought me back into model railways a few years ago was wandering into a shop in Akihabara (Hobbyland Pochi for anyone taking notes) out of curiosity while shopping for computer parts, and upon discovering the "junk" section thought it would be a nifty idea to have a car from my local line as a shelf decoration, which Mrs. Railsquid discovered and demanded to know why it couldn't move, so I acquired a Kato KOKUDEN set and controller and a bit of track and was delighted by how well it Just Worked (compared to the OO stuff I knew from the 70s/80s).

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bill937ca

I got my first train, a Tri-ang diesel when I was about twelve.  I ran it on a ping-pong table for awhile then it bit the dust. I didn't come back until after I moved out of Toronto in 2004 and invested in a couple of hobby tables. But they too bit the dust last summer and now I have two small layouts and still do a bit of modeling.

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beakaboy

I got the bug from my older brother when I was about 12yrs old and he was 17. he built a very large train table on casters in our car garage (approx 4.5m x 3m). I was the annoying younger brother who only wanted to run all his trains and play with all his diecast matchbox cars and trucks. Most of the Railway was Triang/Hornby with one early rubber band drive Athearn loco. He used flex track instead of sectional track and really nice points which appeared to be made up on a jig and were probably using code 75? rail. They were definitely around No6 or No8 radius. The problem was that the athearn ran beautifully through them , but the Triang hated them. Part of the reason he dismantled layout after a few years. The family moved to a large city when I was 16-17yrs and my 1st fulltime job was working in a mall for Woolworths variety in 1974. Turned out ,I discovered a toy shop in mall during my lunch break and they also did layby. I spotted N gauge bachmann at a reasonable price and realised it would be possible to fit more in a set area in my dad's garage. expanded from there with layby payments most weeks and also found Atlas code 80 points. Man! were they disappointing! I had built a very mountainous layout with very little protection for falls caused by derailments. most of the derailments were due to atlas points and amazingly the bachmann diesels would hit the concrete floor and have some handrail or other damage, but just keep running. Eventually met my wife and moved to our present location in a rural setting. I had carted a box of old locos and track around for some time and decided to start another small layout. We did a trip to Australia and found a hobby shop in Sydney where i spent about $120 on a new Kato GP38-2 . Most of my old locos got sold or put in rubbish bin after that. Many years later i had quite a collection of American Kato diesels and rolling stock and a complex layout in my garage with no scenery started. Realised that I had designed layout without thinking about the scenery first and so getting frustrated, I dismantled this layout and sold most of my American fleet. Dabbled in other gauges , but kept coming back to N gauge and more recently TT gauge. Trip to Japan in 1985 was the catalyst to start modelling in Japanese N gauge and of course i already had previous history with kato gear.  

John and layout late 60's_0001.jpg

John and layout late 60's_0002.jpg

first layout Akl 1975_0001.jpg

first layout Akl 1975_0002.jpg

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For my 5th birthday my parents gave me an O gauge Hornby clockwork set. It was very basic with a simple oval of track. I was probably a little young for it and I overwound the spring a few times and the loco had to be repaired.

Later, the younger of my two brothers was given an HO Triang clockwork set which was later upgraded to electric with the addition of a small electric loco and a controller. My other brother then got into the act and got a larger electric loco and coaches. Eventually they expanded the collection to include a Triang B12 4-6-0 as well and enough track to run two trains simultaneously. At first I was a little envious, but my focus then turned to chemistry.

Then in 1990 I found a job in Japan, left Sydney with a couple of suitcases and a cubic metre of books and kitchen stuff, returned in 1995 with rather more than that, including a wife and daughter. I lived and worked in a town on the Tohoku main line, watching the expresses barrel through town (some stopped), and catching trains to Utsunomiya and Tokyo and back, including Shinkansen. While there, I bought my brother a Tomix Kintetsu 21000, which he still has, although I now have many more trains than he does.

We then spent another five-year period in Japan, although that time in Kyushu. My interest in model trains became even stronger, but I had nowhere to put a layout in the house over there, so when we came back to Sydney again I began collecting those trains I had ridden or seen in both locations. And now my collection is over 20 trains and still growing...

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2 hours ago, Tanuki said:

For my 5th birthday my parents gave me an O gauge Hornby clockwork set. It was very basic with a simple oval of track. I was probably a little young for it and I overwound the spring a few times and the loco had to be repaired.

Reading Taniki, Beakaboy and other reminiscences reminds me of my first model train.  Aged 3 in 1946 (yes I am old) I was given a crude tinplate train which I loved to death!  Later a clockwork Hornby O gauge tank engine and wagons kept me amused until I got serious and started a Marklin HO 3 rail AC collection.  Beautiful as the models were they were still German looking and nothing like my local prototypes. In the early 1960's my younger brother persuaded me to sell our HO trains and explore the exciting new world of N gauge so I bought a nice looking Lima steam loco and some coaches.  Big mistake..the loco was a shocker and almost put me off model railways for life!

 

After graduating from university, starting a professional career and getting married, I tinkered with British and German N scale models trying to make them more Australian.  A new house was built to house the new children and "life" caught up with me.  The new Australian layout remained unfinished for 30 years until I retired and my wife suggested that I get rid of it. I of course replied that now I could finish it!  I started building up a collection of N scale New South Wales (Australian) rolling stock, some of it based on scratch building bodies on Japanese mechanisms.  Although I have a New South Wales layout and until COVID regularly participated in exhibitions, the turning point came when I bought a Microace C51-276 to convert into an Australian model.  The detail, finish and look of the model was so good that I could not destroy it.

 

Having holidayed in Japan five times, using the excellent rail system, visiting railway museums and discovering the delights of second hand N scale in Akihabara, I started collecting Japanese models and the rest as they say is history!  The ability to purchase excellent quality second hand locomotives on line from Yahoo Japan through Zenmarket  or new from RG-Rokko has been a boon.  The recent releases of SL's with coreless motors by Kato and Tomix have been extraordinary in their quality and value.  I have built a small Japanese rural layout which I have exhibited and am now in the process of finishing a loco depot loosely based on the one at Kyoto.  So much to do...so little time, if I keep on ranting like this.

 

Graeme    

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I gotta say this topic keeps bringing me a tear to the eye and a smile to the lips reading these as they come in..

 

jeff

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So, I'm not the only one who started out with Märklin, eh? I'm in good company then!

 

My adventures with model trains started very young with my (Dutch) grandfather who had a Märklin 2983 starter set that he would set up and run with me at least once every holidays when I went to see him in Christchurch. It had a Class 216 diesel and four goods wagons, and I thought it was the best, though being autistic and having a serious passion for trains I would have thought that of any train Opa had! Further trips from our then-home in Hamilton to my uncle in Auckland provided further exposure; my uncle had a large M-track layout in the back room behind his garage and conveniently there was also a large Märklin dealer closer in to the city, Merv Smith Hobbies.

 

Fast forward to June 2003. Opa had come up from his home in Christchurch to visit us in Hamilton where we were living at the time, and then one day built a baseboard with my father using components that I believe were purchased from Merv Smith. Then, on the evening of my tenth birthday and with my uncle present as well, Opa pulled something out. Yes, it was his train set! My uncle had also contributed some track from a 29816 set that he had brought for the train and rotary crane, and that was the genesis for my model train bug. Eventually we moved to Woodend, just outside of Christchurch in 2006, and I soon discovered the joys of firstly our national online auction site, and secondly a local Märklin store, Toottoot Models & Hobbies, in 2008. A slightly more permanent setup followed using an ex-Post Office desk and a new baseboard made with pieces of the old one; today that collection has grown exponentially following my getting a permanent job, and buying more stock and C-track off Opa when he tried (again!) to get out of model railroading in 2017. If anyone's interested, I'll ferret out some photos at another time.

 

I was always told by my parents to stick to one scale, which I always thought would be Märklin H0 - and yes, I have made a point to sticking religiously to Märklin only for my big stuff, any odds and sods handed down to me from other brands have long since departed to new homes! - until I made my first and currently only trip so far to Japan in May-June 2019. The discovery of Kato Hobby Center Kyoto and Popondetta Kyoto Æon Mall resulted in my buying some second-hand models to sit at home as a sort of desk model and remind me of my trip. Of course, who was I squidding if I thought I was going to get away with just one ED75 and three carriages... cue the purchase of a power pack and wall wart from Kato HC Kyoto, some track from Popondetta Amu Plaza Hakata and another ED75 and six wagons from Popondetta Æon Mall. And that's how that obsession began!

 

I am very fortunate that my family is very indulgent and allows me the luxury of two scales coexisting in my collection. Though there is absolutely no possibility of the Japanese N replacing my Märklin H0! As the Germans might say, ich bin ein Märklinist - I am a Märklinist, and that passion runs deep. Otherwise, why else would I have joined both the Märklin Insider Club, and the Christchurch Märklin Model Railroad Club?

 

Alastair

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Somewhere at the age of 7-8, my father offered my very first train, a Hornby HO one. It was this one (image capture of Internet below)

 

991519456_Capturedcran2022-01-20124733.thumb.jpg.b8d37e0ede48d98f2bae02ae57c24e51.jpg

 

I do not remember whether it cames with oval & controller, but I remember roughly 50 years later where I was playing with it. I must said I've played a lot with this train. 

 

Then a friend of mine was having a big permanent layout done by his father in adedicated room in their pavillion at the 2nd floor. We were playing a lot with it, and I was having Jouef & Lima HO French rolling stock (as of 11 years old if I don't mind) mixing steam & diesel.

 

 

I was also having received a Märklin steam locomotive as present from my parents and was oblied to ask for a dedicated tracks & controller to play with.This was at that time an expensive locomotive (something like 300 FRF) which I was obliged to participate with my pocket money to have it.

 

This locomotive is not working properly anymore. I did some tests ... unsuccessful. 

 

 

Capture d’écran 2022-01-20 130241.jpg

 

Later on at the age of 17, I've started to build a N layout with German rolling stock from Fleischmann / Rapido / Roco / Minitrix.  I never had time to really finish it and when my mother retired and  sold the appartement she was working in as physiotherapist, I eventually lost my layout and I decided to sell all my N German rolling stock to purchase my first serious computer, an Apple IIe. 

 

And now, I've got a Kato V11+V15+V3 I'm mounting and dismounting every time I'm playing with my Japanese trains 

Edited by JR East
add info, typos.
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Every Christmas time I call our old family friend (he’s like 90 now) that had the n scale train loop around a small xmas tree at their house (we would usually do thanksgiving and xmas day dinner with them) when I was young. I always thank him for giving me the those cigar boxes full of n scale atlas track and a pile of old freight cars and couple of locos that got me started in the hobby, and how much it’s meant to me most all my life now. I still have all the trains and track.

 

jeff

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My first set was a Hornby Station Master (something like this Hornby Station Master). Everything stored away on the platforms with the car park as the lid and footbridge as the carry handle! All a pretty neat set up despite the slightly odd colour scheme. From there I got the Eurostar set before moving on to British N before discovering the joys of Japanese Z gauge!

I've no idea what happened to my set but would love to find another...best keep an eye on ebay!

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Tonytramman

this got me into Japanese Tram modeling, never thought I would do N Gauge but this was just to tempting, damn you Kato 🙂 !

 

image.png.f6f31b418378e6abf25f7b9a0c2352aa.png

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7 hours ago, Tonytramman said:

this got me into Japanese Tram modeling, never thought I would do N Gauge but this was just to tempting, damn you Kato 🙂 !


I'm still bitter that the original Tram module concept didn't take hold with T-Trak clubs in the US, the tiny scenes look so much better with tiny trains running through them.

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47 minutes ago, Cat said:


I'm still bitter that the original Tram module concept didn't take hold with T-Trak clubs in the US, the tiny scenes look so much better with tiny trains running through them.

Agreed! That’s what Lee’s original concept was all about, but it quickly turned into trying to be n trak where folks didn’t have the room for n trak. When Ttrak layouts at National shows started getting really big and the focus became let’s set a record for the most modules, I floated the idea of instead of a mega layout how about 4 or 5 smaller more themed layouts for more operation and something the viewer could get their arms around instead of a never ending stream of tables/modules. Pretty much booed down. Focus was on size and overpowering, not scenes and drawing folks in. Folks actually said they thought overpowering the viewer was good to make a strong impression on them [headbang]. The bigger the layout the more folks would stand back. Smaller setups and scenes help make the viewer focus in more on individual modules, and tram scenes are especially good at doing this. 
 

jeff

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On 1/27/2022 at 7:45 PM, cteno4 said:

Smaller setups and scenes help make the viewer focus in more on individual modules

On the money there Jeff. 👍

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TimWay4

Turns out I thought I'd posted here but hadn't, so here goes.

Orignially I was given the Hornby World of Thomas the tank train set with Percy in it, and over the years I got given a couple of other locos. I didn't have anywhere other than carpeted floor and as it was beyond me how to set it up I relied on parents who didn't want to spend their time setting it up or taking it down or unfortunately teaching me to do it myself, so I kept the locos, but very quickly lost interest due to not being able to set up. 

 

In 2005/06 I started buying the Hornby thomas range again, but mostly didn't have a lot of money and still no space to run anything so I just kept building my collection, a few years later my partner bought me a Flying Scotsman set, which I was grateful for but bemoaned not having room to set something up. Now my partner being who she is, went away spent a while doing some research and a few years later bought me a N-gauge kato set, so I was finally able to set up something occasionally and run trains, this kicked off my new interest in trains.

 

Since then I've kept trying to claim more space to do more to actually have something semi permanent to let me run trains, in about 2012 we went to the International N gauge show in the UK and a stall there had a Kato Bullet train book set for £120 and I immediately blew ALL of my budget for the day on it and that's how my Japanese train collection started. I'm trying to focus on the Tokyo area, but it hasn't worked and I've ended up doing what I always do and buying the things I think look cool, but I've cut down on my HO/OO collecting to just very specific UK trains and now the Bachmann Thomas range.

 

I never lost my love of Thomas the tank, but as someone who was brought into the hobby via Thomas, I still feel it has an important place in still engaging kids and it's still immensly popular at our club days and it blows parents minds when they see my Tomix Thomas running around. 

 

Sorry, this got long because apprently I love a good ramble.

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