A Railroad with Relevance

Grab a Tissue, You’re Going to Need It

Written By: Alan - Jun• 25•10

Few things can compare to having a wife that truly loves you. I am blessed so. This whole model train thing began as a Christmas present from my wife. Had a casual observer been present at our house on Christmas morning the big box under the tree must have seemed like a rather childish gift for a grown man. But for me it was anything but. I have spent my whole adult life with this woman and she knows everything about me including how fascinated I am by trains be they real or model. She knew exactly what she was doing when she pulled the Lionel train set from the store shelf. She wasn’t buying a train set, she was saying I know you and I love you. I hope everyone that reads this is as fortunate as I am to have someone in your life that can say those two statements together the way my wife does to me.

After I gathered my composure Christmas morning I realized that before me was not a toy train going around and around in circles but rather a wife blessed opportunity to do something that as a kid I had only dreamed of. To build a model train layout worthy of a feature article in the likes of Model Railroader magazine. It was her way of saying enjoy yourself, enjoy life, be a kid again, have fun. It was a message I didn’t need have repeated. My subscription card was in the mail to Model Railroader magazine practically the following day! I am on my way to building one down right impressive model railroad (hopefully). One that only a 12 year old boy dare dream of.

Model railroading in one aspect is like any interest. The more you know about something the more technical you become. To the average person my Christmas present was a toy train. Oh, look at that, it even has a whistle. To a somewhat train savvy person it is an O gauge Lionel steam engine, cars and a caboose. To a model railroader it is a model 655-1325 Santa Fe O-27 Baldwin locomotive 2-4-2 pulling a mixed freight that includes a Pullman Standard box car mounted on 33″ fully sprung AAR trucks with automatic knuckle couplers circa 1907-1912. Get my point? Your knowledge of something influences what you see when you look at it. Your knowledge of something also affects your decision making process as well.

Model trains come in a variety of scales. The popular scales are G, O, S, HO, N, and Z. There are more but these are the most common. G scale are the huge models people build outdoor garden railroads with, O scale is the original Lionel style train that started the hobby way back when, S scale is 1/64th the same as the popular Hot Wheels cars, HO is 1/87th scale and likely the most popular scale for model railroading, N scale is roughly 1/2 the size of HO and while widely used by serious model railroaders are just too small for someone with shaky hands and failing eyesight – old guys like me :), and finally Z scale which defy imagination with how small yet realistic they are.

HO scale is the most popular because it is the largest scale that permits a reasonably realistic layout to be constructed in the typical amount of space a model railroad can occupy in their house. Because of HO’s popularity if follows there is an abundance of products available affording the model railroader the opportunity to build just about any layout he desires. The right trains, buildings, electrical, and all imaginable accessories are available in HO. HO is also where my childhood experience lay. HO is the logical choice for my situation. Knowledge of model railroading has directed my scale selection decision process. HO it will be. Except, I have an O scale train with tremendous emotional value sitting in front of me.

Eureka moment! My O scale Christmas present will run around the perimeter of the train room on a narrow shelf suspended a dozen or so inches from the ceiling above my HO layout below. Perfect solution. Each time I look up at the the Lionel steamer chuffing along I will be reminded of how this all began and how lucky I am to be married to the person I am. Looking down I will see my HO layout that hopefully when completed will be worthy of any serious model railroader’s attention. This is going to work out great. Still, there was something missing.

If you have read the earlier posts you know the focal point of my layout will be the AC&Y railroad in Akron OH. AC&Y equipment everywhere. AC&Y this, AC&Y that. With so much stuff adorned with the AC&Y markings there will be do doubt what railroad has been modeled here. But when you look up you see a Santa Fe train. What’s up with that? The Santa Fe railroad had absolutely nothing to do with the AC&Y. They were even on opposite sides of the country. While the emotional connection for me was there regardless of the road name on the locomotive, I needed something that would physically tie the two trains together.

That solution has arrived. Witness the linking object. A Lionel O scale AC&Y box car.

While the Santa Fe and AC&Y rails may never have crossed they certainly pulled each others freight cars from time to time. The picture is now complete. Even someone clueless of the real reason why there is an O scale train running around above an HO train the connection is there.

Thank you Darling for starting me on this adventure.


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  1. Rex Beistle says:

    Indeed, “Few things can compare to having a wife that truly loves you. I am blessed so.” What a great statement! Many would not have what it takes to say that about their wife.

    My wife goes with me to the Museum and works on her quilting and needlework while I work on the model railroad in the basement. We are both blessed!

  2. Alan says:

    Imagine what a world if everyone were so lucky. I am happy for you Rex.

  3. I always spent my half аn hour to read this web sitе’s posts all the time along with a mug of coffee.

    Feel free to surf to my weblog – Model train set

  4. Rob says:

    Alan it sounds as though you are very fortunate indeed. I understand how fortunate you are as I am similarly blessed with a very understanding wife. My favorite comment from her after seeing the club layout for the first time was now I see why you need so much room for this. We live in Texas so generally no basements, so when considering house plans for a new house sometime in the future, we need to find a plan with a second floor for your trains that way you can still be in the house.

  5. nicky smith says:

    i nicky smith would like to buy the santa fe freight lionel train set

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