I have been getting your excellent newsletter for a couple of years and really enjoyed it for the information and joy of seeing other model railroader’s ideas and layouts. So here goes my story.
I started in model railroading when I was around 13 years old. (That was 60 years ago)
My dad bought the traditional Lionel set that we set up in our basement. We had an engine with smoke from little pellets, a milk car that automatically spit out cans and a cattle car with moving cattle in and out of the car. How could it be any better than this?
After couple years, my dad’s good friend asked him if he would like to trade our Lionel trains for HO gauge trains and accessories. We did and my connection to real model railroading began. No offense to Lionel train collectors, but I never understood how the third rail was realistic.
This trade included a set of Marklin, engines and freight and passenger cars. (I sold those years ago).
An A C Gilbert HO engine (still own) and cars, track, power pack and buildings.
I then put together my first layout around 14 years old in our basement. I had no idea what I was doing but I started to read Model Railroader magazine to get some ideas. After some time, I think girls got in the way and I put the model trains away in storage.
So over the years, living in apartments and moving a lot, still having an ongoing interest, I began to purchase HO model train engines, cars and accessories when they went on sale for anticipated use in the future. I knew someday I would begin the hobby again and I did have plans and a vision in mind.
In the late 80s, I moved to London with The Franklin Mint and my wife said “you need a hobby”.
So I decided to start again my long inactive hobby with all British 00 gauge since all my American HO trains were still in storage in United States.
Again, I started another layout with all Peco track, Hornby, Wrenn, Lima wagons and engines. I constructed buildings, hand painted figures, including a whole cricket team. Ironically, all of the structures were fabricated 30 years ago while living in England and carried them to all locations.
My London OO gauge layout after many years of dreaming of this day.
Plus, a traditional British double-decker bus which I assembled and painted with over 40 pieces of cast metal. An Anbrico kit 19AEC Mk III Weymann.
After couple years in England, we moved to Toronto, Canada as President of The Franklin Mint, and started another layout. After three years I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and started from scratch again.
I completed the layout with mountains, multi-levels and never really finished it because I then sold it to a friend, before I moved to Tampa, Florida, in 2000.
In 2005, I started again. As you could see I put together substructure in my garage in pieces moved to the second floor and put it together.
I took them out of the boxes from storage. All of the assembled structures, trees, engines, wagons and track and points were bought over 30 years ago in England.
On the layout, I began to build mountains, with high detail and try to characterize the chalk mountains that I had experienced in England. Even now, I have many boxes of American trains which I am now selling on eBay.
I continued with my 00 gauge with everything British and a small town, of course with a cricket pitch with all players are hand painted. My plan in the future is to have a High Street area.
After many years, I finally got my act together to making trees, constructing a new layout, new houses, stations, etc. streets, and lighting.
Speaking of lighting…I became so frustrated with the process of lighting structures and street lamps that did not work consistently, sometimes there was a connection then they would go out, very unreliable.
I started using terminal blocks for connectors, then Quick Splice Wire Terminals &Male Spade Wire Connectors and then finally Wire splice connectors Quick Solder less T Tap Connectors that work flawlessly. Success at last, after many tries and many years. (See below)
I created a bead board overpass consisting of 3 parts and put it together simulating stone with my hot wire cutter. This stone over pass was needed to have an access to my future High Street area.
I am now in the process of rewiring the entire layout from 5 blocks with excessive wiring to DCC. I have sold my 5 DC engines and acquired a Hornby A4 Class 4468 “Mallard” with TTS sound.DCC engines and a Prodigy Express DCC controller.
Building Phase 2 with a new mountain, yard and a High Street.
A huge thanks to Joe – really enjoyed his narrative.
It’s funny how this hobby never really leaves you. You may take a break for 40 years or so, but it always comes back. And I’m thankful for that because I do love reading your tips, stories and adventures.
Please do keep ’em coming folks.
That’s all for today.
Don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if today is the day you pick it back up.