Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Train Story.. Day 1 and 2

With the house settled, we finally have room for things we haven't in the past. That includes something I grew up with a kid, as well as my father.. a train garden. I'll try to log some history here on the blog as it progresses. These posts will be tagged with 'Trains' (see right panel on page)

My father had Lionel O Gauge trains as a kid that he and his family would put up every Christmas Eve. When I was a kid, we had HO gauge trains that we'd setup each season and each year a fun part of Christmas was gifts to expand the set. My father had younger brothers, and his trains stayed with his father when my father moved out of the house. At that time, they were living in Baltimore City, but since then moved to Reisterstown after my father left for College.

When my Grandmother died, and my Grandfather was looking to sell their house and move back into the city, the family pitched in and cleaned up and out the house they had been living in for the last approx 25 years. My father saved the trains which had been in storage in the basement and moved them into storage at his house. At that time, I got a peek at the trains, but it wasn't the time for them and they went back into their boxes.

Skip ahead to current time.. I had been telling my kids about the trains and they had started to show interest, asking all kinds of questions. They had seen some train gardens at various Christmas-time exhibits and were showing a real curiosity. So we discussed pulling out the old train sets and possibly setting them up in the new house. For Christmas, my father got them a starter Lionel set styled to Harry Potter. We set those up under the tree as soon as we got home. The thing about these trains tho is they are EXPENSIVE and pretty delicate. With my kids all 10 and under, I really worry about them breaking the details on the cars. So thinking my HO trains may be more tolerable to their play.. I pushed ahead with gathering up the trains from storage to complement their new Lionel set.

At Christmas, we pulled the train boxes from deep storage at my father's house and did a quick inspection of his O Gauge pieces. The trains actually started with my uncle who is 9 years older then my father. We don't know when their collection started, but conversation with my uncle at Christmas makes us think the collection started about 1950. Most of the trains are still in original Lionel boxes. With no space to take them Christmas day, we decided to come back another day just to take the trains themselves.

On New Years Eve, I drove down to my fathers to retrieve the boxes from storage. Included was the 8x4 platform we built when I was a kid to put the trains on. We had a smaller platform we'd put under the tree when I was very little, but as we got older, we built a 'proper' platform straight from the Atlas train guides. This had been in storage at my fathers house since (including a move!). We fit the platform in my minivan (ha.. can your SUV do that??) and loaded up the train boxes.
Today I managed to set the platform up as a starting point.. mainly to have a work surface. The O Gauge trains are 50 years old, and haven't been used since sometime around 1968-1970 or so...sitting in basement storage since then. I plan on trying to revitalize the Lionel pieces as much as possible to make them usable by my kids. The HO sets I had will serve as good fodder for their need to crash/bang more :)
Today as an easy starter step.. I started with my Tyco US-1 Trucking slot car sets. These are slot car sets themed to construction/highway things. I think these sets were from when I was probably 9-13 years old or so. They had action pieces, including a gravel hopper that dumped into the truck, an operating crane that loaded pipe sections into a dump truck, and a Firehouse that included a switching track and a fire truck with working lights and bell.

I pulled them out, setup a basic track, and tried them out. Initial signs were pretty gloom with the various cars just barely showing signs of life. But after some warm up and coaxing.. they were flying around the track. After a bit of tweaking and cleaning, we had all the action pieces working, and all cars flying. The kids loved playing with the action pieces. So Day 1 (yesterday)... we successfully loaded and hauled all the gear to my house. Day 2, we successfully got the platform up, and got the slot trucks out for a warm up exercise.
All the photos are at picasa.. the gallery is here
Some teaser shots..
From A train story
From A train story
From A train story

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