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Author Topic: Why do we collect Trains.  (Read 1195 times)
Warflight

I'll be your Huckle Bearer...


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« on: March 14, 2017, 05:00:45 PM »

I felt the desire to share here, as well as ask other folks, why they collect as well.

What got you into the hobby?

A bit about myself (this gets a bit personal, and long winded)

Back when I was a child, the holiday season was closely associated with trains for me. My only surviving grandfather, who was a Christian (I'm Jewish, but still love the Christmas season) would come visit every year around Christmas time, and he always brought along a train set to give to me. He knew I loved trains from an early age (The Mattel wooden "Putt Putt" trains, and a battery operated HO scale "Green Giant" train were my first ever train sets when I was 5... the Green Giant train, for those who may have seen it, housed batteries in the controller, made to look like a train station, and hooked into an HO track, that went together a bit like Lionel O track, but with a look that looks like our modern HO track)

So he would come over to visit, bringing a new train set, a 4x8 piece of plywood, some nails, and a jeweler's hammer, and he would nail down the track, and set up the train, and tell me "Happy Chrisnakkah", because he always had a joke to tell... and these trains, and nailed down track, became an ingrained fond memory for me.

Flash forward... to my 20s.

I was newly married, highly stressed, and kept running across these adverts for "Franklin Mint HO Pewter Trains"... they were hundreds of dollars each, they offered a new one each month, starting with the John Bull, and had a shelf to display them on, and worst of all, they were solid "fine pewter" (because if you put "fine" before a turd, it somehow polishes it) so they didn't run, nor would they ever.

I looked at those, appalled at the price, but FASCINATED with these small trains pictured, and remembering those holidays of my youth, when my grandfather was still around, and noticed a Bachmann John Bull at the toy store I was working at, and thought to myself "I can do better than that!"

My plan, collect the trains I thought were cool, or historically important, build a copy of the shelf from Franklin Mint, only with track on each shelf to display the trains on, and build a simple layout, so I could run them whenever I wanted!

So, the John Bull was out of my price range, however, I found a "Tyco Royal Blue" 2-8-0, with real smoke action as just the engine and tender. (the tender pushed the train, and well... poor design, but it still got me excited!) They I found a few cheap engines, and a Bachmann Gandy Dancer (I had to have that) and then, at a garage sell, I found a BIG box of trains for $10! Mostly Lionels from the 50s, about 20 of them, but a;so a bunch of HO, including a complete "Army" train from... COX? Maybe?

I started my layout (I bought a LOT of books, and paid attention to none of them, because I was 20, and already knew everything, and YOU'RE NOT MY MOM!)

*ahem*

But, tragedy hit... my ex and I had some issues, she would take anything not nailed down, and sell it at pawn shops while I was at work, and eventually, I simply lost interest, because I knew I would never have the collection I would want. I boxed up a few of the trains she didn't (or couldn't) sell, like the Royal Blue (which she busted the front off of) my Gandy Dancer, the military train, and a few small steam switchers, and I stored them, and have taken them with me for every move, never to be touched again...

That was it. The hobby was over for me.

So it was, and life continued... I went from retail, to aerospace, to gun smithing, to entertainment, to truck driving, to entertainment again, and eventually to photography... and from hobby to hobby, from firearms, to black powder restoration, to action figures of my youth, to Renaissance Faires, to SCA, to historical reenactments, to costuming, to sci-fi/fantasy conventions, to restoring old Victor Talking Machines to... well... wandering.

So, in 2004, I finally divorced... and took up a new hobby... brewing, distilling, and, of course drinking. Quite a bit of drinking, actually... we're talking, living in San Diego, and out-drinking Sailors, AND Marines, which... is nothing to be proud of, to be honest.

All the while, however... any time I saw a train set... of any scale, there was this... longing... remembering my childhood... remembering simpler times... remembering trying to get into this hobby in my 20s.

So a couple of months ago, I realized something... I was spending close to $300 a month on alcohol. I was drinking only on days that ended with a "y", and doing photo shoots that I had no memory of doing, singing songs I had no memory of writing (and we're talking FILTHY pirate songs) and waking up in strange places, not quite sure how I got there, but, feeling guilty every time (if not a bit hung over) I was even in the hospital, twice (unrelated to alcohol, probably... but... just told last week I'm diabetic... so... maybe related? That, or it runs in the family)

So a few months ago, I was listening to CW McCall's "The Silverton" (a fav of mine... I remember riding the Silverton when I was a child) and for wnatever reason, my Amazon showed me a Silverton train set by Bachmann!

Wow! They made that train? I put it in my wish list, and every month, I'd look at it, and say "maybe... someday..." and have a toast to the thought (to be fair, I wasn't drinking alone... there WAS a cat with me, staring at me with judgement)

So in December, I was watching some James May's Toy Story, and the great Hornby race, and was amused, before seeing a BBC show on the history of model railroads in UK. (The holidays are all about toy, and model trains on the BBC)

Well, those holiday shows were... inspiring. So, I looked up "John Bull" to see if it was still around... and it was! Right there on Amazon, on Bachmann's Amazon store page!

So, I saved it to my wish list, and kept thinking about it, and the Silverton... while nursing a hangover, and having roommates tell me all about the night before, when I was so drunk, I was running around in 1890s British Explorer's costuming, complete with a pith helmet, and a blunderbuss!

I realized... I had no memory of that... so I started looking at my budget, and seeing what I was spending on drink, and realizing that it wasn't even fun for me any more. Drinking became my Roger Murtaugh moment (Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon... I was just getting too old for that s██t)

So I made a vow. My alcohol money is NOW train money, and I committed to it by starting my new collection... I bought that John Bull set. Then I hunted down the Pegasus, the Lafayette, The Prussia... all new sets (except The Prussia... it's from 1986) and finally the DeWitt Clinton.

I built a nice shelf to display them on, on one of my bookshelves... set up track every so often (no layout yet) to run them... and having touched a drop of alcohol in two months... and haven't even had a desire to. Trains are the new obsession now!

So, I started asking myself... why didn't I do this before? These engines are great! Ooh, what's that on eBay? I remember those engines from the 80s! Ooh, a Spectrum 4-4-0 "Southern" in a beautiful green, and some matching Mantua combines, and passenger cars? Bachmann has a Blacksmith car, that I don't have to put together??? IT'S LIKE A BEAUTIFUL DREAM!

So here I am. My first ever DCC equipped Spectrum train came in the mail yesterday. I just discovered EZ Mate couplers, and wondered why I was ever impressed with horn hooks as a child...

My health is improving.

My conversational skills tend to toss a rail reference or two somewhere...

I have brought back, a hobby I loved, and remembered why I loved it so much, and why leaving it all those years ago was such a big mistake.

So there you have it... my tale of woe, and redemption... My tale of a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets my hour upon the stage, but then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing... save to say...

This is why I collect. This is what got me into this hobby. I have Bachmann to thank... and the friendly, helpful people here on this board, willing to entertain my questions, and the folks at the local hobby shop, willing to lend an ear, give advice, and never judge my buying choices, just so long as the money is good!

We call it "The Greatest Hobby in the World", and that isn't far off at all.

Anyway, thank you for your time, and please... share your experiences! What got you started?

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Nathan

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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2017, 05:07:53 PM »

Just remember the old saying:

He who dies with the most trains wins!

Nathan
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Warflight

I'll be your Huckle Bearer...


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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2017, 05:42:22 PM »

Just remember the old saying:

He who dies with the most trains wins!


INDEED!
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Piyer


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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2017, 06:09:46 PM »

Just remember the old saying:

He who dies with the most trains wins!

Nathan

He who dies with the most trains will probably be featured on a memorial episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive.  Grin
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~AJ Kleipass~
Actively modeling in N, HO, and 2-rail O scales.
Terry Toenges


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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2017, 06:29:03 PM »

That's cool how it all came to be. I watch Lethal Weapon also. One of my favorites. That and Training Day.
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If an angel came to see you, would you make her feel at home?
jbrock27

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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2017, 07:07:29 PM »

He who dies with the most trains will probably be featured on a memorial episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive.  Grin

Agree, LOL  Smiley

Gotta say War Thunder, that is a pretty sad story, all in all. Cry  What the heck took you so long to get divorced?!? Roll Eyes

I don't collect trains and train stuff, but do enjoying running them. 

I like building my layout, custom cutting track; I like to buy locos that need some work and I can then get them to run great.  I like to renovate freight cars I have from when I was a kid, tossing talgo trucks and horn hook couplers for knuckle couplers and better trucks and wheel-sets, adding weight to them, weathering and building kits and getting them all to run right.  I also like to change out bulbs for LEDs and like the electrical work associated with the hobby.  Enjoy soldering and the doors that opens.

What got me into it was getting a cruddy AHM set when I was 5, for Christmas. 

I like the sound of the trains and cars when running and like the look too.  It is not an obsession for me but an opportunity to escape from real life and a provides a distraction.  I believe in everything in moderation. Wink
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Keep Calm and Carry On
Warflight

I'll be your Huckle Bearer...


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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2017, 10:55:14 PM »

I just took photos of my entire collection tonight... it's a small collection, but, I made it look like a lot more.

Is there a place in the forums for posting photos of our trains?
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Terry Toenges


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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2017, 11:46:16 PM »

I guess maybe "cool" wasn't the correct word. In reading of your past, it had me reflecting on my own and I thought it was kind of cool that someone else had done such a variety of things. I've done so many things over the years and I'm still trying to decide want I want to be when I grow up.
My first job was pin boy at a bowling alley, then worked for a carnival, sock boy, mail boy, Marine, store detective, worked at the UN in security, mushroom picker, lumberjack, manufacturing equipment operator and foreman, boat mechanic at 3 different marinas, houseman and 2 different resorts, carpenter's helper, boat dock builder, driving instructor, lawn care foreman, sold real estate, owned a wood stripping and refinishing business, a stringer for a newspaper, PR guy, counselor, and computer guy for a non-profit org, and owned two music publishing companies.
I had tech school training in boat mechanics, another tech school for auto mechanics,  20+ certificates from Marine Corps Institute courses and got a BA degree in Media Communications in 1990. I'm now retired.
My hobbies have pretty much been fast cars, traveling, and music (concerts, collecting, and listening - not playing). Now trains, my 'Vette, kids, grand kids, and great grand kids keep me occupied.
My VA shrink was pretty right on when he said I lacked a singleness of purpose in my life.  Grin
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If an angel came to see you, would you make her feel at home?
Warflight

I'll be your Huckle Bearer...


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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2017, 02:16:25 AM »

That is quite cool!
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RAM

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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2017, 10:29:53 PM »

He who dies with the most trains is dead.  Then some one who knows nothing about trains has the job of getting rid of them.  That's me.  I need to sell, give away, or junk a lot of things.  I feel like I will be around for another 50 years, but face the facts.  At soon to be 85, I know I do not have that long.  I am going to run trains as long as I can.   I talked to 2 men that were engineers on the Santa Fe.  One of them had just retired from running some of the top passenger trains in Kansas.  I as going to ask him some questions about running steam locomotives.  "Oh those steam locomotives, Its a wonder they didn't kill us all.  Well it make it a little better when they changed to oil"  No more question.  He died about a year latter.  The other man was 100 when I met him.  HE went to work as a fireman as a teenager and worked well into his mid to late 70s.  ""Oh I has an easy life"  They did the same job.  He lived to be 102.  So I guess it help to look at the bright side.
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