Model railroading

I’ve been a model railroader ever since my dad brought home a simple HO train set back around 1970. He didn’t want me fiddling with it, (rightfully so, since I probably damaged it within hours of its arrival at our house!) So I took all the money I had saved up and rode my bicycle down to our local hobby shop. (Back in the 70’s, we still had general hobby shops. They sold all kinds of stuff — model rockets, yarn and thread crafts, wood-burning kits, and train sets, among many other things.) I didn’t have enough money for an HO set, but I was able to afford an N-scale set! I’ve been working with N-scale ever since.

I dropped out of model railroading (and most other pastimes) during college due to lack of time and money, and I just kind of forgot about it. But a few years ago my brother-in-law started getting into model railroading, and it re-awakened my interest. I dug up my old N-scale stuff and started thinking about how I could manage to squeeze a layout into my house. N-scale models have improved vastly over the last 30 years. But even with a space-saving scale such as 1:160 (N-scale), I still couldn’t find a way to fit a model railroad layout into my house. Then I remembered about

N-TRAK is a standard that allows N-scale model railroaders to build relatively small modules (say 2′ x 4′) which can be connected to other people’s N-TRAK modules. The resulting layouts can be record-breakingly large, e.g. the Capitol Limited ’04 show last year in Chantilly, Virginia. I couldn’t find a local N-TRAK club in my area, so I put together Central Valley N-TRAK so I could start publicizing and hopefully attract some kindred spirits and start a club. (A Sacramento NTRAK club has formed, but not quite the way I expected…)

Meanwhile, we’ve moved about 30 miles up the valley into a “fixer-upper” and now I have no time (or space!) to do any model railroading. Sigh. 😐

About Jim Vanderveen

I'm a bit of a Renaissance man, with far too many hobbies for my free time! But more important than any hobby is my family. My proudest accomplishment has been raising some great kids! And somehow convincing my wife to put up with me since 1988. ;)
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3 Responses to Model railroading

  1. Reading you comment took me back 30 years. I remember my dad bringing home a model train set when we were all very young. He set it up and ran it to our delight. We got to control it–with dad’s help of course. But we moved several times and we forgot about the train. In the ’70s my brothers and I got into those electric race cars and tracks. Remember those? The cars seemed remote controled on the track, but used little brushes to make contact with the electric feeds in the track. I remember being in the basement racing when one of us discovered dad’s long lost box of trains and track. I’d give anything to have those now. I don’t remember what scale they were, but they seemed magical to us. We forgot the cars and started putting together track and trains until we roughed out a small oval. So many pieces were missing. Dad was surprised and mom simply said to clean up our mess. It was great to sit with dad and my brothers watchin this little train go round and round in a circle. Man, there’s something about a train set. I’m glad you’re starting a train club. I think I’ll look for one and see what’s going on. Thanks for writing about your trains.

  2. Anthony says:

    I also have too many hobbies. I enjoyed your blog and will return to it. I would love some feedback on my blog (by anyone) as it is also about hobbies.

    Thank you.

  3. Anthony says:

    N track is the way to go. I have found the people to be friendly and helpful, and the space saving is wonderful.

    Good luck.

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