Dad's been retired for almost 20 years now, and he always talked about getting his Lionel train back up and running again. It's one of the common "relegated to the basement, I'll get to it someday" stories.
He gave me his childhood set when I was a kid in the 70's, and I loved it. It was one of a million of the "typical" postwar steamer sets, with the whistle tender and the milk car and the cattle and the light tower...it was so much fun! A clever figure-8 with a spur, all the bells and whistles. I played with it for days. Until it had to be packed away because it took up too much room on the carpet in our tiny house (4' x 9').
It went under my parents' bed, and disappeared from sight and mind. When we moved in the mid-80's we set it up for a brief while in the basement, but it was only a shadow of what I remembered. The track was corroded, the loco was dirty, and it was a chore just getting it to go around the loop once without stalling or jumping the rails on account of the old, warped plywood it was nailed to. I was interested in high school things, then off to college, and dad didn't have the motivation to keep the train going. It languished, eventually becoming a repository of all the stuff that inevitably builds up with a life full of kids, Christmases, Easters, gymnastics, travel...
Time flies, doesn't it? I've got 4 of my own kids now. My oldest, Andy (he's 16), frequently asks me about the train in grandpas basement. He sees it there, peeking out from under the bags full of who-knows-what and stuffed animals. But more importantly, he sees the entire wall full of the dusty trains on grand display, frozen in time on a set of RailRax that George Olson himself gave to me when I worked for him (in an industry totally unrelated to trains!).
I called dad a couple weeks ago. It's now or never. Andy is willing and able to help with getting this thing off the ground. Dad took an inventory of the stuff he's got laying around, and has been remotely taking measurements of the house including door positions and swings, interior walls, etc. We've settled on the attached layout, and we'll start building this summer I suppose.
The Blue figure 8 and the pink spur are his existing layout. One KW and One LW transformer. Lionel 031 track 3-Rail track on the blue and green loops, Gar-Graves / Ross will all be purchased new for everything else. We're able to run three trains simultaneously (Blue Figure 8 031 loop, Yellow / Pink / Cyan 054 loop, and Green 031 loop on the far right.) A cool feature is that both the blue and yellow/pink/cyan can be reversed without staging any trains that are in storage on the "B" Spur (red), the "S2" Spur (salmon) and the "S1" spur (white). We can also kill the Lionel LW transformer feed to the green loop, turn on a feed from the KW and run the 031 train across the B spur in a continuous dog bone.
We can have 3 (long) trains parked while Running 3 trains separately. Blocks are all color coded. We'll have to be creative for the Gray-blue block where switches 7 & 8 are...sometimes it needs to be fed from the KW xformer, sometimes from the LW depending on what we're doing. I plan to implement a mechanical failsafe that prevents us from turning on live power from both transformers to the blue block (or the green block) at the same time. And I've read about phasing, I don't anticipate issues with the KW & LW.
We were careful to leave access to everything, the left side of the layout is 18" from the wall so we should be able to get in there OK.
Going back and forth with dad over Skype the past few weeks has been so much fun! We're currently 1500 miles apart, but planning this layout has brought both of us some seriously needed relief from life's everyday stresses.
Would like to get feedback from you guys who have been doing this for a while. Thanks for reading!