Did your Dad get you into this hobby?

I was skimming over the "Which manufacturer will be left" thread when I noticed a reply about mentors. 


I wouldn't be in this hobby if not for my Dad. He wasn't a big train guy, but he purchased my first set in the 1970's, and helped me (he built) build layouts. I went shopping with him to the lumber yard, Army surplus store, and train store for layout items. Honestly, I'm not that interested in modern real trains. I like the nostalgia of the hobby, and the history of the real trains. Even the prototype I try to model is because of my Dad. 


I like O-gauge trains because of my Dad and the time we spent together. One of the replies in the above mentioned thread stated the poster had purchased starter sets for his grandchildren and they were in the garage. Buying the set isn't enough. It's the time spent with it that's important. It's the trip to the lumber yard, the plaster, the fake grass, in short, the follow-up. 


No Dad equals No Hobby. It's not the trains, it's the time. True for most hobbies. 

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brr posted:

It's not the trains, it's the time. True for most hobbies. 

Amen, amen, amen! My grandson and I have spent HOURS playing with just cardboard boxes. The best box was one we turned into an elevator, labeled the floors, talked about who lived on each floor, which floor the trains were on, etc. You are so right!

And BTW, my Dad did start me with this train board he built me for Christmas, around 1951

Geo III & Claudia ca 1951



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Ironic this thread should be posted today...  My dad passed away on 7/14/2014...  Yes, my dad and his mother bought me my first lionel train set, I am guessing 1963 or 64...  He wasn't a hobbyist or DIY guy, but I always got a modest addition to the set each Christmas....  He let me take up most of the unfinished part of the basement in our split level house in NJ.   Then after I started mowing lawns for folks around age 11, I started saving money and he would drive me to peoples homes, locally, who were selling trains in the classified ads in the newspaper....  Remember those !!!

At age 13 or 14 one of the homes we visited was a TCA member named Bill Lucy in Waldwick NJ... To make a long story short, he drove me up there alot of Saturday mornings, and  Mr. Lucy encouraged me to join TCA and sponsored my membership.  Whenever we had company visiting the house my dad would encourage me to do "train shows" and run the trains for family and freinds...   I was really blessed to have a father who was so encouraging, while letting me go in whatever direction I wanted to without alot of over bearing input.....  On the other hand I do wish we could have shared the hobby a little more, but he was involved in my life in many other ways, particularly teaching me to play baseball...  Anyway sorry for the long post, thanks for bringing it up as I have been thinking about all day long.   

Nope. I got myself into model trains.  In fact, I can't remember when I DIDN'T like trains. Though Dad wasn't the least bit interested in trains, he was very supportive of my interest, which in itself imprinted memories of my Dad that I look back on fondly.

Yes, but it was my eldest uncle's hand-me down Christmas layout that he gave us when his kids grew up or he switched from S to HO or something.  My father did a fine job maintaining it and all the accessories.  At Christmas I'd help him line-up and assemble the two wooden platform sections without crushing the track, screw down the oversized O scale street lights, and once I cleaned the track (once was enough :-). 

But I only got to run the transformer once, unlike my brother and the neighborhood boys.  Not sure if it was because I was a girl or because I was the youngest. There were lots of wires.  So, I get to run my own trains now.  My father also taught me a lot about building and painting plastic models, putting decals on without wrinkles, how to use simple wood working tools and a table saw, soldering, and more.  He was AMAZINGLY generous with his tools and I seem to have accumulated quite a collection while he was still alive.  I've got so many that I have wonder what he was using? 

Tomlinson Run Railroad

Our first train was a hand-me-down Standard gauge Lionel #318 box cab with 3 cars which I still have and run. It went under the Xmas tree and I would beg to run the train but only the last day it was up before my Dad packed it away until next year. Finally it quit working until I got it. No, my Dad was no inspiration at all.

Yes, big-time. The trains made for great father-son time from the time I was a baby. I started going to York with Dad in 1979 when I was 10, and spent countless hours with him helping him build his tinplate layout. Wonderful memories that no one can ever take away. 

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  TCA 90-30847

  NJ HiRailers Associate Member

Yes. Santa brought my first Lionel set for Christmas 1949 and I was born a week later. Each Christmas I'd get some train stuff, but the biggest Christmas was 1954 when he left a NYC F3 ABA under the tree. I've been a NYC fan ever since. Dad, aka Santa, built an 8x8 layout with me when I was around 9 or 10. I was always allowed to play with the trains, and while my dad wasn't a hobbiest, he always had an interest in Lionel and spent time with me playing with the trains.

Joe B.


President Emeritus of the Olde Newburgh Model Railroad Club, now retired and living the dream in Florida.

Mom and dad didn't have two nickels to rub together. It was my grandmother who bought the first train set, a Marx train set. My brother and I ran that thing to death. Btw I still have it, not in pristine shape but oh the memories. 

Mom and dad did not have allot but they were great parents who I think about every day.

My uncle (and aunt) bought me my first Lionel set - for my birthday -  in 1949.  It was a great set - and I have it to this day.  I also  fault him  , though deceased, for giving me my passion for baseball.  He was a pitcher in the St. Louis Browns organization.

Two of my great loves come from that man.  




Yes, absolutely.....with his 366W set received from his parents when he was a 'kid' of 26 years!  It was tradition to bring the set down from the attic each Christmas, set it up around the balsam tree, and mesmerize all who saw it.......like me.  A crackling fire in the fireplace across the room, the record player playing Bing Crosby, the gateman popping in and out as the train raced by, bubble lights on the tree, Mom's cooking bouquet drifting in from the kitchen....it was Nirvana.

Dad....and Mom...nursed this addiction to the max.  Cereal box cut-outs and trinket offers, stopping along a road to watch a passing train, going to little-known areas of the city overlooking the railroad yards and engine terminal just to watch the activity, riding the train each summer to visit Mom's family 850 miles away, stopping by Roadside America as we drove my sister to camp in the Poconos, visits to all the department store windows and toy areas at Christmas time,  building tables for Lionel trains, HO trains, reconstructing them from basement to attic, going on railfan trips, and, of course the birthday, Christmas, Easter (?), etc., get-well-soon trains.  




What a ride.  

And it's not over yet!....as my wife continues the encouragement....and addiction!


My grandparents bought a train set the year my dad was born, 1938.  My grandmother bought my dad another set in 1952 for Christmas.  The 671rr from 1952 was the first train I remember as a kid running under our Christmas tree.  As my dad fixed up his new house, the trains went by the wayside mostly due to lack of room.  The trains ended up at my aunt and uncle's house where my uncle set up a 4x8 layout for me.  I ran trains there until my early teens.  Some 15 years later, I was visiting my uncle one evening and noticed all the train stuff in a few boxes.  He was preparing to put them out for trash claiming they were junk.  I loaded them into my car and that is where my current obsession began.

So to answer the question posed in the thread title, my grandparents bought the trains, my dad introduced me to them at an early age during Christmas but it was my uncle that provided the play time that continues today.


My Dad got me into trains before I was born.  The first set he bought was for my older sister when she was two ( Yeah right it was for her )  That was 1952 and the set was head up by the 2056 baby hudson.    When I came along in 1956 I inherited it by default.   When he saw how much I loved it he bought a used collection that had a 4x8 board with super O track on it.  It had four engines including a 2379 Rio Grande F3.  I was the only kid in the neighborhood that actually had a train board to run trains all year round  



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Sure, it was Dad who tipped off Santa that I wanted a Lionel 2026 set for Christmas, in 1951.  But it was Dad who built the 4x8' train platform for it the following year.  Unfortunately, we didn't have the room to keep it up all through the year, but that platform and its Lionel equipment are among my finest holiday memories.

I still have the 2026, of course, as well as all of the Lionel and Marx accessories that followed.


Yes and no. He sure supported in - in many ways. I think most kids do or did get a train set at one point. Sometimes the "bug" sticks, sometimes it doesn't. It did for me and my father was a prominent fixture at many train shows, tourist RRs, the B&O Museum, etc supporting it. He never had trains as a kid, at least not that I know of. 

What further "cemented" it was the park train, about 1.5 miles from home. I can hear the whistle all day long in the summer. I was the operations manager and engineer from 2010 - 2013. I have hundreds of photos taken over the years and even more stories to tell. Many of those stories, however, shouldn't be repeated......



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Once upon a time. Way back when kids played together I was born in Toledo Oh. Railroad tracks ran every which way. Watching trains and walking the tracks seemed like part of me. So NO dad didn't do it but my parents supported my love for trains. Being poor folk I only got gifts at Christmas or birthday but loved them all.

In those days passenger trains ran FAST, I get a kick watching our club members run theirs at a scale 35 MPH. That's not the way it was.

Jim 1939

TCA - Glancy Trains Modular Group

No.  I enjoyed running pre-war Marx trains with my brother, but it was my father-in-law that got me hooked on operating trains.





Volunteers don't get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!  Author Sherry Anderson

Dad and my late Uncle Jim got me into trains with the trains at Christmas time. Dad only put his trains up at Christmas time, but not every year. Uncle Jim had a train board, set up at Christmas time, and I always looked forward to the Christmas visits to my Grandparents. And Uncle Jim always let me fire off the 6650 Missile car, and hit the 6448 Boxcar.

Dad passed his trains to me after I got married, and I inherited Uncle Jim's trains and platform when he passed.






The Standard of The World


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Dad bought my first train as a kid in 1962-3 for Christmas. MArx O gauge and then a few years later HO tyco and then N gauge Arnold Rapido/atlas. Trains put away from 1973 until my sister bought me a 8E set with 2 cars in 1982-3 and for some reason and I had NEVER seen standard gauge before. Rekindled and became a raging fire of collecting and repairing and reproducing. Love the history and figuring out the stories behind the pieces

I have no idea when my dad bought my first train - it was always just there under the Christmas tree from the time I barely started recognizing things. After Christmas, back in the attic until next year. No board, no switches. Just the 610 Erie switcher and 3 cars.  I think I was about 7 when I was allowed to keep the trains year-round in my room. Still no board or switches. Run 'em on the floor. The Plasticville church and some fiberboard houses that you could stick a Christmas tree light bulb in.


TCA 07-61628, LCCA 40022, Lone Star Hi-Railers, EAA, AOPA

YES he did, 19345 days worth so far ! i think i was born in a train car LOL. He had Lionel and S gauge before I came around, then HO started showing up...Mom says I was his excuse to keep getting more trains. I still have all my trains from the start. My bedrooms were always full of trains, to  where i had to pull my bed out from under the layout to go to bed, Mom didn't care for that much, having to duck under to change the sheets on the bed. Then the layout expanded into the closet, then the next room....guess that's why I like cutting holes in the walls, got that from Dad !  he helped me cut all the holes in the walls at my house. it was his idea to build a layout out in the "what was my garage full of cars" guess I have to build a new one for them someday....now it's the new train room. Hopefully we will have some trains running in there by winter.....THANK'S  DAD & MOM !

from this...my 1st HO Santa fe engine...with 4 passenger cars...

to this....fun never ending project...

soon he will be able to back his camper in and go out in the train room and run trains,

and Mom will be able to go out and enjoy her self in the yard....


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