How Old Were You?

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Lazy Daydreamer
First layout, you say? I was 35 when I built my first very own layout in my previous home; had re-entered the hobby two years earlier after a 15-year hiatus. During my teens and early adulthood years I only ran on club layouts, but I amassed a pretty sizeable collection of Athearn bluebox motive power during that period.


Grandson of ALCO Bldr
First train set was a Tyco/Mantua set NYC Dockside Steamer switcher 0-6-0 the year was Christmas 1973. I was 5. I still have the set today minus the original track.

Through the years I managed to be an "armchair" model rr and amassed a large collection of mrr stuff, then as time went by I refined my collection as I still do today. Union Pacific took hold of me in 1991. Which is when I refined my collection. Although once in a while I will get something of interest to me outside the UPRR. I am big on collecting Demonstrator units in HO scale. (all demos fom emd, ge, alco, fm, balwins etc)

My first personal layout I built was in 1994. 4x8 that quickly changed to an around the room 14x16. I was 26.

Now I have a 2x12 shelf layout that is in temp mode mostly for test runs and a little switching.

Although I grew up around the RR and having a grandfather that built ALCO locos from steam to diesels and a dad that designed/build traction motors and a godfather that had a 40x24 HO layout. I have always loved trains and all aspect or facets of the hobby.


Long Winded Old Fart
What Can We Do?

Other than all of the train shows, Worlds Greatest Hobby media ads,

What can "we" do to promote this Hobby?
I've tried many things, but, the kids of today only want to do Game Video's.
That doesn't take any planning, work, art or getting out in the world.
I try to run an ad in my local shopping guide(free) about 4 times a year asking; "Is there anyone interested in Model Railroading, any age?".
Hardly ever get a reply, except guys in their 50's, 60's & 70's.
I've had families to bring their kids for a visit. Lots of them. But, the kids look at it & watch all the trains run & then go over in the corner & whip out their video game pad & play games. The parents hang around for a few hours to ask questions, etc.
I had a neice's son that was into trains from age 5 till about 10 & then his parents let him have a video game & the rest is history as they say.
I tried to get a space at the local Fair to promote trains, but they weren't to keen on the idea, because they said kids weren't into trains anymore.
Sounds like they knew what they were talking about.;)


Master Mechanic
My first layout came at age 8. I had just started HO and still has several AF train sets. These were "well loved" at that point and were just falling apart. My dad was a carpenter and built the benchwork for the 4x8. I started with a Silver Streak 40' SRR auto car. Still have it. It has been rebuilt several times and currently looks almost brand new. That Christmas I got a Varney train set with F7's and 12 cars. I also got a 4-4-2 from Polk's mailorder and 7 car kits.

By the time I got married I had 5 layouts, each one slightly bigger than the last. I taught myself to handlay turnouts mainly because I couldn't afford any pre-builts. The rest of the layout was flex track. Atlas code 100.

I've had 2 others since then one just a little switching layout in an apartment and a "big" one in my first home. It lasted until 1989, when we had to move.

I started on my final layout 3 yrs ago and am working on it slowly. So this is my 8th of my own.

Between my getting married and now, you could say I've "had" over twenty layouts. These were all friends layouts and club layouts that I have worked on in the interim. Some were all commericial turnouts and flex track and others were all handlaid with special trackwork. On one layout I laid a yard/engine facility complex that was O, On3, and On2. Those were and are still, fun times!


Larry I will agree with you on that to an extent. Being as I am a teenager, and also a gamer (probably a pretty heavy gamer at that), I still find trains interesting. I also happen to have a friend, same age but plays more games then I do, and he is also into the model train thing.

Problem with games is that they get boring after awhile. I can only play for 30 minutes at a time now or I get bored because its the same old stuff. Nice thing about modeling is you have to lay it out, put the track down, ballast, paint. You have hours of stuff to do, and you actually get something out of it.

I think you will see some of those kids come around, although maybe not for 10 years.

Seems mid 20s is when mostly of you started completely on your own.


Midwest Alliance Rail Sys
I had "AF trains around the xmas tree" until my parents got tired of me pestering them to set it up at virtually every holiday or any other excuse I could think of and they bought me an HO set when I was 10. Dad put up a 4x6 in the garage and said "have at it" and I became a virtual hermit in the garage until I discovered girls. That was it for the hobby for about 40 years until 2005 when I negotiated a right-of-way in a new detached garage. Now I'm building a 24 x 31 layout. "Welcome back to the hobby" or what?


old school
I think the issue today is that kids want everthing handed to them. Cars,computers,cell phones, money! the other issue is parents comply to there requests. no skills needed to achive anything.

I had to work to get my car and toys. Sure Mom and Dad helped but they never just handed me the keys to a new car. Before I was driving I held a job at a hobby store where I rode my bike 3 miles to get to my job. I dont see that anymore. I first saw how times changed when the forest bike path to my child hood friends "Hide out" had over grown with weeds. This place was a kids oasis with a club house with a fire pit, benches creek to play in etc...We spent many of nights working on this place to hang out with friends. fast forward to today and I see that Kids no longer ride bikes and make jumps or build bridges over creeks etc.. Parents want there kids to stay in the house or in site. they wont let the kids find a hobby or discover that riding your bike down hill too fast can end in bumps and scars. they would rather them just let them play on the computer.

The other issue is that because kids dont build simple skills such as making a bike jump out of dirt or fixing a go cart engine they cant even comprehend how to build a layout. If it does not come out of a package ready to use there is no intrest.

just my .02



Trent, it's a shame but what you said is very accurate. Many have described this as "Instant Gratification". Also, it makes you wonder who will become tradesman when now there is little handskills training at an early age. Creativity...well, maybe designing a computer game some day.:(


old school
What im afraid of is the kids that have only held a pencil to draw stick figures of mom and dad are now building bridges and sky scrapers LOL


Fleeing from Al
I'm a lot more optimistic that the hobby will attract younger members. I think a lot of teenagers are looking for mechanical things to do rather than just play video games. Theree will always be those totally abosorbed by something virtual like including video games but there's still a deep-seated need for boys to build things with their own hands. Just check out the number of street racers in your town if you think all teenage boys are playing video games. :)

Dan also made a good point. Kids may not get as much into trains now because they have more diversions than I was young. OTOH, I've never had a kid under 13 or so who wasn't fascinated by my layout. They will grow up, get married, and have kids of their own, and remember those train layouts they saw. There's not a much better activity that a dad and his son (or daughter) can engage in than building a model railroad together.


Long Winded Old Fart
In my part of the country U very rarely see many kids at Train Shows. I only go on saturdays. U see a small amount of the very young(3 to 5) & then & even smaller amt. of teens. I'm talking about south Fla. Alcomotive might see more than me because he's at the shows on sundays where I'm not.
I'm sure in other parts of the country it might be different.
When I was growing up it was custom cars. I started working on my 1st Hotrod at the age of 14 because my Dad was into special built vehicles. My 1st car was a souped up 1947 Ford sedan & all the guys I hung out w/were into the same thing.
I don't remember ever hearing about anyone having trains.
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BNSF dude

BNSF foamer
Other than me. Most traffic of people near my age or usually younger are autistic in my neck of the woods.. Ahh yes the screams of autism ruining all of my train videos... We do have alot of kids up here that are into model railroad and I myself have an apprentice thats one grade below me and is really getting into it. His favorite HO train so far is the P2K Empire Builder. He's a cool kid and helps me with my math when I need help. He should be in Senior High math I swear!
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The Flange Squeal
when i was 14 (1985-6) i got a gi joe HO scale set for Christmas 1985. Using a scrap 4X8 and 2 saw horses i liberated from a nearby construction site, i proped up the 4X8 sheet on it. Since there was no DVD, internet and VHS was new on the scene there wasnt much in the way of interactive media on the hobby. so i went about it the old fashioned way: i went to the library and read a few books on the subject *card catalog style*. Back then Kay-Bee hobby at the mall used to carry model train accessories, so every weekend with my allowance (10.00) i would take the bus to the mall and buy a switch track or building or something to add to my layout. by the time it was complete it was pretty decent, but not an official layout - just something to keep me out of trouble which was all around me growing up in NYC in the 80s. I stayed interested in trains over the years and I started my current, more official layout last year. Im 36 now. although my current layout is still designed to keep me out of trouble, i still have dreams of a much larger much more ambitious layout later in life.
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Grandson of ALCO Bldr
Yes you do! You get us as your personal MMR buddies!:eek::):D;)
How have you been? We have not seen you here in a while! Glad your back...anything new with the G gauge?
First layout was when i was 5 or 6 with my dad he has a ho layout which we recently dug out of the garage and are working on getting back up now. For me my own layout is now 34. Not doing much with it now, just waiting til the dead of winter to get it started something to do to help pass the time.


"retired" conductor

I was 4 when my Dad gave me my 1st Lionel HO set, and we did the Christmas garden thing until I was 10. Then I carved out a corner of the basement for a 4x8 that stayed up until I was 17 and discovered girls. There it sat covered with junk until after I was married, then modeling began again.
I still have those Lionel FA's, but I've slid out the old rubber band drive chassis and installed Walthers FA chassis under them. Kinda the best of both worlds there!


New Member
Every Kid Should Have A Train Set!

My older brother had a Lionel O scale train set for Christmas in the early 60's which put me about knee high to a grasshopper! I turned 33 when we attempted our first layout that started with 2 saw horses, 4x8sheet of plywood and my mother in laws generosity for the ultimate Christmas gift.....a train set. She just started watching the home shopping network and saw this double oval Lifelike train set with every immaginable thing you could have: buildings,road signs, figures, grassmat, 2 engines, 8 rolling stock etc. Sucker cost about $75 bucks and she got it for $50. We still have some of the buildings,track, one engine and figures....but what we've picked up these 20yrs is something else. My son is a junior in college and he has a 2-8-0 Bachmann Consolidated that he wanted in first grade. Start these kids early and you can't stop them. We lean more toward steam era with just a few diesels. The layout we've started is probably 80% finished and as soon as we get a new computer we'll take some photos and post them.....can't wait. But yeah....start your kids early and they will just eat Trains for breakfast, lunch and dinner!:):):)
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