Introducing Kids to Model Trains

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I had it easy with mine. They grew up during the period when Thomas the Tank Engine was at its height. That alone sealed the deal... That and buying that abominable plastic bachmann Thomas set to run on the layout. Toughest decoder install I ever did!

I see friends with younger kids and that's more of a challenge. They come over and I ask if they want to drive Thomas the Tank Engine... and they say "who?"...
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Kids are what is going to keep this hobby alive. Without them gaining an interest, it will die off along with those of us who are involved with it.
 
My wife cousan son is five. so i got him a little wood set. he crazy about trains though he to grabby to let near the my layout maybe when he's older and learns a little selfcontrol.. i also gave a old n scale set to a nephew for christmas all the kids at the party loved it.
 
My wife cousan son is five. so i got him a little wood set. he crazy about trains though he to grabby to let near the my layout maybe when he's older and learns a little selfcontrol.. i also gave a old n scale set to a nephew for christmas all the kids at the party loved it.
Yeah, those wooden "brio" type trains probably launched more model railroaders than they get credit for...
 

bklynman01

Active Member
I feel like the hobby is not carried on by the youngest of kids. If we consider the cost and time required to build a layout, a person needs to be well established financially and have the time available to put the work in. These two simple aspects of the hobby almost require someone who is beyond the always moving stage of life. A kid that is 16 will have 100 things they feel are more important than playing with toy trains (as they would be viewed by a teenager), never mind have the patience to sit for hours on end working on a single small part of the larger layout.

That being said, I did grossly enjoy building model cars and, of course, the lunar lander model at the age of 10~12. That experience then led me to understand the needs of proper model building, attention to detail, and simply how to care for something delicate. Completing those types of activities at the young age is likely why I have the attention to detail that allows me be a good engineer now. The affects of the introduction to hobbies like model railroading are long lasting and may have nothing to do with the hobby itself. But later in life, I realized the desire to have a hobby that encompassed a little of everything and I think we all know the hobby that can do that!

I really like how the article focuses on letting the child make decisions. There is a lot more going on there than just bonding and enjoying model railroading. I don't want to get into it, but think about the development of a child's mind and how trial and error and taking ownership of these types of activities can have a long lasting affect. I agree - let the child make as many decisions as possible. Teach them the importance of planning and adjusting as you go.

My kids don't stand a chance - If model railroading is not interesting to them, there will be another activity that teaches the same values. Next to the layout, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets will always have a place in my home!
 
Kudos bklynman. I feel the same way... lego, erector set, my kids didn't even have to ask. .. video games not so much. Build catapults, make a spud gun... anything that requires planning, execution, and variability of results based on those heads em the right way...
 

Resqnu

Member
Mine started with he wooden Thomas train set, then moved up to the Power Train brand. He builds new tracks and different layouts everyday. We have recently purchased HO kits and building a layout. He loves it. I think it's important to start them young and teach them and let them enjoy time being creative and a little less time with technology.
 

RichO

New Member
My son started with wooden trains. When I was building my railroad, I gave him a dummy engine, some freight cars and a two track fiddle yard at he front of the layout. He pushed and shunted the cars just like the wooden ones. Eventually he wanted a powered train. Then he wanted powered turnouts. Then he wanted to run the whole railroad. He told his friends that the first two feet of the layout was for playing and the rest were "Models" that weren't to be played with. He is now rebuilding an 11' x 17' O gauge railroad for his Eagle Scout Project. This video is the last "Thomas" engine we did. We powered a die cast Luke engine with a Bachmann gandy dancer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ-dzrPa99c
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
I got my first Tyco HO train set in 1974 to set up under the Christmas tree. My Mom planted a seed for my love of trains.

I built my first permanent bench work in 2012. The seed had finally sprouted.

Most kids more then likely won't start out with a permanent layout, but the love of trains does not have to start out as a full scale hobby.

My grandsons started with wooden track and trains. Graduated to Lionel ready to run sets. Their interest is like the tides, it comes and goes. I fully expect that one day their attention will turn to sports and then girls, but I planted a seed I hope you will grow as it did in me.
 
I started with a tyco set as a kid on a 4x8... didn't railroad in college. As a young adult, I experimented with another 4x8, in n scale... didn't have a more advanced layout until in my mid 30s... and had a few lapse periods since (moving to often and ripping down layouts is no fun). It's a hobby with a long germination...
 

BCK RR

Member
As I sit here reading this forum Introducing Kids to Model Trains it was my Parents and Grandparents introduced me, by giving me a Pre BRIO train set for Christmas at my Grandparents house in rochester, NY. I was 4 I think… -who can remember that far back! lol.- By the time I was 5 it was my Brother and Dad who introduced me to the world of Model railroading with S-SCALE and my dad’s O-SCALE.. However it was my mother who actually introduced me to Trains and it was the ERIE RR ! By the time I was 6 I had a marx train set , at 9 my brother and I had a S-SCALE and O-SCALE layout / model railroad called D.T. & S. RR which was 4 x 8 x 5x7 x 2 x 4.


BCK RR
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
BCK RR, what scale or scales do you model now?

Thanks for sharing your story with us, I enjoyed reading it!
 
G'day Louis and all......Great subject....The best part of our incredible hobby is age is no barrier...You can love model trains at any age and my only regret is that I didn't get into it sooner..I was past my mid 40's before I 'discovered ' it...although I did have a train set as a kid of course...Go to any train show though , and the most enthusiastic viewers are the ' little tackers'...as we say here....I'm a golfer and as an amateur under the Royal and Ancient (here) and USGA in the States rules and charter is to 'promote and foster the game of golf"..and what's expected of you as an amateur how you must play and support the game..I'm not a member of any Model Rail Association yet , but is there any such thing in the constitution of the NMRA for example...I've never really sought such information..I assume it is , if not , perhaps it should be... These joyful young kids as has been stated are truly the future of the hobby and with their enthusiasm , the hobby will be in great hands...Cheers Rod...
 

BCK RR

Member
BCK RR, what scale or scales do you model now?

Thanks for sharing your story with us, I enjoyed reading it!
Louis,

I model in N-SCALE and ho-SCALE, at the moment I am gathering items for a ho-SCALE Narrow Gauge steam locomotive project which will ride on a Z-SCALE mechanism and tender trucks.

BCK RR
 
Hi All,

My boys, 18 and 13, show little interest in my layout. Neither do their friends. They look and say "cool" for five minutes, then are compelled towards their video games.
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
Rodney, as usual I agree completely!

BCK RR, That sounds interesting, I suppose that is something like On3 or On30. I would like to see some pictures when and if you can.

engineerkyle, I think your boys are perfectly normal, but I would be a dollar to a donut they will someday have a layout.
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
Frequently when I am at the train shop I will over hear "I am building it for my grandson/son" Then they go on to buy flex track, high end locomotives, scenery, and other advanced equipment and details for experienced model railroaders.

If they want to introduce youngsters to the hobby then they should read the excerpt from the article I posted at the beginning of the thread http://tracks.lionel.com/5-rules-for-introducing-kids-to-model-trains/

I cut this piece out and pasted it here becauseI believe it is the most important part.
Let their personality and creativity shine: Kids are creative. They may not pay attention to the same amount of detail that we do as adults, but you’d be surprised at the level of detail they can conjure when given the opportunity. Allowing your child to decide how the track is placed and what the layout looks like gives him or her a chance to showcase their personality and creativity. It’s best not to attach track or any landscape to the layout permanently because it restricts your child’s ability to experiment with different layouts.


If they really want to introduce young ones to our hobby buy them ready to run sets with snap fit track with road bed. You can even set it up on the floor, no bench work required. They don't have the patience to watch us fiddle about with hand laying track or other complex track systems. Little guys want to set it up and play, right now! They may only play for 30 minutes as it is before losing interest and moving on to the next thing.

If we are to compete for our kids time with video games and all the other electronic gadgets we are going to have to make trains fun and set them up fast! These easy ready to run sets could usher in a second "golden years" of model railroading.

Don't get me wrong, I love the beautiful and accurate layouts as much if not more then most, but don't say you built it for your little kids. I hope one day I can build a layout for myself like those I see, but right now my grandsons are my focus and ready to run sets are the answer for them. My 97 square feet of layout is a play place for my boys and I. Even with the layout we still set up trains on the floor.

One day when my gout is acting up and I am grouchy because I am not feeling my best I will tell one of the "I am building this museum quality layout for my grandson/son" guys to shut up, stop lying to yourself and build it for yourself! There is nothing wrong with grown men playing with toy trains. In fact I hope my grandsons grew up to love toy trains as much as I do. That is why I let them be involved and do as much of the work as possible. Ready to run sets make that easy for me.
 
G'day Louis.....Great point as usual....... I haven't got that issue....Don't have a son , obviously no grandson and sadly my four nieces aren't interested ....so.....I have to tell the truth...I PLAY WITH TRAINS....In our town there's this great little 8 year old kid called Jack... HE LOVES TRAINS... His mum and dad took him to Melbourne late last year and ALL he was interested in was the trains and riding the Trams...which Melbourne is well known for.. His mum said to me it's just everything about them that he loves..The real test will be in a few years time when the interest in girls kicks in...If he still likes trains then..well enough said...A couple of months ago I gave him a Santa Fe HO locomotive that was missing a coupler box but otherwise in great nick..and he was my best mate...He's saving up his pocket money , his dad told me , to buy his very own things and Mark , his dad is going to help him build a table later on....Great kid..He must be , he loves trains...Cheers Rod..
 




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