Remembering My First Layout

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


max diyer

Well-Known Member
Back in 1957, my Dad got a Lionel train set. There was no track or transformer, so he bought a Marx
transformer, 3-rail track, 4 turnouts with 2 switch panels and a Lionel uncoupler with momentary switch.
He took a 4x8 and covered it with fake grass that came in a 3' wide roll. It looked just like green, 80-grit
sandpaper, then he laid the track.

The track plan was similar to this:

Of course, I loved it and couldn't wait all year long, for it to be set-up. I ran that Lionel every chance I could
and did so until the transformer would get hot and had to shut it off.
In the evenings, I would run it until the family would sit down to watch TV. The old Lionel would
interfere with those old tube-type TV's and cause static lines and audio noise. Dad would tell me to shut it off.
I remember to this day, the smell that Lionel made.

The 4x8 took up about 25% of our living room, so it was tucked into a corner. Our Christmas Tree was
placed on the rear corner of the layout and occasionally the metallic foil tinsel would fall from the tree and
short out the transformer. So I had to carefully crawl across the layout to retrieve the tinsel.

When I was a teenager, Dad gave me the layout. A year after graduating high school, I moved out of the house,
dismantled the layout and packed it into boxes. I didn't stay in one place too long and to make moving easier, I
decided to sell the Lionel to a guy I worked with and never saw it again.

Looking back, I wish that I still had that old Lionel.

Here's photos I found online of the same model loco, cars and track accessories.




 
Last edited:

Burlington Bob

Well-Known Member
About 1962, I got an American Flyer "Casey Jones" train set for Christmas. It had a 4-4-0 loco lettered for the Erie, a Texas and Pacific gondola, a reefer lettered for Carnation milk , IIRC, and an American Flyer Lines caboose. It had a switch on the bottom of the loco that could be set to run forward only, reverse only or it could be set to alternate between forward and reverse. Had it set up on a 4x8 sheet of plywood that slid under my bed and I had a couple of buildings to go with it. It lacked a lot in realism, but it sure was a lot of fun!
 

max diyer

Well-Known Member
That switch on the loco is neat. Having never looked at a American Flyer up close, I didn't know of that switch.
Those old layouts gave us good memories.
That was part of my intention starting this thread . . . to make everyone remember!
 
Last edited:

Burlington Bob

Well-Known Member
I don't know if the higher end locos were like that or not, but the power pack I had didn't have a forward or reverse switch on it, so it might have been that way for all of them at that time.
 

max diyer

Well-Known Member
I don't know if the higher end locos were like that or not, but the power pack I had didn't have a forward or reverse switch on it, so it might have been that way for all of them at that time.
I can't remember if that Marx transformer had a reverse switch. I only remember running the train counter-clockwise, but that might be because of the turnouts.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
My first foray into model railroading was also through a Lionel train set. I only wish I had kept it......

In HS, I picked up a bunch of the Marx train stuff that went when I sold the Lionel's. IIRC, the Marx and early Lionel transformers had no reverse.
 

max diyer

Well-Known Member
My first foray into model railroading was also through a Lionel train set. I only wish I had kept it......

In HS, I picked up a bunch of the Marx train stuff that went when I sold the Lionel's. IIRC, the Marx and early Lionel transformers had no reverse.
That's what I was thinking - not having a reverse switch - but wasn't sure. Remembering back 50 years is starting to get a little foggy. I agree with the "I only wish I had kept it".
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
I don't know if the higher end locos were like that or not, but the power pack I had didn't have a forward or reverse switch on it, so it might have been that way for all of them at that time.
They had no reverse switch because they are AC powered. A reverse switch would have done nothing. Instead they had a rotary solenoid switch in the loco that clicked once each time power was applied. The solenoid switch reverses the magnetic field of the motor stator with respect to the motor rotor. Forward, neutral, reverse, neutral. The neutral was provided so one could stop the locomotive and have it idle and use the track power for an accessory such as the cattle or barrel loader, etc.. My brand new Lionel Polar Express 2-8-4 can still be operated in this way. Lionel has managed to maintain backwards compatibility with all their evolution of train controls. For example this same 2-8-4 can also be operated with TrainMaster Command Control (TMCC), and Legacy command systems.

Their newest Lion Chief stuff might be the first one that doesn't follow this pattern. As I understand it, the Lion Chief are actually DC powered, but I am certain Louis could answer that better than I.
 

max diyer

Well-Known Member
Now that you mention it - I remember the forward, neutral, reverse, neutral. Thanks for the memory jog.
 

Burlington Bob

Well-Known Member
Only been retired a little over two weeks and my memory is already shot! I guess that being only 7 of 8 at the time is my ticket out on this one. I really don't remember them being AC, I guess I just associated that with Lionel trains. Either way, it was a long time ago. Thanks for straightening me out on that. Kind of a paradigm shift for me!
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top