Running Bear's April 2020 Coffee Shop 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.

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I made $13.75 an hour in 1983. That could be part of the problem.

We have EVERYTHING set up to be paid by credit card. Never late and we get cash back on everything! I thought about getting a stash of cash to have on hand before Captain Trips went on the rampage, but never got it done. Just as well, we have used cash one time since the middle of March.

I've lost really good jobs three times in my life. Twice, a move to another state was required to pull myself up. I have always managed to land on my feet and I've never looked back! When I was young and still crapping green, an older co-worker gave me some advice that I never forgot and that came in extremely useful many times in my life.

I was 21 yrs old and was working as a welder building a dragline for a local coal mine. We were sitting around at break time and were talking about jobs. Al Milan looked at me and said "Kid, let me give you a little advice". I looked at him and asked what that would be. He stared me straight in the eye and with all the sincerity that anyone could muster, he told me "Anytime someone wants to show you how to do something or take the time to teach you..........SHUT UP AND PAY ATTENTION! YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN IT WILL COME IN HANDY!"

I took that advice to heart and NEVER passed up the chance to learn all I could about my job or often times somebody else's job. And let me tell you..................It PAID OFF SEVERAL TIMES!!!! There have been several times where just knowing a little bit more gave me the edge that got me hired over the others applying for the same job.

I haven't always been the best at what I did. But when I wasn't, I worked my tail off to change that! Even then, I still may not have been the best, but I wasn't too shabby!

So, yes Louis, I agree! Hard work and perseverance do pay off. Oh, and a little...............OK, sometimes a lot, of luck helps!

Bob, I agree and so does my wife, $11/hour is low, but my wife works for a chain of stores and that is the most they will approve for an entry level position with no experience. On the other hand, she can offer quick advancement through the ranks if people are willing to put in the effort.

What surprises me is how hard it is finding people willing to work hard. Most are no more than a warm body who hopefully shows up on time and does not steal anything. It's no wonder why they don't want to pay people until they prove themselves.

In Hungary my wife ran the largest uniform maker in the eastern block, the communists were big on uniforms. It was a privately held company. Hungary had it's own version of communism. It was known as "goulash" communism. It was a blend of communism, socialism and a little capitalism. A little bit of this, a little bit of that and a lot of greed. There is no such thing as true communism, not as Marx intended, but that is for another time and place.

When she came here after we were married she became a housewife. When my health failed she wanted to go back to work. I was not in a position to tell her no. With no insurance my health care costs were eating up my nest egg faster than I ever dreamed possible. I wasn't expected to live and I had no idea how much dying was going to cost me. What I thought would last me more than a lifetime was going fast!

My wife applied for management positions, but nobody would giver her a chance. Her experience in Hungary meant nothing or so it seemed. She took one of those low paying entry level positions. Three years later she was a GM at one of their largest stores. With her bonuses she was making almost as much as I had before my health failed. Some months she even made more than I had and she had health care. When the ACA passed I had health care too and still do through her employer.

Sometimes you have to step back to move forward.

From my experience hard work is the path to success, not good luck, but bad luck can derail you. Although I do play the power ball regularly!

In my case I caused my own bad luck. Between marriages, I lived on coffee and king size Hershey bars when I was working. Whiskey and beer after work. My idea of a home cooked meal was hotdogs. Instead of resting when I was not working I was staying up late with young women. I liked to say "there will be plenty of time to sleep when I'm dead" I had no idea how fast that was happening.

My daughter was away in college, my dog had passed away. There was no "home" for me. I brought on my own bad luck. After I changed my ways, I was still a ticking time bomb.

Now I like to say "you can say anything, or do anything you want, but sooner or latter there will be a price to pay, nothing is free".

Thank God I found my Angel :) I am so very happy to have her!

Texas Hobo

Well Known Hobo
Good Evening all. Has been Chamber of Commerce weather here in H-Town. To bad we have stay at home.
I too have an angel. She said since we haven't been able to go out I could order a new loco I wanted. So a BLI NW-2 is on the way.
I have to agree with Willie and Bruette, learn every thing you can, take whatever course or class etc. that you can. Sometimes they seem unrelated to what you are currently doing, but down the road you might. I was fortunate that after forced retirement, I found another job and managed 6 figures for 8 of the last 10 years, which did wonders for my SS.
Bruette - GG1 is one of my all time favorite locomotives. While it doesn't really fit with my layout theme, here it is.

4807 departs Deerfield.jpg


Well-Known Member
How did you get interested in foreign trains?

You asked for it (long story alert).

tl;dr; --- emotional attachment to the foreign trains from personal experience traveling and living there.

When I was in junior high, my brother got a Tyco H0 set. That got me interested in model trains (I had previously had an old Lionel O gauge from my uncles when I was in grade school but I sold it to finance some slot cars -- wish I hadn't). I had the Tyco and other catalogs memorized and huge lists of "wants" all written out. Eventually, though I lost interest. I never did buy my own stuff. We did not have any 1:1 scale trains in our area where I lived in Mass. so I did not see trains on a regular basis. I rode once or twice from some commuter station int Boston but otherwise I did not develop any sort of emotional attachment to American trains.

Later, in High School I learned German. (I was a big history nerd and had read every WW2 book in the local library, as well as most of the Korea and WW1 books, etc). We went on an exchange to Germany near the end of my junior year (I think after it had ended technically). 1983. They came to our school for about 3 weeks and we went to their school for about 4 weeks. The city where the school was we were visiting was Göppingen. We rode DB trains from the airport in Munich to Göppingen, as well as on a field trip or two. And we took trains to Stuttgart with our hosts and stuff as well. So I was exposed to the German train system and got to use it some. So I developed an emotional attachment to it -- it means travel and fun and trips and was "exotic" since it was a foreign country. Göppingen is also the HQ for Märklin, the famous German model train company. H0 and Z, amongst other stuff. (They now own Trix/Minitrix and some others I think but at the time those were still separate). We happened to get a personal tour of the Märklin factory and their visitor center that had huge layouts we got to control. So that piqued my interest some.

Being a "nerd" I was interested in various toys and had some R/C cars, and eventually planes. And I like making things and fiddling with things. Model trains fit in.

Later in 86-87 I lived in Germany for about 21 months (as a missionary). We took trains every week, if not every day (depending on where we were). We went out to small villages in the country side, took bigger faster trains to nearby large cities for conferences, or transfers to new cities. Lots of train riding. That strengthened the emotional attachment. I also visited hobby shops while there and saw all the model trains. In 1986, while in my first city, Offenburg, the prototype ICE-V train pulled into the Offenburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station) on a promotional tour. This was the technology prototype that turned into the CIE trains of the early 90s to today. This ICE stood for Inter City Experimental. Now ICE stands for Inter City Express. Anyway, this space age looking rain pulls in on air suspension, settled down to platform level, and was way cool looking. Unfortunately I was on another train when this happened and ours left about a minute after this happened. I do have the Fleischmann N scale version of it. It looks very similar to the ICE 1 train that came over to demo for Amtrak.

Later 91-93 I lived about an hour out of Munich and worked in Munich for Digital Equipment GmbH, the German affiliate of DEC, the computer company (at the time the second largest comuter company in the world behind IBM). (I had worked for them in New Hampshire and took a new position in Munich). I did not ride a lot of trains as I had a car, which was much faster to commute with etc for where I lived and worked. But I saw the trains on a regular basis and they always made me think of trips, vacations, going somewhere fun, etc. I also visited the hobby shops and saw the Arnold N gauge stuff, and the fact that they had digital versions of them using the Märklin digital system, made my Nerd/Geek lights go off and get excited. I decided that I would get interested in that (as in actually acquire) when I had settled down to my own place, not just a rented apartment in a foreign country for a short few year work stay (which ended up only being 18 months). I got an Arnold catalog and brought it home. Later in the late 90s I went a few times for quick trips to Germany to visit friends when I had $250-$350 round trips out of Boston come up in sales. Went back to the hobby shops and drooled and got more catalogs.

Got married in 2000. I married a woman from Japan who was over here in the US studying. (We are still married 20 years later). I started to go to Japan with her starting in 2003 after our son was born and we go every other year more or less. The first time or two I rode commuter trains but nothing long range. Later we would get the JR Pass rail pass and we take Shinkansen bullet trains all over -- I often go with just the kids by ourselves for day trips across Japan and back (well at least a 1/3rd of the way). We bought my son some TOMY PLARAIL toy trains of Japanese trains when we were there and added to that each time. We also had DVDs of Japanese trains. (Japan is a train country -- everyone rides trains regularly and model trains and toy trains and other train related stuff is normal for all kids growing up, and for many many adults -- most department stores have the toy train stuff and some have large departments, and better ones all have model trains -- this is not including the many train dedicated hobby shops all over). So my son became an avid train fanatic for Japanese trains and Thomas trains. (TOMY also made the Thomas PLARAIL trains both in Japan and the US until Mattel took over the licensing in the US -- TOMY still has it in Japan). When my son was young I would go to the stores to look at toys and saw all the wonderful N scale stuff they had. I said that I would get the family the N scale stuff when my kids were old enough to run the trains and had graduated from the toys. In Dec 2017 I decided it was time and it has all been downhill since. My fleet of both Japanese and Euro trains grew very fast in 2017/2018 and has slowed down in 2019 due to a spending moratorium on new trains. My kids each own a few Japanese N scale, but most are mine. Due to all the experience of riding trains a TON when we go to Japan, and the fact we go regularly (every other year), has driven the emotional attachment to Japanese trains.

It is becoming a perfect type of hobby for me. As a nerd I like DCC so I have gotten into converting stuff to DCC that was not fitted with DCC plugs etc as well as those which came with DCC upgrade paths built in. I have started developing a light board for passenger wagons/EMU/DMU that are self-assembled and much less expensive than factory lighting. I have plans to write my own iOS/Mac software for controlling trains (initially fancy throttles and switch controls with data library for my fleet built in -- eventually expanding to control by computer). Since I am a SW engineer by trade, doing that interests me.

As I have no emotional attachment or much personal experience with American trains, I had no real desire to collect and run American trains. (I occasionally look at them here in the LHS and online but have resisted so far). We do have UP here in SLC and I occasionally see a freight train, or the local long range commuter train by UTA, and we have a light rail system, so I do see trains now more than I ever did as a kid or younger adult, but where I live is not close to them so I still don't see them that often.

That is the long story of why I got interested in foreign trains. They were my experience with real life trains. And I formed emotional attachments to them as objects from exotic lands I had visited, and which remind me of those visits and the hope to go back. Travel, Adventure.

(I don't have any Swedish trains, but in 2016 the wife and I were in Sweden for a few days and we took a train from Stockholm to Gothenburg/Göteborg, and later another train from Göteborg to Copenhagen, as well as commuter type trains or trams in Stockholm and Copenhagen, so I did get some experience with another train system, but you don't see very much Swedish N-scale stuff out there).
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Well-Known Member
Willie, My wife and I have the same problem. It's my fault, I still cook like all the kids are here. That combined with the fact I went hungry so many times as a kid. I always had leftovers when the kids were home. I just don't like not having food left over from dinner, I can't help myself!

I'm going to borrow another of your ideas! I don't have any problems with leftovers. I'm a master of leftovers and the beagles take care of any meat we can't eat. But It's always good to find new ways to preserve the quality of leftovers, thank you!

Louis- that’s the best part about “over making” our favorite recipes- the leftovers.


Well-Known Member
Dang- The termites are swarming! Happy Birthday, BOB!

We could have had a grand ole time. I have wondered many times how my life might have turned out had I stuck with the baseball? I had the eye of a couple scouts from Milwaukee and the Dodgers! Still dream of it on occasion.

For the next portion of the shut-in - I want to request a change of scenery ... is it possible to make this request? Something by the seashore would be preferred.

Braves or Brew Crew?


Well-Known Member
Mike, that is so true, somethings are just better the next day. My problem is I over make everything!
Yeah, I have the same issue. Only problem is no kids to blame it on. I blame it on cooking from my childhood. Never knew which of my siblings would bring friends home for supper, errr... to join us at supper time. Don’t want any misconstrued perception of cannibalism in my past.


Go make something!
Those are some of the absolutely best looking models I've seen. Very good posing!!! Only way they could have been better was if they were Blackbirds or painted Chinese Red!😃
2344 does have a little red showing in places. There's some on the air filter intake grill and just in front of the radiator grills. One of the prototype photos I used for reference:
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