Nov 22, 2020
Same locomotive, same markings, only difference is I was nine.
Like many other little kids, my first exposure to model trains was a Lionel trainset -- but in an unusual setting. At Christmastime in 1955, I was four years old and toward the end of a 9-month hospital stay after being paralyzed by the polio virus. My hospital roommate's father brought in a Lionel trainset and set it up so it ran under our hospital beds. Now that was fun! I got my own Lionel set for Christmas the next year (1956).
I missed the first polio vaccine by a couple of months and survived only due to the amazing efforts of my parents and medical personnel, as well as an Iron Lung -- a mechanical contraption that did my breathing for me for a while. God bless the nurses and physical therapists!
Now my wife and I are in total isolation as we wait for the Covid vaccine! As bad as polio was, in its very worst year it killed fewer people in the U.S. than are currently dying every day in our country due to Covid.
In about 1960, my Dad built a 4x8 HO layout with a reversing loop and several blocks selectable with toggle switches. I was just barely old enough to help. We had two power packs, so with care we could run two trains at the same time, constantly flipping the block toggles as the trains traversed the layout. Our locos were a Mantua 0-4-0 Shifter and an Athearn F-unit with rubber band drive. One curiosity about the Shifter is that we periodically cleaned the accumulated "guck" out of the motor by submerging the whole chassis in a jar of carbon tetrachloride and running the submerged motor for 10 or 15 minutes, during which time the carbon tetrachloride would turn an inky black. Of course, now we know that prolonged exposure to carbon tetrachloride can lead to coma or death, but in our ignorance we did all sorts of dangerous stuff in those days.
The locos are long gone, having disappeared when we moved in 1963. I don't even have any photos. Of course, now I wish I had taken care to preserve those locos, but what does a 12-year-old know about such things?
First O scale was a Santa Fe steam engine with a tender, can't quite recall the wheel configuration. It ran on 3 rail track but it was not Lionel, don't know the brand. That was almost 60 years ago and it's long gone and no photos.
First HO scale was a Tyco US Army tank engine that was part of a set. This would have been at Christmas in 1964. That's also long gone but I did find a photo on the internet of the same set.
Then in 1968 I discovered N Scale and my first locomotive was an Atlas C-liner purchased with my own money at my local hobby shop. Thanks to the N scale database I found this photo.
I've enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
If I remember correctly back to 1948, mine was a Varney 0-4-0 Dockside.
(Thanks to Google for the photo.)
Actually, I have one of those in my pile. I hope to get it running (and maybe remotor it) next year.
Sent from my moto g(7) play using Tapatalk
Brad, where did you say you got that absolutely wonderful picture of the Atlas/Rivarossi S.P. C-Liner?
It appears to be a wooden 2-4-0 of some sort.
When I was about 11, from my older brother, I kind of adopted his 027 Marx E7 set that I had been playing with for a long time anyway.
Then a few years later, he gave me a Lone Star Treble -0 set-up with these.
An Uncle gave my first train in 1967, it is HO scale and has a Lionel 44 ton Atomic Energy Commission locomotive with a boxcar, flatcar with rocket and a bobber caboose. The locomotive doesn't run right now, probably just needs to be cleaned because I ran it many miles when I was younger.
Ah, the ever-present carom board! it seems every family had one in those days. My next older brother (RIP) and I spent hours playing different games on ours.
Those Lone Star F7 locos are most excellent.
Mine was an Atlas 0-4-0 dock sider back in about 65?
Hytec and I must be about the same age as I too had one of those venerable HO Varney 0-4-0 dockside switchers. I may still have it somewhere? ? ?
As far as more modern time goes my 1st N scale engine was purchased after I had a 3x bypass in November of 1992 and my wife lit the fire by giving me one of B'manns roundy roundy F7 sets to play with and relax with. Three months later I was building a layout in the spare bedroom and haven't looked back. So here is the 1st of my N scale purchases.........
I was in San Francisco for a Chevron meeting and my wife and I found this at an Ace Hardware store in Berkley. They had more trains in the basement of that hardware store than most LHS's did. My second purchase was a complete set of SP Sunset Limited cars at Long's Drug Store.
You west coasters will remember those two shops. BTW, this loco still runs like new and all I have done above occasional cleaning was to add decoder and a beacon on top.
You have some pretty interesting hardware and drug stores in your neck of the woods.
Me green with envy.
Heck, bike shops in these parts used to have trains. There was one in Mason City, Ia, Ralph's Bike Shop, that had more N scale than most "real" hobby shops.
Doug, Here is a link to this item in the N Scale database: https://www.trovestar.com/generic/zoom.php?id=94833
After looking it up in the database again I now see that the original price was $10.98 which for me as a 12 year old would have been a lot of pop bottles.
Almost sure this is the exact one I bought in the 1980's. Still have the locomotive, ( does not work ) and the caboose, and I think the others cars. Bought it in a mall toy shop back then. Box is missing too! Finally threw it away one year, me thinks This is NOT my actual set, got the picture off that thingy called the internet! After looking at the picture again I still have everything in this box, probably the track too!
This one. As a 15 year old flush with savings from my paper route, I visited Jerry's hobbies in the fall of 1969 to purchase an N scale train set. The standard Atlas sets he carried had only two choices for locos, a small steam engine with three cars and a caboose or a Plymouth switcher with ore cars and a caboose. He let me buy the set and change out the steam engine for the GP-40 and a PC caboose for $5 more. Then the local Woolworths store started having AHM sales every few months. I compiled a small collection that was boxed up and put away when I entered the Navy after graduating from school. My step father sold that, my model trucks, and my stereo system while I was gone and I never saw a cent of it. Fast forward to age 32 when I bought my first home, and I restarted my affair with N scale to where it is today.
I remember this engine was very loud, but it ran pretty well and it looked cool, especially lit up in the dark.
OK, that's two pictures originated from my site (although I did get permission to use another guy's photo of the GP40).
Brad, I was trying to hint the picture of the SP C-Liner originated from my site. Trovestar asked me if they could use my pictures (most are scans from about 15 years ago) and I said they could use whatever they wanted.
It's all cool.
That was my second loco in '74 - Cox GP35. Best description I've read was "epileptic coffee grinder".
It also scared the bejabbers out of the cat.
Sorry Doug. I should have gotten permission first. At least you know that some of us are still visiting your informative website. Merry Christmas!
My very first locomotive is all of two years old, or will be tomorrow!
Two years ago, at Thanksgiving, the family were talking of Christmas gifts and toys when we were kids, and I mentioned how I had never got my train set, even though I had dutifully asked Santa for one each year.
That Christmas, 2018, my parents surprised me with my very first train set, LOL. Now they see what I've built up there in the background and wonder what monster they've woken up! My father had a train that was only set up around the tree at Christmas, and I never got to play with that one. This set was really just an excuse to start some model building, which is something I quite enjoy!
I imagine this has to be the newest "first loco" on the board?
Merry Christmas everyone!