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"Friend's Layouts" Installment#3 - Traditional Fun!

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Another good friend, Tony Z, shares his layout with us this month.

He's provided a great narrative and lots of photos!

Here is what Tony has to say:

"What makes me a Lionel fanatic even well into my 6th decade of life? Mostly nostalgia and memories. There’s something about a Lionel train…the red light glowing from a block signal, the smell of the Lionel smoke pellets and the ozone from the running locomotives, the action of the automatic switches, the out of scale gateman as he pops out of his shed at the crossing, the time when my Dad took me to Madison Hardware to buy me my first ZW (I now have 4) and a sweet looking 665 Hudson-type steam engine (with the feedwater heater).

Whenever I’m down in my basement train room, I turn on the trains and it instantly transports me back to the early 1960s when life seemed to be good in every respect, when family was everything, and when it didn’t take much to make a boy of 7 years old joyful. No matter how much money I spend on trains, it’s all worth it because of the memories they evoke and the endorphins they fire off in my brain.

I thank my wife Arlene every day for putting up with my insanity.

I also love tinkering with old trains that need a little TLC. As you can see from the layout pics, there’s a strange looking black Alco on the upper level. At a train show a while back, I picked up an old beat up, butt-ugly 205 Missouri Pacific Alco. While I was able to rehab the inner works, I could do nothing for the hideous baby blue faded paint on the shells. Since the engine was not worth anything, I decided to re-paint it and add a little whimsy with decals from an old Revell model kit.

The layout itself is comprised of post-war motive power and rolling stock, supplemented with occasional MPC and modern era cars and accessories. I consider this a “toy layout” reminiscent of the old department store windows. Not much realistic scenery here. My only regret is that I made the switch to FastTrak on this generation of my layout. It looks good, but it lacks the nostalgia and the old feel of Lionel tubular. And for those of you out there who are thinking of purchasing it for your layout, I find it incredibly challenging to work with electrically.

Someday I may switch to Super O. I always wanted it as a kid, but we could never afford it.

The layout is powered by two modern era ZWs. One of them is a ZW-L which my family got me for my 60th birthday several years ago. I feel like I need to apologize to all the postwar purists out there who refuse to use any power unit other than the old transformers. But I have to say that the amount of power that these new units put out is awesome. And I love the fast-acting breakers. So far, after several years of use, they are still going strong. Will they last 70 years like most of Lionel’s postwar transformers? Who knows?

Thanks to John for allowing me to share my obsession and my layout. It’s people like John who are keeping this hobby alive. For me, I will do all I can to get my grandchildren to become just as obsessed as I am."

Tony also shares his work area with us:

Tony, thanks again for your contribution to the "Friend's Layouts" series, for making my job easier with your informative narrative and your great pics. Your kind comments at the end are much appreciated too.


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John Rembis
John Rembis

Love the Urie's Waterfront/Wildwood Crest billboard and road sign! Wildwood is our family's happy place!


Edward E Giannelli
Edward E Giannelli

Keep them coming.

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