"Friend's Layouts" Installment #5 - HO Scale fun!
Yes, I have friends that are into gauges other than O. My buddy, Walter P, happens to love HO scale trains.
Walter attributes his love for the hobby to his Dad. He wrote the following narrative not only to share with us, but also as a thanks to him.
"My intro into trains goes back to 1953 at the age of six when I got my first train layout, not set. We were living in my grandparent’s house in Richmond Hill, NY and from October on I was not allowed in the basement. Then on Christmas Day I could go downstairs and a great American Flyer layout would be before me. It was about four feet by twelve and only about 2 feet off the ground. It was great! Three AF sets running, together with my two favorite accessories, the Talking Station and the Remote-Control Crane, operating all day.
Dad was involved with the railroads as he was a “agent” on “banana” trains that would leave NYC for locations throughout the Northeast and Midwest. Basically, he made sure the reefers full of bananas were distributed to the right locations. Normally he was in the caboose but sometimes up in the switch engines. That’s a whole another story and Dad had many.
Anyhow, American Flyer was what we enjoyed because, according to Dad, their two rail track was more realistic when compared to Lionel’s three rail track.
The layouts continued every year, including when we moved out of my grandparent’s house to Williston Park in Nassau County, NY in 1957. That year, Dad decided we were going to change from AS gauge to HO and we sold the AF trains - I regret that to this day, but that is another story.
The first HO sets he purchased were an Athearn Burlington F3 passenger set, and an Athearn Hustler set at the ORIGINAL Willis Hobbies on Hillside Avenue in Williston Park. The next year, 1958, was a game changer. For Christmas I got a Revell SW 7 train set, and I have never looked back with regards to Revell.
Like most of us, girls, cars, bands, and girls again, got in the way for a few years, but after Marilyn and I were married, and our son came along in 1973, the train bug started again. First Lionel and then HO layouts each year but, in the end Star Wars toys and collectables won out, and the trains went into hiding.
Fast forward to 1985 and I wound up looking at an issue of Model Railroader that featured a “city” layout on a 4 by 8. (January 1985 “Model a City for a Change of Pace”. Here is a photo of that article:
I was doing a lot of Amtrak runs to DC then, so I was hooked on this layout concept. I started building the many buildings, with interiors that would be required and started the track work.
So that brings us to where we are today.
The photo in the lead of this article is a wide shot of the whole layout. The original layout was what is in between those two stools. I then added the section to the left, which is basically just a yard, but also added to the “train run” of the original layout. Recently I added the extension to the right, which is basically an engine maintenance facility, with a Sand Tower, a Fueling Location and a maintenance/inspection area, along with an REA facility and small town. This section too, added to the overall "train run". The main (center) section is a city with upper and lower levels. One needs to watch out when you’re in the east side of the city, it is a little shady!!
At this point I have run out of room, so I will just continue to refine things.
Besides collecting Revell and other 50’s HO, my thing is passenger cars. With a small layout I am limited to only 72 foot cars which requires a lot of “compression” of the standard 85 foot HO cars. I now include 12 DC volt LED lighting in all of my passenger cars, which is a lot more stable than dealing with track voltage.
The overall size of the layout is now 4' 9" x 12' 6". Control system is Bachmann DCC
I am pleased to share the following photos with you.
Main town streets:
Tough part of town:
Engine service area:
Station at night:
A few more night shots:
Hey, it has been fun, and all of my “train friends” have encouraged me to take all this to a higher level than I could have ever imagined.
Thank you to all of you, and thank you, Dad."
Walter. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your layout with us! It is beautiful.