Model railroading has been my main hobby since I was fifteen. My brother and I had O scale trains when we were younger but as I got older my interests changed to HO. HO actually stands for “Half-O”, so HO gauge is half the size of O gauge. Lionel trains are the main brand for those who have “train sets.” In my opinion, for those who are more serious about really doing something with the hobby, HO is the preferred scale.
The photo above is a layout I had until we moved last year. And, by the way, those who are serious model railroaders don’t have train sets, they have layouts. A serious layout is crafted from the bench work, which is the wooden frame that is the basis for all the railroading action, all the way up to the track work, the rolling stock, and the scenery.
For me, the railroad operation is not the most interesting part. The scenery is definitely the most fun. And scenery is not just trees or grass. The scenery includes buildings, mountains, grass, weeds, junk, people, everything that is not the track and trains themselves. The scenery work is never finished. There is always something more to add, some new little detail, which might be as small as adding small bits of model scrap to a junkyard.
One of the most fun things to do is putting lights in the buildings. It’s fascinating to get down on track level and watch the trains move among buildings that are casting rays of light through their tiny windows.
My uncle, who is now in his eighties, is the one really responsible for getting me into HO model trains. In 1970, I spent spring break with him and his family. We spent the entire week working on trains and going to hobby shops. In the back corner of layout pictured above, there is a small cottage that we built from scratch that week. It is a treasure of mine.
Model railroading is a terrific way to relax and forget about life for a while. Scratch-building items for the layout, including operating signal lights (that’s for another blog session) and other little things is the best. There is nothing like the sound of the wheels clicking over the rails.
Something that makes it even better is a cup of coffee sitting close by.
– Dale Parsons