Saturday, 3 January 2015

Toys for boys

I've been deliberating with myself about going behind the scenes (as we call it) and crawling into the deepest recesses of the loft to bring out the electric train set which is - or should be - there.  The grandsons are old enough now to play with it.  Always assuming it can have life breathed back into it.  It's not simply a train set, it is a whole model layout on a board - tunnel through a grass-covered hill, fences, trees, animals, even a small orchard of apple trees!  The boys (Huh!  They're both over 40 now!) and I made it years ago.  And great fun we had, too.

The train set of my boyhood was a set of eight curved rails which clipped together to form a circle, an engine and two carriages.  It must have looked similar to the train set on the right - without the Meccano engine in the centre - although as far as I can recall my engine was green and had no tender, just the two carriages.  It was probably listed as O gauge, although it transpired in time that it was just a tad small compared to the standard O gauge sets.

My brother subsequently saved up his pocket money (and probably birthday and Christmas presents as well) to buy himself a spanking smart engine and tender made by the famous British train set manufacturers, Hornby.  This engine was another clockwork one, O gauge, and found my circular track just a little tight.  Things were much improved when we bought proper Hornby track, one piece at a time; straights, half straights, curves, crossovers and even points!  We also bought several wagons of different sorts.  It was a little frustrating having to wind up the engines, but at least we were able to lay out the track from one room to another after we had built up our collection and the slightly different levels of linoleum and carpet made no difference to a set on this scale.

I would have loved an electric train set, but brother and I were very happy with what we had.  Years later, after I had married, I was just a little envious when I learned that my wife had had an electric train set.  I'm not sure that she was at all interested in it, but she was an only child and her father probably wanted one!

When the boys were old enough, I bought them the train set I had realised I would have liked as a child, a Hornby Dublo electric train in OO gauge (hence the "Dublo" in the name).  This was fine, but a train set of this nature really needs to be laid out and left out - and our house simply wasn't big enough.  So, in the fulness of time, another train set appeared, an N gauge set.  This gauge is small enough to fix the track on a board only about five feet by three - or even smaller - and that is just what we did, constructing the imaginary countryside around the track.  We were aiming at something like this, although our talent was not up to quite this level!


joeh said...

You just scraped some rust off of a hidden memory. Thanks!

I may do my own train memory post soon.

#1Nana said...

There used to be a restaurant here that had trains that ran around a ledge above the dining room ...I always thought that would be a fun thing to have in a family room.