For as long as I can remember, there have been trains in my life. From about age four, I could see my brother Dean’s Lionel train layout on the other side of the locked wire fence that divided our basement in two. One side was the family area, with a phonograph, and washer and dryer, and the other side was my dad’s workshop and the train layout.
During the summer of 1955, dad came home early from work to take some of my brothers and me up to see the standby/rescue steam locomotives on the Long Island RR. He wanted us to see them before they were finally withdrawn from service Sept 1955. The LIRR would place several steam locos at strategic points along their system, so that if a train broke down, one of the rescue locos would hook onto the front of train and tow it to it’s final destination. This way the tracks would be kept clear. Very important during the peak commuting times with trains coming out of New York City about every 7 minutes.
When I was nearly six, I was allowed into the inner sanctum a lot more, and for my sixth birthday I received a Lionel F3 diesel loco. I was so happy. I now was able to go into the layout and drive “MY” train.
As the birthdays and Christmas’s rolled by, I was given more and more Lionel freight cars and carriages. By the time I was 13, I had bought myself 3 silver streamlined carriages. It would be approximately another 50 years before I found and purchased the end observation car to complete the train.
As with most young men, I got interested in cars, and later girls. In college, I started playing in a Rock & Roll bands for the the next 6 years. Trains were never too far from my mind. Dad would always find a train to ride on family holidays, and I would visit hobby shops all through my 20’s. I went to Europe in 1979 and rode many trains with my Eurail & Britrail Passes.
After getting married and moving to Australia, I set about furthering my career in sound systems, while doing too little with model trains. My oldest son adopted one of my British carriages and slept with it for many months. He still likes trains, but wants me to make a layout again.
All through this time I kept trying to get involved with different model railway groups. There were a few friendly ones down in Sydney, but the travelling was too much. The few I found in the mountains were either not very friendly, or Australian trains only, or both.
Around this time there was the Springwood Model Train Exhibition. There I met Roger Donht and Ken Coombes, and they were starting a Model Railway Fellowship. I was interested, but lost contact with them. I ran into them about a year later, and have been involved ever since. That was over 20 years ago now. In the early days of the group, I started keeping a record of who was coming to our get together’s, and started collecting email addresses as well. I started sending email reminders of when our meeting were, and discovered that the attendance of the emailed people was much higher that those that only had a paper timetable. Well, I’ve been sending out emails about 4 times a month, letting over 80 people know what’s happening, and when it will happen.
One of my pet dislikes is trains that don’t run well, or fall off the track all the time. Reading many things and just studying things as they derail, I’ve developed a set of guidelines to minimise these problems with my own trains, and happily share them with others. I got into the DCC control system about 18 years ago. In the beginning, it was like studing a foreign language, but as time went on, and I learned the meaning of the new words and phrases, I have enjoyed the way it now allows you to drive your train, and not just a section of track.
There are many area’s of interest in model railroading, with something for everyone, no matter what your interest is. Come by for a visit the next time you’re in the Blue Mountains.