Lionel Trains and Christmas 2013

Had breakfast Saturday morning early. Wife (assistant Engineer who organized the day’s event) and I picked up the grandsons at their home and drove downtown, Alb New Mexico, to the last local model train show of 2013. This show for enthusiasts and families, is held in the lower level of the Presbyterian Church. Paid the $3 family fee and we spread out in different directions to see what was fun on all of the seller’s tables.

Boys liked the large display that is set up for each show by the model train club. Nice layout, with buildings and towns, several tracks, even a train wreck in a canyon, with a fire like glow in it’s midst :>) The engine ‘smokers’ are not allowed…No Smoking in the building, per Albuquerque law.

Wife and grandsons found a very attractively priced, black O gauge Lionel Diesel engine for $30, that looked like new. After almost losing it to another indecisive buyer, a man that set it down to ask the seller if it worked, wife sneakily grabbed it and took it to the big layout for them to test:>)

The layout operator set it on the track in place of another engine. It pulled the long set of various cars around the large layout just fine while sounding it’s horn. We paid the seller and were happy. Not quite so sure about the other man that set it down to doubt and question it’s operation :>)

One of our door tickets won a prize. Grandson took the ticket to the announcer, he said chose a prize from the table. Grandson noted AT&SF (Atcheson Topeka & Santa Fe) Tank car that matched the AT&SF Diesel. Worked out fine for our day.

Narrower, hard to handle HO tracks with tiny clips on each rail, are a fit to assemble and hold together for setting up on outdoor carpeting,  like we have on the sun room (their toy room) table. The ‘Quick Fit’ snap together type are easier for little hands to put together on the 4’X8′ table… our other, ‘year around’ play table.

Wife (assistant Engineer:>) found a nice set of the Quick Fit tracks used and the seller set us up with the correct number of curves and straight tracks. Grandsons are now anticipating the little HO train at their eye level. A set of old mismatched engines and little train cars that keeps them entertained for hours, is always there for visits by all of our Grandchildren :>).

The main point of interest for them, after we left the model train show, was to get home and set up their favorite train, a larger ‘Polar Express’ in O gauge. Wife and the boys dragged the boxes out from under the bed in the spare room. The boys each grabbed an end and carried each of the under bed storage bins into the living room for the annual Christmas set up. The pieces manipulated carefully by the boys, all went together and I kept them moving in the right directions, as we recalled from last year. Something must have been different this year, because we were short many pieces of straight track.

I drove back downtown to the show and bought another 10 straight tracks, returned back to the house and finished the layout that runs under the piano around the wall, under a cabinet, around the trees and loops. Wife had found a set of ‘trestle’ risers last year…cheap. After a bit of fussing with the unstable on carpet, plastic risers, the boys then proceeded to test each engine on the tracks, after I had wired the controller, including the new ‘used’ diesel and all of the various train cars, until they could no longer hold back their much anticipated fun.

The reason for the season, ‘The Polar Express’. Unwrapping each train unit from it’s newspaper, is exciting for them. When they finally unwrapped the black steam engine, They both stopped and gazed at it for several minutes, touching and discussing each detail.

I asked if they remembered the story (older movie with Tom Hanks voice) from last year’s last video viewing. They said yes, but still had to talk about each part and scene. They remembered the ‘Frozen Lake’ that scared them last year. The set up also has a ‘Pack of Wolves’ (Ral Partha Pewter die castings). A long mirror under a section of track simulates the dreaded ‘Frozen Lake’. One back loop that runs under the piano, has many little plastic buildings that fit in with a freight and farm scene with several Ertyl and Matchbox figures for the diesel freight, when they desire a change of trains.

Their parents took them to Durango Colorado for riding the narrow gauge train ‘Polar Express’…. at night… in their pajamas… while having Cocoa. This year is going to be a repeat and they are really looking forward to that. While they are still young, these things are priceless… for parents and grandparents alike :>)

We asked if they could read the numbers on the black steam engine? The oldest grandson read them as 1225. I asked if they knew what that meant? I explained, 12 the month of December and 25, the day of Christmas. They both nodded in agreement as they continued their extended time ‘job’ of putting all of the wheels on the tracks.

As very  young boys, they are surprisingly careful in handling the whole set up. Not acting rough toward any pieces. I was not as self controlled as a kid and gradually destroyed the, now collectable, 1930’s Lionel layout, that my parents and grand parents had saved for me. I definitely had ‘issues’ as a youngster :<(

The boys kept interested and playing with the train sets for the rest of the day. A long day, not ending until dark, when their Dad picked them up. Now we have to finish the rest of the little Dickens Village, placing each little lighted building under wife’s little ‘Christmas Forest’ of four small trees, that she sets up each year. Continued story on

The only reason for Christmas decorating at our age, is the younger generation and their enthusiasm. Parents realize it, sometimes too late. Grandparents fully understand…
Enjoy life in the greatest nation ever known, The United States of America, One Nation Under God, all while your own ‘Setting Up for Christmas’. Remember Jesus the Christ… ‘The Reason for the Season’ :>)


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