Friday, December 23, 2011

Memories of Christmas Past - Pt 2

Last week we took a glimpse into the f-a-r distant past. :-). well, okay, it only seems like that sometimes! Today we're going to fast-forward a couple of decades to the 1990s. It's 1991 and by now I have a family and we have transferred from Germany to the States and settled into a house. I had become restless in my hobby, HO scale model trains, and wanted to try something different. In the 1980s, just prior to us coming Stateside 'Model Railroader' magazine had launched a series of articles on 3-rail toy trains, mostly Lionel, and these just fascinated me. They were nostalgic, bright, and big! It also seemed that folks who got involved in 3-rail didn't worry a whole heck of a lot about 'scale' fidelity', enjoying them for what they really were - TOYS! I wanted to be able to just play with trains and not feel obligated to have to spend hundreds of hours detailing every nano-acre of scale model real estate. Don't get me wrong, scale model railroading can be incredibly satisfying but it takes FOREVER to get the littlest of projects done.

The first tangible result of this switch to 3-rail was at Christmas 1995 as shown by the photos below. I built a 'U' shaped layout of Styrofoam, edged with pre-stained plastic moulding. Short legs were placed under the platform for support. If you remember me talking about the plastic tree I bought in the seventies, you'll ssee it below! Enjoy!

The De-Evolution of A Christmas Train Garden

When we moved in to the house there was room for a nice sized train garden, but as the years progressed and other rooms were pressed into service for other things, the living room began to 'shrink' as it were, filling up with furniture and  there was no longer sufficient room for a big layout.


The trains are Lionel's Santa Fe Passenger Set with Alco Diesel's. What a terrific set. You can see it running on my current layout here:

No fake snow anywhere - I didn't want the mess. Just Styrofoam!

The streets are black construction paper cut and glued directly to the base.

The Park is a piece of Masonite cut, painted, and glued to the base. The 'snow' is white caulk spread on the base.

Most of the buildings are from Target and are an example of early Christmas-time ceramic buildings.


Apparently I didn't feel like taking pictures this year. This is the only some-what decent photo of this years' train garden. You'll notice that it shrunk! Using the base from the previous larger layout, I cut it down to fit the small corner it was shoe-horned into.


By now there isn't room for much of anything in the living room in regards to Christmas Train Gardens. A small round table from another room was drafted into train garden duty. A round table top blank was placed atop the table, a tree skirt laid down, and a small, pre-lit Christmas tree placed in the middle. A circle of track, some small buildings, and a short train complete the ensemble.