Men who play with trains may seem a little childish to some, but those men were once boys who may have watched Thomas the Tank Engine on TV, or read about him in a book. Those same feelings they had as a child come alive again as they build that special layout, or finally get their hands on the elusive car or locomotive that they have been looking for. What is it that fascinates these grown up children? Perhaps it is having such a powerful machine under their control, doing their bidding, hauling the cars they have chosen through the scenery they have built with their own hands.
Education is another powerful draw in the model train hobby. Learning about the history of railroading, learning how trains work whether the real thing or something 160th the size of the real thing. Perhaps it is expanding your knowledge of how to properly run the electricity through the tracks and keep the trains running on schedule. How many hobbyists get started with model trains when they first wake up on Christmas morning to find a locomotive pulling cars on a track around the tree? But the toys of yesterday are no longer the model trains of today. These toys are all grown up.
If you were to pick up an HO-scale locomotive today, you would probably be surprised at its heft. The plastic trains that ran around the Christmas tree when you were a child are toys, these are the real thing. These true to scale models are made to last and their weight is evidence of that. The high quality is easily seen in the craftsmanship and materials used as well as in the intricate detail. The engines are much stronger than toys as well. While the weight helps keep the locomotive in contact with the track for better electrical connection, it is the strength of the engine that allows it to pull all those cars and go up 3% grades just like the real thing. Wheels of high quality are also essential to keep the train from derailing and also to help with that same electrical connection.
But electric trains aren’t the only option for model train enthusiasts. Some model train manufacturers offer steam locomotives to satisfy those who need to see the “smoke” floating into the sky. These locomotives offer a different kind of nostalgia for the guy (or gal) who just refuses to grow up all of the way! These model train engineers may never get to operate a real train, but watching these scale models go through their miniature world is the next best thing.
Perhaps if you ask a train engineer if they love their jobs, they would say that they do, or they might say that it is just a job. But if you ask the model train hobbyist if they enjoy their hobby, you will undoubtedly get an unequivocal YES!
Article courtesy of “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”