CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Saturday, October 26, 2019

My first train set

Image from Walthers 1988 HO catalog
 As the holiday season draws near I was discussing the Toys for Tots campaign in general, and train sets in particular, with some friends. Getting started with a train set (assuming it is a decent quality one) is probably the way most of us got started. In the 1980s, it likely was a Tyco or Bachmann package. Mine was the HO scale Bachmann "Workhose EMD GP-50" set, which was labeled as "NEW!" in the Walthers 1988 catalog. It was powered by a high-nose GP-50 engine painted in Erie Lackawanna's maroon and gray scheme. I received it when I was around 7 years old. 

NOT my engine! Item #41-0612-G4
Remember when Bachmann bragged about engine lights?
I still have the engine. It sits proudly on my display shelf. The rest of the set was slowly lost to the passage of time. I remember the caboose, D&H hopper, and L.V. reefer, but I don't remember my set having the crane shown. I did have a Bachmann Union Pacific crane and boom car with spot light but that isn't pictured in the ad. I doubt I had two cranes, so either the U.P. one came with the set or my parents bought it separately. It was too long ago to remember. The D&H hopper was bright red and I eventually made a stone load for it. 

My dad modified the engine to have a Kadee coupler on one end and left the hornhook on the other end. That way, I could run both types of equipment if I wanted. Later on, the body shell was damaged so much that it sat loose on the chassis and I could not only flip the frame around to get the coupler I wanted but I could also spin the body to run it long-hood or short-hood forward. I loved it and ran it to death. Literally. After more than one trip to the concrete basement floor from the train layout the internal printed circuit boards cracked and my father had to hard-wire the two halves back together. The handrails broke off little by little until nothing remains today. Finally, after about 15 years the motor finally burned up. Someday if I find another one at a train show for cheap I will pick it up.

Bachmann also released an N scale version 
Since then, I have moved onto bigger and perhaps better things but I still like prefer high-nose engines, still think that the Erie Lackawanna was a classy railroad, and unlike most people believe that Bachmann made some good train sets. My second engine was a Bachmann Santa Fe F-unit that my parents purchased for me in a strain store. I think every kid ended up with one of these engines at some point in life. I sometimes wonder where I would be as a modeler had I received that as my first engine, or if my first engine was a Union Pacific low-nose geep, or even a steamer (that engine probably wouldn't have lasted me very long). Hum... 

Perhaps this Christmas season you might want to consider passing along the gift of a train set. Or, maybe make one up from extra pieces in your own collection. You never know where it will take the next young modeler.

1 comment:

  1. I never had a train set, but my first loco was a VERY OLD Athearn UP F3. I later got another UP loco, and then the CN loco, which changed my aspect on modeling. Ever since then I have been modeling the D&H.