Category Archives: Inspiration

Give a young person a gift that will last a lifetime by introducing them to model trains.

Model Trains

We here at Walthers believe model railroading is the world’s greatest hobby and we love to help bring others aboard. Model trains have been around for nearly 100 years and have seen changes that have taken the level of sophistication and accuracy to new heights never dreamed of before. What used to take many of hours of work can now be purchased off the shelf at your local hobby shop or ordered online from one of hundreds of different retailers.

Why so popular?

Model railroading has so many facets as a hobby. Engineering, electronics, sculpting, carpentry, history, teamwork, and exceptional creativity. This makes it very appealing to creative and intelligent people who love watching the giant machines roll down the tracks. They want to preserve the awe struck feeling they have every time a behemoth locomotives pulls its cars past. For some there is a specific place in time they wish to capture, for others its specific models of locomotives and cars…right down to the engine and car numbers. All over the country people have these same memories that they share with each other, building bonds that last a lifetime. For some people, they like to create the world in a way they would like to see it — a world of their own design.

Historical HO Scale Model Trains

Model trains preserve history

Real trains, like everything else in this technologically driven world, are changing very quickly. But for many modelers, preserving the past is a key part of their hobby fun; while an actual steam locomotive may have been scrapped decades ago, a three-dimensional working miniature becomes a snapshot in time like no other.

Why hobbies are so important to people

Hobbies are very important, because without them we live day-to-day habit-filled lives that don’t give us much escape. Hobbies, especially model trains, provide many positive experiences and effects:

  1. 1. Meeting new people
  2. 2. Experiencing new things
  3. 3. Building self-esteem and worth
  4. 4. Flexibility and creative satisfaction
  5. 5. Clearing your mind
  6. 6. Having something to look forward to
  7. 7. Setting and accomplishing goals

Model Railroading is a great hobby because it will give you an opportunity to relax and build skills at the same time while expressing yourself in fantastic ways.

Father and sons working on a model train layout

Share the love for model trains

Connecting with family is also much easier when common interests are shared and enjoyed. Model trains appeal to curious young people who enjoy solving problems, and have an eye for detail and like to challenge themselves to acquire new skills and learn new things.

Imagine how much fun it can be to enlist and receive help from a young person on a part of your layout or a kit project. Nearly every skill that can help young people develop can be found working with model trains.

Toddler boy playing with thomas model train

A great way to start

Simply throwing young people at an existing layout can be stressful for everyone involved — kids are inclined to touch things – as are a lot of adults. Instead of using your prized models, make the investment in some basic equipment everyone can share. A few minutes spent learning how to handle and operate less fragile cars and locos now can really pay off down the tracks, opening the doors to helping them start their own model railroad. So, where should you begin?

First buy a set, you can find hundreds of train sets on walthers.com.

Expand the basic track from just an oval to something a little bigger by adding a track expansion set.

Take a couple of hours and build a model railroad layout base with grass mat together, or buy a kit like this one from Woodland Scenics.

Add some landscaping or points of interest.

Add some structures using kits or pre-built buildings.

From there, the sky is the limit. As young people grow their interest in model trains will grow as well and before you know it they’ll be teaching you things!

More information

The places to find model railroad information are abundant with programs across the country designed to help get young people into the hobby. There are also programs and websites to help kids who are already engaged in the hobby. Model railroad museums around the country are great places for young people to really get a look at mature layouts.  Milwaukee’s Trainfest and other model train shows have programs that help young people get involved. Each year young people absolutely love the layouts at model train shows. Online articles like this one and several forums are also great places to find information to bring young people into the hobby of model trains. More and more social media content around the hobby is being developed as well as video.

Walthers is leading the efforts to bring younger people into model trains. If you have ideas that you’d like to share with us on how to find success while getting young people involved in the hobby or if you are currently helping to pass along your love of model trains, send us your thoughts to growthehobby@walthers.com

We love hearing from and learning from you! Some of your ideas may be featured in future blog posts or features here at Walthers. We are committed to this cause, and know that some of the very best ideas come from you!

John Tews Cornerstone® Engineered Bridge System Project

Summer is often the busiest time of year for construction work along prototype railroads, and for modelers it’s a perfect time to begin those bigger modeling projects before the fall rush!

John Tews from nearby Sussex, Wisconsin, recently finished rebuilding and expanding part of his HO Scale Timber River Railway with new Walthers Cornerstone® Engineered Bridge System kits. Local railfans and the company photographer were on hand to document the project from start to finish in the following photos… John, take it away!

 

My Timber River Railway is a point-to-point layout set in 1974 that connects the iron range of Minnesota with the ore docks in the Duluth-Superior harbor. Heavy coal, taconite and iron ore trains make up the bulk of traffic, but we also run various local jobs as well as Amtrak service. For years I’ve hosted regular operating sessions, but casual visitors like to see trains in action without stopping and starting. While I’d install removable “bridges” to permit access to the railroad there was no continuous run trackage available for display. Giving some thought to a permanent solution, I dispatched a TRR survey crew who found a suitable location near Emco Junction. A check with a 6′ level showed only a 1/4″ difference in elevation between County Shops Siding and the Chisholm Yard. The proposed route provided an easy grade for long, heavy trains and a continuous run for visitors.

 

Walthers would like to thank Mr. Tews for his contribution to our blog and the hobby. About the author…

Celebrating its 50th year of operations this summer, John Tews’ HO Scale Timber River Railway continues to inspire modelers worldwide. An active member of the National Model Railroad Association, John achieved Master Model Railroader certification in 2002, and is well known for his 20+ years as Executive Director of Milwaukee’s own Trainfest®. John and his layout have been featured in numerous magazine articles and videos, as well as recent Walthers Showroom Updates. Retired after 36 years with Wisconsin Electric, John, his wife and two dogs make their home in nearby Sussex, Wisconsin.