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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!

Fun facts regarding WalthersProto’s newest name train: Union Pacific’s 1960s City of Los Angeles

1. Faced with ongoing problems with long-time partner, the Chicago and North Western Railway, Union Pacific (UP) shifted its trains to the Milwaukee Road (MILW) in October of 1955. UP insisted all equipment match its own – repainted Milwaukee cars and diesels soon roamed across the UP railroad. Milwaukee soon standardized on the yellow and gray scheme for all of its passenger equipment.

2. EMD E9s were the typical power for the train. Between Chicago and Omaha, both UP and Milwaukee locomotives could be used. From Omaha west, UP locomotives with Automatic Train Stop (ATS) led the train.

3. From the fall of 1956 until 1971, when Amtrak took over, the City of Los Angeles (COLA) with its Pullmans, and the lower priced coach train, Challenger, were combined for the winter months when ridership was declined. Coaches were placed up front, and sleepers at the rear. However, both were still shown as separate named and numbered trains in public timetables.

4. The City of Los Angeles carried a great deal of express and storage mail. In 1953, UP purchased 33 baggage cars from American Car & Foundry, and these cars were often found on the COLA. These long cars were equipped with six-wheel trucks so they could handle heavier loads. All were built to the same plan, but eight had separate roof vents, while 25 had a single large vent (these are the prototype for our model). After 1967 when postal contracts were terminated, most were reassigned to work train service.

5. To reduce the number of stops en route, dining car crews remained on board for the entire trip. They slept in Baggage-Dormitory cars, which were equipped with two- and three-tiers of bunks, along with lavatory and toilet facilities that took up roughly half of the interior, with the remainder used for express or checked baggage.

6. Dome cars were the standard by which all western trains were judged and by 1955 UP offered Dome-Coaches, Dome-Lounges and unique Dome-Diners. While UP had used the name “Streamliner” for its luxury fleet since the 1930s, the competition was so strong that the flagships were rebranded “Domeliners” although the name was actually coined by the Wabash.

7. Dome-Diners were the signature car of the COLA. Like a standard diner, they had a complete kitchen and seating for 36. Eighteen seats were located directly under the dome offering an unequalled dining experience. Competing with Santa Fe’s Super Chief, the lower level included a private dining space with seating for up to 10, known as the “Gold Room,” where special gold-pattern china and gold-plated utensils was used in place of traditional silver.

8. Although constructed as tail cars with an observation end, the added time and costs of switching Dome-Lounge cars at the end of each run led to them being rebuilt for mid-train service in 1956; the end windows were plated and a diaphragm added.

9. Typical of many long-distance trains, Union Pacific provided lower-priced and more informal dining facilities in Café-Lounge cars, first delivered in 1948. As demand for affordable meals increased, UP rebuilt the assigned cars in 1959 with a lunch counter and extra storage space.

10. The Pacific series 10-6 sleepers represented UP’s first order of Budd-built stainless steel cars. Although built of stainless steel with Budd’s signature fluted sides, UP ordered 25 in yellow and gray for the Streamliner fleet, and the remaining 25 in two-tone gray for overnight trains. Yellow and gray was adopted for all passenger cars in 1952, and these distinct and colorful cars were standard equipment on the City of Los Angeles into the 1960s.

11. UP was one of the last roads to order new passenger equipment, with final deliveries in the summer of 1965.

Click to find out more about the WalthersProto HO Scale City of Los Angeles or preorder today (deadline is May 31, 2018).