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Model Railroads and Model Trains

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This page is for those who love model railroads and toy trains.

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About Toy Trains

By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor

Railroading remains an important collecting field to people of all ages, largely because of the ‘days-gone-by’ romance associated with the rail travel and the prominence of toy trains.

The first toy trains were cast iron and tin; wind-up motors added movement. The golden age of toy trains was 1920 to 1955, when electric-powered units and high-quality rolling stock were available and names such as Ives, American Flyer, and Lionel were household words. The advent of plastic in the late 1950s resulted in considerably lower quality.

Toy trains are designated by a model scale or gauge. The most popular are HO, N, O, and standard. Narrow gauge was a response to the modern capacity to miniaturize. Today train layouts in gardens are all the rage and those usually feature larger scale trains.

A lot of expert advice is available to assist you in purchasing the “right” toy for a child or yourself. Many adults collect toy trains. It can be overwhelming to study all of these opinions. You can buy a book on Toy Trains, or look to the internet for information, but here are a few things to consider before making a toy purchase:

  • Save Time and Money – Buy a Starter Set. Starter Sets have everything included and are easy to assemble in minutes. Starter Sets are less expensive than buying the components separately.
  • The Age of Your Child. Children of all ages enjoy trains. Even if they are too young to operate the train on their own, children can start by watching, then learn to push a button and blow a whistle – and grow with their train from there.
  • Buy the Right Size (Scale). O gauge and O-27 gauge are essentially the same size and were developed over the last 100 years to be small enough for little hands, but big enough to keep the trains on track. For children, the smaller scales, like HO, can be too delicate and difficult to set up on the track. And the larger scales take a lot of room to store. O gauge is ideal for small spaces. Even an advanced layout is often no bigger than a household door.
  • Get the Most for Your Money. Size and cost usually go hand in hand. The scale provides a happy medium – small enough to be affordable and practical in terms of space, but large enough to easily put on the track and stay there. You want a train that you can enjoy year after year.
  • Buy a Set That is Rugged. Trains must be rugged and tough enough for the rough handling a youngster is sure to dish out – but also carefully designed not to be too heavy or sharp.
  • Buy a System Your Child will Grow Into. Different railroaders like different accessories. Get compatible parts so you can keep using what you have as your layout grows.
  • Buy a Set that is Professionally Tested. The secret to maximum fun combined with maximum development, so children exercise their imagination, develop their motor skills, and enjoy the mastery of controlling the train.
  • Buy Trains that Sound and Act Like the Real Thing. Kids love sounds – and they know lifelike sounds when they hear them. Smoke, illuminated headlights, and live-action crossing gates are just a few of the fascinating features of toy trains.
  • Buy from a manufacturer with a sales and service center near you. And don’t forget to run a train around the Christmas tree or place one on the mantle during the holidays.
About Cathy: She and her Doberman Trooper conduct research into all kinds of topics and produce articles like the one you see here. To contact Cathy, write to thecathyfactor@yahoo.com. Get the facts from Cathy, and let the Cathy Factor give you an edge.


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